Long-form contentGreat content is a bit like great food. Most days, we want short or medium-length pieces – the content equivalent of modest meals and tasty snacks. But at other times we want a full, banquet-sized blow out: a complex, meaty, hearty slice of long-form content that is worth savouring and sticks in the memory.

Content guides often say that brevity is king and most readers only want to skim a few paragraphs. In many cases, this is true. However, the merits of long-form content should not be overlooked: establishing credibility with your audience, giving the reader something of real value and boosting your search engine results page (SERP) rank.

1. What is long-form content?

Most online content pieces tend to be around 300-500 words long. Long-form articles are lengthier, at least 1,000 words. They can be anything up to 7,000 words, the length of a booklet or essay.

2. Why Google loves long-form

The exact details of Google’s page-ranking algorithms are a mystery, but research shows that long-from articles tend to rank higher than short ones. Why? Readers linger longer on the page with a long-form article, and may return several times to read more. Keywords can also be used in a more natural way in long-form articles; there is enough space to insert them without it seeming forced.

3. Readers want in-depth information

It’s all very well knowing what your target audience is searching for, and providing them with relevant content. Yet many people use search engines to find detailed answers to their queries, not approximate ones. Long-form gives you the scope to dig into the nitty-gritty of your topic. Your credibility will rocket if you can provide more than a superficial treatment of a topic.

4. Increase you conversion rates

A well-known case study demonstrates the effectiveness of long-form content in optimising conversion rates. Highrise Marketing carried out split A/B testing offering articles on the same theme in different lengths. The long-form content attracted a 37% conversion boost. Other experiments have confirmed the results, although there may be variations depending on your sector and audience.

5. Long-form content is adaptable and shareable

Just because your article is long-form, that doesn’t mean you can’t share it in a range of snappy formats. Whether you link to the full piece or chop it up into a series of shorter articles, infographics and webinars, long-form is a great starting point for effective content. Research by content site Quick Sprout shows that posts over 1,500 words receive almost twice the tweets and substantially more Facebook likes than shorter pieces.

If all that is not enough to convince you, take it from the godfather of advertising himself, legendary advertiser David Ogilvy: “All my experience says that for a great many products, long copy sells more than short. Advertisements with long copy convey the impression that you have something important to say, whether people read the copy or not.”

Isn’t it time you found a little more to say about yourself? Why not ask M2 Bespoke to help you design a long-form content strategy?

Ben Hollom

July 11, 2016