While the mobile era has ushered in some wonderful bite-sized content formats to suit short attention spans, long-form content still has a crucial role to play in the decision making journey; especially when ranking on search engines.
I recently focused on the importance of an image strategy to satisfy the short attention spans of a mobile-connected audience, but it should not be at the expense of long-form content. A healthy balance needs to be struck.
1) Google and social love long-form content
Short-form content – such as images, infographics, videos and short blog posts under 1,000 words - is great for creating quick moments-in-time for target audiences, particularly when building brand awareness and increasing web traffic. It is perfect for a mobile-centric culture.
Long-form content is about building deeper engagement and findability.
Google’s In-Depth Articles feature rewards content longer than 2,000 words with prominence in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Short-form content has a role, and so does long-form. But search results = trust in the eyes of the surfing public, long-form content needs to play a role.
2) People are more likely to share long-form content
Check out these findings from Buzzsumo/OK Dork (2014), which clearly exposes the correlation between length of post and likeliness to be shared. And yet, the writers report that “there were 16 times more content with less than 1,000 words than there were content with 2,000+ words.”
How to create long-form content that converts
Apart from the obvious – remembering to create content that’s relevant, useful, based on keyword research and, critically, interesting – there are some other basic house rules to keep in mind.
Firstly, remember that people scan long-form content on screen, so break up your content with bullet points, images, infographics, impactful subtitles and emboldened quotes that draw the eye to the key points. Get that important info upfront.
This is why lists are so popular. Just look at the success enjoyed by the likes of BuzzFeed, Mashable and UsVsTh3m from their basic clickbait ‘listicle’ format.
Being useful is an essential part of ‘evergreen’ content – content that will remain relevant for longer due to its general interest nature. For example, searches of ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube have “exploded” among the Millennial age set, so long-form ‘how-to’ guides should be definitely be in your content calendar.
Also, amplification is key. To gain traction, be sure to seed content via social channels and influencers.
You will note that this post is way under 2,000 words, but I hope I made my point. If you’d like to learn more about how a content strategy can help your brand
Written by Chris Lee Head of Social Media Knowledge Grayling London