The web is hungry for instant gratification — at least that’s what research has led us to believe.
Statistics like GrowthHackers’ “10-second rule” for webpages feed the idea that we must develop content that’s short, quick and to the point, or we risk losing consumer interest and becoming irrelevant. However, new research suggests the exact opposite. In fact, Google rewards brands that post comprehensive, authoritative, and in-depth long-form content.
The Benefits of Long Form Content
Higher Google Search Rankings
Recently, Backlinko analyzed one million Google search results to learn more about the best SEO practices today. To many marketers’ surprise, long form content consistently ranks higher in Google’s search results — significantly!
The average word count of a Google result on the first page is 1,890. This is a far cry from the smaller chunks of content we’ve been trying to pack with keywords for optimization. Longer content performed better on Google every time. This is likely due to the fact that it generates more social shares than short form content and boosts your brand’s relevancy. Google ranks websites based on their levels of authority; long form content helps establish your sphere of influence.
More Brand Authority
Writing a comprehensive piece of content that tackles a topic in detail marks your brand as a thought leader in the industry. It produces more site traffic and attracts people looking to learn more about a topic, and it will remain an important source of information far into the future. Evergreen content, as this type of material is called, showcases your grasp on a subject and presents your brand in its best light. Instead of appearing shallow and overly interested in turning a profit, evergreen content enables you to give real, long-lasting value to consumers. In turn, your customers will reward your efforts with enduring brand loyalty.
Contrary to what many content marketers believe, long form content is a powerful tool brands can use to boost credibility, earn consumers’ respect, and get more from content marketing campaigns. In a content-saturated online market, website managers rack their brains for ways to stand out from the crowd. The best way to make a positive impact on your consumers is to prove that your brand is a trustworthy source of relevant information. Credible brands earn consumers’ confidence.
More Social Media Success
Quartz editor Kevin Delaney proposes that brands should publish either short, snappy articles that are no more than 500 words or long analysis pieces that are at least 1,200 words for the greatest social media performance. He states that everyone publishes articles within the 500-800 range, and articles that standout avoid this cliché. In-depth feature articles generate more social media shares, more hits, and more traffic than shorter articles — a recipe for creating the “viral” effect.
Lower Costs for Inbound Marketing
Long-form content may feel like a big time and money investment, but the returns are well worth it. Optimizing your inbound marketing efforts with long-form content saves your brand money in the long run. According to a HubSpot report, companies save an average $20,000 per year by investing in inbound marketing. Long-form evergreen content separates your brand from the competition and generates business leads for a longer period of time — maximizing the potential returns on the investment.
More Backlinks and Organic Traffic
Backlinking is one of the best ways to increase your Google search ranking and generate organic site traffic. When a high-authority website backlinks to a piece of your content, you immediately reap the benefits of reaching new consumers within your industry. As Google’s algorithms continue to undergo major updates, brands are facing penalties for including low-authority backlinks on their sites. Companies are hard-pressed to find authoritative sources of information to include in their content for better SEO. You can be this authoritative source for brands in your industry by producing killer long form copy.
More Sustainable Content
You may argue that long-form content is a more costly investment than short term content, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, long form content achieves a sustainability that its shorter companion can’t. For example, consider Search Engine Land’s piece, “What Is SEO/Search Engine Optimization?” When you type “What is SEO?” into Google, this is the first result that pops up — not because it’s the most recent source, but because it has the most authority on the subject.
The main takeaway here is to provide value to consumers with long form content. Don’t simply put more words onto a page to reach a higher count and expect to see returns. Long form content works because it gives value to your audience again and again. Your major content goal should always be to provide value, no matter how long or short your pieces are.
Short form content will always have a place in brand development. However, businesses that rule out long form content are losing the myriad returns of publishing longer pieces. From greater SEO rankings to better business, long form content is too great a resource to ignore in today’s competitive marketing industry.
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