Your friend just shared a blog post on Facebook.
It’s been liked, shared and tweeted about as many times as there are hairs on a human head.
It has people writing analyses of it on their blogs. Rebuttals on social media. Articles in solidarity to it.
Everyone is riled up over this post.
The post, also runs 8482 words.
Off late, long form content in the blogosphere has come a long way. Every kind of blogger – professional and upcoming; every kind of content marketer – unknowns to experts, want to know everything they can know, about what they just clicked on.
As writers, our passion to address a pressing topic, needn’t be hindered by some claustrophobic word limit anymore.
As bloggers, our willingness to present it to our audience needn’t be hindered by the tradition of some short, pulp news article.
The thing is, there are still people in our industry who believe: shorter the content, the better. Contextually, it may at many times be the proper guiding principle.
But, almost as a rule, it is long-form content that has more traffic, more shares, more credibility, and a greater SEO impact. They easily outperform short-form and mid-length pieces in this matter.
A study by BuzzSumo, analyzing 100 million articles, seconds that finding –
People clearly want to read longer content
serpIQ reports similar findings –
Quartz, the business news website, has developed this graph for its writers –
If you’ve been convinced of the effectiveness of long-form content, do read on.
If you already have been, and want to know how you can make your long-form content into a marketing resource in itself, then surely read on.
1. Promo box, for your promotional needs
A business page is far from complete without promotional tools.
Today, there are a colossal number of plugins that can aid all kinds of bloggers and marketers with promotion. Plugins that claim to increase conversion rates are just as many in number.
We are, after all, an advertising society. That includes online marketers.
All with one aim: advertise, advertise, advertise – to as many as possible.
That is, as long as they have an internet connection.
Plugmatter Promo Box can do both: build your list and promote your content/product. Marketers and bloggers will find it to be a compact solution for their lead generation needs.
A few quick clicks, some customization adjustments, and a few typed words. Done. No functions or syntaxes escape your fingertips. Your products though, now have a responsive, catchy promotion box to multiply your click-through-rate.
You can fashion a CTA Box, an Opt-In Form, or an Info Box with the plugin. Thrice the functionality. One tool.
To help it complement or stand out from the layout of your website, the Promo Box comes with 76 design templates. You may decide page element colors by the color wheel. Or by the wheel of fortune. Either way, you’ll have an option for you in the Plugmatter Promo Box.
If the Promo Box were to have a theme in its development – it is choice. You choose the design, the kind of promotional tool, who you want to promote. Choice, that is, in almost everything.
If you want your customers to know new, related details about your goods or services, an Info Box does exactly that. They can be quickly integrated into a long-form piece.
Inform your potential customers about facts not revealed in the accompanying content. And do so with style. Make them attend to your point exactly because it is in a special space on your page.
An intelligently placed opt-in box is a necessity if you want to build your subscriber list. More of them are shown to improve it further.
Numerous bloggers have noted their effectiveness.
The Social Mouths blog reports that the feature box is their most effective opt-in form to harvest subscribers, with Facebook Tab Posts coming in at second.
Samar Owais of Freelance Flyer, uses the Plugmatter Feature Box, also included in the Promo Box.
There are a few things to note from her usage of it. The color of the feature box is orange – the color of her website title, and sticky Opt-In form bar. The CTA button, however, is blue.
Blue is the opposite of orange in the color wheel. Their usage together makes each stand out even more. The blue CTA button may have been split-tested as effective, or is chosen for eliciting trustworthiness.
Plugmatter Promo Box offers a plethora of CTA boxes, in a plethora of styles.
On the actual article, she uses a mini-version of the Feature Box –
The mini-version saves the attention of the viewer to be spent on other parts of the page. In this case – the article.
Also included, are Info boxes. They can attract a reader’s eyes to information that you want them to pay attention to.
