By Amine Rahal, entrepreneur & writer. Amine is the CEO of IronMonk, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO & CMO at Regal Assets, an IRA company.
There was a time in the SEO industry when “more is better” always rang true. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore. These days, “longer is better” is more accurate.
Before Google Search’s Penguin update in April 2012, blog websites would pump out article after article loaded with keywords and rank with ease. Since then, short and over-optimized articles have largely fallen out of favor with Google’s PageRank algorithm. Instead, it privileges long and meticulously researched pieces of original content.
As a multi-decade SEO entrepreneur, I’ve helped my clients grow their online presence with content marketing and, in recent years, long-form content in particular. In this article, I’ll explain why I think long-form content should be an essential element of your SEO strategy, too.
What Qualifies As Long-Form Content?
I consider “long” content to be written content in excess of 2,000 words. Granted, this figure will vary depending on the subject matter and niche. It may require more words to explain financial derivatives trading techniques than, say, listing the best-selling cat food brands.
Long-form content can refer to infographics, podcasts, videos and all sorts of multimedia that goes beyond the standard length. When I refer to long-form content in this article, however, I’m specifically referring to written blog posts and pages.
For me, “long-form content” is shorthand for any content that generates significant informational value for the viewer and requires dedicated and sustained attention.
Benefits Of Long-Form Content
The benefits of this content type are manifold for an SEO campaign. Google’s PageRank algorithm prioritizes pages by their “page authority” (or “domain authority”), which refers to the ranking strength of a website based on the perceived reliability of its content.
Long, well-researched content is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to build authority for your website. With it, you can establish your brand as a thought leader and a source of reliable information within your industry or niche. In total, long-form content offers the following key benefits to webmasters:
• Improves domain/page authority scores (i.e., “DR” on Ahrefs or “PA” on Moz)
• Improves virality of content, increasing the likelihood of P2P sharing
• Generates more organic traffic
• Generates high-value links and earned media citations
• Improves awareness of the brand
• Establishes overall credibility and reputation of the brand
Long-Form Content For Generating Backlinks
As all digital marketers know, backlinks are half of any SEO strategy. This is the promise of long-form content.
According to one study, long-form content generates 56% more social shares and 77% more links than shorter media. In other words, longer articles are ideal for acquiring those all-important backlinks.
There’s not much more to it than this. If you put together longer, more effortful articles, your work will, on average, be handsomely rewarded with SEO-boosting links. In turn, these links will improve your ranking performance, improve traffic and make your website more profitable.
Tips For Building Competitive Long-Form Content
To help get you started on the right foot, I’ve listed a few of my top suggestions for building long-form content that has the best chances of ranking:
• Share your content widely on social media, message boards and community hubs (e.g., Facebook groups, Discord servers, Reddit threads)
• Cite peer-reviewed research articles to substantiate your points using Google Scholar
• Include at least one statistical citation (i.e., citing a numerical figure) for every two paragraphs
• Include visual elements such as graphs, tables and charts wherever possible, and at least once per article
• Vary the length of your long-form content (i.e., one article at 1,750 words, and the next at 2,500)
• Always include a table of contents
• Eliminate the fluff; instead of padding your word count with long descriptions, keep the content data-driven and to the point
Putting It Into Practice
Cheap content is a dime a dozen these days. To stand out in the world of content marketing, you need to go the extra mile to publish top-notch content that provides more value than what your competitors are publishing. To this end, there are no shortcuts or “hacks” — you simply need to put in the work to draft well-cited, well-researched writing that provides real solutions for your readers.
If you’re constantly delivering short, one-page blog articles stuffed with keywords, consider dropping that strategy. Instead, prioritize long-form content that requires a greater amount of effort, research and knowledge to produce. I bet you’ll see a marked improvement in your ranking performance.