In the copywriting and SEO markets, the importance of long and short-form content is a constant debate.
Some individuals believe that long-form articles are vital, while there are others who think that short, easily-digestible content is the future.
Each type of content has its purpose; short articles are great for sharing on social media to attract clicks, while longer articles are a staple of your content marketing strategy and offer a wide range of benefits.
However, long-form content can be hard to create, and as such, it often gets overlooked by busy business leaders.
They’d rather offer clients their expertise in person than write it down and share it online, but creating long-form articles is actually a great way to grow your online presence and funnel readers through the sales process to create new customers.
As evidenced, avoiding creating quality, long-form articles that are insightful and informative is a bad strategy. Long-form articles are crucial to developing a high-ranking, relevant website, so they’re a key part of any content marketing strategy.
So, just why is long-form content so important, and why should you be writing it? Read on, and I’ll tell you!
You Can Explain Yourself Clearly With More Words
The clue is in the name; long-form content is long.
By definition, it includes more words.
The length of a long-form article varies by person, with some considering a piece of more than 800 words to be long-form, while others reach upwards of 5000 words.
In general, a long-form article can be viewed as a piece that is more than 1000 words in length, and generally more.
With so many words to play around with, you have the space to write a detailed account of what you do for your business or give clarity on an issue you’ve only touched upon before.
After all, if your article is only short, then you don’t have the space to explain yourself and give practical tutorials and information.
With long-form content, you have the space to write in as much detail as you need to. That means that you can explain complicated procedures, offer in-depth insight and generally inform your readers better than you ever could with just a few hundred words.
Longer Content Is More Useful To Readers
As mentioned above, longer content allows you to write more and give a clearer explanation of the processes and products that you’re discussing.
All of this extra insight and information is useful to readers, as it means that they will be able to get a comprehensive overview of the topic under discussion.
For example, if you were writing an article about how to change a car tyre, then with just a hundred words, you’d only be able to explain each step briefly.
However, if you created a long-form guide to changing a car tyre, you’d be able to give readers information about the tools they’ll need, what they need to do to prepare, and then walk them through each step in detail.
Such an in-depth guide would be of more use than a short overview, which is why, for many guides, procedures and explanations, long-form content is the best option.
Attention Spans Are Longer Than You Might Think
One of the biggest objections against writing long-form content on a regular basis is that people’s attention spans are too short.
While global attention spans are getting shorter, and many news outlets now offer 2 or 3 minute reads to grab the attention of scrollers, there are still many individuals out there that are willing to read long-form articles.
They might be bored and in need of something longer to read, or they might simply believe that longer content will contain more insight.
Either way, while not everyone is keen to read long-form content, there are still plenty of readers out there who are more than happy to spend their time reading content that is insightful, informative and generally interesting.
Readers Trust Longer Content
The more intricate and detailed an explanation, the more trustworthy readers will think it is because they will believe that you have a lot of knowledge to impart.
Also, you’ll be able to include a lot of links, statistics, graphs and other references that will back up your opinions and ideas, giving readers the chance to see how much research and effort you have put into your content.
All of these benefits offer you the chance to build trust with your readers and show them that you are an expert in your field.
Longer Content Gets More Traffic
Data shows that the longer the content, the better its traffic will be. While length isn’t the only factor you need to consider when you try to achieve strong traffic for your content, it is clearly an important part of the success of longer posts.
Part of the reason behind this is probably that longer content can be optimised better for SEO, as you have more space to include keywords and other techniques that the algorithms notice.
Long-form content also looks more detailed and insightful, meaning that readers will be drawn to it. You can share and promote long-form content easily, as readers will see social media posts and be encouraged to read the full article.
With shorter content, the entire piece can be fitted into the post, meaning that readers won’t need to click on the link and won’t be interested in reading the information again. However, longer content entices them to continue reading and offers them the chance to learn and expand their knowledge.
Clicks benefit your website, as they help search engines to see that your content is trusted and used as a resource, so creating long content that won’t fit into a short social media post is crucial to growing your website.
It Improves Your Relationship With The Reader
You might not believe that your relationship with your reader is built on how long your content is, but it will improve it.
