Does Long-Form Content Really Work?
Have you ever read an article so long that your scrolling finger gets tired? If so, it was probably long-form content. Popular amongst content marketers, long-form content has a word count of between 3000 and 10,000 words. There are various reasons marketers invest in this, from its apparent SEO benefits to reader engagement. But does long-form content really work? In this article, we explore the marketing strategy in more detail.
What Is Long-Form Content and Why is it so Popular?
While long-form content is particularly popular right now, it isn’t a modern concept. In fact, authors and journalists have been using it long before blogs came along. Even in the blogging world, long-form content is nothing new. Popular writers like Steve Pavlina and Leo Babauta were writing long articles before most current blogs were born. However, the strategy rose in popularity in 2013 and is now the go-to-style for many bloggers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it can often be a huge waste of time, money and effort, considering the amount of research, typing and editing that goes into its production.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Essentially, long-form content is just a long blog article. The true definition will be different for every blogger in every industry. For the most part, long-form content is a piece of writing with 3000 to 10,000 words. Whether it’s written in a magazine or online blog, it’s usually broken up into many pages or sections with the help of images. This breaks up the article to make it easier on the eye.
Why is it so Popular?
When answering the question: why is it so popular? We need to distinguish between the question “why is it popular to read long-form content?” and “why is it popular to write it?”. Research shows that it’s not as popular to read as many people think. In fact, most blog readers become bored after the first 1000 words or so, unless the topic warrants an excessive word count. In terms of why it’s popular to write long-form content, there are two main reasons: advice from popular blogs and Google’s SEO guidelines. Below, we explore these further.
Advice from Popular Blogs
Bigger bloggers like Brian Clark and Neil Patel have suggested that long-form content is important. Many smaller bloggers have also been saying it for a while and there is also indirect advice that comes from reading long-form blog articles. While there’s no doubt that long-form content works for some people, it doesn’t work for everyone. This can leave bloggers feeling disappointed when their content doesn’t drive the results they hoped for.
Google’s SEO Guidelines
The second reason behind long-form content’s popularity is Google’s SEO guidelines. In recent years, Google has suggested that long-form content is key to better rankings. As longer articles contain more information and solve more problems, people assume it will help them to rank on SERPs. Certain SEO experts also suggest that longer content ranks better, encouraging many bloggers to switch to long-form articles.
Does Long-Form Content Help You Rank on Google?
While long-form content can influence SEO, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll rank on Google. To rank above your competitors, you’ll need to do more than through together a long-form article. If you’re writing a long article just for the word count, you’re doing it wrong. To rank on Google, your article needs to be engaging enough to keep visitors on your page or provide an answer they’re looking for. Before publishing a long-form article, think about who it’s for and whether it will resonate with your target audience. If your readers will stay engaged until the end, great! Your article is worth posting and may well help you to rank on SERPs.
Is it Working for You?
If the long-form articles on your blog aren’t getting the response you hoped for, ask yourself the questions below. If you’re getting one or more of these aspects wrong, there’s a good chance that you’re wasting time, effort and money on long-form content.
What Do Your Readers Respond to?
Consider what your audience responds to. Some people don’t get along with long-form content. They may be used to short, snappy articles that are broken up into short sentences by images or GIFs. If this is the case, seeing a long-form article may put them off reading it. This could cause visitors to bounce before even reading the first paragraph. If your audience responds best to short-form content, stick to that.
Do You Have the Writing Skills?
To write 6000 words and make it interesting, your writing skills need to be impressive. If you’re new to blogging, your skills may not be up to the task quite yet. Instead of feeling disheartened, develop your craft with shorter articles and move onto long-form content later down the line.
Do Your Topics Warrant Massive Detail?
Long-form content only works for topics that warrant massive detail. Some of the popular blog topics, including celebrity news and sports, don’t have space for long analysis. Readers who are there for the latest gossip will be put off a long article that takes time to read. They want the information they came for, with minimal effort.
So, does long-form content really work? The answer is yes, it can do. However, it totally depends on what’s right for your topic, industry and readers. If you’re unsure whether to try long-form articles, give them a go and analyse the response. If they perform well, great! If not, revert to shorter articles that keep your audience engaged.