A few years ago, one of the more relatable headlines from satirical/fake news site The Onion was shared heavily online for relaying a common sentiment. To paraphrase politely, the fake news story was titled, “Friend Who Sent Link To 8-Minute YouTube Video Must Be [Really] Delusional.” The post went viral likely because so many people had been there before. Our attention-addled daily lives have become accustomed to bite-sized distractions, so someone putting a huge, long-winded piece of content out there and expecting others to digest the whole thing must have lost touch with reality — or so the gag goes.
All jokes aside, assuming everyone in your audience has this type of Attention Deficit Disorder has actually started to hurt the digital marketing world. Many brands have come to expect less and less of their audience, causing them to condense every possible type of video or post into something that can be enjoyed in fewer than 30 seconds. The simple fact is that not every idea can be given justice in this time. Businesses and brands may have to stretch out their content format on occasion to explore deeper stories or concepts.
Surprisingly, no matter how “delusional” some may think you are for publishing this long-form content, it can actually benefit your business. A lot, in fact. Here’s why.
Long-Form Content Builds Better Traffic and Better Audiences
Those who jump quickly into the “TL;DR” (too long, didn’t read) category often do not make the best client leads. Without the desire to pay attention to something, they can miss out on critical value propositions or subtle ways that your services are an improvement over your competitors’. These impatient users tend to leave your site quickly, spending few precious moments on any one page. They are likely missing all your calls to action (CTAs) in the process.
With long-form content, the people who linger long enough to digest the whole thing are likely to have more interest in what you have to say. They remain on pages for longer durations, and the quality of the long-form content may spark curiosity, leading them to explore other site pages. As Forbes puts it: “When you need to generate search traffic that converts to signups, long-term relationships, and larger amounts of organic traffic over the long term, long form content is often more effective.”
These results are more than a theory; numbers prove it. Digital marketing company serpIQ discovered a few years ago that the top-ranking content on Google more often than not exceeds 2,000 words. This content also ends up having more backlinks leading to it, improving search engine ranking chances by an even greater magnitude. So, despite what “conventional” wisdom may say, long-form content can be well worth your time and money.
Strategies for Using Long-Form Content
For businesses without a large marketing budget, the easiest format of long-form content is text-based. These lengthy 1,500 words plus posts can get you the higher-quality traffic you need while delivering more in-depth answers to your audience’s questions. Such long-form content can be published on your regular blog, but having permanent links in a “resources” page or somewhere similar does a better job at setting this content apart.
So what should you write about? For most small and medium-sized businesses, their best choice of long-form content lies in well-crafted stories or in-depth guides related to their area of expertise. Using a hypothetical criminal lawyer website, an example of storytelling would be “How Modern Self Defense Laws Evolved from Our Constitutional Rights.” The post would be from a historical perspective, talking about the philosophy of self-defense laws from the time of our founding fathers up to the most recent, relevant case law. Ironically, such a post would barely scratch the deeper surface of each milestone in the timeline, but offering a long-term historical perspective could easily draw the interest of a client lead or someone who might use the law office as a resource.
An example of a guide for the same type of law office website would be “Everything You Need to Know About Self Defense Laws.” Online searchers would flock to such a page if they were worried about being accused of a crime when they acted in self defense, or if they already were facing charges.
You can see how both types of content would draw in the right audiences who are deeply interested in certain niche areas, which also happen to be related to that law office’s services. Stronger audiences are built, and client leads become more confident about the office’s capability to handle their case.
Long-Form Content Best Practices
Now that you know more about why and how you should create long-form content, let’s briefly cover some best practices that can ensure your long-winded efforts won’t have been in vain.
- Structure for long-form content is critical. Users should have clear section organization so they can consult the information they care the most about.
- Summarize what the gist of the content is in an introduction, and establish an emotional or practical reason that the audience should care.
- Use “evergreen” content that does not get dated quickly. For news events, only discuss something that will still be relevant years later.
- Break up chunks of text that exceed nine lines on a typical display. Use short paragraphs, or turn information into bullets as we have done here.
- Use visual elements like photos, drawings, bulleted text, sub headings and diagrams to add further visual interest. Variety is key when trying to make pages look less text-heavy.
- You can zoom out to preview the completed page and see if sections look too thick with text.
- View the publish-ready content on several monitor sizes and mobile devices, including tablets and large size smartphones like the iPhone Plus.
- When building audiences, host long-form content on its own page or on a hub page that can quickly bring up all the long-form articles together
- With established audiences, you can make the content “gated” by requiring an email submission and a download. White papers most commonly use the format.
- Transforming long-form content later into several smaller 500 word blog summary posts can help you get more use out of the effort. It can also encourage visitors to reference the original evergreen long-form post.
Finally, and most importantly: have fun! The content you write should be content you want to read covering an area of your personal interest. This self-driven passion will attract views and a loyal readership more so than any traffic-grabbing “tricks” like keyword spam — which Google now punishes harshly.
Don’t Have the Time to Write Long-Form Content?
Going back to the humorous The Onion article, we at EverSpark Interactive hope that no one thinks we’re delusional for asking them to write a 1,500 word-plus post every month. Rest assured, we know that not every business owner has the time or the motivation for the task.
Luckily, our team of dedicated content writers can supply their own passion for learning and explaining big concepts to others. Let us set them to work for you, and you could just have found your new best source of brand building, audience building and lead generation.
Click here to learn more about how our digital marketing services can help your business.