What comes to mind when you read that word?
Maybe it’s chillaxing on the beach with a laptop and a martini while typing up your latest adventure? Yeah, that stereotype is about as old and tired as the content best practices from the last decade. (Not to mention unrealistic. Also, don’t take your laptop to the beach.)
Maybe it’s the endless to-do list-slash-content calendar that’s one more dismal thing you have to do to make your business run – and what’s it even do, again?
Oof. Hand me that martini.
Here’s a bit of news: if your ideas about blogging fall into either camp, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s what blogging looks like in the 2020s, plus how to create long-form blogs that work FOR you (rather than being WORK for you).
What does #blogging look like in 2021? ? How do you create long-form blogs that work FOR you (rather than being WORK for you)? @JuliaEMcCoy has the answers on the Write Blog ? Click To Tweet
What IS Long-Form Content?
Like a lot of things in the content world, the idea of long-form comes from journalism. There, it referred to a story that ran over the typical length – about 500 words (or about 14-16 inches depending on the paper’s formatting).
In content writing, long-form similarly refers to content that is longer than your typical content.
It’s hard to pin an exact number on that average because it changes.
In particular, it’s growing.
Let’s paint a picture. The phrase long-form content has floated around on the internet for a long time – the first mentions start around 1998. This was the early days of Google before we’d really figured out the true magnitude of the search engine’s power. In those days, long-form content referred to anything over 300 words.
That’s about the length of this section.
However, by 2018, the average had crept up to 1,100 words. Blog posts that went over that frequently ranked higher, got more engagement, and enjoyed more widespread sharing on social media.
And guess what? Marketers noticed. By 2020, HubSpot found that the average blog post was 2,164 words – almost double what it’d been two years earlier.
Blog posts have been trending longer for some time. Blog post length is creeping up over 2,000 words. Source: Orbit Media.
So, what is long-form content in 2021?
According to BuzzSumo, long-form content is anything over 2,000 words.
According to HubSpot, it’s anything between 1,000 and 7,500 words – buuut you want to hit 2,500 words minimum to get the most shares and backlinks.
However, according to Core DNA, your content doesn’t get to wear the badge of long-form until it’s a whopping 4,000 words (about 2.5 times the length of this article).
This brings us to another point…
When to Use Long-Form Content
If longer articles catch more eyeballs, win more clicks, and result in more shares, then longer is always better. Right?
Like everything, long-form content is a tool with some very good applications. Use it when:
- You’re building pillar content. One meaty, well-researched article full of links to articles that deep-dive into subtopics can transform your content. Long-form content is excellent here.
- You’re trying to outrank competitors with long-form content. If your competition is routinely posting 2,000-word articles, your little 1,100-word work of art won’t cut it. In these cases, long-form content combined with the skyscraper technique can work wonders.
- The topic needs it. What’s worse than bad content? Content that fails to fully address the topic. If the topic needs 2,000 words, don’t try to squeeze it into an 800-word blog article simply because you have to publish four articles per month. You’re better off having your writer do one 2,000-word article that really delves into the topic than four 800-word posts that scratch the surface.
- The content will land in front of the reader in the deeper stages of the buyer’s journey. A 35-minute read might be intimidating to a casual browser or someone with a short attention span. Target serious seekers with your long-form content.
- You’re building authority or thought leadership. Long-form content helps improve a site’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness – or EAT, one of Google’s quality guidelines.
If longer articles catch more eyeballs, win more clicks, and result in more shares, then longer is always better. Right? ? ...Wrong. Long-form content is a tool with some very good applications. Learn WHEN to use it here ? Click To Tweet
How to Create Long-Form Blogs That Everyone Will Love
So, you’ve got pillar content planned that will position you as an authority in your industry. Great! Here are four tips to follow when creating long-form blogs that will impress both your readers and the search engines.
1. Break Out the Statistics!
Did you know that blogs are considered the fifth-most trustworthy source of information? And having statistics in your blogs is one of the easiest ways to boost that trustworthiness rating.
Statistics have a lot of benefits, especially when they’re unique to your business. They give your readers some brain candy, and they prove to Google that you’re an expert in your industry.
- Compile unique statistics to give to your writers whenever possible.
- Emphasize fresh statistics (within two or three years, depending on your industry).
2. Diver Deeper into Topics
Are there 26 blog posts already on the topic you want to write about? Think about another way to attack the topic.
Differentiating yourself in the search engine does more than just give your readers something fresh. It also sets you apart from the competition by showing original thought leadership – you aren’t just rehashing what someone else has already said.
- Find angles and leverage your content differentiation factor.
- Look for studies or research that hasn’t been used by others.
- Do your own case studies and incorporate them into pillar content.
Want to learn the ins and outs of creating not just long-form blogs, but long-form blogs that create ROI? Check out The Expert SEO Content Writer Course.
3. Trust the Content Experts
I get it. Running a business involves a never-ending to-do list and the LAST thing you want to do is add more to it. Like creating a long-form blog.
The good news? You don’t have to – there are professionals ready to take care of things for you.
Don’t be afraid to delegate the content creation phase of your blog. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 84 percent of companies outsource their content creation.
Instead, make sure you actually get an expert. DO:
- Vet the credentials of the agency or the writer.
- Provide detailed instructions upfront, especially if your writing voice is important.
- Take advantage of revision policies to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.
4. Plan Your Content
Remember: quality and consistency are better than quantity.
Consistent quality over time brings success. There’s no other way to do it.
Publishing long-form content is a powerful way to outrank your competition in the SERPs, but nothing will save you if you’re publishing inconsistently.
However, inconsistency becomes a bigger threat when you’re publishing longer pieces. That’s because they take longer to research, write, and edit than shorter pieces. In my experience, that catches a lot of people off guard.
You may be used to writing 800-word blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday. However, turning one of those into a 2,000-word post is the same amount of work as adding a third post for the week.
The easiest way to get around this? Planning.
Account for word count in your content planning so you know exactly how much work you’ve really got. Likewise, it will help you figure out when you need to hire a writer and accommodate their work pace plus any revisions that need to happen.
Even better? It’ll help you see where you’re headed with your content over time … but hopefully, you already know that because you’ve got a content strategy.
No content strategy? Without one, you’ll have a harder time reaching your content goals. Invest in the knowledge you need to succeed in the Content Strategy & Marketing Course.
Get Expert Content from Expert Writers
Nobody wants to read thin content – even Google will push you down the SERPs if you hit publish on that lazy 300-word blog.
In 2021, thought leadership and authority are built with long-form content that stops scrollers in their tracks.
Good content is thoughtful and well-researched..
It’s also long-form.
I’ve covered what you need to think about before you create long-form blogs. From the best times to use it (and avoid it) to what you need to give your writers when you hand over a project.
Go forth and write long-form blogs – and show your readers that you know your industry better than your competition does.
Find the best-fit expert writer to help fuel your success right here.