As consumers change how they research and compare professional service providers like you, so should your strategies and resources to appeal to them. One change in how online users consume resource-type information is a trend toward long-form content, instead of clicking on numerous pages to gather the scope of information they are seeking.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is pretty much what it says it is; content that is typically longer than most pages or blog posts. But in addition to just being a longer page with more words, long-form content typically contains content that has greater depth of information, is more comprehensive in nature, and provides visual support of the written text.
Long-form copy can be as long as 1,000 to 1,500 words, or even more, depending on the topic, scope and format. Some high performing content exceed 2,000 words. Long-form content can be presented as a more comprehensive page, a consumer guide, e-book or other resource that is organized and utilizes headings and sub-headings.
Reasons Why You Should Invest In Long-Form Content:
- Unlike e-commerce websites where the majority of visitors simply search for the best deal on a product they are looking to purchase, professional service providers (surgeons, lawyers, dentists, etc.) attract visitors that are looking for good information to help them make important decisions. Visitors’ intent is a big reason why long-form content can make an impact.
- Your topics and services are more complex than just promoting a product. There is a wide variety of questions, concerns, tips, guidance, and details that have value to visitors and create opportunity for your practice.
- By providing more comprehensive information on a given page or resource that is easier for visitors to read, comprehend and engage, you can differentiate yourself from the competition as an authority on a given topic.
- Long-form content now gives you a valued asset to promote. It provides a reason for you to reach out to your online audience and visitors to interact with your website.
- This type of content can improve your user engagement signals to Google and boost your listings for key pages and phrases. By promoting these pages and providing visitors more useful, organized, and engaging content, you will keep more visitors on these key pages for a longer period of time and get them to take actions that enhance the value of the page. In addition, if the page is a good resource, you will also find that visitors will come back to it as they go through the research and decision-making process. Developing traffic that goes beyond one-time visitors is a positive signal that your website and pages are more authoritative and valuable. It tells Google that you have developed an increasingly loyal audience.
How To Create Long-Form Content
The thought of creating long-form content may appear to be a major undertaking. However, if you take the appropriate steps you will find it not only manageable, but rewarding.
Identify Your Objectives – The first step is to determine who you are trying to help with this content; why is it important for them to receive it; and how you will measure the success of the campaign.
Topic Selection – Next, you need to carefully identify the subject or topic. This is obviously an important step so take the time to research it. You can start by looking into key services or areas of your practice that you want to promote. Of course, this is what most practices think. Probably a more important consideration is to pick topics that are of interest to your visitors or target audience. Use keyword and search query research to help identify high-demand content for your service areas. This includes reviewing your own analytics to identify the most viewed pages and blog topics. You will also want to view some of your biggest competitors to make sure content you are developing is not being offered or promoted on their website as well. Be unique and offer more value.
To Gate, Or Not To Gate – If your content is of high value, then you should consider “gating” the resource where visitors provide minimal contact information for them to access and download it. You will also want to consider an inbound marketing automation program to effectively leverage this data and remarket with additional relevant, segmented information to interested visitors.
Writing The Content – In most cases, I recommend you hire a professional to develop the majority of your long-form content, although your input would be essential in the process. An outline, along with key bullet points, can help ensure the final content is organized and follows a consistent train of thought. It will also ensure you don’t overlook key points and can prioritize how they are presented.
Design and Presentation – Having great content is the base of long-form content, but how it displays and its visual elements can significantly impact the readability, comprehension and engagement of your content. Identify photos, graphs, infographics, links, slide presentations, videos, etc. that can really breathe life into your content.
Promote It! – One of the prime reasons for developing long-form content that was mentioned earlier is to provide your practice with something to promote, and give you a reason to reach out to your online audience. Don’t overlook this most important step in marketing long-form content. That may include any one or all of the following suggestions:
- Add a link to your website navigation menu
- Create a visual call-to-action graphic on your website and link to it
- Add copy and text to key relevant pages of your website
- Promote it in your blog
- Promote it in all of your social media (Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Send out an email announcement to your database of contacts, customers and referral sources.
- Include a mention and link to it in your e-newsletters
- Include a “bookmark this page” and share button
- Launch a paid advertising campaign with direct links
- Identify and send to key influencers that may find value and share-ability in it
- Use in your sales follow-up process by providing links in your email correspondence. Drive traffic to your long-form content; don't just hope they find it
There are a number of other ways to leverage this valuable long-form content. Be creative and consistent and you will find your investment in better content paying dividends.
If you would like to view examples or learn more about long-form content, call us at 800-916-3886, or email us. And don't forget to forward/share this with friends and colleagues who would enjoy and benefit (use the "share" buttons on the right)! - Thanks.
~Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing