Want traffic to your website? Lots of traffic? Lots and lots and lots of traffic?
Then you should be creating long form content.
Long form content is a great platform for SEO and online visibility so that you can drive more traffic to your site. Plus, you get the added bonus that it’s effective for brand-building and demonstrating thought leadership. You can also provide a richer, better experience to the site visitor.
In addition, the more qualified traffic you bring to your website, the more of an opportunity you have to engage with them and convert them into a lead or customer. Long form content is highly effective in attracting the right type of traffic.
What is Long Form Content?
Ask 10 marketers what long form content is, and you’ll probably get 10 slightly different answers. Some claim that it’s any piece of content that’s 1,200 words or longer. Others say it should be 3,000 or longer.
For the purposes of this post, let’s define long form content as generally longer than 2,000 words. In some cases, we’ve written content pieces for clients that are 4,000, 6,000 and even 10,000 words.
The reason why we’ll go with this definition (2,000+ words) is because in our experience, across many different clients, what we’ve seen tip the scales and start to substantially move the needle is 2,000+ word pages and posts.
5 Reasons Why Long Form Content ROCKS!
Long form content ranks higher in Google organic search results than short form content. This is true for most businesses and websites. The exception would be if you’re a mega brand with a high domain rating such as IBM or Accenture. For the rest of the business universe, though, long form wins.
According to an SEMrush Google ranking factors study, content ranking in the top 3 positions in Google is 45% longer than the content ranking in position 20 on average.
In a different SEMrush study of 700,000+ articles, it was found that articles with 3,000+ words generate 3X more traffic and 3.5X more backlinks (great for SEO!) than articles that are 901-1200 words in length.
Write longer posts, rank higher in Google, win more traffic!
I could probably end this post right here. What other value is really needed to convince you of the benefits of long form writing?
One of the reasons why long form content ranks so high in Google is that with such long content pages, you are able to rank on a range of long tail keywords for each content piece. This opens up the floodgates for you to drive a great deal more volume of traffic. This is especially true when you consider that roughly 70% of all search queries are comprised of long tail terms.
Long tail keywords are easier to rank for in Google. This is because they tend to have lower search volume than head terms, and so you find fewer companies and brands targeting specific long tail keywords while the vast majority tend to try to fight it out over the most popular query terms.
Also, targeting the long tail enables you to more accurately connect with and attract qualified traffic. A query such as “business loans” is very broad. There could be a multitude of reasons why someone would conduct the search.
On the other hand, “how to get a loan to start a business,” “business loans for women,” “how do business loans work” or “are small business loans hard to get” reveal the intent underlying the search. Phrases like these therefore make it easier for you to produce exceptionally high-quality content that aligns with the intent. In other words, it’s easier for you to deliver a great experience to the person visiting your site, making it more likely for them to love the content and eventually convert.
2. Evergreen Visibility and Traffic
Long form content tends to perform well as evergreen content. We find that the online visibility gained from long form content lasts for years. We often see that some of the most popular pages in our website are our blog posts from the past. Even some pieces from several years ago continue to do well in attracting traffic.
Combine this with a steady new flow of content, and you have a traffic engine that just keeps giving and giving and giving.
To add extra boost to your results, you can also go into your old content, prune it with some fresh edits to ensure it’s fully up to date while removing anything that’s not as applicable anymore. Republish this with a new date (making the old and new dates clear in the piece so that the reader is aware), and you’d be surprised at just how well the piece may perform anew.
On top of all of this, long form content enables easy content atomization so that you can spread your content far and wide in different formats. Take your base piece of content, and then slice and dice it for different purposes. Maybe you can create a SlideShare out of your 10,000-word mega guide. Or a video series. Or a webinar. Or a whitepaper. All of this gives your content wings and extends the value to a wider audience over a longer period of time.
In this way, the benefits of long form content visibility and traffic compound over time. You receive new dividends every month.
Compare this with many other forms of marketing, where as soon as the effort or funds stop, so do all associated results. With long form content, you’ll get traffic for months and years to come regardless of any stoppages in your initiatives.
Ready to publish captivating content that attracts traffic and leads? Let’s Talk!
3. Online Sharing
Long form content tends to generate more online sharing. And online sharing brings more visitors to your site.
A study by Buzzsumo and OkDork examining over 100 million articles over an eight month timeframe showed that content between 3,000 and 10,000 words generates the highest average shares.
In the previously mentioned SEMrush study of 700,000+ articles, it was found that content pieces with 3,000+ words generate 4X more online sharing than shorter pieces.
A separate study by Buzzsumo and Moz found that content over 3,000 words gets an average of 208% more shares than short content pieces.
This makes sense. People want to share stuff that reflects well upon themselves. That means, if you have a 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000 word piece that’s engaging and comprehensive, of course many people would be inclined to share it with others in the same field or with the same interests. If it’s valuable and also impressive to even just glance through, people will want to share it.