As much as people want to read long form content, you can still provide some visual relief to them. Info Boxes primarily contain helpful ideas or details. They can also be a variation on the process of reading the article for the reader.
wpsuperstars uses an Info Box to create a Pro and Cons list. The following is from a long-form article reviewing the X Theme –
Seem like there’s an option for every website idea you have? That’s likely the case. The Promo Box is also easy to learn, and made for intuitive, quick use.
Get the Plugmatter Promo Box here. Choose between: the Single, Professional and Developer edition, by your own preferences.
Your marketing needs would be handsomely covered. And you’d have made a rewarding
2. Keywords (can) restrain relevance
Keywords are like shiny minerals in your post. They are told to be clearly visible to the all-seeing eye: Google’s ranking factors.
But that’s not why you should be using them. Google’s all-seeing eye isn’t just squinting in the dark for specks anymore. It is now more intelligent, all-seeing, and selective than ever.
When you are writing a long form article about a subject, you might think it is arguably inevitable keywords should be sprinkled everywhere.
Not just keywords, but also related keywords. Not just related keywords, but also great content.
We’ll address the last bit later.
Keywords may seem inescapable. However, they just might not be.
Firstly, speculation about Google’s list of ranking factors are plenty and, quite literally, spoil a blogger for choice. Google would never release a list of their ranking factors. One such list seemed credible. It’s been proved incorrect.
Secondly, its search engine is evolving. It no longer searches for exact keywords or phrases – it checks if your content is relevant.
“cheap mobile stores” doesn’t just search for pages with those exact words separately. That might yield results about how mobiles work or how to open your own store. Also, it’d show results only of pages that have those exact words, disregarding others. Disregarding others, that might still be highly relevant even without those keywords.
Avoiding this, Google searches for synonyms too.
“cheap cellphone stores” or “cheap phone stores” would all return the same result.
This comes with Google’s Hummingbird update. Concepts, are what have been chosen to drive search results. Concepts, are also what humans use to know the world around them. The effort thus has been to further humanize Google.
Google’s Algorithm Updates
A brief about each of Google’s keyword-related algorithm updates:
The Panda update is meant to ensure low-quality content (irrelevant overuse of keywords) doesn’t have a top ranking position in its SERP.
The Hummingbird update focuses on searching for the meaning behind the entered query, instead of the exact words.
The Pigeon update works towards showing relevant, local results, ranking by how well the query is answered.
Considering all of them, keywords could fold its jeans, wrap its framed pictures, and move to a civilization where it is needed. Perhaps not just yet though. Keywords provide a basis for the search, but are not the point of the search.
The point of any search is to ask – in terms of concepts – a query. Google is realizing that it needs to be more intelligent in both finding answers, and answering its users.
Keywords do, however, have another important function – they enable a birds-eye view of what topics and searches are in demand.
You can be the answer to that demand.
Tools like Google AdWords Keyword planner, SEMRush, or Ubersuggest could list keywords by order of popularity. You can gauge what your niche market searches for or is familiar with. They could be ones that are highly searched terms – or rare ones. You may capitalize on both.
Keywords and their legitimate use
Officially, keywords are words that describe the contents of a web page.
For example, the keyword – “free tips share market”
Some keywords are becoming less important than others. Some are becoming more significant. But keywords as such are steadily losing their significance to SEO.
Short-tail keywords are losing their sheen. Long-tail keywords, however, are shining ever since having a resurgence in their popularity recently.
“how to make pineapple upside down cake” is becoming as popular as “pineapple upside down cake”. Why? Because about 70 percent of searches are with long tail keywords.
In fact, a 2009 study by Moz points out that long-tail keywords are an untapped reserve. Making up more than two thirds of search traffic, they’re waiting to be addressed. And to have content built for them.
Long form content also allows you to make the best use of tags in the image description. The previously mentioned Buzzsumo study also finds that even one image in a post can double the Twitter shares.
Images and other media files – tagged with relevant keywords – can add even more nuggets for search engines to find. They’re grossly underused as part of an SEO operation.
