Often neglected in the insta-metrics world of digital marketing sizzle and fizzle, long-form content is designed for the long haul.
Lacking the flashy appeal that grabs audience attention in social media posts and blogs, these evergreen pieces quietly bump up brand awareness, adding value to websites by:
● Driving traffic.
● Generating links.
● Building up authority.
● Establishing credibility.
Eye-Appeal is Vital
With new tools and apps launched on the market every day, there’s no justification for churning out bland case studies, white papers, tutorials, and how-to guides. From Infographics and interviews to virtual and augmented reality, there are countless ways of splitting daunting walls of text into inviting slices of information, tailored to visitors’ needs and preferences.
Consequently, long-form content requires well-honed writing skills that inform and entertain readers, presenting a logical stream of innovative ideas, focusing on details while following a logical story arc.
Pro Tip: For added impact, include keywords in data and image filenames, for faster indexing and better organic search results.
Benefits of Long-Form Content
Search engine optimization has come a long way since it first appeared during the mid-1990s. Keywords must now be carefully researched and woven seamlessly into texts that steer consumers smoothly through sales funnels.
This is where long-form content offers many advantages, actively generating traffic through its:
- Crawlability: As searchbot algorithms become more sophisticated, innovative details are increasingly likely to be noted, thus enhancing organic traffic potential. Easy to crawl, copy-rich long-form pieces add value from the organic search standpoint.
- Linkability: Dependable datapoints are sources that can be referenced by bloggers and journalists, initially attracted by well-chosen keywords. By building up links from third-party websites (a)n important but often neglected aspect of SEO), they expand brand exposure to unexpected audiences, while upping organic ratings.
- Diversity: With ample room for a generous variety of topics and keywords, long-form content can address a broad range of specific aspects. Ranking potential is enhanced by attracting different audiences, while featured snippets (launched in June 2020) link readers directly to highlighted sentences of interest.
- Spinability: Sub-stories and mini-angles can be woven into multi-tiered content that can be spun off into an almost endless string of linked shorter pieces and snippets. Perfect for promotions and other special events, this risk-lowering approach opens up a wide range of targets for different markets, with a steady stream of second and even third chances to grab readers’ interest.
- Longevity: Solid facts and well-founded opinions can remain valid for years, often requiring only minor updates (at minimal cost) that generate new traffic for months, with higher content rankings. Great examples are annual industry studies, with fresh information added each year attracting visitors, particularly interactive infographics and eye-catching data visualizations.
Pro tip: Pick a URL that is date-neutral, with a single page that can simply be updated as appropriate, building up muscle as a go-to reference by consolidating current and historical data, links, shares, and search rankings.
Despite its many long-term advantages, long-form content is not an effective showcase for every idea. Instead of trying to stretch a concept into a longer format, start at the other end by listing points and angles that spotlight different aspects of the core topic.
If an outline rapidly proliferates into complex clusters of vital bullet points, then a 10,000-word e-book might well be the best option. It might also be time to consider hiring an outside expert to write it, for added authority.
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Points to Ponder
Before deciding on a long-form piece that will serve as a brand representative for months (and probably years) to come, there are several key factors to consider:
- List the basic issues to be explored.
- Check whether they resonate with target audiences.
- Ensure the brand has the necessary credibility.
Walk in the Reader’s Shoes
Before opting for long-form content, smart marketers analyze exactly what their audiences want, when keying in specific keywords. Are they seeking a plethora of detailed information backed by experts? Or do they want just a succinct overview?
A neat way of responding to both these demands is through snippets. When carefully structured data is added to a website, code tags help search engines summarize its content appealingly in a couple of sentences. This attracts visitors seeking more detailed information by leading to specific sections of a long-form document while stepping up search engine rankings.
Deep Dives and New Angles
When seeking topics for long-form content, experienced writers initially check out first-page search results, indicating exactly what Google ranks high for specific keywords. This usually includes an eclectic mix of short and long content ranging from directory listings to research papers, as well as videos, images, infographics, e-commerce ads, blogs, articles …
The possibilities are endless – but never complete. Once familiar with all the information that’s readily available in a specific field, it’s time to look for gaps, controversies, or even inaccuracies that could be addressed authoritatively in a longer piece.
Added Value Content Boosts Brands
The trick here is to make sure that new content builds up on what’s already available, using reliable data that adds value, instead of merely rechurning known facts. New angles, rapid updates, thoughtful responses to changing circumstances – all are effective ways of expanding topics in greater depth.
Becoming recognized as an authority takes time and effort. However, once a brand builds up trust and confidence among consumers, positive reviews and enthusiastic word-of-mouth recommendations are quickly reflected in sales and revenues.
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