After last week’s blog on the power of short-form video content, we thought we’d flip the script and discuss the exact opposite.
Long-form written content can take the shape of an extended blog, a feature-length article, a whitepaper, or just an in-depth webpage. Each of these digital assets offer a similar function which is to show Google and users that your website delivers valuable content.
Shorter content, while helpful, can come across as tokenistic – a box-ticking exercise which only serves to add another piece of content to an otherwise unhelpful website.
That’s why these longer pieces (usually 1000 words or more) are so important for brand development and to the users who click on them.
At OtherBirds, we consult with our clients to understand what their audience is looking for so that we can provide all the answers in weighty, evergreen blogs. This way, we do our bit to fill websites with content that actually adds value and doesn’t create content for the sake of it.
In such a spirit, the following covers four main ways that long-form content adds value to businesses’ websites:
- Tells your story
- Adds content worth sharing
- Establishes authority
- Improves search engine rankings
Great for Storytelling
When you investigate the value of storytelling in marketing, you’re bombarded with buzzwords like “transparency” and “consumer trust” along with an array of statistics of varying credibility. It can become tough to know just how important it is to spend time developing your brand story.
Well, having been built off the reputations of two established agencies, OtherBirds has spent the past 18 months laying the foundations of our own brand story. And let us tell you, it matters a whole lot to our clients.
While you might be answering rudimentary questions that satisfy a basic need for your audience, your long-form content has the time and space to fit into a broader message that your brand stands for. As your library of articles builds, your brand story is built, and it becomes easier to see what your business stands for.
As you develop your campaign, we advise you to fit each blog into several predetermined themes. These could be concepts such as sustainability, UX innovation, small business, old-school, new-school, or any other value that you uphold.
Whatever your story is, it should be intertwined into your long-form content in some way. Such consistency allows the audience to attach to a brand that aligns with them. In an ideal world, they’ll start relating to your story, feeling a part of the community, and ultimately, they’ll become a loyal customer.
No fancy stats. No buzzwords. Just good old-fashioned storytelling.
Something to Share
There’s only so many generic “features and benefits” posts that your brand can make on social media before the audience becomes bored. Sure, it’s great to let people know what you offer and advertise the odd sale, but people want content.
Long-from content provides that in spades and adds value to the mindless scrolling your audience is likely doing when they view your brand.
In a sea of memes, recycled (and misattributed) quotes, and sponsored content, your meaningful long-form article could be just the tonic your audience needs.
Long-form “thought leadership” articles are a great addition to any LinkedIn feed, so long as they address your network’s needs. Accompanied by a striking image, it can be hard not to click on them.
But despite our first instinct to associate “shared” content with social media, there are still other ways to circulate your content. For example, you could send a draft of your content to trusted clients and colleagues for their feedback on the themes and ideas posed within. This can help you to improve while actively flagging that you’re producing valuable content.
Before you click publish, ask the lucky recipients what they learned and what they might add. Of course, this can also be done post-publishing to spread the word about your fresh new article.
Make a Name for Yourself
Brand authority can be one of the most powerful metrics in your marketing arsenal, but it takes time to be developed.
Think of the most authoritative, reputable brands you know… They’re names that come to mind instantly and you know their products are well-known for good reason.
They’re names like Apple, Nike, Toyota, Target, and Sony, who have stamped their names on their respective industries. Some of their reputation might come with a price increase but at least you know exactly what you’re getting.
That’s what awaits every business who understand the value of sharing their story and expertise through long-form content. Of course, these big brands don’t rely too heavily on extended written content anymore – they have bigger budgets for highly produced video content and expensive traditional advertising – but it’s no doubt a part of their search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies.
Take Apple’s latest long-form article at time of writing – an informative piece on the health benefits of pickleball. Over roughly 1400 words, the author weaves in authoritative research and anecdotes about the topic to align with a clear brand message of health and technology. It may be hard to find this article from Apple’s homepage, but that’s hardly the point. Users searching keywords like “health benefits of pickleball,” “Apple Watch workout,” or “exercise and mental health” are likely to come across this or many other articles from the popular brand.
Its inherent value lies in the fact that it has been written by Apple for Apple customers, and thus the brand’s authority grows even greater.
For smaller brands dreaming about becoming their industry’s next big superpower, long-form content is a formidable place to start. If you have the experience, information and editorial prowess to impress your audience, take the reins and put that big brain of yours to work. If you’re successful, readers will recognise your repute and return for the next instalment of whatever you’re serving up.
Improve SEO Rank
In true journalistic fashion, we’ve left the most obvious and least interesting until last. Yes, as anyone who has spent five minutes reading about website development will know, publishing more content is generally better for your SEO.
But this doesn’t mean it should be your main reason for generating well-crafted long-form content. Your first and foremost goal should always be to acknowledge your audience’s pain points or questions and answer them as effectively as possible. If this only requires 500 words, then so be it.
Long-form content offers more room to incorporate more keywords but be careful not to go overboard. Search engine algorithms are always on the lookout for blogs that stuff too many keywords into their copy and leave it feeling unnatural and forced. These kinds of blogs suffer the consequences and their search rank plummets.
Instead, just write from the heart and mind. Take your experience and turn it into something that human customers actually want to read, rather than writing for robots.
If you do this, it’s more than likely that your professional prose will incorporate keywords without you even knowing it, and the content-hungry customers will flock to your sparkly new article.
Also relevant to your SEO performance is the average time spent on page. Long-form content gives your audience more room to hang around – assuming it’s well-written. This metric is helpful to search engines in understanding which websites are engaging for users.
Conversely, a high bounce rate (the number of users who leave a website from where they came) is a red flag for algorithms. You’ll want to avoid this at all costs. How? By encouraging your audience to click around and learn more about your beautiful brand. Internal links, embedded videos, and long-form content are all great tactics to reduce bounce rate and improve time on page.
Of course, not everyone has the expertise to keep tabs on all these metrics, so put your trust in a brand who has seen it all before – OtherBirds!
If you made it this far, we must be doing something right! However, if this article hasn’t quite hit the spot, get in touch with our team and let us know how we can help you to deliver long-form content worth reading. The benefits of doing so are clear to see and have the potential to take your brand from where it is to where you need it to be.