If you provide them with long-form articles that inform and inspire, then they will feel like you are giving them the benefit of your support for free. They will also trust you, particularly if they find that the content is accurate and helps them to learn something or complete a complicated task.
As a result, they will come to trust your name and might sign up to your newsletter or follow you on social media. This is only the first step towards getting them to work with you professionally, but it is a step on the way towards pushing them through the sales funnel.
Over time, they will come to value your support and consider purchasing your products and services. Your content writing is the first step in the funnel and an essential part of the process of turning casual internet users into paying clients.
Long-Form Content Allows You To Include Lots Of Internal Backlinks
Internal backlinks are a valuable tool in any content creator’s arsenal, as they allow you to promote your own work without going to too much effort.
All you have to do is link previous posts that are related to your current content within the text. You get to choose the anchor text and make the link do-follow, unlike with backlinks for external sites, where you are at the mercy of the site that is hosting the link.
Internal backlinks help you to show Google what your content is about, and how it all links together. The algorithms will take these backlinks into account when they trawl the internet looking for relevant websites, so they will make a difference to your rankings and grow your reach.
There’s More Space For More Information And Keywords
Keywords alert search engines to the fact that your content is relevant to the searches your target readers are making. As such, the more of them you can add to your content, the better.
In general, you can add more keywords and associated information to long-form content, for the simple reason that there are more words.
You can also try to answer more reader queries and meet the needs of more searchers. Google takes the context of a search into account when it assesses a site for its homepage, so the more queries and questions you can answer, the more likely your website is to rank well on the SERPs you’re targeting.
With so much space for information, you’ll be able to rank the content for more than one keyword, and potentially multiple searches. As a result, long-form content can be seen as a great way to push your website to the top of relevant pages and get it under the noses of your target readership.
You Can Build Organic Links With Quality Long-Form Content
Link building is an important part of your SEO strategy, but it can be hard to achieve the links you want from the authoritative sites you covet.
A great way to earn these links is to publish high-quality, insightful long-form articles on your website. When other content creators are searching for sources to back up their opinions and add to their own articles, they might notice your piece and be tempted to quote from it or link to it in their article.
All of these quality links will add up over time and help Google and other search engines to see the value and relevance of your site.
So, the more information you can put into your content, the more likely it will be that other writers will feel that it is a factual and informative source for their work. They are unlikely to use short, brief insight as a source, whereas long articles will give their readers the extra knowledge that they want.
Therefore, writing quality long-form articles can be seen as not only a great way to inform readers, but also boost your website’s overall rankings and reach.
Writing All Those Words Isn’t That Hard When You Know What You’re Talking About
The most common objection I hear to writing long-form content is that it is too difficult and time-consuming to write that many words.
You might think that writing 1000 words or more looks impossible, but when you think about it, you probably know more than that about your business and your chosen topics.
All you need to do is take that information out of your head and put it down on paper, or, more likely, onto a Word document.
Optimisation tools such as Grammarly, Hemmingway Editor and others can help you with grammar, spelling, word order and much more, so you don’t even need to be an experienced writer. With these tools, you can easily create quality long-form content that shares your knowledge and gives readers an insight into your business acumen.
If you’re really struggling to write long-form content for your website, then professional copywriters and SEO agencies are here to help. Outsourced teams of writers or freelancers can work with you to create well-researched, informative pieces of long-form content that will enhance your website, without you needing to put in much work. The only issue is the cost; it is cheaper to write your own content, but if you really find it tough, then outsourcing it to a professional is the ideal solution.
Ultimately, the type of content that you create will depend on the destination you’re writing for and the use that it will be put to.
After all, there’s no point in writing 3000 words on your contact us page, when all readers want is to find your email address.
When it comes to blog posts and articles, however, the longer, the better. You want to inform and inspire, and you can’t do that in one or two sentences.
I hope this article has shown you that long-form content is the way forward. It can be a challenge to create it yourself, so search for an expert content writer to help you, and you will be well on your way to making a meaningful difference to your online presence and reputation.
Hannah Stevenson is the Content Marketing Manager at UK Linkology. In her roles as a former journalist, current blogger and experienced copywriter, she has written for a wide range of companies, organisations and individuals, helping them to get their message across. She loves to write content about her work and share her insight with readers.
Also published on Medium.