Over any given weekend, I always find time to take in the Guardian’s ‘Long Read’. It’s usually on a subject matter I had zero or very little knowledge of beforehand – by the end of it, I’m Googling around the topic, trying to find out as much information as I can.
It’s a reminder of why the long-form format still holds value in the video-dominated age. It feels refreshing to sit there in silence absorbing information, getting lost in the storytelling. I’m not sure why it does, but reading often feels like a more personal experience and more enriching than, say, watching a film.
That’s probably why you have the ‘I preferred the book’ crew whenever a novel is adapted into a movie or TV series. Reading allows you to explore your own thoughts, beliefs and values as you encounter different ideas and perspectives. It can spark introspection, encourage self-discovery and provide a sense of personal connection and fulfilment.
Now, this isn’t a blog about why reading still matters, nor is it a slight on video (video makes up 82% of all online traffic for good reason). It’s simply a starting point for talking around why long-form content still retains a place in any content marketing strategy.
Here are some more solid reasons why the format holds it value:
- In-depth information: Long-form content allows you to provide comprehensive and detailed information on a topic. It can be valuable for educating your audience, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry and building trust with your readers.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO): They might try and say otherwise, but research suggests search engines like Google often favour longer, high-quality content when determining search rankings. Well-written, long-form content tends to provide more value and depth, which can lead to higher search visibility and organic traffic to your website.
- Engagement and social sharing: While people may have shorter attention spans, they are still interested in consuming substantial, meaningful content. Well-crafted long-form articles, guides and whitepapers can generate higher engagement, social sharing and discussions, especially if the content is compelling, well-researched and provides unique insights.
- Authority and thought leadership: Long-form content allows you to delve into complex topics, present original research and share your expertise in a more comprehensive manner. This can help establish your brand as a thought leader and differentiate yourself from competitors.
- Evergreen value: Long-form content tends to have a longer shelf life and can continue to attract traffic and engagement over time. It can serve as a valuable resource that people bookmark, reference and share for an extended period.
Ultimately, different audiences have different preferences, and it’s crucial to diversify your content strategy by incorporating a mix of short-form, visual and interactive content to cater to varying needs and preferences.
Getting the word count up
When we’re discussing long-form content, we’re talking about articles in excess of 2,000 words. Getting up to those realms can be tricky for some brands – or so it can seem at the outset.
We regularly encounter clients suggesting that there’s just not enough mileage in their niche to create long-form content of 2,000-plus words. Luckily, we love a challenge.
So, what’s the trick? Here are some pointers for creating longer long-form content:
- Explore broader aspects: Think beyond the main topic and provide value by addressing related questions and subjects that are indirectly connected to the main subject.
- Incorporate rules and regulations: If applicable, include relevant laws and standards related to your topic to keep your audience informed of any important changes or updates.
- Create listicles: Utilise the power of list articles, which are popular among readers, to provide structure and offer easy-to-follow solutions or insights.
- Add expert insights: Enhance your content by including quotes or case studies from experts, which not only adds value for readers but also showcases your authority as a business.
- Conduct surveys or research: Instead of searching for existing statistics, consider conducting your own surveys or research to gather unique data that can be used to strengthen your content and potentially attract media coverage and backlinks.
Before you know it, you’re scaling the dizzy heights of 2,000 words with ease. But ensure you’re making your long-form content work as hard as possible.
Making your long-form content ‘sweat’
Sometimes it takes some serious blood, sweat and tears (OK, maybe a slight exaggeration) to create long-form content. You want to make sure that effort is well spent by repurposing your assets to maximum effect.
Repurposing is a valuable strategy to extend the reach and impact of your existing content. Here are several ways you can make you long-form content ‘sweat’:
- Create blog posts: Break down your long-form content into smaller, focused articles or blog posts. Extract key points, expand on specific sections or present the information in a more concise format. This allows you to cover multiple topics and cater to readers who prefer shorter, bite-sized content.
- Develop an e-book or whitepaper: Consolidate multiple related long-form articles or blog posts into an e-book or whitepaper. Arrange the content in a logical order, add additional insights and design it as a downloadable resource. This can serve as a valuable lead magnet or provide in-depth information on a specific topic.
- Produce a podcast or video series: Convert your long-form content into an audio or video format (the Guardian does this with its Long Read). You can record a podcast episode discussing the main points, insights and takeaways from your content or create a video series where you present the information visually. This allows you to engage with audiences who prefer audio or visual content.
- Design infographics or visuals: Extract key statistics, quotes or data from your long-form content and transform them into visually appealing infographics or shareable visuals. Summarise the information in a visually engaging manner that can be easily understood and shared on social media platforms.
- Conduct webinars or live sessions: Utilise your long-form content as a foundation for hosting webinars or live sessions. Present the information in a live format, answer audience questions and provide additional insights and examples. This allows for direct interaction with your audience and can help establish you as an expert in your field.
- Create social media snippets: Take smaller sections or quotes from your long-form content and repurpose them as social media posts. Craft engaging captions or questions around the snippets to encourage discussion and link back to the original long-form content.
- Develop email newsletters: Use excerpts or summaries from your long-form content to create compelling email newsletters. Provide a teaser or highlight key points, then direct subscribers to the full content on your website. This helps drive traffic to your long-form content while providing valuable information to your email subscribers.
Struggling to find the time and resources?
We’ve witnessed the impact long-form content can have on search rankings first-hand. Our clients have experienced significant improvements in their SERP positions by investing in longer pieces
However, it’s important to recognise that creating long-form content requires a genuine commitment, especially if you’re handling the writing internally. It may take some time for the strategy to yield results, depending on your capacity for content creation.
Why not alleviate the pressure by allowing Q Content to assist you? With years of experience in producing high-quality long-form content, we’ve mastered the art and made it appear effortless. Our team of creative professionals are dedicated to generating fresh content ideas, day in and day out.
Contact us today to learn more or explore our recent work for inspiration.