Because the content is so long, it has a certain “WOW” factor. Compare a 300-word blog post to a 3,000-word post, and you’ll immediately see what I mean. The shorter content might get right to the point, but it just doesn’t feel as valuable. As something that reflects well on you, a shorter piece just doesn’t cut it. A major piece of content is going to make you seem as if you played a part in the content, even though it’s possible you never even read past the first paragraph. It’s just human nature. You share it, and then you’re associated with it. You get the credit for sharing it.
4. Funnel Creation
Long form content is great for readers, as it can provide them with a rich educational or entertainment experience. The content is long enough to allow the author or authors to go into depth into topics, and readers can extract a good deal of value in minutes.
However, it would be shortsighted to see the value of long form content in only the words and images on the page.
Long form content can be used as a funnel to drive more value for your business.
First, in attracting traffic, long form content typically makes for high converting landing pages. The experience on the page can be more fulfilling. Plus, the pages answer so many of the questions in the mind of the site visitor that CTAs tend to work well in driving them to action. By incorporating links or offers for contextually relevant, value-added content (e.g., whitepaper, research report, webinar, course, demo, etc.), you can tie promotions directly to landing pages to lead generation.
And once you have them on the page, there are various ways to capitalize on the traffic in delivering a richer experience aligned with your business interests. In any website, there are typically “money pages” that drive leads or revenue. For example, product pages, services pages, request-a-demo pages, webinar landing pages, case studies, etc.
Long form content performs exceptionally well in our experience in funneling your site visitors to the areas of your site that matter most to your business. In your content, include calls-to-action (CTAs) that guide your readers to the next step. The key is that it really and truly needs to deliver added value to the site visitor.
For example, looking at the influencer marketing network and platform Perlu, podcast episodes are transformed into long form blog content. A blog feature (over 4,100 words) of Bette Ann Schlossberg, Director of Influencer Marketing at Lyft, for example, includes not only the audio as well as written transcription of the interview, but also includes CTAs to join the platform and to start networking, as well as multiple CTAs introducing the site visitors to the Launch Studio (which helps brands get onboarded). In addition, there’s a video overview of Perlu. The CTAs and video are a natural progression from the post.
You can also check out FindCreditUnions.com, a website that helps people find credit unions that match their location and banking or loan needs, and in turn helps credit unions to increase their visibility and attract loans. In the long form post comparing credit unions vs. banks, there are links to 10 additional educational resources, a prominent CTA taking the reader to specific loan application wizards as well as another large CTA lower on the page guiding the site visitor to use the site’s “find a credit union” tool. There are plenty of options for the reader to take a relevant, helpful next step beyond the page itself.
Let’s take a Stratabeat blog post as yet one more example. In a post about high performance B2B websites (more than 4,200 words), for instance, we include three inline CTAs inviting the individual to contact us to explore transforming their B2B website into a high performance growth engine for their business. The page already provides the reader with many recommendations for their B2B website, and the CTAs help them take the next step towards execution.
So when crafting long form content, don’t just limit your brand to a certain number of words per page. Think of your content as a funnel for the site visitor. Based on the content on the page, what are contextually relevant next steps for them to take that (1) provide them with additional value and (2) benefit your business?
Ready to differentiate your brand with engaging long form content? Let’s Talk!
5. Petri Dish of Testing and Experimentation
A benefit of long form content that is not commonly written about is that it can be an excellent petri dish for testing and experimentation. Because there’s so much real estate on the page, there’s ample opportunity to test a number of different hypotheses.
For example, test different content lengths to see what performs best in Google organic search. Test the inclusion of different content elements, whether charts or surveys or tools or types of visuals, to see what generates the most online shares. Test a new page layout and see if that impacts organic search or online sharing, or both.
You can take your testing even further to really extract as much value out of the content as possible.
For example, the majority of the Perlu blog’s traffic is from mobile. Stratabeat therefore wanted to test the location of CTAs higher on the page so that, especially on mobile, readers would come across the initial CTA without as much scrolling. The experiment proved successful, as the CTA click-through rate increased significantly.
In the Stratabeat blog, we’ve tested inline text-based CTAs, visual banners, and even the inclusion of surveys. Depending on the topic, we can now see different preferences among the audience segments. Some prefer visual elements, others text, and only certain groups are active with surveys.
For our clients we actively test different types of CTAs. These may include slide-in boxes or static bottom bar promotions or even pop-up boxes or forms. We are constantly A/B testing these to see what works best and how to further enhance performance.
Beyond this, we find it’s important to experiment with different behavioral triggers. For example, in the Stratabeat blog, we found when we adjusted our mailing list CTA to appear only after a reader scrolled through 70% of a post (an indication that they enjoy what they are reading), our opt-in rate increased by 300%.
We’re currently testing time-based behavioral triggers for our mailing list CTA – sometimes 10 seconds and other times 20 seconds. We’ll see if either of these boost performance, as well. The important thing to note is that long form content gives you ample opportunity to test a variety of CTAs, ordering of elements, content formats, visuals, etc., in order to continually improve your content performance.
Drive More Traffic
Ready to produce captivating, long form content that attracts traffic and leads? Let’s Talk!