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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Creating Long-Form Content

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In an era of dwindling readers’ attention span, advocating the importance and usability of long-form content sounds ironic. Once you’re aware of the huge ROI of creating longer versions of content, however, you’ll surely want to adopt this form of content creation quickly even though it involves a bigger investment of time and money.

There are three important aspects of online marketing – links, traffic and conversion.

Firstly, links are strong search engine signals. A page with a higher number of quality links pointing to it has a better possibility of appearing in the top search engine results.

Secondly, pages that enjoy top search ranking visibility also have a higher potential to grab more traffic. Findings by Chitika ad network state that the first result in Google organic search gets 33% traffic, followed by 18% for the second result, 12% for the third, and this percentage goes down significantly onwards, with the tenth result getting only 3% traffic. In other words, it’s important to claim a place among the top three results for targeted keywords to get consistent traffic.

Thirdly, targeted traffic clicking on the top three results and going to the intended page significantly increases the chances of conversion. The conversion goal could be filling out an email subscription option, responding to a specific lead capture call-to-action (CTA), downloading an e-book or any other desired goal that you may want to achieve.

But, all the three aspects are bound by one common thread – content.

It’s content which helps you build quality links, get targeted organic search traffic and generate conversions. It’s, therefore, essential to appreciate long-form content with this very perspective.


Let’s check out.

1) Getting Links
In 2011-2012, Moz did a study to find if there’s a correlation with content word count and links. They wanted to see if pages with higher content word count received better and more links. The analysis gives us two graphs – Graph #1 represents word count for 500 posts while Graph #2 features the quantity of links received by those posts.

Word Count

Graph – 1 [Source: Moz]

linksGraph – 2 [Source: Moz]

There’s a direct correlation. Blog posts with higher word count received more links.

2) Driving Traffic
In 2012, SerpIQ.com conducted a research studying 20,000 keywords and the content length of pages displayed on the first 10 results.

Here’s what they found –

Content Length

The first page averages 2400 words while the last page averages about 2000 words.

If we bring in the Chitika ad network study here, it’s easy to correlate with SerpIQ.com findings. The top three organic search results are those with over 2400+ word content. The sample size of 20,000 keywords is too large to ignore. It’s safer to conclude that page content with higher number of words rank higher in search positions (especially, the first three slots), thereby increasing the chances of receiving higher percentage of organic traffic.

3) Generating Conversion
Let’s see another example from an authority figure of the online marketing world, Neil Patel. He created A/B split tests for NeilPatel.com. One page had 1292 words and the other had 488 words. He found that the page with 1292 words converted 7.6% better and gave higher quality leads as compared to the other variation. Read the detailed experiment here. The authority of Neil Patel in the online marketing world is undisputed. If he says that long-form content works, it surely does!

Now that we have enough evidence to support long-form content, let’s see how you can create it.

3 Types of Long-Form Content You Should Create
One of the most important qualities of long-form content is that it keeps on providing value, year after year. A longer piece of content is actually in-depth information on a particular topic or subject, which means you don’t create long-form content just for the sake of publishing long-form content. Apart from fulfilling a specific purpose for your target audience, it’s also quite well-presented for easy reading and understanding.

Here are three types you’ll want to try –

A. Case Studies
Case studies are evergreen because their relevancy is long-lived. The case studies satisfy search engines and your audience. If you’re looking to improve business conversion, writing a case study is my top recommendation. For instance, if you’ve helped clients achieve their targets, convert it into a detailed study. Neil Patel does this often and so does other online businesses.

To start writing an effective case study, read this resource by Kristi Hines on Kissmetrics.

B. Pillar Content
Michael Dunlop of IncomeDiary is a big proponent of writing pillar content. In fact, Michael achieved immense success in blogging through this strategy.  Since he teaches people about how to make money blogging, he created this pillar content on his blog. Depending on what your blog’s about, you can create multiple pieces of pillar content. If you run a blog about writing, for example, you might have liked to come up with something like this (another good example of pillar content).

Think of pillar content as the foundation. If the foundation of a building is strong, the whole structure will live for eternity, almost. Similarly, if a standalone blog or a business blog creates pillar content which proves to be useful not only today but for the next couple of years, it’s a serious achievement.

Pillar content helps you establish authority. The information’s regularly updated to retain relevance. These types of content don’t only function as classic white-hat link baits, but they also have the potential to dominate search rankings when properly keyword-optimized. That’s why, pillar content should always be the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy.

C. Tutorials
Tutorials are in-depth step-by-step actionable guides with high recall factor. In 2005, Mark Nottingham wrote a tutorial on setting up RSS feeds.

Guess what?

Nine years later, it still ranks in the top 3 Google search results for competitive keywords like ‘RSS tutorial’ and ‘RSS feeds tutorial’. All that Mark remembers to do is revise the content as/when the need arises.
This is the magic of long-form content.

Though it’s easy to create shorter versions of content and populate your website or blog with them quickly, it’s not the sole form of content creation you should restrict yourself to. If you plan to build high quality links, keep getting free search traffic for the long term and generate more conversions, you must include long-form content creation into your overall content marketing strategy.

Does your content marketing strategy also include creating longer forms of content? Please leave a comment.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Paul Graham March 11, 2014, 7:03 pm

    Thought provoking piece on long term content and some counter intuitive info on post length. Very interesting. Unlike many, you have done your homework. Also you clearly practise what you preach !

  • Chitraparna March 18, 2014, 6:33 pm

    Thank you for the encouraging words, Paul :)

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