Content is an essential element when it comes to optimizing a website. In other words, there is no search engine optimization (SEO) if there is no content. Now, there are different types of content such as images, videos, blogs, podcasts, etc. One can use all these types of content on their website. However, in this article, I would be specifically talking about blog content. Out of all the different types of content, blog content can be developed and modified as per the SEO requirements with ease and quickly. When you write blogs, you have a full control over the keyword phrases that you include in the content, the internal and external links, the meta-description tags, the title of the blog posts, etc. All these elements play a significant role in enhancing or contributing to your SEO efforts. However, when it comes to optimizing images or videos, the most you can do is include keywords in the alt tag and have valuable information within the content. Therefore, blogs are critical in boosting and improving your SEO efforts. At the same time, creating a new video will be a time-consuming affair. Whereas, in the case of writing a blog, the time spent is less irrespective whether you write short or long blogs. But, what kind of blogs are best? Should we prefer writing lengthy content and add multiple keywords? Or shorter blogs are best from an SEO point of view? To answer your questions, continue reading.
What is Long Form Content?
How do you define long form content? According to Copypress, the average number of words of top ranked search results were 2,416 words. This means that a 500 words content may not be ideal to boost your website ranking. Nevertheless, there are content pieces which even exceeds over 5,000 words. These are content pieces that include researched data, white papers, thesis etc. Personally, I feel anything over 1,500 words can be termed as long content for blog posts.
Does Long Form Blogs Work?
Helps in SEO
According to Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, 10% of users’ daily information’s need involves learning on a broad topic. As a result, under the Panda algorithm update, new search results were introduced that would help users find blog posts that gave a detailed explanation. This statement itself gives a clear hint that long form blogs will be given more preference over the shorter ones.
Another reason why longer blog posts are needed is that they keep visitors on your website for a longer period. Just imagine this situation – there are two content pieces on different websites that focus on the same keywords and provide excellent information to users. Assume all the SEO elements are the same on both websites, except that one website has longer content than the other. Which website will be ranked higher? The answer is the one which has longer content. Why? This is because on an average the time spent on a website with shorter content will be comparatively less than the one which provides a detailed explanation. As a result, the search engines will choose the website where visitors spend more time. Also, the more time visitors spend on a website, there is an even better chance that they will go through other webpages. Furthermore, if they like what they see, they may be interested in your services and contact you. The end result is that you end up getting leads for your business.
When you write blogs, the main motive is to inform your readers. Additionally, readers prefer when you guide them and provide in-depth information about a particular topic. Therefore, when you have long blogs, it creates value for readers. Instead of going through different webpages and surfing on multiple websites, they get information at one place. A lengthy blog also increases engagement and more people will leave their comment. If they have any questions, ensure you help them solve their doubts.
Gets Shared on Social Media
Since longer blogs increase engagement, they are often shared on social media platforms. In fact, long form blogs tend to perform better than the short form blogs on social media. Neil Patel, one of the top online marketers in the world, conducted an experiment with his own blogs. He found that blog posts which have less than 1,500 words received an average of 59.3 likes on Facebook and 174.6 tweets on Twitter. On the other hand, blog posts that included over 1,500 words received an average of 72.7 likes on Facebook and 293.5 tweets on Twitter. The experiment consisted of 327 blogs written by Neil. Thus, it could be clearly inferred that long blogs were influential in increasing engagement.
In another study by BuzzSumo that consisted of more than 100 million articles, found a similar trend. The most shared articles on social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, etc. were the ones which had long content. Usually, the general perception is that due to the short attention span of readers nowadays, they won’t be interested in reading long blog posts especially when on mobile. However, these two studies break the myth that readers may not be interested in long blogs.
Demonstrates Your Expertise
Since long blogs have a detailed explanation and analysis, people believe that you are an expert. Thus, they begin to trust your content and this, in turn, allows them to share your valuable content on social media. Websites that produce long blog posts, such as HubSpot, Moz, Kissmetrics, etc., are viewed as experts in the field of inbound marketing. Moreover, long blogs cover everything about a topic and so, the dependency and the reliability of the information is much more than the shorter blog posts. The shorter blogs lack this feature. In a post of 500-600 words, it is not possible to communicate everything unless the topic is extremely specific.
