When Twitter doubled the number of characters allowed in a tweet in 2017, one would’ve expected an explosion of long tweets (at least long in the Twitter-verse).
However, in 2018 only 1% of tweets actually hit the character limit, and only 12% reached past 140 characters.
Daily, we pass through short, pithy tweets, clever and concise Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures punctuated by a handful of hashtags.
Our drive-up, have-it-your-way, have-it-now society loves their brief communication.
Or do they?
Somewhere between the 140-character tweet and the 2,000-word article (which is growing in popularity) lies this dead zone called “500.”
The 500-800 word piece no longer works well. It’s too long to keep the reader’s interest, to be pithy and clever like a tweet, but too short to offer any real meat or authority on the subject as long articles would.
Keep reading to learn what long articles can do for your Google ratings and how to transition from short to long-form content.
What is Long-Form Content?
In the world of content, two categories exist: short-form and long-form.
Short form consists of any writing, ad, article, or post that has fewer than 1,000 words in it. Typically, short-form work ranges from 500 to 800 words.
Long-form, logically, consists of more than 1,000 words. When marketers and writers refer to long-form content, they’re talking about a 2,000+ word piece.
Quality and Quantity
Long-form content has received a bad name for a while now because many writers early on in the online content world learned that they needed to repeat keywords often, and when they did this, the article would pop up at the top of the search engines.
However, readers – and search engines – have grown both in quantity and quality. Readers want more meat and they’re not going to revisit a site that simply spits out 2,000 words of gobbledygook.
The content length, style, and quality matter most when looking at long-form content.
Thus, while long-form content refers to the number of words in a piece, from this point forward, when we refer to long-form content, we are referring to quality long-form content –– the kind full of meaty ideas and helpful information.
What Long Articles Can Do For You
While short articles hit your readers with information hard and fast, they also provide the reader with a two-minute read.
Long articles can serve your business, website, and readers so much more. Here’s how:
Long Articles Keep Your Readers There
Considering the average adult reads approximately 200 to 250 words in one minute, long articles can take a reader up to ten minutes to read.
As you consider the value of the long article, put the estimated reading time at the top of the page. Readers are more likely to read your material if they know how much time they need to read it.
Long Articles Go Deeper
Long articles offer the writer real estate to research a topic and give the reader some meat. This gives you the freedom to tap into niche marketing for your particular demographic.
Great marketing means you understand who comes to your site, and you know the material that will keep that person there. If you’re selling plumbing materials and have a 2,500 word piece on the best sump pumps on the market, you’ll have time to say what makes a great pump and not create an arbitrary list of products.
Long articles serve the readers well. They let you share some real insight and helpful ideas rather than the highlights of your topic. They go in depth and do not only gloss over the surface of the topic.
Imagine if you had the choice of reading a single, well-written, 2,000 word piece on a particular topic or four 500 word pieces on the same topic.
Savvy readers would choose a single topic. They understand that approximately ten percent of a piece consists of introductions and conclusions. With a longer piece, you have more room for helpful content instead of clever hooks and click bait.
Long Articles Reward the Impatient Reader
No one denies we live in an impatient society. We believe we control the world with our cute little phones. We tell the pizza when to arrive and pay extra to have our Amazon packages at our door tomorrow.
Content producers long believed that short articles worked best for the impatient reader.
But here’s the deal: readers want content. 500 words cannot give them enough of what they want.
If you have quality long articles, you have the chance to build some authority in those articles and to wisely use external links that prove you understand what you’re talking about.
This, in turn, builds your reputation as an authority in your field. You will sound like you understand your business because you have solid content on your site.
Long-Form Content Marketing
Long-form content marketing means your article works to market your business and not inform the reader.
When you visit a website and see an article that tells the story about underwater Internet cables used for spying, and that story has 40 different sources, you’re looking at some long-form content marketing.
No doubt, you have more than your basic long article.
Long-form content marketing works to drive your site’s ranking up on Google and to ultimately bring more people to your site.
How and Why Does Long-Form Content Marketing Work?
Statistics tell the truth that long-form content marketing does drive up traffic. But exactly why does it do this?
Long Articles Tell an Interesting Story
Humanity evolved with a desire for narrative. They want to hear stories, and long articles allow the writer to tell a story that engages the reader and teaches him or her about your content and business.
Long Articles Increase User Engagement
When you have copious content, you increase your chances of user engagement. Readers can find more to talk about, more to comment on, and more reasons to share what you’ve posted on your site if you have a long article.
