When it comes to digital written content, “the shorter the better” has long been considered best practice.
Keep it over 500 words so those dastardly search engine algorithms capture your content, but don’t dare push past 1,200 words because no one likes to read anymore. (Imagine that last part said in a slightly condescending nasally voice because that’s how it’s always sounded.)
Let us be the first to tell you: the death of long-form content has been greatly exaggerated; in fact, long-form content just might be the key to ramping up your website for greater success.
Why Is Content Marketing Important for Growth?
Successful content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) do more than just drive traffic; they help you build credibility. For this strategy to achieve both of those goals, you have to market your content toward your audience and trust that they will find it.
You must believe page visitors, both top of funnel prospects and those still on the outskirts, are willing to engage with thoughtful, quality content. We aren’t talking about a 1,000-word preamble hidden inside a personal story or some other gambit of pulling in readers before you quickly bullet point the main topic in the final 300 words and then drop in a CTA to call it a day.
Nope — we’re talking about creating long-form pieces that push up to and over 2,000 words while utilizing strong SEO.
Well-developed long-form content delivers on two major SEO-driving fronts. For your readers, it provides valuable information on the topic they are seeking, which creates more quality value for your content in the eyes of search engine algorithms. Meanwhile, their increased engagement time translates to an increase in your “time on page,” which is a key factor in boosting your overall SEO. Together, they help increase your SERP.
It’s like delivering answers to a question not yet asked. The reader finishes the piece feeling informed in ways that are satisfying and, at times, unexpected. This is how content evolves into thought leadership. Pieces that resonate in valuable ways are shared, even if it’s only within your industry, and your credibility as a brand, business, or individual rises. Relevant and shared content is sweet music to Google’s algorithmic ears.
Long-form content is a way to gain recognition for your business and website; it’s also a way to pull prospects further down the funnel and closer to a sale as they build trust in your shared content resources like blog articles. But best of all, SERP rankings are greatly influenced by the depth of your content. SERP stands for search engine results page, but really it just means the order your content appears in a particular Google search.
We are all frequent internet users, and just by our own instincts, we trust the links that appear closer to the top more than those that don’t. Google SERPS act the same way. Page one is a goal not just because it leads to more people seeing it, but also because it means Google trusts your content more than competitors. The more page one SERPS you have, the better your SEO is working for you.
So, to recap, how do you begin to implement all this? First, you trust your audience to be more than headline readers and then they trust you with their loyalty. The stronger your prospects and allies are connected with your content, the more it results in higher SERP rankings.
Search Engine Optimization Isn’t the Cloud Monster
Some people get brain freeze when they think about SEO. Is it science? Is it math? Is it magic?
Well, what’s it not… is something to de-prioritize. Your business needs leads like your website needs clicks, and high-quality content can deliver both when done properly with SEO optimization.
Search engine optimization content marketing is like a dog whistle for prospects and almost-prospects. People want the good or service your business provides, but they need to find you first to purchase them.
Search engine optimization uses impactful, properly researched keywords to draw in your target audience. When you couple keywords with quality content, you can greatly increase your online mentions and shares and drive your offsite optimization, which ranks your website higher on Google’s search page.
Sure, it would be way cooler if there was a specific guide from Google explaining what Google Bots are and how they crawl web pages. However, there are some great resources that help explain SEO on a deeper, more technical level. Explore this resource if you’re more in the beginning stage of understanding how web crawlers like Google’s work. Once you’re familiar with how they work, learn more about some best practices for creating content that will maximize your page rankings
How to Write Search Engine Optimized Content to Climb SERPs
Your website content has to be amazing, so don’t settle for less.
First, your website needs to be successfully optimized for search engines. SEO-optimized content is both highly specific to your audience’s questions and simultaneously broad enough to attract people who are actually looking for it.
The most integral part of writing SEO content is spending enough time doing your keyword research. The process starts with you spending time thinking about your audience and the solutions you provide through your service or product. From that, generate a list of terms you believe fit your goals and the goals of your audience.
Once you have that initial list of keywords, it’s time to start diving a little deeper. Thankfully, you can use a couple of different tools to refine your l keyword expression list.
