Today, we’re going to talk about search engine optimization (SEO) and the power of long form content. In today’s online business world, having a solid SEO strategy is critical to ensuring your website’s visibility and driving organic traffic. Over time, the one key element that has emerged as a game-changer in making this happen is long form content.
What exactly is long form content? Long form content refers to articles or blog posts that go beyond the conventional word count. Longer articles are designed to take a more detailed look into the topic. We’re talking about those comprehensive pieces that surpass the 1,000-word mark.
The question of the day is, should you consider investing your time and effort into an SEO and marketing strategy that involves creating lengthy articles? What benefits would long form content bring to the table for YOUR business? And most importantly, is it worth it for your specific SEO goals and your target audience? These are the questions I’d like to explore in detail.
I’ve invested in long form content strategies myself over the past few decades. I’ve experienced what works and what doesn’t – firsthand. So, if this is a topic you’re truly interested in exploring, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’d like to share with you some of the secrets behind the power of long form content for SEO. At the conclusion of this article, I believe you’ll have the knowledge and insights to make an educated decision and take your SEO and marketing strategies to new heights.
When all is said and done, our goal is to make a significant impact on your website’s visibility, user engagement, and overall online success.
What is Long Form Content?
The term “long form content” may sound a bit technical, but it’s really not complex. Long form content refers to in-depth articles or blog posts that go beyond the typical length you’ll find on most websites. While there’s no strict rule about the word count, long form content generally exceeds the traditional 1,000-word mark.
Think of it as a deeper dive into a specific topic, where you have the space to explore various aspects of the topic. You can provide detailed explanations, and offer valuable insights that help your readers. Instead of a quick and shallow overview, long form content allows you to truly dig into the subject matter.
From an SEO or marketing perspective, what makes long form content valuable? For starters, search engines like Google value high-quality, comprehensive content that provides value to users. Their goal is to deliver the best possible search results, and longer articles often satisfy that criteria.
By crafting long form content, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise, showcase your authority in your niche, and provide your audience with a wealth of valuable information. This can help you stand out from the competition, boost your search engine rankings, and attract more organic traffic to your website. Especially if you create this kind of content ongoing. More about that in a bit,
Long form content tends to encourage user engagement. When readers discover an article that goes beyond surface-level information and provides a deeper understanding of the topic, they are more likely to stay on your page longer. When someone is truly interested in a topic, they’re more likely to read the entire piece, and even share it with others.
This increased engagement is what every business is looking for today. I’m not saying that you can’t create engagement with short form content. Obviously, you can. I’m just pointing out the fact that long form content can be a valuable addition to your existing SEO and marketing strategy.
So, whether you’re considering writing a comprehensive guide, an in-depth analysis, or a thought-provoking opinion piece, long form content can be a powerful tool in your SEO arsenal. It helps you provide real value to your audience and position yourself as a trusted source of information within your industry.
The Benefits of Long Form Content for SEO
OK, let’s get down to business and take a closer look at the benefits that long form content brings to your SEO strategy.
Enhanced Search Engine Rankings
Search engines, like Google, are constantly upgrading their algorithms to provide the most relevant and valuable content to their users. Long form content, with its comprehensive nature and in-depth insights, tends to tick all the boxes search engines look for. By creating extensive and well-researched articles, you increase your chances of ranking higher, attracting more organic traffic, and gaining valuable visibility.
Increased User Engagement
Let’s face it, attention spans are getting shorter these days. But guess what? Long form content has the power to captivate and engage your audience in ways that shorter pieces may struggle to achieve. When a true fan of a topic come across an article that provides a deep dive into the topic, they’re more likely to stay on the page longer. This increased user engagement sends positive signals to search engines and can contribute to improved SEO performance. In my personal experience, having employed this strategy on multiple websites, I’ve found the sweet spot (on average) to be between 900 and 1,000 words.
