Long-form content is essentially the technique of developing articles and blog posts in excess of 1,000 words. This type of content marketing initiative can be important for SEO because long-form content typically generates a higher number of page views, inbound links, and social media shares.
There are numerous articles that discuss the benefits of developing long-form content for an SEO content marketing strategy. For example, Neil Patel’s article discussing why 3,000+ word blog posts lead to more success, highlights compelling data from Hubspot and Buzzsumo that supports this argument.
But this doesn’t mean that long-form content should be the only type of tactic executed in a SEO program.
In recent client discussions, there was concern that if the organization were to forsake long-form content, their overall SEO performance would drastically decline. One client wanted to focus solely on long-form content, questioning the value of asset development shorter than 1,500 words.
Before assuming an SEO program should emphasize long-form content over all else, it’s important to first evaluate strategic keyword targets and your competitors’ content marketing programs.
Strategic Keyword Targets
Review search results to determine whether long-form content is truly an essential requirement for SEO performance, specific to a given keyword target. Make sure to evaluate the type of content marketing assets that rank, particularly their objectives, approximate word count, and elements of the page (i.e., media assets, content types, video, etc)
Here are a few examples of shorter form content that still delivered positive results.
- For one technology client, their third most viewed article in Q1 2018 via organic search, was under 1,000 words. This asset generated 10 organic inbound links, one form submission (i.e. lead), and currently ranks near the top spot of organic search results for the targeted keyword phrase.
- For another tech client, they’re currently ranking between 2 – 4 for three related keyword targets, and have generated 8 goal completions in the past month, with a content marketing asset of less than 500 words.
- And finally, another software organization’s webinar landing page has generated over 125 organic social shares with copy of less than 300 words. While the direct SEO impact may not have been significant, the result provided more motivation to continue developing more comprehensive SEO content assets over time.
The bottom line is that keyword research, coupled with search analysis, provide insight into how comprehensive content marketing assets need to be in order to gain organic search engine visibility.
Competitive Content Marketing Programs
How frequently is the competition leveraging long-form content and how successful are they at this initiative, in coordination with an SEO keyword strategy?
Buzzsumo provides a range of tools for assessing competitive content marketing performance specifically associated with acquired links and social media engagement.
- The most shared report illustrates social media share volume and acquired links.
- The content analysis tool provides a “top-down” view of a competitor’s success, broken out by content types and content length.
SEMrush can also be used to identify keywords and associated web addresses a competitor is successfully ranking for.
With this information in hand, information can be futher input into a tool like Screaming Frog to obtain data on applicable word counts per web address.
While you won’t have access to conversion data, by comparing a competitor’s social shares, organic links, and keyword performance, it will better inform your team on the percentage of long-form content that may be contributing to SEO success.
Don’t get me wrong, long-form content plays an important part in the B2B marketer’s SEO content marketing campaign. For the most competitive keywords and themes, long-form content may even be the critical element for success.
But it’s not recommended to assume long-form content will be the only content marketing tactic generating success for your SEO program or broader content marketing efforts.
Keyword research, the analysis of search engine results in association with priority keyword targets, and a review of the competitive landscape, will help dictate the volume of long-form content recommended in a B2B SEO content marketing campaign.