Long Articles Increase User Engagement and Rank Higher on Google
Content writers have long known long-form marketing is beneficial for SEO. Google analytics are now revealing this more formally.
Neil Patel, a top influencer in the content marketing space, practiced on his own website to see how long-form content worked.
He believed it would receive more social media shares than short content. And he was right.
Mr. Patel looked at 327 blog posts he had written and analyzed their shares. The posts under 1,500 words on average received 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes. The posts above 1,500 words received 293.5 tweets and 72.7 Facebook likes.
Long Articles Reward the Savvy Reader
People are getting smarter. They’re searching with savvy and discernment.
Consumers are using more words in their average search query. Also, if you have more words in your content, you’re more likely to find your site at the top of a longer word search.
If you have quality long content written by solid writers, and if you consult with a knowledgeable firm that can help you incorporate effective keywords, you will see your traffic go up.
The long-form website runs much like long-form marketing and the long-content piece. Basically, you’re not afraid to run more content on your website and provide your consumer with substance.
Neil Patel also tried this out.
He researched and reported on data that shows a direct correlation between the length of the content and the number of people who link to it.
This is why the average web page that ranks on the first page of Google has over 2,000 words of content.
The sites that have strong, authoritative content in 2018 were rewarded with the most backlinks.
Although a lot of content never gets linked to, strong authoritative content almost always does.
When people trust you, they will link to your website far more frequently. More authoritative, quality writing will build that kind of trust.
Your website is your most silent but hardest working employee. So when you shop around for a company to help you design or re-design it, you should mention the value of a long-form website in addition to long-form content and long articles.
Steps to Long-Form Content
If you’ve long believed in the 500 word blog post and want to try out long-form content, you will need to take some systematic steps to convert your website.
Social Media Today outlines six basic steps to creating and then marketing long articles.
1 – Outline Your Goals
Identify your audience before you even begin to put together content. Long content works best when you have a target audience in mind and can meet that audience’s needs.
This means knowing both what the audience wants to read and what voice speaks best to that audience.
After all, you wouldn’t send a thank you note to your grandma with the same rhetoric you’d use in an annual report.
Consider who you will write to and why you are writing the content. Are you informing? Warning? Entertaining?
Also, identify your success benchmarks. What will make this content successful? When you revisit the idea of content, you will have a way of knowing if you succeeded.
2 – Decide on Gated vs. Non-Gated Content
Can everyone see everything? Gated content works so that you allow everyone to see a portion of your content and then require a login or paid subscription to see the rest.
Non-gated content gives the goods away for free.
Both have their advantages, so consider which works best for your overall purpose.
3 – Select Your Topic
After you know who you will be reaching, consider the topics that will deliver value to your audience.
Begin with considering keywords or search terms your customers will use when looking for your services or products.
Peruse your past topics as well. What worked well for you? What can you do to improve those?
Look at what your competition is posting. Can you improve on their content? Do they have any holes in the information that you can provide for your website visitors?
4 – In-House or Freelance
Great content takes time, energy, and talent to produce. Professional writers and SEO companies can help you produce quality content.
However, great content also can cost money and time on your end.
If you opt to outsource your content work, take time to outline your expectations with the freelancer so he or she knows what you need.
5 – Format Content
Reading is laborious. It requires the physical act of moving your eyes from left to right while your brain processes the symbols in front of your eyes.
When you produce long articles, you need to break up the content with headers that help give the eyes a rest.
Typically your headers should have no more than 300 words between them. Any more than 300 words creates a laborious read for the average reader.
Use internal links to show the reader more of your website than just the one article they are reading.
Be sure to finish with a single, clear call-to-action that draws ideas to a close.
6 – Content Promotion Strategy
Outline your content promotion strategy. Think about how you plan on promoting this new content.
Will you use an email list? Share it across social media channels? Pay for promotion on Facebook and Twitter? Send out a press release?
Produce Great Content (and Lots of It)
Long articles can be a game-changer when it comes to your website traffic. You have the potential to go from crawling to zooming, from the bottom of the search engine results to the top, if you have a lot of great content.
On big caveat: writing for the sake of writing is pointless, and pumping out a ton of long-form articles just to rank well in Google is equally useless.
That said, whenever you’re writing long articles, make sure to go out of your way to write the best piece of content possible, fully addresses your topic, and thoroughly answer your searchers query. When you do that, your readers (and Google) will love you.
Want to learn more? Book your free breakthrough strategy session today.