Use a Keyword Tracker Browser Extension
Keyword trackers are simple to use once you download and add the extension to your browser. These tools provide quality insight because you can simply search terms relevant to your solutions or you can search those you wish to rank for.
They generate a list of keywords similar to the one searched with a number to indicate how frequently that expression is searched. It presents a numeric value for how often words and expressions are searched, allowing you to make informed decisions about your word choices.
A couple of great examples of browser extensions are Keyword Surfer or Keywords Everywhere! Both of these tools are excellent at narrowing down your initial list of potential keywords into those that generate higher search traffic.
Sign Up for a Keyword Analytics Service
Keyword analytics services often deliver a deeper and more powerful set of SEO research tools than other mediums.
These tools include the ability to search any URL or company website and discover what keywords they are deploying, how much traffic they get from them, and what other topics they are targeting. And they provide reports with powerful data to help you determine keywords you want to rank for.
They can also allow you to target competitor keywords and deploy them better in your content in hopes of overtaking their ranking and learning what keywords they are optimizing for. Lastly, keyword analytics services provide real-time, live keyword rankings to give you a glimpse into the most current analytics related to your company and its keyword decisions.
Some excellent SEO analytics services are SEMRush and MOZ. Both of these services offer free and paid plans with multiple price points. We recommend trying out the free plans first, and once you familiarize yourself with one that you like, you can easily scale up the subscription as your business grows.
Take Advantage of Google as a Q&A Tool
Using Google as a Q&A tool is a bit more of an involved and less data-precise approach. However, this strategy is effective, and it’s at no cost to you!
All you have to do is simply post relevant questions to Google and examine the SERPs for insight. One crucial step to remember when doing this is to make sure you put your browser in incognito mode. This will give you search results that aren’t biased, meaning the data isn’t relevant to your location or previous search history.
Research as many questions you want to explore what potential customers might be asking or problems you think they might be looking to solve. Look at what pages are ranking high and what content and search terms they include. This strategy can help you build a bridge between your customers and your prospects by delivering content that responds to their needs.
This simple approach will give you an idea of what people are organically looking for when it comes to your industry. Using this data, you can build a robust keyword list and implement a content plan to get those search terms visible on your website.
If you want to go beyond Google and explore this question-based process more, Answer the Public is an excellent resource where you can not only ask questions, but it will deliver a variety of interconnected search topics and keywords. There’s a free version that limits your number of questions, but a paid version unlocks unlimited questions and more data results.
Delight the Algorithm with Quality Keywords Used in Relevant Long-Form Articles
With your carefully curated list of keywords at the ready, it is time to start creating some SEO content. Years ago, this meant sprinkling keywords throughout your content — sort of like a painter spilling a keyword here in this paragraph or stacking some repeated keywords in a listicle or something. Those salad days are long gone — search engines are better at deciphering quality content and simple keyword dropping, and they’ll actually ding you if you try those archaic methods.
It’s a simple fact — long-form content delivers more first-page SERPs than short-form content. Since keywords are crucial to successful optimization, it’s easy to see how long-form content provides more opportunities to deploy those keywords while providing valuable information for your audience.
Consider keywords as the jumping-off point for creating your content pieces. Are there several expressions around a single topic you want to rank for? Then create a piece of content that allows you to organically curate how those keywords are deployed throughout the article.
You are your product, service, or solution’s expert — use that knowledge to target high-quality keywords to build content around.
For example, if you’re a brand selling electric bicycles, use your understanding of your product’s specs like charge time or cost savings compared to cars to create content that utilizes messaging related to e-bike battery capacity, or the health benefits of commuting on an E-bike. This will attract top of funnel potential looking for answers to topical questions that will, in turn, lead them to your content and thereby your brand, which sells what they might want.
When you focus on long-form content, you can naturally slide to adjacent topics or deeply expound on a single issue. You claim prime Google real estate by deploying multiple keyword expressions of value. Let your SEO and marketing content work together for you!