To captivate the all-seeing eyes even further, embed image descriptions into the image tag.
Add alt=”insert text here” to your image tag.
You can also use title=”insert text here”.
Keywords placed irrelevantly might train Google’s eye to ignore your image or penalize you for it. Use them only wherever appropriate.
So while they factor less and less in how searchable your long form piece is, they retain their fundamental use. They are terms people search to find what they need.
Great content, therefore, is content that readily answers and solves their queries, i.e., content that does so despite the keywords used, not because of them.
And when created, search engines offer reward you generously.
3. The story of storytelling
Writing is an art whose end result is a clearly conveyed idea.
With that in mind, marketers go to great extents to convey ideas.
They quote multiple reliable studies. Use impeccable, specific language. Offer content that informs like no other.
But some marketers do more.
They find themselves glad that it is a long form piece. The topic seems to allow it. Their point requires it. Benjamin Franklin is saying to them, “A good example is the best sermon.”
You’re reading about how a story is sprouting.
The sheer length of a long-form article makes it ideal for an account. Yours, or someone else’s.
A story conveys an idea across like no other tool of communication. And long form pieces, have a lot of ideas to convey.
A story also ensures the user has details. Details which might not be clear when theorizing about an idea. A series of assumptions without reasoning and details, is often uninspiring. And like Shakespeare said –
“ Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.”
― The Tempest
Then a tale, sir, could surely cure uninspiring writing too.
So, why are stories so effective while communicating?
Briefly: they inspire the understanding of an idea by drawing parallels, or by inferring from experience. Even more briefly: they convey your idea clearly.
By showing an application of your idea in reality.
By telling a story, you are providing readers an incentive to follow your reasoning; to see concretely what it is you’re demonstrating; to trust your words because they are provable.
And proof, can encourage clarity.
“[…] [T]he three most important elements in fiction are plot, plot, and plot. The equivalent in nonfiction is: clarity, clarity, and clarity.”
― Ayn Rand
Anecdotes, analogies, metaphors, and many tools of writing can do exactly that.
They bring to sharp focus, the point that you want to communicate. They can make a reader think along the lines of “Oh that’s what it means.”
Consider this fictional excerpt from a fictional top blogger –
‘The existence of this piece – exemplifies lean marketing.
My dilemma was in choosing between writing a 2500-word article about SEO myths, or about lean content marketing.
Evidently, the latter won.
I had used – and seen the benefits of – lean marketing methods, in deciding the topic for this write-up. Lend me your eyes, readers.
Once upon four days ago, I uploaded two posts.
One, a small 400 word piece on sketching out lean marketing methods.
For the other, I used an enlarged image of a meta tag. With the caption, “Meta tags are losing their importance. Some people rely on them with no proof to do so. What are some SEO myths that frustrate you?”
I waited for two days.
The commenters on the written post had an arm-chair riot. The post received about a hundred shares on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The picture however, received 14 comments, and a few likes on Facebook, and Google+.
My dilemma disappeared. My choice for topics couldn’t have been made easier.
An earnest story that reveals a significant point to the reader, is the most convincing story. The example above seeks to show how effective lean marketing methods are. How? He answers in the first line – by using those methods in the creation of what he’s writing.
Be honest. Share your thoughts. Your genuineness will reveal itself too.
A story can be relatable. When you are recounting a story, you might mention an issue that the reader could only know all too well. It might demolish a misunderstanding. Or sober a mystery.
A reader might have had the same troubles as the fictional blogger – choosing between a few blogpost topics. After reading it, he now has a solution.
An engaging story is, most likely, a converting story. You are presenting evidence, and asking the reader to derive its implications.
Going through the story, a reader finds actual events. Readers are shown consumer response to each post. The number of social media shares. The level of reader-interest on both topics.
The implications of those almost obvious.
Your insights are what distinguish your content from everyone’s. Your opinions, your voice – they’re a mark of your uniqueness. The more staunchly and purposefully you state them, the more people will have reason to read your posts.
