Long form content gets more social shares and has the potential to bring in a lot of organic traffic… but only if you can put it in front of the eyes of its intended audience! How can you write long-form content that people will want to read?
At a time when we’re using small mobile screens and when the average attention span is dropping considerably, some marketers are opting for shorter and shorter content. What many don’t realize, however, is that there are many advantages to long-form content that cannot be replicated with short opinion pieces.
Perhaps most notably, long-form content is key for building a successful marketing strategy. Think about what kind of content is getting you the most traffic. It is way more likely that we are talking about some in-depth guide than just a superficial overview of an already well-discussed topic.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just look at the stats. Longer content attracts more links and generally performs better in search results.
As well as benefiting from more linking domains, long-form content also receives more social shares than its short form counterparts. And when it comes to Google ranking, the majority of the top-ranking pages for any given keyword will actually be long-form articles.
Here are 7 tips for creating effective long-form content:
#1 – Understand When Long Form Content Is Needed
It’s no secret that long-form content isn’t suitable for every topic. Before you start typing away, it’s worth considering whether your audience will be willing to read through3000+ words on your particular subject.
You can do that by:
- Choosing your topic based on an in-depth keyword research and target audience analysis
- Reviewing how extensively have your topics already been covered and can you actually add something new
- Choosing an area you have experience in and can provide personal insight
#2 – Opt for Sustainability
Sustainability is for your own benefit, as well as for the benefit of your audience. After all, you don’t want to put the effort into writing long-form content if there are no long-lasting benefits. If you’re looking for long-term success, then your content must be able to go the distance.
Time-sensitive content (eg.“places to visit for Christmas 2018”) is like having ice cream for dinner; great, but you’re hungry again 2 hours later. Evergreen content (eg.“how to prepare for a Christmas travel”) is like a hearty soup; it keeps you satisfied for longer.
This is not to say that time-sensitive content can’t be effective. Recognize and covering a trend early on can be a way of acquiring a lot of links and shares. However, long-form content is what will continue to earn you links and traffic for years to come.
For more info, check out this guide on how to increase organic traffic with evergreen content.
#3 – Reference Valuable Resources
3000+ words on your point of view alone? That’s perhaps not the best way to engage audiences. And especially if you’re looking for ways to position yourself as an authority on a particular subject, it’s vital that you’re able to back up what you’re saying by referencing some alternative sources within your article.
We can all throw around different stats, but they mean nothing unless you can prove they are coming from a valuable source. This becomes especially important if you are using particular stats to drive a certain point of view.
Look for authoritative sources that either support or question your point of view and go on to discuss these within the piece. There are plenty of options here. If you’re writing about healthcare, you could cite work published in medical journals. Writing about business? Look to research centers such as McKinsey.
With content marketing being so huge right now, there is a lot of good content out there that can add value and complement your piece.
#4 – Focus On Readability And Structure
If you’re going to write an article that’s pretty long, it’s important to make it as readable as possible to minimize dropouts along the way. The longer you can keep a visitor on your site, the more chance you have of referring them to one of your money/landing pages or to pull them into your funnel through a well-placed and enticing lead magnet.
One of the obvious ways to improve readability is to minimize big blocks of text and instead make efforts to break your text up into manageable chunks. You can do this by:
- Ensuring that you write short paragraphs (everything longer than 4 rows on a desktop monitor will take ages to scroll through on a mobile device; for insurance, you can pull your article through the Hemingway app)
- Splitting article into logical sections through the use of subheadings
- Inserting a content table at the beginning of the article or use some other form of navigation (like a table of content in the sidebar you can access at all times to navigate through the article)
- Using images videos, and custom graphics to break up the text and give it some dynamic
- Using bullet points when you have a list of 4 or more things
While it can be time-consuming to ensure your article looks good and has a good flow, this is not a place to cut corners. You don’t want to spend 40 hours creating and publishing an awesome guide that will have a high exit rate because people can’t force themselves to pile through your walls of text or horribly structured content.
#5 – Include Different Lead Magnets
A few personal blogs aside, the ultimate goal of most published content is to convert prospects into customers and clients. And a great way to pull readers into your funnel is through well-placed lead magnet offer.
Pop-ups on exit intent, slide-ins, in-text lead magnets, engaging offers in the sidebar – there are a lot of options you can use and tools like Optinmonster and Thriveleads makes this process quite streamlined.
By getting your prospects interested in your lead magnet offer and picking up their contact info, it gives you a way to get in touch with them again and convince them to give you a chance. What we like to do is to set-up an e-mail sequence of 4 or 5 emails that get sent over a period of 7-10 days that are designed to move the prospects through our sales funnel.
Long-form content is the perfect place for your lead magnets because:
- It will probably attract a decent amount of traffic
- Gives you a lot of options in terms of what kind of lead magnet you want to use and where do you want to place it
Last but not least, don’t forget on interlinking.
If you don’t have the ideas or the resources to create lead magnets, linking to your money pages is another way to turn casual visitors into potential prospects.
Writing Long Form v. Short Form Content
Ultimately, there really isn’t too much difference in writing long-form vs short-form content. After all, there are many aspects of ‘good content’ that is universal. This includes:
- thoroughly researching the topic
- understanding what your audience wants to read about
- discussing one idea at a time
- ensuring good flow between those ideas
- using good spelling and grammar
- adding videos, graphics, and other rich media
- writing in a tone and style that suits the intended audience
However, writing long-form content does require you to think about a few additional details and to do someplanning andd research, which we discussed in this article.
When it is all said, done, written, and published, don’t forget to extensively promote your content!It doesn’t matter how good your piece is if no one knows it exists.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use when developing long-form content? Don’t be a hogger and let us know in the comments below.