long form content

Long Form Content – 7 Reasons It Can Boost Your SEO

By: Frank DePino | October 26, 2020

In many facets of life, we are always taught to keep it brief.

Even social media platforms in their infancy tried to stress brevity by only permitting so many words and characters in our posts.

Changes that allow for more words and characters are recent updates. So it would reason that content should follow these same rules of brevity, right?

To have higher performing content, longer is better. This long form content can help drive your SEO, which is the goal we all want for our content as marketers.

Seven ways long form content can help boost your SEO:

  1. Longer content means visitors will spend more time on your website
  2. Longer content helps establish you as an authority on that topic.
  3. Increased social media engagement
  4. Your content will have a longer lifespan
  5. Long form content ranks higher in SERP features
  6. Longer content means more chances to use your keywords and increase your ranking
  7. Increased chance of getting more backlinks to your content
long form content piece

What Exactly Is Long Form Content?

There is a bit of debate on what word count constitutes the beginning of a long form content piece.

Some agencies would say a word count of 700 is the start of a long content piece.

Others would set 1800 words as the starting point for long form content pieces.

In the industry, you can usually find consensus around calling a 1200 word piece of content a longer piece of content.

long form content length

There is no real ceiling on how long a piece of content can be.

The proper length is dependent on the industry and what the purpose of the content is. While many content writers and agencies think 500-800 word pieces are in demand and what readers crave, this isn’t the case.

There is absolutely a need for content in that word count range, but longer pieces perform with readers and in SEO metrics. There is a demand for long form content.

Short form content pieces are great for covering an overview of the subject matter. Long form content is in-depth coverage of a topic or subject matter.

It requires research and analysis of your chosen topic.

Long form content doesn’t just take one form.

Whitepapers are one kind of long form content that marketers create.

This style of content is a very in-depth analysis of a subject complete with charts, graphs, and other visuals to tell the story. With many companies, this is a quite popular style of content.

Other popular types of long form content are pieces like listicles or how-to articles.

Infographics are also a popular style of long form content.

Long videos and webinars are also additional styles of long form content.

There are many examples of long form content available on the web. Here are some that stand out.

  • Google created this piece of long form content as a way to organize all their information and resources that discuss the most searched trends and words of the year.
  • Search Engine Journal created this piece to detail the hottest SEO trends for 2017. This piece is notable for how it uses visual elements to break up the blocks of written content.
  • This example from National Geographic shows how to have a long form piece that is built around the use of photos.
long form content planning

Why Should You Use Long Form Content?

There are many reasons to incorporate long form content into your regular content creation strategy.

But the primary reason is that Google gives preference to longer pieces of content in its search algorithms.

You want to take whatever steps you can to boost your visibility with Google and other search engines. While there are many ways to find and drive paid traffic to your site, you still want to capture as much organic traffic on the internet that you can.

You never know which customer that sees your site will end up becoming a customer.

Organic traffic is free and you want to take advantage of that whenever you can. 

Here are seven ways that long form content boosts your SEO rankings with Google:

1. Longer content means visitors will spend more time on your website

You want visitors to spend as much time as possible on your website.

The longer a visitor stays, the better chance you have of that person taking some type of action.

Longer content will take longer for a person to consume and will contain more links to other pages on your site.

This strategy will help you meet your end goal of getting visitors to engage with your content and take the desired action. Long form content can triple the amount of time visitors spend on your site.

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2. Longer content helps establish you as an authority on that topic

As has already been mentioned, writing shorter content pieces is not as challenging as long form content is.

Shorter pieces don’t require the attention to detail or the amount of research that longer pieces require.

The more details your piece includes, the more you will appear as an expert in this field or on this subject.

Also, if you can consistently create and develop high quality long form content, you will be seen as an authority on the subject matter at hand. 

3. Increased social media engagement

Quality content will get plenty of likes and shares on social media. And as everyone knows, the more shares and likes your posts get, the larger the reach of your content.

To get your whitepapers, ebooks, and other forms of content in front of more people, you need that engagement on social media.

The more relevant your content is, the higher the engagement. The more engagement you get, the more shares you will get.

4. Your content will have a longer lifespan

The benefit to longer content is that it should have a longer lifespan and be relevant for a longer duration.

The details and data that go into content of this length don’t change as often, depending upon the topic at hand and the subject matter.