The key point is – the reader arrives at your conclusion on his own.
Highlight why your point is easily implied or derived. Present the reader with facts experiences. Let him judge on his own. Don’t feed him an idea. A personal evaluation is more lasting, and much stronger than a borrowed one.
That is – present, don’t represent.
Present your point with a story. When you represent the reader, you make value-judgments for him.
A famous instance of how telling a story made a marked difference is about Claude Hopkins helping Shiltz, the beer company. He asked them to describe their industrially common, but rigorous water purification process. Why?
No competitor had told that story.
Eventually, Shiltz rose to be tie with the first spot in market shares.
4. External Linking – A good habit is hard to break
All that data. All those analyses. All those opinions.
These observations may occur to you while reading a long form piece.
Suppose you’re an Estonian. A visiting friend doesn’t believe you when you say, “Our post-boxes are orange.”
What do you do?
You take him to a local post-box. You lift your arm, fold all but the index finger, and point. You point right at the orange paint.
And you announce that your statement is valid.
An external link is like that pointed finger. They’re usually provided to imply, “For your curiosity, here’s some more information.” Long form articles can be replete with instances where they are needed.
When external links used for that reason, your page receives more attention from Google.
A study by Moz searched for 15,000 keywords, analyzing their top 50 results. They found that nearly all of them had at least one external link.
There are people who pay for higher ranks on Google. For just $499.99. A spot among the top 5 ranks. A chance to race with royalty.
Google would never reveal who it’s SEO partners are. Deals like that are as solid as water.
So how do you use external links in content that is especially suited to have them?
By the only means that has every reason to work. By providing relevant, targeted content. By providing links to pages that relate to the addressed topic. By earning links to your page. By building peer relationships.
The Do’s –
Google is wary of link farms, bought links, spammy content, and undisclosed paid advertising. The Penguin update, which reinforces quality by identifying malpractices, which ignores or penalizes such links.
Link to content that is specific to the piece’s needs. If your article is addressing keyword bidding, link to sources that talk about the same – mindful of what kind of content that website posts.
This makes Google aware of what category of content your page sports. It makes it easier for its bots to crawl and pull your page, should a user search for that content.
Earned external links are one of the most reliable methods to be more visible. And doing that brings a plethora of benefits.
You may have just finished writing a highly valuable long form piece. It explores every unturned fold of your chosen topic. Now what?
Reach out to fellow content creators. Write them an email explaining what you’ve created and why. Persuade them politely to share the link to your article if they find it favorable.
Find out which bloggers are sharing the kind of content you create. That is literally, just a Google search away.
You can also offer to do the same for them. Link exchanges garner links by the trader principle. That is, it ensures isn’t a zero-sum game for anyone.
Associating with fellow bloggers provides the benefit of sharing current knowledge. It lets your content be judged by a critical mind. It increases your chances of getting constructive feedback.
You can build relationships even by quoting them at proper places, within your piece. Long form content facilitates exposition by this method. A useful tool to use when doing so is Click to tweet.
One other way it helps is by keeping your links relevant. Overtime, links can degenerate – show up in the results with decreasing frequency. Having others freshly link to you page time to time, helps it retain its sheen.
Also, watch out for user comments and user generated links. Delete ones that look misleading, and do so meticulously.
Finally, the anchor text that you use to link to pages, is colossally significant. Choose text that is directly related to the content in the page that you are linking to. Search engines guess that they lead to/are related to landing pages, which provide specific content, which in turn makes your page more credible.
In conclusion –
Effort, time, self-motivation and about a few sleepless nights could go into making quality, searchable, in-demand content.
With these tips, I hope I’ve shown how that investment could reap even better rewards. Your work on such a piece deserves rewards that make you want to continue doing great work.
Which is exactly what I this piece hopes to help you with.
Do you enjoy reading and writing long form content? What are your thoughts on molding them to be credible, promotional pieces? Let us know in the comments.
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