Long-form content is considered to be just the optimal amount of word-count for a readable and informative SEO article, which also ranks best within search result pages.
Here we discuss, what is considered long-form content and how to write such an article?
- What is Considered Long-form Content?
- Why is Long-form Content Successful?
- How to Write Long-form Content?
- When NOT to Use Long-form Content?
What is Considered Long-form Content?
SEO experts advise websites to use ‘Long-form Content’. In this context, long-form content is between 700 and 2,000 words long.
This number is found through several studies, including the Backlinko/Ahrefs study that finds the average Top 10 ranking page has 1,447 words. There is another Ahrefs study that suggests there is a negative correlation between organic traffic and pages above 2,000 words.
Why is Long-form Content Successful?
We can say for sure, word-count is not a ranking factor. Meaning, Google does not count the words and consider it while ranking your post.
But longer content (especially within the ranges mentioned above) have many benefits that lead to better ranking.
1. Long-form content is more informative
The chances are that long-form content contains more useful information than content that is less than 500 words long. Meaning the audience find their answers in full (and sometimes more) within long-form content.
Google considers user behavior a ranking factor. So, if users are happy about your content, Google is happy as well.
Also, long-form content (between 700 to 2000) words, is long enough to not confuse or bore the reader. it makes for an interesting read and leaves the user satisfied.
2. Long-form content attracts more backlinks
One of the most significant factors in the ranking is the number of quality backlinks. In fact, the same Backlinko/Ahrefs study found “the #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10”.
We also know through a Backlinko/Buzzsomo study that “long-form content generates more backlinks than short-form content”.
Here the horizon stretches to 3,000+ word contents, but still content between 1,000 to 2,000 words does significantly better than ones under 1,000.
Note that also ‘What’ contents do better than ‘How’ contents. You can see my post on SEO optimized article examples to see more instances of these types of content.
3. Long-form content ranks for more long-tail keywords
Another Ahrefs study into ‘how many keywords can you rank for with one page’ shows that longer content does better in ranking for more keywords.
As you know, each content can rank for several keywords and if this is successfully done, your content can be the hub for many searchers to find their answers within.
It is no surprise that long-form content does well with more keywords, as it contains more keywords and covers more topics.
4. Long-form content attracts more social shares
The ideal content to share on social media is between 1,000 to 2,000 words. Thus, long-form content also helps with your social media strategy and your efforts to get recognized online.
How to Write Long-form Content?
As a start, consider who your audience is? Search the keyword in Google and see what kind of pages rank for it. This is a good indicator of what type of answers have been useful to the target audience. You can also search Q&A websites and forums to see if the same question has been asked and what kind of answers were people looking for.
Your question can separate into different sections. For example, if the subject is ‘how to delete Pinterest account’, the subheadings may contain how to do this on PC, Mac, Android, etc.
You can find these questions in the ‘Searches related’ section of Google search results or on the auto-complete. There may also be Q&A sections within the results.
There are also questions that are useful to the same audience, but may not be identical with the initial keyword. In this example, ‘deactivating’ may be a better solution for some. You can explain this in a heading after you have already given the important answer.
By thorough research, you usually find an article that is informative enough to be considered long-form.
When NOT to Use Long-form Content?
Despite the data being on the long-form content side, you have to remember other forms of content such as short-form content or content more than 2,000 words long, still do well and the data is not so one-sided for these forms of content to be completely discounted.
In searching different types of keywords, you find some of them have more short-form content on the first page than long-form content. For example ‘How to draw’ keywords usually are occupied by content under 1,000 words (some closer to 500) as the audience is looking for more of a visual demonstration.
You may find this trend in many other keywords. For example, Hub Spot find within their audience, that content between 2,250 to 2,500 words do best in organic traffic, with 2,500+ words in the second place.
So although ‘on average’ long-form content does well, you may need to look at every specific content for how your competitors are doing and what your audience expects.
And remember stretching your content pointlessly or cutting essential information for the sake of fitting your content into the long-form format, may very well end up hurting the content rather than being effective.