Do you remember the days when content length and quality didn’t mean much in the world of SEO and content strategy?
While you may yearn for those days of simpler content creation, they are long gone. Furthermore, there’s no reason to believe things will turn in this direction in the future. Instead, high quality, in-depth long form content is crucial to increasing rankings, driving search engine traffic, and encouraging a better conversion rate.
In a post late last year, I said the following about long form content:
As a content marketer you have to create long form content, meaning 2000+ word, high-quality blog posts.
This was true then and it remains true in 2016.
There isn’t much gray area when it comes to blog posts and content length. If you want to boost your rankings, you better get used to creating the highest quality form content in your niche. This means striving for 2,000 words, but realizing that 3,000 is even better as your conversion rate.
Four years ago, I posted this chart :
With it, I added the following:
Based on the graph above, you can see that the first result typically has 2,416 words and the 10th result has 2,032 words. This shows that Google prefers content rich sites and long form content over short-form content.
Although four years has gone by, nothing has changed. Long form content alone won’t secure number one rankings for all of your target keywords, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for your content strategy.
Now that you understand exactly what’s needed, it’s time to get started. But, like many, you probably have some questions:
- Where will I find the time to create high quality, long form content?
- What strategies can I use to create content that converts ?
- What does a good long form blog post look like?
Below, you’ll find several examples of long form blog posts. It is my goal to show you the following about long form content:
- How to create long form content.
- How this type of long form content generates results, regardless of industry.
- The many ways to structure this type of blog post.
Let’s take a closer look at seven examples of long form content in seven different industries:
What better place to start with long form than one of my favorite guides?
Although I have personally created many guides over the years, all of which share the same basic principles, this piece of long form remains one of my favorites.
With nearly 3,000 social media shares, it is clearly one of my most popular guides of all time. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that it provides a simple breakdown of a topic that all internet marketing professionals want to learn more about.
Primary takeaway: if you only learn one thing from this guide on content marketing, let it be that you can enhance your long form content by adding images, screenshots and videos.
Here is an example:
Content is king and, as noted above, you want to strive for a minimum of 2,000 words of form content. Just remember that too much content, without a break, can become boring for the reader and challenged their attention span. This is why you should add visuals throughout the piece. Visuals will help to break up the text into more manageable short form and will better old the attention of your target audience.
Sitting in the fifth position for the keyword “content marketing guide,” it’s easy to see that this blog post has performed well, up to this point. And, hopefully it will continue to do so in the future.
Video advertising has been around for many years but is just now beginning to pick up some serious steam. This explains why Strategico.io decided to roll out such an advanced guide on the topic. It also worked great as an inbound marketing strategy.
Once you are finished with this guide, you won’t have many (if any) unanswered questions related to this subject matter. This was a content marketers magnum opus and a great example of long-form content.
The thing that I like best is how the guide is broken down into easy to digest chapters of short-form content, including:
- Why you need to use video ads in 2018
- How to create a highly effective video ad
- Spread your message like wildfire with Facebook Video Ads
- Reach your dream client with Instagram Video Ads
- Connect with B2B decision makers with Linkedin Video Ads
- Maximize your reach tapping into additional video platforms
- Take advantage of advanced targeting with Twitter Video Ads
- Get high CTR with Youtube Video Ads
- Target millennials with Snapchat Video Ads
If it weren’t for this short form approach, this guide would be much more difficult to read. Sure, all of the information would still be present, but it would be a challenge to move from one section to the next and for the reader to put everything together in his or her mind.
If you create long-form form content, you need to use as many headings as you can. This breaks up the post, allows for easy skimming and better attention span, and gives readers the opportunity to focus on the points that are most important to them.
To this point, we’ve examined two guides and long form content case studies that are marketing and advertising related. While this may be your main area of expertise, this guide proves that long form content can work for any niche.
A search for “kitchen remodeling guide” returns more than one million results. Furthermore, if you shorten this, searching instead for “kitchen remodel,” the results climb to more than 43 million.
In other words, this is an extremely competitive niche. If you want to compete for organic traffic as part of your content strategy, it goes without saying that your content needs to be among the best.
Primary takeaway: This Old House takes a unique approach to providing long form content, breaking down its guide content length into five distinct sections, on five different pages.
Each page is dedicated to a particular aspect of a kitchen remodel project, such as how to find the best contractor, planning a layout, etc.
When you search the keyword phrase “kitchen remodeling guide,” it’s this one that sits at the top of Google.
In addition to the layout of the content, each page is approximately 500 words long. This works out to more than 2,000 words of well planned and useful content. This is what you should be aiming for with your content strategy.
No matter who you are, it is likely that there’ll come a time when you find yourself in the market for a car.
But, as you know, buying a used car is easier said than done. Unless you want to become the victim of a shady car salesman, you need to know exactly what you’re doing. That is where this post comes into play.
