Long vs Short Form Content and the “SEO” Article

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Which type of content is best suited for your marketing initiatives

When I first started my career in SEO I had a lot of requests for “SEO” articles. Agencies and business owners weren’t interested in captivating and cultivating an audience, they wanted to be #1 in search. That meant short form (300 to 500 words) keyword focused content.

Back then keyword stuffing was considered an actual SEO strategy and quality content was a speed bump on the road to ranking.

Google Makes an Update

As Google optimized it’s algorithms for better user experience, publishers across a wide range of industries saw a dramatic loss in rankings and revenue. Many have made changes to optimize user experience in the wake of updates like Panda and Penguin, adding long form content and engaging with visitors.

Still, there are many people who believe short form is the way to go, and many SEO companies who still churn out the same keyword stuffed articles readers (and Google) hate.

What is Long Form Content?

Long form content is generally considered to be 2,000+ words. Examples of ways to incorporate long form content on your site include:

  • Whitepapers
  • E-books
  • Guides
  • Resources
  • Videos
  • Webinars

Content pieces like these not only help sell your product to the visitor, but also help you communicate your expertise on a specific topic or industry. It’s a much more effective way to convert a lead.

Why it Works

Long form content is beneficial for many reasons. Besides providing your readers with a useful user experience, you’re also increasing your session duration or time per page. It’s no secret Google uses session duration and bounce rates to determine rankings.

By providing long form content you’re increasing the time your users spend on your pages, and decrease your bounce rate effectively communicating to Google that your site is an “expert” source able to answer visitor search queries.

“If Google has a choice to show two articles for the same keyword, which one are they going to choose: The one where readers average 45 seconds on the page or the one where readers average 4.5 minutes on the page.” – Marcus Sheridan, Founder of The sales Lion.

Social Engagement

Today’s marketers are increasingly allocating significant budget towards social engagement, because it’s where people spend the majority of their time. Everyone who posts to social media is looking to engage visitors.

What’s the use of posting if it isn’t liked, shared or retweeted?

You might be surprised to know that long form content is shared more frequently than short-form pieces. BuzzSumo founder, Noah Kagan shared, “The longer the content, the more shares it gets, with 3,000-10,000 word pieces getting the most average shares (8859 total average shares.”

A person is more likely to share a whitepaper, study or webinar than they are a 300 word article.

Short Form & Marketing Moments

There’s been a shift in the industry towards short form content with video services like Vine and Instagram gaining popularity, and short form content like infographs used to convey complicated concepts and statistical analysis.

Today’s challenge is marketing to a consumer with a short attention span and a need for instant gratification.

By utilizing short form content and programmatic advertising, marketers can create “marketing moments” providing the customer with bits of information at a time over time until they eventually convert.

Short form content is also considered to be more “mobile friendly.”

The Complete Package

I think we can all agree that it’s time to retire the SEO (keyword stuffed) article, but we can make room for both short form and long form content. By providing users with engaging short form content, you’ll keep them coming back for more. By slipping in deep-thought long form content you’ll communicate your expertise and earn their trust.

I Dream of SEO is a full service Digital Marketing Agency located in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today to learn more about our content marketing services.

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