07 Mar Why Long-Form Content is King in 2018 (And How to Write It)
The best kinds of content with the most engagement are long, in-depth posts. Chances are that the buzz generated by a short post won’t last, even if it goes viral. People want quality content to link to. Quality is difficult to achieve in 500 words or less.
You’re competing with millions of blog posts if you’re producing 750-word posts, but you’ll shrink your competition pool by making them longer. If you turn just half of your shorter posts into whitepapers, comprehensive guides, or e-books, you’ll start seeing results.
Long-Form Content Defined
According to Search Engine Land, long-form content refers to an expertly written piece that’s at least 1500 words long. More important than the word count is the organization, clarity, visual appeal, amount of detail included in the piece of writing. There is no shortcut to investing the time necessary to creating well-written, full-length guides or e-books. However, the result of boosting your company’s credibility pays off (quite literally).
The Key to Ranking for Competitive Terms
In the words of the tech research firm Forrester, developing in-depth content that delivers visible value to reinforce a brand’s competitive advantage is a huge piece of the content marketing success puzzle. Especially if you’re not a universally known brand, ranking for competitive keywords is incredibly challenging. However, every single piece of long-form, value-adding content produced helps your case.Users and search engines prefer it when they have more content to consume and choose from.
Naturally, search engines favor the kinds of content that users prefer. The next step is to re-evaluate how the creation and distribution of valuable content is aligning with the needs of your users.
3 Long-Form Content Tips (In a Timely Fashion)
If you have a lean team and a typical editorial content calendar to keep up with, you might hesitate to create long-form content because of the time commitment. When you’re used to writing much shorter articles, the shift to publishing long-form content on a regular basis might set you back.
Even if you do experience a slump in publishing frequency, don’t let the initial set back throw you off course completely. It’s normal for your team to focus the majority of its time on the first 2,000-7,000 word piece. However, this does not mean producing long-form content should permanently slow down your content marketing efforts. Here are three of our tips for not letting long-form content drag down your productivity.
1) Start with what you have and what you know.
There’s a common misconception that long-form content means inventing a completely new topic that you haven’t written about before. People think longer content has to include original research, copious infographics and hundreds of relevant examples. Don’t overthink it.
Simply breaking down big concepts into multiple smaller, easier-to-digest explanations makes your content longer without making it more convoluted. Take a blog post that performed well for a popular topic (verify this first using Google Analytics) and make a longer piece of content (like an e-book) out of it.
2) Gradually increase the word count.
If you don’t think longer content is your forte, increase the length of your content by a few hundred words with each new whitepaper/guide/ebook/etc each time you work on it. Finish your rough draft, step away from it, get a colleague’s opinion, and revisit it. You’re much more likely to come up with great ideas and find missing sections in your second or even third draft.
Like any other skill, practice makes writer longer content easier.
When you’re spending an extended period of time on something like an e-book, it forces you (in the best way possible) to focus on why you’re spending that time on it. The topic you pick should match your goals. Attracting leads requires different subject matter than content designed to retain existing customers.
Remembering why you’re even bothering to write something is important. When you know you will serve your specific audience with content they want, you’re on the right track. It’s your responsibility to make sure you have a method in place for measuring your results.
3) Collaborate and quote experts.
Sometimes the best way to support quality content without being repetitive is by bringing in some new, authoritative voices on the subject.
When you include a thoughtful snippet of analysis from an industry leader, not only does it boost your own credibility, but it could also introduce a different perspective. Wherever there is an interesting question asked that inspires discussion or debate, it’s more engaging for readers.
On this note, don’t become too overzealous and start randomly reaching out to every industry expert in your field for a few words. If you’re attention-grabbing in a professional way in your outreach, you could even set yourself for a mutually beneficial business relationship in the future.
2 Big Reminders When Writing Big Content
1) Long does not mean long-winded.
If you can say it in a concise way, do that. If you’re not careful, it’ll become obvious that you’re dragging out your explanation of a topic for word count purposes (that’s a surefire way to repel your audience). If you’re struggling to make a piece longer, you might want to take a step back and review your outline. Chances are you didn’t break down your topics into small enough sub-topics. There is almost an infinite amount of subtopics you can break down a larger topic into (if you really reflect on it).
2) You don’t need to consider yourself a writer.
You would probably never guess that entrepreneur and digital marketing guru Neil Patel never thought of himself as a “real” writer. Now, he has written countless pieces of super valuable/insanely popular long-form content over the years, and he even co-authored a book.
Practice and persistence are big contributors to his success, of course. However, most importantly, Neil writes in a conversational, simple way, focusing his writing on his expertise and experience, always providing plenty of examples to illustrate his points.
To sum it up…
Long-form content can deliver a very high value, but creating it can seem like a major challenge.
The pros significantly outweigh the cons of its difficulty when you consider that long-form content ranks better, gets more engagement, and ultimately gets more conversions.Check out our recent piece of long-form content: a comprehensive guide to Lifecycle Email Marketing with 150 different examples.
The longer the content, the more energy you should invest in making it the best possible resource. Make the user experience flawless. You want the greatest returns for your extra costly investment. As a starting point, hone in on the topics and tactics that have worked best for you in the past.
Chainlink Can Help
It’s important to set goals for content creation that coincide with your overall business goals.
As content marketing experts for our clients, we help them increase their companies’ organic website traffic and overall online credibility.
We can also provide valuable insights into customer histories, interactions, preferences and purchases using our proprietary platform, the Chainlink Marketing Platform.
If you don’t have a centralized data warehouse for all of your important customer data, we’ve got you covered. Our Chainlink Data Warehouse stores every single customer’s online interactions, so you can monitor activity at each touch point across channels.
Want to learn more about Chainlink’s technology-first, uniquely effective digital marketing services? Drop us a line below! We look forward to the chance to work with you.