Blog Post

When Less Isn't More: Long Form Content For Your SEO


long form content

When it comes to generating content for your website, it can be incredibly tempting to stick to more frequent, shorter blog posts. This type of content can be easier to generate on a regular basis, helping to keep your website and blog consistently active. However, relying on shorter content can cause a variety of issues.

Maybe you’ve been having a hard time fitting some of your longer, more complicated keywords into your content. Maybe you’ve noticed your shorter pieces aren’t getting as much traffic or people aren’t sticking around to finish reading them. One of the easiest solutions to this problem is to generate long form content for your blog.

What Counts As “Longer” Content?

Everyone has different definitions for what a “longer” article or blog post looks like, but when it comes to online content, research shows that there’s a certain threshold to keep in mind when aiming to write longer content. While a blog post of a few hundred words has its practical applications, you’ll likely need to write a bit more to see the benefits that longer content generally receives. Content usually needs to be over 1200 words to be considered “longer” at the very minimum, though most longer content sits somewhere between 1500 and 2000 words. While that might feel a bit long for a blog, there are a few reasons content of this length can be useful.

long form content

What Makes Long Form Content Effective?

Not all types of content are appropriate for every situation, and this is just as true when considering the length of the content you’re creating for your blog. However, there are a few reasons why longer-form content tends to be more effective for search engine optimization and drawing in a larger audience.

  • Easier keyword integration: When you have a higher word-count to work with, you simply have more space to work in your important key phrases. We’ve all struggled with writing content that squeezes in an awkwardly phrased keyword; working with longer formats gives you more opportunity to naturally fit these phrases in ways that don’t stand out to both you or your readers.
  • More in-depth information: Some subjects are inherently difficult to cover in a short blog post of only a few hundred words. Attempting to jam as much information as possible into a blog post might actually make you come off as less knowledgeable on a subject. This is because shorter blogs tend to only skim the surface of a difficult subject. Long form content gives you the space to really explore a topic in full.
  • Keeping up appearances: Because you’re able to write more in-depth about a subject in a long form blog post, this sort of content can be good for maintaining your authority as an expert on a subject matter. People are more likely to look at a long form blog post and, if it’s well written, presume that the author knows what they’re talking about. Of course, this is only true of well-written long form content; a poorly written post is still going to cause your rankings to suffer, despite its length.

Does Longer Content Actually Get Results?

Compared to a standard blog post of a few hundred words, long form content absolutely blows shorter content out of the water. In nearly every metric important to search results, long form content tends to perform better than shorter content. Several studies have shown that if you want to improve your rankings and see success for your website’s content, you’ll want to start generating more content that fits into this category.

Generally speaking, longer content is more likely to land higher in search engine results. Backlinko’s recent study of over one million Google search results showed that the average word count of a first-page result was 1890 words. Averages for later pages showed results with lower word counts.

long form content

Longer content doesn’t just perform better in terms of search engine rankings. Typically, longer content will hold the attention of readers better, despite what one might assume. How is it that longer content can actually keep readers interested for longer? In-depth content allows you to build up to information over greater amounts of time, creating more emotional investment for readers and keeping them on the page, checking out your content. This also makes them more likely to share it, making long form content a success with social media as well as in standard search engine rankings.

Short and Sweet or In-Depth: When Should You Use Long-Form Content?

Of course, long form content is only useful if it’s used correctly, and there are a few circumstances when longer content isn’t the way to go:

  • Summary: If the purpose of your blog or article is to introduce your readers to a new viral trend that can be summed up in a sentence or two, you don’t necessarily need to include a 2000-word explanation. These posts can be more concise and still have the same impact.
  • Multimedia: If the content you’re sharing is centered around a video clip or similar media, you might not need a longer piece of content to go with that video. However, do consider providing a transcript; this could help you with keywords and make the video easier to watch.
  • Inefficient: Simply put, if your message can be delivered in more interesting ways in shorter language, consider whether this is really the post to invest your time in. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to consistently churn out high quality long form content for every post; focus your attention where it’s most needed for your content.

At the end of the day, long form content is only as good as the content itself. Readers can tell the difference fairly quickly between engaging longer content and an article that’s been padded to reach a word count. Make sure your longer content is still just as engaging, interesting, and concise as your longer posts to keep readers engaged and conversion rates high. If you’re struggling with ways to reach a higher word count after writing shorter content, try one of these ideas as a starting point.

  • List-style articles: Longer lists (sometimes called “listicles”) can be a great way to make use of styles of writing that generally work for shorter pieces. Individual points should be concise, making this a great way to get used to a longer format.
  • Summarize your content: Some content creators will include a quick summary of their content in bullet points at the beginning of an article, helping readers parse the text. This also can help you organize your content before writing if you’re struggling with where to start.
  • Use plenty of headers: Header tags can be great for breaking up content into more easily managed sections, while also giving you a perfect place to work in those awkward keywords and phrases.

long form content

The Verdict: Should You Use Long Form Content?

Long form content can be incredibly effective when it comes to improving your search engine rankings and increasing conversion rates. As long as you continue producing high quality content, the longer format can help you make your way onto the first page of Google results, provide your audience with more compelling content, and improve your image as an industry expert with important content and advice to share.