As a best practice, you shouldn’t aim for more than 8 keyword expressions per 2,000-word piece. This is because Google won’t give you higher rankings just because you are able to work in 20 keyword expressions. Remember — quality over quantity.
But what does quality mean to Google? Here are our best tips for getting on Google’s good side with your long-form content.
7 SEO Blog Tips to Boost Your Improve SERP Rankings
The Googlebot is excellent at determining the value of content pieces. They are adept at creators’ attempts to outsmart them; however, these tips will ensure your SEO keywords are placed where they can do you the most good.
- Use article titles and H2 subheadings as the primary places to deploy the keywords you are most interested in improving your ranking on.
- Consistency is key. Google ranks domains by consistent quality. So even if your topic isn’t hugely popular now, when it is, Google remembers your good topical content as being their first and boosts your ranking.
- Make sure to use your most valued keyword expression in your article’s first paragraph at least once.
- Hyperlink words that provide some indication of what content the links to, not just phrases like “read more” and “check out.” These provide no SEO value, and Google decreases the SEO value of that link.
- Any pictures or imagery used in the article should be tagged with relevant keywords (don’t worry, we’ll discuss Image SEO in another article).
- In early paragraphs, include links to other content of your business, whether it is product pages or links to other resources on a related topic.
- Don’t sleep on keyword usage in meta-descriptions. Meta-descriptions help Google determine the accuracy and relevancy of the article.
Sidebar: How to Write Meta Descriptions
Most people just think of meta descriptions as incomplete descriptions on the search results page. This is one reason these sneaky little bits of content are frequently overlooked by marketing writers. Essentially, a meta description is the summary or abstract of an article; however, writing them can be a bit tricky.
Here are some guidelines to follow to write excellent meta descriptions:
- Don’t go over 60 words.
- Do include your primary and/or secondary keywords in the description.
- Don’t just repeat the article’s opening sentence.
- Do provide a brief content-relevant description of the article.
Blog Marketing Is a Gift that Grows with You
Newsflash — people still enjoy reading and so does Google. Developing your blog content should be a cornerstone of your SEO strategy.
The majority of your long-form content will come as a blog, which can sound like a cast-off term that’s lost its weight. If it helps, reframe the concept of a blog post into that of a thought leadership article because that’s essentially what these long pieces should feel like.
Content should be in-depth, informed, backed by statistics, and/or outside sources on occasion. Your articles should include quotes from experts, even if those experts aren’t at your company. When it comes to blog marketing, your content should be a bridge to the solutions your business provides.
It may be tempting to just write blog articles about your t your specific solutions or products; however, your blog isn’t the place for that type of content. Instead, cover topics relevant to your industry — this can include hyper-specific deep dive pieces on a niche element of your marketplace, such as a process or technology advancement. Pieces can have a broader focus, like discussing current trends in your field.
It’s within those pieces that you eventually mention how your product or solution addresses the topic of the article. When done well, links to your products or other content and soft mentions of your solutions feel like organic extensions of the topic. After all, if you’re a thought leader in the field, it makes sense that your business succeeds in it as well.
We like to think of it as “the 90/10 rule,” which means 90%percent of an article should be on-topic and 10% should be selling your business in some way.
What Are You Waiting For? Go Create Lasting Growth with Long-Form Content!
The content you spend time creating shouldn’t be caged in a low word count box. Unleash your potential by exploring your subject matter expertise and reap the benefits of quality, optimized content.
Long-form content simply provides you with more ongoing value. It not only brings new eyes to your website, but it can also be repurposed in something shorter for social media or even recorded and turned into a webinar or podcast.
Today is a great day to start developing longer, more optimized content; your business deserves it!
But let’s be honest — you may not have time for all writing those words in a long-form piece. Maybe your entrepreneurial spirit keeps you too busy between business engagements, podcasting duties, and client coaching opportunities to sit down and turn out long-form content.
Have no fear — Carter & Custer is here to deliver premium, researched long-form content for all of your needs. We’ve already written over 1.5 million words for content-hungry brands to help them build their authority and SEO strategy!
Reach out to us today if you want to make a greater impact with your content!