“No one reads online, these days.”
Yet, as I mentioned in my content marketing statistics article, bloggers that publish long-form content are likely to get “strong results.”
Before we address the objection, let me start with the basics.
What is long-form content?
It’s a term derived from journalism for describing long articles with lots of content. In the context of content marketing, it can mean in-depth content that goes over 1,200 words.
Many marketers consider long-form articles to start at around 2000 words – it’s dependent on the competition in your industry.
Now, let’s get back to the problem with long articles: Will they even find an audience in the internet’s noise?
Contrary to popular opinion, people still like reading. For instance, my article on seeking validation (over 1600 words) ranks on Google’s first page. It sees an average time on page of around 8 minutes.
Hence, you need to start by busting the myth of decreasing attention spans.
Your audience is now smarter. They look for comprehensive articles that answer all of their questions on a subject at a single place.
- Backlinko along with its data partners analyzed 1 million Google Search Results. They found that the average first page result contains 1,890 words.
- In their analysis of 100 million articles, Buzzsumo and OkDork found that long-form articles consistently get more social media shares than short-form content.
Indeed, my personal writing journey took a U-turn when I began writing long-form articles. I have built my entire writing business around writing such exhaustive articles. I regularly see high-engagement for my articles and I have been paid upwards of $1500 for a single article.
In today’s post, I want to break down remarkable long-form content creation that ranks in search engines and generates business results.
Step #1: Pass your subject through the N.I.E.T. test
Writing a long article is effortful, but your goal isn’t simply publishing a BIG piece of content.
To attract dozens of links and dominate search engines, you need to choose your subject wisely. I use the N.I. E.T. test to find out the topic that deserves your deep diving.
Your goal from writing a long-form piece of content is driving leads from search and social.
So start with performing keyword research using Ahrefs.
When I plug in the keyword “long-form content”, its approximate traffic potential (if you rank #1 for the parent topic) is 450.
Note: Other metrics like the keyword difficulty score are also extremely useful for analysis, but we’ll talk about them later.
Now, a huge benefit of writing a long article is you start ranking for many long-tail keywords that you used in your article.
For example, my article on validation started ranking for over 450 keywords on the first page and they together make for a decent traffic.
So you’ll likely receive more than 450 visitors if we rank for the keyword “long-form content.”
Social media is mostly a one-time traffic source. Still, you can check the likeliness of your audience sharing your content piece by plugging your keyword inside Buzzsumo.
On pressing the “Go!” button, you’ll meet the results showing the most popular articles on your subject sorted by the total engagements.
Depending on your main acquisition channel and your content marketing objectives, you can make a give it a pass in the “need” parameter.
When I started writing long-form articles, I got carried away.
I thought that every subject can use 4000+ words because its dripping *amaze-balls* value (slurp, slurp) and the audience would love reading it.
Now, I understand it’s was purely crazy self-indulgence.
Indeed, I am not alone.
Many marketers thought the same way.
That’s when Rand Fishkin tried to dispel the myth that Great Content ≠ Long-Form Content.
Not sure where the idea that “great content” = “really, really long content” came from, but we need to dispel that myth.
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) March 30, 2016
Often, you’ll find that a video/visual/short textual piece of content can better serve the user intent.
For instance, look at the search results for “how to setup video conferencing.” The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is dominated by videos.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
“Your goal is serving your audience as efficiently and quickly as possible.”
If that means creating a high-quality graphic, then so be it.
You can write an article on 2016 presidential election, but it won’t have many readers.
For long-form content, you’re better off writing on subjects that have consistent demand year round. Else, you risk your effort turning into waste in a short span.
A quick way to check the trendiness of your subject is plugging it inside Google Trends.
For instance, look at the uptick for “content marketing.”
For more ideas, you can check out 20 types of evergreen content neatly laid down by Rockstar Aaron Orendorff.