Some brands have moved away from long-form content because they fear that the public’s attention span is declining. A myth we have been told constantly. Science has shown this to be false. In fact, in their State of Attention Report, Kelton Research found evidence of the contrary – our attention spans are improving from generation to generation.
Think about it, a 48-hour straight LAN-party or a weekend-long Netflix binge doesn’t speak to lack of attention. Instead of catering for small-minded ‘goldfish people’, it’s time to share our big ideas. It’s time to move away from the view that our audience can’t pay attention to long-form content. Let’s rather focus our energy on creating content so engaging that readers will want to give it their utmost attention.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Most search engines define long-form content as between 1200-2000 words – although some brands are publishing content up to 10 000 words. When trying to define long-form content it’s easy to get stuck in the semantics of word-count. In truth, the precise length of long-form content is not important.
The primary feature is that it is entertaining and rich in valuable information. It must be long enough to discuss a topic fully. No one wants to engage with content that doesn’t say anything – particularly if it’s long. You don’t want your audience reaching for the syrup to add to your waffle.
The Quartz Curve
Kevin Delany, the founder of Quartz, created a length optimisation model for online content. Simply put, content from between 500-800 words doesn’t perform well. This is because it is too long to be easily shareable – say for example a tweet or Facebook post, but too short to satisfactorily answer a complex question.
The Power Of Long-Form Content
A few years ago, short-form content dominated the scene. Now, long-form is starting to make a comeback. Here’s why:
- Engaging With Your Readers
Ideally, long-form content should be jammed packed with high-value information. By giving your readers something to sink their teeth into, they spend more time engaging with your brand. Increased engagement then leads to better reader satisfaction.
Additionally, longer posts give you the opportunity to redirect traffic through your website. WordStream found that the move to long-form content increased their average time-on-site three-fold
- SEO Optimisation
Search engines want their users to be satisfied with their search results. If all your searches bring up short, poorly written articles with no real useful information, you won’t want to use that engine. So, search engine algorithms are focused on pushing good quality, information-dense content to the top.
Google prioritises texts of more than two-thousand words when ranking search results. This makes sense – if someone is looking for information a longer piece is bound to give them a fuller picture. As a side note, Google preferentially ranks sites with a longer time-on-site. The more time someone spends on your site, the more likely it is that your content is good. We have seen that long-form content increases average time-on-site.
- Building Brand Identity
Every piece of communication you put out helps the public build an impression of your brand. Long-form content gives you the opportunity to really dive in and expand on that image. The objective of long-form content is not to punt for sales, but rather to share your values, hopes and aspirations with your audience. Doing so, whilst simultaneously entertaining your clients will well-researched informative content might just be the ticket to building a lasting relationship.
Another benefit of long-form content is that it positions your brand as a thought leader. This gives you the chance to flex your muscles and flash your pearly whites, as it were.
- Closing Sales
Long-form content gives your buyer a chance to get to know you before they make their decision. A transparent brand that produces thoughtful content is more likely to inspire trust. Customers who trust you are more likely to convert. This could give you a leg-up over the competition.
- Long-Form Content Is More ‘Shareable’
Everyone is obsessed with going viral. BuzzSumo has correlated their longer pieces – 3000 words or longer with increased shares on social media. Again, it is essential to emphasise that reaching a particular word count is not the goal. Nobody wants to read a 300-word article that says nothing, nevermind a 3000-word article.
When To Use Long-Form Content
There is no doubt that long-form content is beneficial to your brand, but this doesn’t mean you should throw out all other forms of content. Not all topics need to be expanded into a long article. If you are trying to communicate something simple, that can be said in a few hundred words, it is not wise to drag it out.
Another point to consider is whether you have the resources to produce quality long-form content. Although it may seem quick and easy to ‘whip up a few articles’, this is not the case. You need access to talented writers with a background in content generation and knowledge of SEO. If this person is a member of your staff, they need to have the time to consistently produce content. One long-form blog isn’t going to help you. This is a long term commitment.
Investing in long-form content has clear advantages for your brand. Although traditional advertising campaigns are far from dead, we now have more tools at our disposal. The idea behind content marketing is sharing valuable information with your clients.
Content marketing is not a new concept it’s just changed shape. Think back to the days of companies sending in-house newsletters and magazines to their clients. Isn’t that just the same as hosting a blog on your website? The goal remains the same, communicating valuable information with both your current clients and new ones. Long-form content has the advantage over short form because it provides more space for complete communication.
If you are interested in starting a long-form content campaign but do not have the time or expertise, contact us at Goodman Lantern.