Thoughtful long-form content can be an integral component of your content marketing strategy.
Long-form content can include blogs, articles, white papers, ebooks, tutorials, or reports that exceed an average word count of 1,000 to 1,200 words but are shorter than 10,000 words. (Those would be considered novellas.) Long-form content can provide detailed, well-researched, in-depth analysis and insights on topics when the author wants to give the audience something more.
This content helps your readers understand the complexities of any given topic. It can be heavy, like the impact of artificial intelligence on the search marketing industry. And it can be fun, like a look at how to keep our canine companions healthy in the winter—including a video with happy puppies playing in the snow. The important thing is to take advantage of that longer word count to establish authority and expertise on the subject.
Why should you write long-form content?
When you produce long-form content, you can guide readers through a deep-dive exploration of a topic with valuable information that they are searching for. It helps establish brand authority and credibility. It also enhances engagement and encourages readers to spend more time on a website or platform.
Long-form content has the potential to land higher in search engine rankings, boosting organic traffic and improving visibility. The Google bots are designed to instantly provide the answers that users are searching for. So they’ll often pull up articles that are both informative and of high content quality. The vast majority of the time, you need to write longer posts to contain all the relevant information any searcher might want to know about. And as you’ll see, there’s a bit of skill and research involved when writing these types of long-form articles effectively.
How do you write long-form content?
Successful long-form content that will connect with readers and deliver content marketers tremendous results isn’t that different from your typical high school English essay. Here are a few tips and steps to get you started in the content creation process.
1. Start with a focus keyword
This keyword or phrase is a cornerstone when you create content of any length. Research your word and see what others have written about your topic. You want to pick a focus keyword that has a relatively large search volume, with low competition from websites that have high domain authority. Often, you’ll have more success using a specific phrase than one word to draw in your target audience. For example, “dogs playing in the snow” as your keyword rather than “dogs.”
2. Add a strong topic sentence
The article should immediately tell readers what the article will focus on and how this knowledge might improve their lives? Or, at least how the information will satisfy someone’s search intent. Does it entertain, inform, or compel us to make a purchasing decision or other transaction? You want an engaging introduction that catches the reader’s attention and tells your audience how much better their lives will be after reading your article.
For example, if you’re writing an article about dogs getting exercise in the snow, your intro sentence could be something like, “The temperatures are getting colder, but our favorite furry friends still need their exercise—and we can help them make the most of the season.” This sentence sets an engaging tone and, along with the Meta title and Meta description, tells readers what ground the article will cover. Your audience members know exactly what they’re getting into.
3. State your thesis
The thesis hones in on the meat of what you’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t have to be a sophisticated analysis or go into great depth. It could be something like:
- “We all need to know how to make sure our dogs get the proper amount of exercise, and safely, during cold weather.”
That way readers interested in this topic will know the answers are here. And they might even see cute pictures of snow dogs.
4. Provide evidence from other sources that supports your thesis.
Links to other well-established sources let readers and search engine algorithms know that you know your stuff. Use links to academic studies and statistics from credible sources where it makes sense.
This step can be fairly straightforward if you’re doing a more academically-oriented blog post. You might even want to provide points/counterpoints to let the reader know you’ve explored different options that inform your overall conclusion. Link to helpful information, but not articles that are exactly like yours and not articles on your competitors’ sites. And when you choose the words to highlight for your link, make them match as closely as possible the headline of the article you are linking to.
4a. Make sure you pick relevant evidence that aligns with the overall article.
While there’s no shortage of sources for authority, be sure to choose your statistics wisely. For the dog article, you could say something along these lines, which could work.
- “With an estimated 56% of American dogs considered overweight or obese, it’s important to keep our canine friends active during the winter months.”
Here, we’re citing the authoritative American Kennel Club, a leading dog information source. It’s sobering information. If you want to get people happy about trudging out into freezing temperatures for the sake of their dogs, you can tap into their emotions, too. Include more links and information along these lines:
- “Your dog will be happy to get outdoors in the cold, and that will make you feel better. Studies show that even looking at photos of dogs can make people smile, so here are some pictures to brighten your day.”
This citation also comes from a reputable source, Psychology Today, and aligns with the article goals established by the topic sentence and thesis.
5. Add additional supporting information and visuals
Obviously, long-form content can accommodate evidence and research to make the reading experience engaging and satisfying. Structure your article with subheads, bullet points, and other SEO best practices to make the article easier to follow and comprehend.
It can get pretty overwhelming when reading a long-form piece that consists only of black and white print. Add colorful visuals to illustrate ideas and make points efficiently. Charts, tables, and other infographics can vastly improve your readability. They help readers better visualize complex ideas and make sense of things.
The dog article is a great example of long-form content that can use photos and visuals. Articles like this, and the photos, give an excellent opportunity to engage with your audience. You also can invite user-generated content, either in a comments section or through social media.
6. Wrap things up
What did you find as a result of your research? Your long-form content needs to end by restating key points.
- “Now you can use our 7 safety tips for exercising dogs in cold weather and snow.”
- “Use our template for planning cold-weather outings to keep your furry friends healthy and happy.”
Simple recapping statements, and maybe a supporting sentence or two, are all you need.
If you have more serious web pages or educational content, you might want to wrap things up with a more sophisticated analysis of the material you’ve presented. So frame your conclusion accordingly “In light of all of the material presented these our findings …” You could use a bullet-point list here, but it’s probably better to use your own analysis of the data.
7. Call to action
You lose some of the benefits of creating content if you don’t invite readers to follow up on what they’ve learned. The content should be part of an overall marketing plan, and the call to action should reflect the goals of the plan. Do you want leads? Ask them to click on a link where they can provide contact information. It might be a link to a white paper, survey, or free assessment. Do you want to move them through the sales funnel? Ask them to follow a link to a product page or a page on your site that describes one of your services.
For dogs in winter, it could be: “Now that we have you smiling over these photos of dogs playing in the snow, get out for some fun and exercise yourself. And share this article with your friends so they can benefit, too.” You might include links in these sentences to a product page and a social media page for sharing.
For this long-form content article, *spoiler alert* the call to action will be to contact rellify for all of your content marketing needs.
Do people read long-form content?
Short answer: yes. Granted, our attention spans are short. We’re typically looking for a quick answer, but just because people love TikTok doesn’t mean they don’t also watch well-produced movies and television shows.
Similarly, if you’re writing long-form content that’s well-researched and well-produced, it doesn’t matter if it’s a webinar, video series, article, or podcast. People will read or watch it in its entirety if you choose the right format to captivate them. They also can scan the article, reading the sections that they personally care about. According to a study by Nielsen, most people only read about 20-28% of an article. So structural elements like your headings, graphics, and bullet points are extremely important in longer articles. A reader might not read everything you’ve written, but they’ll read the key headings that matter to them.
Create the best content for your audience
If your message resonates with your audience, and you’re seeing a nice conversion rate after people read your long-form pieces, you have created a successful content marketing strategy. Great job!
But if, after reading this article, you feel more intimidated and lost, there is hope! (Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the call to action a few hundred words ago).
Producing the right content can be a significant investment. Fortunately, the experts at rellify use the best of machine learning and expert analysts to help content creators like you produce as much long-form content as you need. They’ll help you through the editorial process and set you up with writers so you can just sit back and watch your lead generation and conversion rate increase.
So contact them to help you create an editorial plan and content strategy that will help create long-form content that helps to achieve your digital marketing goals.