Years ago, the 400-word blog ruled. It has since fallen out of favor.
It’s hard to believe that — in the era of the 140-character message — 3,000 word content is what will truly drive your visibility, SEO prowess, and audience-building. That doesn’t mean you can’t write any more shorties, but it’s important to look at why times have changed so you can build a responsive, effective blogging strategy.
This is a shorter blog about long form blogs: why you should write them and some tips on integrating them into your business’s blogging strategy.
Why Long Form Content is Suddenly Cool
1. Google loves it. It follows that the more words you write, the more opportunity there is to get your keywords in the piece.
Google Webmasters Central Blog notes that broad topics make up only 10% of users’ daily information needs. Web users are looking for more specific data. Long blogs provide in-depth information — what readers thirst for.
Indeed, marketing influencer Neil Patel shows that web users are changing search habits to benefit long form pieces: “The number of long-tail searches performed are increasing every day.” Long-tail searches are three to four (or more) keyword-long phrases, and are more specific than short-tail searches.
Additionally, multiple studies show that long content earns an additional SEO benefit from more backlinks. HubSpot’s analysis of 6,192 articles found 2000+ word articles got more backlinks.
2. It demonstrates authority. Someone took the time to write 3,000 words. That must mean she gives a hoot about what this topic is, and has done her research. Anyone can punch out a 400-word blog on writing the perfect tweet, but long form indicates dedication, knowledge, and thusly authority.When a piece is thoroughly researched, helpful, and readable, it puts the author (and brand) in a favorable, authoritative light with the reader. The author/brand become subject matter experts and build credibility — a chief goal for every brand.
Groups including Quartz, and individuals such as Patel affirm this idea: while short form has its place, long form is where the power of evergreen content builds a brand’s thought leadership.
3. People share it more. A widely-cited Moz and BuzzSumo study that looked at 1 million articles found that “long form content of over 1,000 words consistently receives more shares and links than shorter form content.”
It makes sense that people prefer to share content that they believe is written by a thought leader because it makes them look authoritative across social media, in turn.
How to Get Started Creating Long Form Content
There are a zillion 3,000-word articles out there about how to master the art of the 3,000-word article. We don’t need to rehash it all here. Instead, we offer some less-discussed tips for getting started on long form, even if you’re no Herman Melville.
Write about what you know.
As we pointed out in this blog, it is crucial to write about what you know. There is no way 2,000 words on something you’re vaguely familiar with and just want to publish for the visibility is going to do well. You can’t keyword-stuff your way to being a thought leader. Web readers are savvy. Pick a topic you’re knowledgeable on, and commit.
Here’s one process to use to pick a topic:
- Put 15 minutes on your calendar allotted for brainstorming.
- Get out a pen and paper.
- Turn away from your computer.
- Think about things you love to talk about (that pertain to your business, industry, or customers).
- Write those things down.
- Evaluate if any of those things merit 1,500+ words.
- Evaluate if any of those things are valuable to a reader.
Voila! You should have a list. And, even if you don’t, this exercise will get your gears turning for when something strikes.
Outline. Outline. Outline.
Without an outline, your blog will be not only difficult to write, but it will read sloppily. Outlining is a snoozefest, but it is essential, especially for long form.
There are many ways to outline a piece of writing. One of our favorites is to sit with the topic at the top of the document and spitball the major underlying points (one sentence each) onto the document in no particular order.
Once you feel as though all the major points are on the page, prioritize them from most important to least important, and then begin fleshing them out.
Revise. Revise. Revise.
I have been taking a Marketing Writing Bootcamp course offered by MarketingProfs. One of the classes offered specific instructions about revising content.
Julia McCoy, founder of a copywriting agency and published author, suggests devoting a minimum of 2 rounds of self-editing to a piece, spaced out by a minimum of 6 hours.
You will always find something you can improve the second time around, and then you can have a professional proofreader take a look.
For more tips such as format details and keeping readers on your long form blog, check out pieces like this one.
Want to explore more long form blogging, or just blogging in general? Shoot us a note. We can help you get started.