The Rise of SEO-Rich, Long-Form Content
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These days, everyone understands the role of content in building SEO—from generating backlinks to providing a place to put effective keywords. However, one area where there’s a little debate is what type of content is best. For example, a lot of people fall into the theory that short content is king. After all, our society is fast-paced, and people don’t have much time, so they’re more likely to read more concise content that matches, right? Not necessarily.
If you look at some of the average content lengths of Google’s top 10 results on any given topic, you’ll see that the full results, on average, have a word count of around 2,450. Even as you go back to the #10 slot, the content stays over 2000 pages even as it gets lower. So, it turns out that many search-engine toppers are longer, but how does length help with SEO? As it turns out, there are several reasons why.
Changing Search Habits
Once it became clear that content was an essential mechanism to increase SEO, websites in any niche you can think of started putting together their content programs. For most, a blog was the easiest way to go, so you see a lot of 300-500 word posts. In a way, the growing interest in long-form content directly responds to the ever-increasing amount of short-form content.
There’s nothing wrong with a company blog. Still, over time, search engine users got tired of seeing identical smaller posts on the same more minor topic, especially if they need a deeper understanding of how that topic works. Remember, the classic 500 blog post was a piece of advice we heard around five years ago. But this can be a lifetime in the world of SEO, which is still in its relative infancy.
This is reflected in new search habits. Long-tail keywords now represent 70% of all search traffic. A significant reason for this is that users are trying to break past those initial “simple” blogs and find content that is more specifically geared to their situation and goes deeper into what they are looking for.
The fact that there’s a glut of the 500-word blog that was all the rage a few years ago means that it’s a lot easier for long-form content to stand out. In this regard, backlinks and social media interaction are the same categories. For example, if you put a piece of content out there, and someone links back to it, you have a backlink, which will help your Google ranking. The easiest way to make your content link-worthy is to put together something authoritative. This is where long-form content excels. More text and research mean more value to your readers and more reason for them to share your content.
The same applies to social media interaction. It’s easier to get shares and discussion going when you post long-form content simply because there’s more to discuss. The long-form range allows you to implement more examples, visuals, and even added stories that may be relevant to your topic and brand. All of these are points of interaction.
In a way, both previous topics lead back to this one. Because of the burst of short-form content that accompanied the initial rise of content marketing, there are a few diminishing returns. If every company has a small website blog, how much does it matter that it’s there? Long-form content alleviates these issues and helps create the perception that you have more knowledge of your niche than your competitors.
Looking at much long-form content, you will see rhetoric like “The Complete Guide” or “Ultimate Guide.” This is no accident, as when you work on the long-form range, you want to be as comprehensive as possible. The goal of your content is to try and cover every question a reader could have on a topic so they don’t need to look at other sources. This is something short-form content can’t do.
With this said, regarding long-form SEO content, there are some potential drawbacks and considerations. For one thing, when you create long-form content, there’s also more of a higher expectation from the reader. You need to provide appropriate and exciting information and pay extra attention to the formatting and presentation to make something interesting to read for those 2,000 words or so. This can be done in a variety of different ways. For example, for a more technical topic, you may want to lean on charts and visuals to explain some more complex concepts differently.
Along with this, all the basic concepts of SEO still apply. You still want to ensure you are doing effective keyword research beforehand to find reasonable searches you want to rank for and are effectively optimizing your page on the back and front end to raise your chances.
It’s important to mention that many content creators are not writers by trade. Instead, they are experts in various niches trying to find ways to communicate their expertise to your audience. When it comes to long-form content, it can be even more intimidating for non-writers to try and get started, but there are many writing assistance tools and resources that can help.
Many different blogging and editorial websites put out regular content to help non-writers expand their knowledge of what it means to create compelling content. In addition, tools like Grammarly and Hemingway help keep track of grammatical issues and readability as you work. Combine these with SEO basics like an editorial calendar, and even a novice writer can put together long-form content to improve their SEO position.
With over ten years of experience helping hundreds of businesses succeed online, Paul Teitelman is one of the most respected and top-ranking SEO consultants in Toronto & across Canada. A passionate SEO expert that works directly with clients and offers custom white-labeled services to search marketing and digital advertising agencies in Canada and the United States.