When you create content for your website, you have many options to tackle. It depends on your niche, on what topics you want to talk about, and on your time. You can go with either long-form content or short-form content, or simply both, as per circumstance.
When it comes to longer content, you might have questions about when it’s the right time to use long-form content and how you can produce it so you can keep up with your posting schedule and global trends.
In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of long-form content and how you can create lengthy posts that people have the patience to read.
Table of Contents:
- 1 What is long-form content?
- 2 Why use long-form content?
- 3 Long-form content vs short-form content
- 4 How to create long-form content
- 4.1 Find a good topic and a fitting format
- 4.2 Target an audience and set a goal for the article
- 4.3 Plan the structure before you start writing
- 4.4 Plan the research strategy
- 4.5 Use statistics and proven facts
- 4.6 Include visuals
- 4.7 Use headings and design elements
- 4.8 Add shortcuts
- 4.9 Update the article regularly
- 5 Start creating more long-form content today
What is long-form content?
First of all, we need to define “long-form content” so you know exactly what we’re referring to.
Long-form content is an article that’s longer than 1,000 words (like this one), but it’s safe to say that it usually contains around 2,000 words or more. Depending on its complexity, it can reach a higher word count, but there is no limit to the higher end.
What kind of long-form content can you write? Let’s see a few examples:
- Guides and tutorials
- List posts and roundups
- Case studies
- Analytics and statistics
- Newspaper and magazine articles
Why use long-form content?
It’s fair to ask yourself “Do people still read long-form content?” or “Do people still have the patience to go through a huge piece of content?”. The answer is yes to both questions. If someone has a high interest in a specific topic, they will trade their time to learn more about it, especially if it introduces a whole bunch of new things to them.
Several blogs in the marketing industry looked into the importance of long-form content in-depth and came up with a few statistics that show us why it still rules:
- If an article has between 2,250 and 2,500 words, it will earn more organic traffic than a shorter one on average.
- When you search on Google, you will notice that the articles that rank on the first page have an average of 1,890 words. That’s because Google loves long content more.
- Long-form content gets 77.2% more backlinks (data) than short-form content.
- Even on social media, long content gets more shares.
Long-form content vs short-form content
But what is short-form content anyway? Well, you guessed it. It’s the opposite of long-form content. That means it’s an article of any type that contains less than 1,000 words.
Some concrete examples of short-form content are:
- Short articles such as announcements, recipes, quick updates on releases or changes, brief lists, etc.
- News articles
- Infographics or various visual posts
- Social media posts
So now let’s spot a few key differences between long-form content and short-form content:
> 1,000 words
Treats topics more in-depth
Analytical and teaching
Requires much research
Harder to consume
Room for originality
< 1,000 words
Treats topics more superficially
Quick to write
Requires little research
Easier to consume
How to create long-form content
Creating long-form content might sound scary because it requires time, brainstorming, and motivation to write a lot. You might also think it’s hard to cover a topic in so many words when a few paragraphs would be just enough.
Actually, you can make a big deal out of an apparently simple topic by adding new valuable elements and information. It’s just that it requires more research and time from your side to write a complete article.
Here’s how to create a long-form article:
Find a good topic and a fitting format
First off, you need to do research and find a topic that is of interest to your readers. You can use keyword research tools to check its popularity and, once you have the keyword, you need to think about an angle from which you want to approach the topic.
After these two are set, you must think of a post format that would best showcase your intentions. You can either go with a tutorial, a roundup, a comparison, a review, an editorial, a listicle, or whatever format that could put your topic in the best light.
Target an audience and set a goal for the article
Do not overlook the goal of your post and the audience you want to address it to. It’s important to ask yourself why you’re writing it because, in the long-term, building a loyal audience really relies on what you serve them and what niche you plan to tackle.
If you already have a niche, then ask yourself what your article will bring new to your readers and why would they read it. What does it add to the discussion that would convince people to take time out of their days to read it?
Plan the structure before you start writing
After you have the first steps 100% clarified, it’s time to move forward and write down the structure of the article. Outline the sections you want to include and what exactly you’re going to highlight in each section. Think of a working headline, a potential layout, and other elements that you think might bring value to the post.
This way you will avoid spending extra time not knowing what to do with the big amounts of gathered data.
Plan the research strategy
Based on what format you choose for your upcoming article, it’s good to plan ahead a bit and make it clear how you will be able to gather all the essential information that you need for a great post.
Write down what’s easy to get (for instance, the information that depends solely on you) and what might take longer or might be harder to achieve (e.g. information that comes from other people, which makes this part dependent on external sources).
Use statistics and proven facts
In order to make your article credible, you don’t have to only share your opinion on a topic. People want real facts, so every time you’re stating something that leaves room for interpretation, make sure to link to the original source of the research or study that you’re citing.
It goes without saying that an article of such a length has to contain imagery because it will make it more engaging and easier to follow.
Beyond relevant images, you can also include other visuals such as tables, graphs and charts, illustrations, infographics, text images, screenshots, GIFs, and anything else that’s relevant and interesting to your audience.
Use headings and design elements
Apart from the visual component, you need to make sure your text is not crowded. Breaking it down into sections and multiple shorter paragraphs will give your readers an easy time scanning through the whole content and will keep them longer on your site.
When an article looks good at a first sight and it’s airy, people will go through it quicker and assimilate information at the same time. When an article is congested, it feels longer than it actually is and discourages people to give it a shot.
In a long article, make sure you’re offering people the chance to skip to the parts that they find most interesting. Add a table of contents at the beginning of the post so the readers can click and jump directly to where they want to read.
Sometimes, people land on a site not because they want to read a full piece of content but because they are quickly searching for certain information and so the rest of the article is not relevant to them at that time. If they are able to switch to that part where they can find what they need, that’s indeed a helpful feature.
The same goes for the conclusion. After a long article that people may not have read entirely, it’s nice to write a summary of the takeaways that will stick with your readers after they leave your site.
Update the article regularly
Once you’ve published a huge article on your site or blog, the maintenance continues. As I mentioned earlier, the advantage of long-form content is that it has the trait of staying evergreen. But that doesn’t just happen by itself. You need to check it regularly to see if the facts that you stated are still available and up to date.
If people enter the post at the present time and see references to things that were trending seven years ago, they will bounce back because that information has lost its value long ago. So you need to check and edit long-form articles from time to time, maybe once or twice per year to stay up to date with the changes that happen in the world.
Start creating more long-form content today
While there’s nothing wrong with short-form content, if you want to gain authority and trust, you need long-form content that’s educational and valuable to people, not only at the time of writing but also for many years if you update it on a regular basis.
Since such a piece is more difficult to put together, you can build a content strategy that alternates long and short articles to fill the gaps. This way, you’ll be more active on your blog and get constant traffic. But you need long-form content to establish a long-term readership.
To recap, here’s what you need to do to create long-form content:
- Find a topic and the right format for it
- Target an audience and set a goal
- Write down the article structure
- Plan the research thoroughly
- Use statistics and real facts
- Include visuals (images, graphs, infographics, tables)
- Use headings and design elements
- Add shortcuts (list of contents)
- Update the article yearly
We also have a separate post with some tips on formatting your content to take it to an even higher level.
Do you have any questions or tips about creating more in-depth content? Give us a shout in the comments and share your thoughts.