I saw some fascinating research today on long form content. For those not in the marketing world, long form content refers to longer online articles and blog posts. Many people think that longer stuff doesn’t work – that people skip over and don’t read it. Research shows, however, that the opposite is true. Well-written long-form content gets two thumbs up from readers, especially business readers.
What Is Long Form Content?
Ask any two marketers what long form content is and you’ll get two different answers. There’s no industry standard definition. I’d put long form content at 1,000 words or more.
Long form content depends on several factors to make it work online:
- A broad enough topic so that you can get plenty of “meat” into the content;
- Great primary research. You can’t fake good long form content.
- A solid outline. Like building a skyscraper, you need steel girders under it!
- Written to be formatted for the web. Because long form conveys a lot of information, the information needs to be written with formatting in mind. Plenty of white space, breaks, lists, subheadlines – you get the idea.
- Formatted for easy reading. You can’t just plunk down thousands of words of text on a white web page and call it a day. Long form content has to be displayed for easy reading on mobile devices and screens. That means links, jump links, pictures and so on.
Why Does Long Form Content Work?
It works because it conveys information, plenty of information, and it gives readers tremendous value.
Wordstream offerred insights into why long form content works via several graphs. The interesting thing about long form content is that it increases reader engagement and time of visit, two important signals that Google and other search engines use to assess the value of website content. The longer people stay on your blog or site, the better. Long form accomplishes this admirably.
Why Don’t More Companies Use Long Form Content?
Company owners have also bought into the myth that “people don’t read anymore.” My question to you is this: what people are you talking about? Do YOUR customers read?
Let’s look at two of my niche areas: gardening and business. In both niches, people can and do read. They crave information. Gardening tends to rely a lot on pictures, but the business world? People love facts, figures, case studies, illustrations and more.
Long form is harder to write. If you’re used to just dashing off any old thing for your blog or website, the idea of creating a 1,000+ article can be daunting. Most casual writers can’t craft a solid outline, and they sure as heck can’t create readable online copy. That’s where long form content separates the men from the boys or in my case, the women from the girls; it’s where the better writers excel, and the weaker ones flounder.
I love writing long form content and offer it as my area of specialty to interested business owners. If you’re intrigued by the thought of adding some longer guides, articles and blog posts to your website but still uncertain whether or not they work in today’s fast-paced world, check out the following articles:
- Forbes: Why Long Form Content Marketing Works and Why It Doesn’t
- QuickSprout: How Content Length Affects Ranking and Conversion
- KISS Metrics: Why You Should Create Long Form Content (and How to Do It)
- Search Engine Watch: What Type of Content Should You Create
Jeanne Grunert, president of Seven Oaks Consulting, is an award-winning direct and digital marketer with over 20 years of senior marketing leadership experience. She’s passionate about mentoring marketing managers and providing exceptional content marketing programs and services to Seven Oaks clients. Jeanne holds an M.S. (awarded with distinction) in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University and frequently lectures on content marketing, search engine optimization, and project management techniques.J