Is long-form content really better?

Long-form DNA says that people do enjoy reading long-form content. What is long-form content? By and large, any content piece longer than 4,000 words in length can be long-form content. But is long-form content really better?

The benefits of long-form content

1ne. The biggest benefit of long-form content is that it helps you get better rankings in search (more on this later).

2wo: Longer content is generally seen as more authoritative. In fact, in one study of Wikipedia articles, increasing the length of an article increased its trustworthiness.

3hree. Yet another benefit of long-form content is that it will continue to get you traffic, shares and rankings months and even years after its creation.

Does Long-Form Content Work in Today’s Small Attention Span World?

In the United States, 71 percent of all time spent online is now spent on mobile devices. And 30 percent of the time people spend onlinenow happens on social media sites.

Econsultancy says that on average a user will only read 20% of the content on your page. There is one very simple reason for this canning and time. Today time is the new currency and people don’t have time to read all the content that’s out there.

But there is another simple reason for people scanning instead of reading. They are asking themselves “what’s in it for me?”. They either want to become more knowledgeable or they want help solving a problem.

How to write for short attention spans:

  • Create bulleted lists like this.
  • Use plenty of descriptive subheadings.
  • Write in short paragraphs.
  • Give each point or idea its own paragraph.
  • Create plenty of white space.
  • Highlight key points in bold.
  • Put important information near the beginning of sentences and paragraphs.

Now about long-form content and SEO…

Most people feel that ranking higher in search is the holy grail in long form content but that could be a mistake.

Here is a great example. A client, who markers high-end chocolate bars, wanted to understand why their long-form content wasn’t performing well.
While they were doing very well on Google their website metrics were poor. The bounce rate was high, time on site was low and page views were also low. An exit survey indicated that website visitors were not getting the key brand messages.

We decided to a test. We shortened the content from 7000 words to 4000 words. We also created some callouts of key brand messages, added more pictures and included a summary. The bounce rate declined, the page views increased as did time on the page. The exit survey indicated that people retained the key brand messages and a path through the site analysis showed that more people were using the page “where can I find this product near me?”.

Did our SEO ranking drop? Yes, but we reached a more targeted audience and our website metrics were better.
Website writers need to understand their audience and what they are looking long-form. Do you need 4000 words on how to get better results with your laundry? However, a long-form article on how to live with a chronic health condition may find an audience.

The more you know about your audience the better you can write for them and improve web metrics beyond search

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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