Establishing Authority and Credibility
In most of today’s crowded markets, establishing your authority and credibility is crucial. Long form content allows you to showcase your expertise, knowledge, and unique insights. By delivering comprehensive and valuable information to your audience, you position yourself as a trusted source within your industry. This authority-building not only builds trust among your readers but also helps search engines recognize your website as a reliable and reputable resource.
Targeting a Wider Range of Keywords
Keywords play a significant role in SEO, and long form content provides you with plenty of opportunities to target a broader range of keywords. With more content real estate to work with, you can naturally incorporate relevant long-tail keywords, synonyms, and related terms throughout your article. This expands your chances of appearing in search results for various search queries, attracting diverse segments of your target audience, and increasing your organic reach.
Even if you don’t know the technical aspects of SEO (H-tags, meta descriptions, keyword density, tags, etc.), you’ll naturally use many of the words and phrases people are looking for if you know your topic well. I had one website that ranked on the first page of Google for a decade for it’s keywords that broke just about every technical SEO technique in existence. It stayed on the first page from 2009 until 2019. The only thing the site had going for it was that it was built using WordPress.
Back to what I was saying, long form content is not just about word count. It’s about unlocking the immense benefits it brings to your SEO strategy. From improved search engine rankings to increased user engagement, and from establishing authority to targeting a wider range of keywords – long form content has the potential to take your online presence to new heights.
Next, we’ll talk about the factors you should consider before jumping into creating long form content.
Factors to Consider Before Creating Long Form Content
Now that we’ve covered the exciting benefits of long form content, it’s time to take a step back and consider a few important factors. Like anything else in life or business, you need to count the costs before diving headfirst into this strategy. By taking the time to assess all of the factors, you’ll ensure that your efforts yield the best possible results and align with your goals and resources.
Understanding Your Target Audience’s Preferences: This is where we start. Your audience is at the heart of your content strategy. Before creating long form content, it’s essential to understand their preferences and needs. Are they hungry for in-depth knowledge and detailed explanations? Or, do they prefer bite-sized, easily digestible content? I learned from experience that my niche wants both.
Evaluating the Complexity of the Topic: Long form content works wonders for complex and intricate topics that require in-depth exploration. However, not all subjects lend themselves well to lengthy articles. Some topics might be better suited for shorter, focused pieces. Assess the complexity of your chosen topic and consider whether it warrants a deep dive or if a more concise approach would serve your audience better. Striking the right balance between depth and readability is key to creating engaging long form content.
Assessing Available Time and Resources: Creating long form content requires time, effort, and resources. AI can be a valuable tool in your arsenal when it comes to shortening the time. That said, the time element is still in play. That’s why it’s really important to evaluate whether you have the capacity to consistently produce lengthy articles.
As a solo content creator, you may enjoy the writing process. That said, can you see yourself maintaining your monthly pace – 12-months down the line. Consistency is the key to marketing success with your long form content creation.
With one of my websites, I rose to the top of the niche by creating long form content on a monthly basis for a year. I wrote one or two articles a month. It took a year to get to the first page with several keywords and keyword phrases. I kept the same pace for over three years.
Afterward, I grew tired of investing my time and energy because the ROI (return on investment) just wasn’t there. It was great for ego, but not so much for income. It was another lesson learned. Once you have the right income strategy, getting to the top and being visible will pay off in dividends. Otherwise, it will just be a learning experience.
Making an Informed Decision
Decision-making—the foundation of any successful endeavor. Now that you’re aware of the benefits and factors surrounding long form content, it’s time to think things through and make an informed decision. Remember, your content strategy should align with your goals, resources, and audience preferences. Let’s talk about the process of making that decision.
Aligning SEO Objectives with Long Form Content Benefits
Take a moment to reflect on your SEO objectives and how long form content can support them. Is your goal to improve search engine rankings, increase organic traffic, or establish your authority within your industry? Long form content has the potential to deliver on each of these objectives. You’ll be providing your readers comprehensive information, engaging your audience, and earning search engine recognition. Consider how the benefits I mentioned earlier align with your specific goals.