Primary takeaway: with roughly 1,600 words, this isn’t the longest form content on buying a used car. It is, however, one of the most comprehensive. The reason for this is its 10 step layout, which gives consumers a clear idea of what they should be doing, one step at a time. As a content marketer, someone has planned this out very well.
Some of the steps include:
- Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
- Step 3: Check Prices and Reviews
- Step 5: Check the Vehicle History Report
- Step 8: Have the Car Inspected
- Step 10: Close the Deal
All of these steps are accompanied by high quality, detailed and actionable information as part of the long form content.
As you create your own long form content, keep in mind how Edmunds gets straight to the point with each bit of advice.
The thing to remember here is that, as a content marketer, you shouldn’t, “write just to write.” Yes, longer is better, in today’s day and age. But, this only holds true if you add something of value and provide your target audience with unique advice.
“Buying a Used Car” is a competitive keyword phrase with nearly 60 million results. While Edmunds has a lot going for it, from an SEO perspective, this post remains at the top of page one largely because of its depth and quality of advice.
The travel industry is one of the most competitive. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about or what you offer your target audience, you know that you will be faced with stiff competition both on social media and with your content strategy, at every turn.
So, if you want to stand out and reach the top of the search engines, it’s imperative that your content (whether short-form content or long form content) be head and shoulders above the rest.
This guide is a bit different in the way that it targets a particular type of vacation, as opposed to the generic term. When you combine this approach with a guide with an excess word count of 3,400, you are left with something that you can learn from.
Primary takeaway: have you ever come across a guide that is hard to follow? This could be due to too much text, too many images or a mixture of both. With this guide, there’s none of that. And, that’s what I want you to take notice of.
Here are a few things that this long form content does well. Use these to your advantage, regardless of your niche:
- Use of headings to push the content along from one idea to the next.
- Use of images to break up the content, but not so many that it becomes cluttered and difficult to follow.
- Use of numbered lists and bullet points, which provides for easy skimming and the ability to easily reread the guide upon completion.
Sometimes, simple is what works best. You don’t need to pack in tons of images and content that goes on and on in it’s word count. This guide proves this to be true and you should feel comfortable taking this approach with your blog.
If you want to start a business, you know there is no shortage of information and advice. In addition to the many people in your life who are willing to provide guidance, you can go online – find a case study, guide, tons of blog posts and exactly what you need.
Despite the competition in this space, Business News Daily has pushed its website to the top of the search engines for a variety of highly competitive terms. There are many reasons for this, including the depth of its content.
When you Google “how to start a business” you are presented with 753 million results. You read that right: 753 million.
For somebody interested in high quality information, this is a good thing. But, for a company that wants to rank for this term, it’s not the ideal situation.
Primary takeaway: despite many big time players in this space, Business News Daily’s step-by-step guide has almost reached the top of page one, currently sitting in the fourth position.
Even though it has some work to to do, in order to reach the #1 position, the #4 spot doesn’t come easily for this phrase. As noted above, it’s the depth of the content that allows this guide to rank high. This isn’t one of those pages you visit and then wonder what you’re doing. If you truly want to start a business, you’ll find everything that you need in this guide.
In addition to being more than 2,100 words in its word count, the guide is full of links that take you to additional information. For example, if you are seeking financing, you’re pointed towards content that can help you secure the money that you need.
Adding to the depth of the content is the fact that the guide appears to be updated regularly.
Many people overlook just how important it is to update their content, when necessary. In this case, starting a business in 2015 or 2016 is nothing like it was a few years ago. Updating your short form content provides your readers with more value, while also giving your website the chance to reach the top of the search engine rankings.
When it comes to competition, the online dating niche is at the top of the list. If you’re in this space, you know that you’re up against some major players, as well as a variety of smaller operations.
Even so, Cosmopolitan has had great success pushing out high quality content that attracts readers.
If you take the time to learn from a company in this space, you know that you are picking up a lot of valuable information. After all, they wouldn’t be ranking nearly as high if they weren’t doing everything right, in regards to their content.
Primary takeaway: a 1,600 word guide it isn’t far from short form content, there are others on this subject that are much longer. But, what the competition doesn’t provide is the same level of expert advice.
No matter your niche, you need to prove that you’re an expert. This attracts readers, keeps your audience coming back and helps you achieve success in the search engines.
This isn’t something that comes overnight. For example, it took me some time to become an expert content marketer. It’s important that you stick with your plan, even through the tough times, as you’ll come out better on the other side.
This Cosmopolitan guide isn’t the longest, but it is among the most detailed, when it comes to expert advice. Don’t create content just because you think you have to. Create content because you want to provide your audience with expert advice on a given subject. You may not realize that your content is among the best in your space, but your audience and the search engines will take notice and reward you.
Here’s an example of expert advice in this guide:
If you stay current with my blog, you know one thing to be true: every post is a minimum of 2,000 words when it comes to short form. And, in many cases, it’s not uncommon for me to reach 4,000 – 5,000 words.
By taking cues from the examples above, you may forever change the way that you look at long form content.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any tips to add? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.