There’s no doubt about it – shorter content is easier to produce. You can produce a high quantity of short articles so that your editorial calendar looks satisfyingly full and you’re posting to social frequently to promote your articles.
Just one problem…
No one is engaging with the content your posting. You’re getting very few likes (stop counting that one super fan who likes everything), almost no comments, when some shares your post it’s almost shocking.
Why isn’t it working?
It may seem counter-intuitive that in this day in age, as our attention spans continue to dwindle, that people would be more inclined to read and share a piece that is 1500 words than one that is 500 words, but they are.
People trust long-form content. It’s thorough, and it’s clear to your reader that you invested some time in teaching them something. That matters to them. And the fact that you rigorously canvassed a subject means that there were probably lots on insights – many opportunities for those interesting tidbits to strike different readers and provoke them to share.
Still not convinced? That’s okay, here’s a pretty comprehensive list of reasons why long-form content is worth your time.
Inbound Marketing Saves You Money While Delivering More Leads
Done right, Inbound marketing will save your company money while delivering on your KPIs for lead generation.
It stands to reason that long-form content takes longer to produce than short-form content. You have to invest more money into creating it, but you also have to create less of it, and it pays dividends when it comes to driving organic traffic and converting leads.
Not only that, but you can create an entire campaign around a single great piece of long-form content. You can pick different parts of it and create assets for digital ads, create a Slideshare of insights from the piece to put on LinkedIn and even create a little video with the author asking for feedback.
So while it may feel like you’re paying more for long-form content because you’re shelling out the extra cash (or time) upfront, you will reap the benefits on the backend. It just takes patience, and a bit of foresight.
But in order for Inbound to work…your content needs to be appearing when people search, which means you need to be ranking on Google.
Long-form Content Ranks Higher on Google
When you dig down below the surface when composing your posts, the almighty Google will reward you. Just take a recent study by BuzzSumo that found that, for both The Guardian and BuzzFeed, the pieces over 3,000 words were the ones that knocked it out of the park.
What’s more, Brian Dean from Backlinko recently analyzed 1 million Google search results and found that “the average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.”
Long-form content is generally evergreen. It’s a deep-dive into a subject that gives your customers a lesson on how to start something, or how to get better at something. As such, it generates leads over a longer period of time. By continuing to attract backlinks and organic traffic from Google, your content continues to grow in rank authority and continues to pay dividends to your brand awareness and lead gen efforts.
Google notices when people are spending a longer time on certain website pages. It notices when people are commenting on your posts and sharing them. It notices the length of your post. Then it rewards you for your efforts by giving you better placement on search results.
I say it rewards you, but really Google is trying serving your content up to searchers first because it’s thorough, authoritative, and based on the analytics, it’s confident that your content will answer their questions.
The evidence is stacking up in favor of long-form content…
Consumers Trust Brands Who Are Thorough
Going in-depth on a subject is underrated. Readers get more value out of long-form content because it is detailed enough to actually teach them something.
Naturally, it takes longer to read content that’s 1500 to 2000 words long than something 500 words or less, which means a potential customer is spending more time on your website. This, in turn, means lower bounce rates, and a higher potential to view other pages once they’re finished consuming the first piece of content.
In a blog post for Neil Patel, Emma Siemasko, the Content Marketing Specialist at Grasshopper, gives the example of how a long-form guide she produced performed for their website:
People stayed on the page 40% longer than on the average page, and they looked at 25% more pages than the average visitor.
Just like any relationship, the longer someone spends with you, the more trust you build with them.
To Both Google and Your Reader, You Become a Believable Subject Matter Expert
The more in-depth content you publish on a topic, the more that readers will view you as an authority, and will refer back to you when they actually need something.
You need to earn their trust and loyalty, and you can do that by solving their problems. To solve their problems you must first understand your customers, and then create a super valuable resource for them. One that doesn’t require them to click around to all sorts of different pages, or do secondary searches.
For example, you are in the business of selling seeds, so you publish exhaustively on starting a garden. Chances are that a new gardener that comes across your content and finds that it’s a super valuable resource is going to look to you for seeds once their garden is ready for planting.
It’s all about cultivating that relationship. Makes sense, right?
In a World of Tweets and Listicles, Your Content Will Stand Out
No one wants to be unique in middle school, but now that you’re running a business, it’s pretty important to stand out from the crowd.
A couple of years ago, BuzzSumo and Moz teamed up to analyze over 1 million articles. In doing so, they discovered that 85% of articles are less than 1000 words long. Not only that, but the majority of blog posts are around 500 words.
This means that just by consistently producing content over this length, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.
And if you still want to compete on the short-form front, you can tweet about your new long-form article!
Long-form Content Gets WAY More Engagement on Social Media
And when you do tweet about your long-form article, chances are you’ll get double your average amount of retweets, because long-form content kills on social.
In their aforementioned analysis of 1 million articles, Moz and BuzzSumo reported that engagement is uniformly low when it comes to most blog posts that are promoted on social:
“The majority of posts receive few shares and even fewer links. In a randomly selected sample of 100,000 posts over 50% had 2 or less Facebook interactions (shares, likes or comments) and over 75% had zero external links.”
Which means it’s not just you, publishing content that no one is paying attention to, liking or sharing. It’s the majority of brands who are experiencing this, and it’s the minority who manage to create content that gets high levels of likes, shares, and links.
However, there’s one type of content that stands out by consistently garnering higher levels of engagement than it’s counterparts. And, you guessed it, it’s long-form content.
“Whilst the majority of the content published on BuzzFeed is less than 3,000 words, the long form content performs significantly better with an average of 38,000 shares.” – BuzzSumo
The data routinely proves that the answer to your social engagement problems is mostly in the length of content that you produce and promote. So good news – it’s a relatively easy fix!
Higher Conversion Rates (and I’m all about content that converts!)
The ultimate goal of any piece of content is conversions, right? Whether it’s a subscribe or a download or a demo request – everyone is looking at those stats. And even when conversions aren’t the primary objective, they sure are appreciated!
It’s historically been pretty difficult for a content marketing person to guarantee a certain number of conversions. It’s also been difficult to figure out how to boost conversions on content.
Content marketing can often feel like a continuous game of whack-a-mole. Sometimes you hit the mole – and get a ton of engagement and conversions – and sometimes you publish something and just hit the air. The sound of crickets.
But no more.
Example: Neil Patel’s heatmapping tool CrazyEgg experienced a 30% increase in conversions when they redesigned the homepage to be about 20 times longer than the original.
Long-form content routinely converts better than the alternative. Think about it. You’ve created something high-value. You have built trust with your customers by being comprehensive. When they trust you, they buy from you.
I hope I’ve convinced you of the value of long-form content by now. From countless examples and amassed data we know that articles over 1500 words continually:
Rank higher on Google
Generate more organic traffic to your website
Get more engagement on social media
Have higher conversion rates
You just have to put in a little bit of extra effort upfront.
Admittedly, patience and foresight aren’t our strong suit as human beings, but now that you know what you’ve been missing while optimizing for more shorter form content, are you ready to play the long-game?
P.S. If you understand the value of long-form content and want to outperform your competitors but find yourself under-resourced – I may know someone who can help you out 🙂