Gets More Backlinks
Long form content is sure to get more backlinks. From an SEO of point of view, this is a great advantage. As you have in-depth analysis and data in your blogs, the quality of information in such posts is high. Moreover, if you have any study or researched data, then they are sure to get more links. In the examples provided above, you will find that studies by Neil Patel and BuzzSumo are sure to be used as an external link in many blog posts, including this one. This is because long blogs contain unique and original content, which means they are a credible source of information. Therefore, in order to use such valuable information, other websites generally add external links on their blogs.
One of the insights from the experiment conducted by Neil Patel was that the leads from long blog posts were more qualified. This was because not only do long blog post enhance your conversion rate but also improves your ranking on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). In another experiment, by Crazy Egg, the conversion rate increased over 30% because of long form blogs. When people are convinced with your blog posts, then they willing to trust your products and services. The convincing part is only possible when you have a complete information and this is only achieved with long blog posts. Once you have gained their trust and confidence, they will purchase your products or avail your services.
Tips for Long Form Blog
Ready to write long form content? Before you do that, here’s what you should be aware of.
Focus on Quality
Do not be under the impression that long blog post will feature on top of SERPs. If you are just looking to increase your word count, then this is a serious blunder you are making. Remember that the main aim of any blog is to inform or educate your target audience. Therefore, on any given day, quality should be preferred over quantity. Imagine you are reading a lengthy article which is boring, how long will you continue with the article? You will see most of your web traffic moving out of your website without any conversion or engagement. Also, the amount of time spent on such boring blog posts will be less. When search engines figure out that many people are moving out of your website quickly, then they will lower your ranking on the search results.
Even if your blog is not long, you should never compromise on the quality element. Also, if you intend on writing longer blogs when little information is available, it will consume more time and there might be too much of repetition throughout your blogs.
Avoid Too Many Keywords
Long content does not mean you should focus on multiple keywords. Ideally, you should have 2-3 keywords or keyword phrases in your blogs. An excess number of keywords will affect the quality of the articles. Also, do not stuff too many keywords. If search engines spot that you’ve used the keywords multiple times, then they will surely penalize your website and lower its rank.
One of the ways to help your readers to read through your entire content is to use listicles. If you write a blog on “how to save the environment”, then this will include a lengthy content. Your readers may be exhausted to read every paragraph. Instead, you can add listicles and alter the topic name to “25 ways to save the environment”. Each point will make it convenient to read through the content even if the content has more than 2,000 words.
Your content needs to appear appealing as well. Therefore, add visuals that go with your content. If you have multiple section headers, then add an image that corresponds to the section header. In fact, you can also insert a video clip in the blog post. Today, there are many blogs that include GIFs too. Too much of texts can only put your viewers off. With the help of visuals, you can communicate the information better than texts. In some cases, the images can be quite self-explanatory. Thus, you do not need to add more texts in your content.
Apart from inserting visuals, create a proper formatting. Add paragraphs for every 3-4 sentences. Make use of bold and italic texts as well. If you have sub sections, then use bullet points. Once your formatting and visuals are in place, readers are more likely to go through your complete content even if it is a longer post.
Add Reference Points
It may not always be convenient to read through a long post (5000+ words). In such situations, it’s best you keep your content size short and add reference points or external links for further information. This way, you do not have to consume time in creating the content.
There is no such thing as longer blog posts are the best. You need to create blogs based on your target audience and organizational goals. It should serve the purpose of answering your audience’s questions. Depending on who your audience is, your blog should either be easy-to-read, fun and avoid jargons – or offer a challenge to the reader, have new ideas and be written in a complex manner. A professional should be able to make his audience understand clearly about what he wants to communicate through blogs.
To sum it up, great content does not mean long form blogs. Although long form content is useful in a number of ways, you should focus on quality over quantity. What is working for one website may not necessarily be the best fit for your website. If you are able to attract a good web traffic with 500-700 words and get people to engage with your content, then continue doing the same. Although you can always try writing longer blogs in the future, there’s no need to start writing longer blogs suddenly. In fact, you can still skillfully craft shorter blogs and get excellent engagement and social sharing as well. So, I recommend that when creating your blog content, keep in mind your audience perspective and develop effective blog posts.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.