Analyzing Your Target Audience and Content Preferences
Even if you get all the technical stuff right, your audience holds the key to your content success. Do your best to understand their preferences, content consumption habits, and pain points. Analyze their interactions with your existing content to identify patterns and trends. Does your audience show a thirst for detailed information, or do they prefer shorter, concise pieces? By aligning your long form content strategy with their preferences, you can ensure that you’re delivering what they truly want.
Evaluating Resources and Capacity for Consistent Content Creation
Creating long form content requires dedication and persistence. Take a realistic look at your available resources—both in terms of time, team, or tech capacity. Do you have the bandwidth to consistently produce lengthy articles without compromising quality or neglecting other aspects of your business? Assess your research capabilities, writing resources, and editorial processes. Remember, it’s better to maintain a sustainable content creation flow than to burn out or sacrifice quality in the long run.
By thinking it through, you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision about incorporating long form content into your strategy. It’s all about finding the right balance between the benefits it brings, your audience’s preferences, and the resources at your disposal.
Truth be told, I’d rather prepare you for an intense battle and have you come back to me in 6 or 12 months and tell me, “Jim, that really wasn’t that hard. I made a schedule, stuck to it, and am starting to see results.”
I would rather you be prepared for a distance fight and not need it than need it and not be prepared.
Crafting Effective Long Form Content
Let’s talk about some of the tips, techniques, and strategies that will help your articles captivate your audience, provide value, and boost your SEO efforts.
Choose Compelling Topics
The foundation of any great article is a captivating topic. Remember, we’re not talking about topics that are captivating to ANY audience, we’re talking about topics that will be captivating to YOUR audience. At the very least, you want to select subjects that resonate with your audience, align with your brand, and have the potential for in-depth exploration. Consider conducting keyword research to identify trending topics or gaps in the market. I use Keywords Everywhere and Serpstat. I also use ChatGPT. Look for areas where you can provide unique insights and valuable information. Remember, the more compelling the topic, the more likely readers are to engage with your content.
Structure with Headings and Subheadings
Lengthy articles can be overwhelming to readers, so it’s crucial to provide a clear and organized structure. Break your content into sections using headings and subheadings. This not only helps readers navigate the article but also allows search engines to understand the hierarchy and relevance of the information. Remember to optimize your headings with relevant keywords to enhance your SEO. Here’s an example from Yoast SEO. Under each type of heading would be the paragraph text (which is what you’re reading right now).
Storytelling and Case Studies
Long form content provides plenty of room for storytelling and incorporating real-life examples. Personal anecdotes, case studies, or success stories can add a human touch and make your content relatable. Storytelling not only captures readers’ attention but also helps them connect with your message on a deeper level. Sometimes I’ll revisit an article I wrote a few years ago and add a story to it to increase its value. It doesn’t have to be a long story or a short story. The idea is, we’re looking to connect with others on more than just a surface level.
Use Visuals to Enhance Understanding
Visual elements such as images, infographics, and charts can significantly enhance the readability and comprehension of your long form content. Break up the text with relevant visuals that reinforce your message, illustrate complex concepts, or provide visual appeal. Remember to optimize images for SEO by using descriptive file names and alt tags.
Incorporate Internal and External Links
Long form content provides an excellent opportunity to incorporate both internal and external links. Internal links guide readers to related content on your website, increasing their engagement and improving your website’s structure. External links to reputable sources not only support your claims but also signal to search engines that you’re providing valuable resources. For years, I was lazy and skipped over this step. Today, I make it a point to link to other articles or relevant websites.
Optimize for Readability and SEO
Despite the length of your content, readability is the key. Use clear and concise language. Break up paragraphs into shorter chunks. Utilize bullet points or numbered lists for easier consumption. Additionally, optimize your content for SEO by incorporating relevant keywords naturally. Using WordPress along with plugins like Yoast, SEO Press Pro, and Rank Math make
By applying these strategies, you can create long form content that resonates with your audience, provides value, and enhances your SEO efforts. Remember to always put your audience first, stay true to your brand, and continuously analyze and refine your content strategy for the best results.
