Over the past year we have been recommending that clients take a different approach to content creation. We wanted them to take an 80/20 approach when it came to creating long-form vs. short-form content for their website. Inevitably we get the questions, “do longer articles rank better than short articles?”, and “do long articles get more traffic than short articles?”.
This long-form content approach was not an easy sell, as it would involve our clients doing more research, spending more time creating content, and utilizing more resources. With that in mind we decided to turn this strategy on ourselves, and invest in creating long-form content for our own website – thus giving us real data that we had some control over.
What We Did.
Our website as a whole was approximately 20% long-form, and 80% short-form content. Within all these articles we focused heavily on SEO, including keyword research, content consumption optimization, and providing value for users. We were slowly growing search traffic, but we were missing out on new inbound links, increasing new user visits, and lead growth.
So, about 6 months ago, we switched up our content creation strategy to follow an 80/20 rule – 80% long-form, 20% short-form. The goal was to increase inbound links, leads from organic search, reach within the search engines, and overall Google traffic – and, spoiler, it worked extraordinarily well.
What Is Long-form Content?
Long-form content includes more than one secondary keyword focus about an overarching topic. When we think about creating content that can be defined as long-form, we think about two things.
- Content length
- Content depth
It might seem obvious, but there are many different definitions of what long-form content truly is. Some people consider articles longer than 700 words to be long-form, whereas others think that articles have to be in excess of 1,600 words to be considered long-form. We feel the later is the more accurate number, and thus shot for at least 1,600 words in our long-form articles – most ran over 2,000 words.
This accomplishes a couple content goals:
- By defining a minimum word count, it helps content creators dive deeper into topics and go beyond surface ideas.
- It speaks to personas who want to dive deep into a topic.
When thinking about long-form content as an end-all be-all resource for a specific topic, it makes it imperative to provide depth through additional sub topics that are related to the primary topic.
This accomplishes a few content goals:
- This helps keep the user engaged, by providing them most of the information they need, without having to head back to Google and do an additional search.
- It provides move value due to a more holistic view within one article.
- It gives Google and other search engines more reasons (and keywords) to rank the article for.
How We Create Long-form Content?
Much of it comes from competitive research, and finding shorter form articles from competitors to expand on them.
Our typical approach went something like this:
- Find a topic we want to target
- Find the websites and competitors that are ranking for the topic
- Analyze their articles -Word count, Topics covered, Keywords their article is ranking for
- Compile the data
- Outline our article based on the data gathered
- Have our in-house writers create the article
- Create internal links from other articles to the new article
- Publish, distribute, and let Google know about the new content
Below you will find a few of the results of our long-form content test.
Total Keywords Ranked For
Source: SEM Rush
Leads Per Month
Source: Google Analytics
Organic Traffic Increase – June vs. Oct
Where traffic previously had been mostly flat, we were able to achieve a 51.91% increase in month over month organic traffic.
Source: Google Analytics
By turning our strategy upon our own website, we have seen great results in not only traffic and reach into new markets, but leads that come from Google. With this data, we will be continuing this strategy on our own website, as well as recommending it to clients.