This kind of content is called “evergreen content”.

This content is created in a way that makes it stay relevant and accurate for years to come. It is very smart to create content that still holds value years down the line.

This will also help you establish your authority in a field or subject matter area as well.

5. Long form content ranks higher in SERP features

SERPs (search engine results page) are what appear at the top of a Google results page.

70% of searchers don’t go past the first webpage of search results.

So not only do you want to rank on the first page of Google, you want your SERP to appear at the top. This will get more visitors to your site and get more backlinks to your content.

Searchers assume that if your content is at the top of Google, you must be an expert.

higher seo rankings

6. Longer content means more chances to use your keywords and increase your ranking

One of the other great things about long form content is the chance to use your keywords more often.

You also have more space to incorporate in other primary keywords, secondary keywords, and long tail keywords. All of these will get your content more recognition from search engines.

The more search engines rank your content higher, the more visitors you will get to your site.

7. Increased chance of getting more backlinks to your content

Just by its nature, long form content contains more information than shorter content would.

More details and information mean there are more reasons for someone to link to your content.

Backlinks are valuable in SEO strategy in multiple different ways.

The more long form content you create and put on your website, the better your chances are of being a backlink for someone else elsewhere on the web.

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When Should You Use Long Form Content?

While long form content performs well, it won’t work in every situation. You need to determine a few things before you start creating your content.

  • Set goals for your content. Everything done for marketing should have a purpose or an intent. For example, if your intent is to raise awareness about a new product launch think about what kind of content will help you reach that goal. Will a shorter blog post will do more than a lengthy whitepaper about your new product? Have those discussions before you start the creation process.
  • Do you know what your intentions are for your content? Are you trying to educate people on a topic or product? In a case like that, long form content would probably be the best choice.
  • Take a look at what your competition is doing. You want to outrank them and be the featured SERP on Google. To know how to outrank them, you have to see what they are doing and what style of content they are creating. If there are opportunities they are missing in terms of long form content creation, this is your chance to fill that void and get your content noticed.
  • Consider your audience when creating long form content. There will be target markets that don’t respond well to longer forms of content. You don’t want to waste your time or set your marketing efforts up for failure.

Knowing these things before you start will help you decide if long form or short form content is the better choice.

create long form content

How Do You Create Long Form Content?

Writing a short blog is easy for a lot of marketers. But longer posts that start at 2000 words or more can be a challenge even for the best marketer.

  • Use the goals you set for your content as a guide for how you are going to create it. Before you start the creation process, you have to know what you are hoping to accomplish in the first place.
  • Pick your topic, connect it to your goals, and know the reason you are writing about this material. You can’t begin to create content without knowing why you are creating it.
  • Think about the design of your content so it is visually appealing. This isn’t something that content writers have to normally think about, but it is a key point when developing a piece of long form content. A reader can lose interest if your piece is just block after block of words. Debate how you will break this up to keep a reader interested. Visuals like photos or embedded video will help enhance anything you are writing.
  • Long form content takes time to create. If you can’t dedicate the time, hire a freelancer who does. These pieces require research and attention to detail. You will get a return on your investment if you pay a person who can devote the time and resources to these projects.
  • Invest in research and sweat the details. Longer pieces of content are supposed to cover a topic in high level detail. Without research, a writer is just putting a bunch of words on a page without meaning or context. Make sure your long form content includes as much data and facts that you can include. Don’t overlook keyword research and sprinkle in primary, secondary, and long tail keywords as needed.
content creation

Final Thoughts

Long form content does not always get the recognition it deserves as a key driver for SEO.

Proper creation and use of long form content can help increase everything from visitor engagement with your website to the number of times someone backlinks to your content.

All of these things will increase your authority on the subject matter and will lead to increased sales or another chosen engagement metric for your company.

Developing long form content doesn’t have to be complicated.

Set goals for your content and do your research so you can create pieces that are data driven, detail oriented and sprinkled with high performing keywords.

If you’re interested in creating long form content, but don’t have the time, money, or resources, contact our team to learn how we can help you out.

By: Frank DePino

Frank DePino is Principal and Founder of Mediaboom. Since 2002, Frank has led Mediaboom’s award-winning staff of creative and technical professionals building the most effective marketing and advertising solutions for its clients.

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