In the final section, I’ll leave you with some key takeaways to remember on your long form content journey.
Measuring the Impact of Long Form Content
My earliest experiments using a combination of long form content published on WordPress-based websites started in 2008. I’ve had plenty of time to learn from hands-on experience with clients from many different types of marketplaces. At the start of each new project, the number one question on my mind was – how long is it going to take before I start seeing results?
Sometimes the results came really fast. Other times, not so much.
I’m sharing this with you because there’s no way to tell exactly how long it will take for you to succeed, even if you do everything by the book. The mistake I made, which I’m hoping you won’t, is that I gave up too soon with certain projects.
In other words, I was prepared to run a mile, but not a long distance race. Once you begin to lose hope, everything else begins to grind to a halt.
The more competitive the niche, the longer you’ll most likely have to stay with it. Maybe you’ll have to create videos or audios to compliment your written content. You have to be willing to make adjustments and keep on keeping on.
You can do all the right things for 12 months, and nothing happens. You can do all the right things for 24 months, and nothing happens. Suddenly, you’re at 36 months and your website and business explode with growth and sales. Your mind will tell you, “If you were doing the right things, you would have seen results by now!”
Sometimes that voice in your head is the last voice you want to listen to.
Okay, let’s talk about how you can measure the impact of your long form content and track its success.
Analyze Website Traffic
Start by examining the traffic your long form content generates. Analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you to identify the number of visits, page views, and the average time spent on your articles. Look for patterns and trends to understand which pieces are attracting the most attention and engaging your audience. Remember, you’re going to (most likely) have to exercise some patience here. It could take a while before you see the stats moving in your favor.
I’ve even seen them move in the opposite direction before course correcting and moving upward. This is why some people stress “the mental game” in business so much.
Connecting on a real, human level with your audience is crucial. I know I don’t have to tell you that, but it sure is good to be reminded of it every now and then. The data will show us if people are connecting us. It opens a window into the success of our long form content. Keep an eye on metrics such as the average time on page, bounce rate, and social shares. These numbers reflect how well your content resonates with your audience and whether readers are actively engaging with and sharing your articles.
Assess Conversions and Goal Completion
Long form content can have a direct impact on conversions and goal completion. Monitor conversion rates, sign-ups, downloads, or any other desired actions that align with your business objectives. Track how your long form content contributes to these conversions and identify opportunities to improve your content.
Measure Backlinks and Referral Traffic
Backlinks play an important role in SEO and the success of your long form content. Keep an eye on the number of backlinks your articles acquire and the referral traffic they generate. Quality backlinks from reputable websites not only contribute to your SEO efforts but also indicate the value and relevance of your content.
Get Feedback and Engagement
Remember, measuring the impact of your long form content is an ongoing process. Over the past 25 years, I’ve continuously analyzed the data and adjusted my strategies. It will be no different in your case. You’ll learn to experiment with new approaches. By staying attentive to the data as well as the live feedback, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what works best for your audience.
Okay, I think that’s a wrap for this topic. This article, of course, is in and of itself an example of long form content. There’s no way to do the topic justice in 500-600 words. All that said, I don’t lock myself into making every article I write “technically perfect” by every single SEO standard. For example, someone might say, “This article would be better if you included a numbered list of some kind.” Or, “You’re not using any H – 4, 5, or 6 tags in this article!”
That’s correct. I didn’t feel it made sense to do so from a reader’s standpoint. I’m writing for people first, bots second. I’ve tested enough over the years to learn that this approach works, and works well.
So, don’t be afraid to jump in and get started. Adapt your strategies as needed. Regularly monitor the performance of your long form content. Learn from the data. Finally, refine your process to achieve even better results when it makes sense to do so.
May your long form articles leave your competitor’s highly ordinary, highly forgettable content in the dust!
Thanks for reading!