In order for your content marketing strategy to achieve all the goals you set for it, you need to ensure that it’s populated with various types of content. Long-form content is one of them, and it’s definitely important.
Here are six compelling reasons to invest time and effort in this format and tips on how to do it right.
It’s easy to promote
Long-form content is easily incorporated into your social media and email marketing strategies. You can create lots of supporting content for it in the form of images or short videos and ensure high engagement rates.
Since long-form content usually covers evergreen topics in-depth, it can boost engagement rates and gain you new followers.
Long-form content will naturally earn organic backlinks on its own. But if you choose to create some links to it yourself, it will be much easier than with short-form, subpar content.
It reduces bounce rate
Writing long-form content is also a great way to reduce the bounce rate on your website.
When users land on a comprehensive article, they are likely to engage, keep scrolling, and read through your headlines. Even if they only skim through the majority of the post, they will still spend a fair amount of time on the page.
Low bounce rate will signal to search engines that your content is of high quality and that you have matched a searcher’s intent well. This will boost your rankings overall.
It tends to rank better
Longer articles also tend to rank better than shorter ones. This is partly because the length itself provides more opportunities for adding relevant keywords and partly because longer content is more informative.
Note that you shouldn’t try to make an article longer than it naturally needs to be. Only use as many words as you need to cover a topic or answer a question. Stuffing extra unrelated headings into your articles will not help your content rank better for your chosen topics. It will only dilute its relevance.
It provides more value
Long-form content also gives you the opportunity to share more valuable and relevant information with your readers. You can cover comprehensive and extensive topics with it and ensure that you are the best resource on a specific subject.
It improves engagement
Long-form content is also more engaging, as there is more of it to consume. This is especially true if you go that extra mile and include various content formats in your long posts: charts, images, and videos.
Anything that you can add to a piece (other than words) will boost its engagement, which will be good for your rankings too. The more time people spend on a page and the more they engage with it, the more value it will be assigned by search engines.
It provides more conversion opportunities
Long-form content also gives you the opportunity to insert more CTAs and to mention your product more often.
Be careful, though: the main purpose of long-form content is rarely to promote or sell something. Its main focus should be informativeness and value, but if you are able to naturally and unobtrusively mention your own solutions, take the opportunity to do so.
How to create long-form content
Now that you understand its benefits, let’s take a look at long-form content creation best practices:
Demonstrate your expertise
Your main goal is to demonstrate to both your audience and search engines that you are an expert on the subject you are writing about. If you are also able to show first-hand experiences, you will tick all of Google’s E-E-A-T boxes.
This means you need to spend more time researching your topic than writing it, unless you already have all the necessary knowledge. Make sure to write an outline first and give yourself plenty of time to create the post, as new ideas are likely to occur to you over time.
ATH does a great job demonstrating their expertise, as you can see in this post on the amount of protein you need per day. It has been written by an expert whose credentials you can check with a single click. They also have an evidence-based approach to writing, which is also detailed right at the top.
The article is filled with relevant references to reputable scientific journals, so you never for a moment need to question if their information is correct. This is a great way to level up your writing, as the reputability of your sources will trickle down to your own page.
Target specific user pain points
Long-form content gives you the opportunity to solve some very specific user pain points and answer their most common questions or concerns.
When choosing your topics, check what people are looking for. You can do some manual Google searches and check the “people also ask” section and what the autofill comes up with. You can also use Answer The Public for the purpose and comb through forums, social media groups, and Reddit to see what the real pain points of your target audience are.
Creating this type of article will instantly put you ahead of the competition, as you are providing more value and targeting relevant issues.
Trustshoring does a great job, as seen in their post on offshore software development. They discuss both the benefits and the challenges and give some tips on how to hire the best developers. They are directly addressing the concerns of their audience — why would I work with the companies, what can go wrong, and how can I make it work?
Enhance words with images
Your long-form content also needs to be filled with appealing and relevant visuals if you want to provide a pleasant user experience.
People don’t read from screens like they do from books, so a wall of text will not cut it. Creating the same kind of experience for mobile and desktop users also won’t cut it.
You need to carefully consider the screen real estate you have at your disposal and populate it with helpful negative space and great visuals.
They will help break the text up and make it easier and more engaging to read. But don’t just think of the images as placeholders. Think of them as a way to add another layer of meaning to your post.
Images are great at conveying emotions, so use them to make your audience feel something: happy, frustrated, relieved, understood. When you can, use your own custom photos, and include product images, images of your team, and anything that will tie your brand in with the article.
Look at PresetLove and how they do it. For example, their post on the best winter presets shows you what each preset looks like, making it much easier to decide which one you might need and what kinds of results you can expect. This is a great way to both make the page more user-friendly and increase conversion rates.
Save your leads time and effort
Long-form content gives you the opportunity to save your readers plenty of time and effort by doing all the research for them. Instead of having to read several posts and reviews and perhaps learn a lot about a topic, they can simply read your guide or listicle and be done with it.
Comparison posts and list posts are great for this purpose. They need to be well-researched and extremely user-centric, as they need to help someone make a decision. The more relevant information you are able to provide, the better.
If you are also including yourself in this post, make sure to remain objective. The same rule applies to mentioning your competitors. Don’t make yourself sound too good, and don’t paint a bleak picture about everyone else.
Startup Resources does a good job with their “best” lists. Look at this one that focuses on the best lead providers. It’s not too long, so you don’t have to spend ages reading it. Apart from the list itself, it also tells you what a lead provider is and why you should consider using one in the first place.
Don’t forget the importance of formatting
Finally, don’t forget that alongside the images, you also need to consider the formatting of your long-form posts. Your goal is to ensure ease of reading and provide the best possible user experience across all screens.
Think about your font weight and size and how you want to organize your information. Make your headings descriptive and make sure they stand out. However, don’t make them too large, as that can be distracting.
Use numbered and bulleted lists whenever you can, as it will help organize your thoughts and tell a reader where they are located in the post.
Career Sidekick does a good job, as seen in their list of answers to the “why did you leave your last job” question. The list itself is numbered, which makes it much easier to digest, the paragraphs are short and to the point, and there is enough white space between each paragraph to ensure ease of reading.
Now that you know how and why you should be creating long-form content, you can start planning a post, reassured that you will be able to execute it well. Don’t forget to carefully tailor all of these tips to your own needs and audience!