Standard vs. Long-Form Pages: What's Better for SEO?

Internet Marketing for Attorneys, Surgeons, and Dentists

overall results for long-form contentIn the digital marketing world, we’ve all heard the phrase content is king. While there are many different marketing channels your practice can utilize, there’s simply no way to take shortcuts with online content.

As Google’s algorithm gets smarter, it’s more difficult for web managers to manipulate their site to maintain optimal performance without uniquely written, high-quality content. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and poorly written content that has your site ranking in the #1 SERP position.

In this article:

  1. Defining Long-Form Content
  2. Page 1 Solutions Case Study
  3. Content-Based Research & Data
  4. Ways to Present Content Online
  5. Using Varied Content Types
  6. Acquiring Rich Snippets
  7. Quality vs. Quantity
  8. Long-Form Content Benefits

What Is Long-Form Content?

There’s no exact definition of what the word count on a page must be in order to be considered “long-form.” But for the sake of argument, let’s define it as a page with 1,500 words or more. Let’s also go ahead and assume a “standard” page of content has around 500 words.

Page 1 Solutions Case Study

Page 1 Solutions put together a content-based case study after developing and implementing a 20-month plan to consolidate a law firm’s main practice area pages into comprehensive long-form pages.

We found that although the website was recently redesigned, much of the content needed to be reworked to improve organic search results. Some of the main problems we wanted to address during the content consolidation were:

  • Many pages on the site all covered the same topic or information, which therefore caused them to compete with one another in the organic search results.
  • With so many similar pages, users had too many options of where to click, which made the website difficult to navigate.
  • In some cases, pages had been carried over from the old site that weren’t relevant to the firm’s practice areas anymore, so these needed to be removed and permanently redirected.

After implementing these changes, we discovered the results we were hoping for. The website experienced improved search rankings in as little as 30 days after rewrites, and continued to improve thereafter.

For example, after posting the client’s new Product Liability long-form page, Google Analytics showed an increase in pageviews of 287% compared to the preceding month. As this 20-month plan started being implemented, we concluded that the credibility earned with long-form content builds within the first 30 to 90 days and continues up to 6 months after launch.

Google Analytics screenshot of website traffic before and after long-form page consolidation

Long-Form Content Research & Data

Over time, there have been innumerable studies about the effect long-form content has on organic search rankings. In 2012, serpIQ conducted a study based on 20,000 different keywords & organic results. From this study, serpIQ concluded:

  • The average word count for all of the #1 ranking search results was 2,416.
  • The average for all top 10 search results was over 2,000 words.
  • The average word count for the tenth organic position was 2,032.

graph demonstrating average word length for top search results | IMAGE FROM serpIQ

Hubspot also conducted its own study, reaching essentially the same conclusion as serpIQ. Researchers drew a positive correlation between pages with high organic performance and average word count. Their research detailed that the “sweet spot” for high ranking pages was about 2,250-2,500 words. However, it’s good to keep in mind that content types and page length will vary among different industries.

So What’s the Best Way to Present Content Online?

With everything on one comprehensive page, users won’t have to navigate around the website, looking for content that might be hard to find. This ultimately guides them to exactly the information they need, making them more likely to convert into customers.

While there’s no one single answer on the exact way you should create content, we can analyze the data to see what works and what doesn’t. So, is long-form content better for SEO? All signs point to yes.

Using Varied Content Types to Connect with Different Learning Styles

diagram of different learning styles - seeing, hearing, thinking, feelingWriting long-form content allows more freedom and flexibility than a basic page would. We can use this to our advantage, and incorporate various content types to appeal to different learning styles.

It’s important to remember that users visiting your website will all absorb the information differently. Using all sorts of visual content will aid you in appealing to the variety of users visiting your site, and help break up text within a page, making it less intimidating and easier to scan.

  1. Linguistic Learners – If you enjoy reading in your free time, then you’re probably happy to sit at your computer and read the entire 1,500 words staring you in the face. If this is the case, then you’re likely a linguistic or verbal learner who learns best through words and language, whether written or spoken. For these learners, make sure your content is well-structured and easily understood on a basic reading level.
  2. Auditory-Musical Learners – Maybe you’re the type of person that would rather sit back, relax, and watch a quick video. Also known as aural learning, people who fall into this category understand information best when it’s spoken or heard. Video marketing is a fantastic way to connect with your aural learning website visitors.
  3. Visual Learners – People who fall into this category typically learn best when information is presented through imagery such as graphs, charts, patterns, and more. One of the best ways you can appeal to this learning style is through the creation of infographics; these visual assets summarize information in an appealing, easy-to-understand illustration.
  4. Kinesthetic Learners – This learning style isn’t as common as the others we’ve already discussed, but shouldn’t be ignored. A kinesthetic learner absorbs information best through tactile experience. Obviously this style is a bit more difficult to appeal to through online content, but it’s not impossible. You could try creating an interactive and informative quiz for users. Clicking through the quiz could keep these users engaged and interactive with your website, making them more likely to convert.

Incorporating original imagery will further help you appeal to the different learning styles we touched on above, making your site even more user-friendly and engaging. Why appeal to just one or two learning styles rather than effectively connect with your entire audience?

Acquiring Rich Snippets in the SERP

When Google recognizes that a user is asking a question, the SERPs try to present the exact answer the user needs. For some time now, Google has started rolling out “rich snippets” which are displayed directly above the rest of the organic search results. Google pulls a snippet from your webpage and shows it directly to the user, rather than requiring them to click through to your website.

It’s important to remember that rich snippets aren’t just obtained through long-form content creation, although they do contribute to more rich snippet results. Your page should also be triggering specific and optimized schema markup on the backend. For more information on what schema markup is and how to use it, check out another Page 1 blog article to get started.

screenshot of rich snippet on Google search results page

Don’t Sacrifice Quality for Quantity

In the words of Neil Patel, “Word count is not a standalone ranking factor.” Turning a 500-word page of poorly written content into a 2,000-word page of the still poorly written content will not help improve organic search rankings.

Google understands if your content is well put together and offers real value to the user. The search engine’s overall goal is to present a user with the absolute best search result possible based on the specific search query. Why would Google make you #1 when there’s someone else actually putting in the time, effort, and money to create content the right way?

Benefits of Creating Long-Form Content

It’s clear there are many benefits that come along with successfully creating long-form content. Below are a few that we’ve already discussed, all of which will bolster your site’s overall performance and incoming search traffic:

  • Increased visibility in the organic search results
  • Higher average organic search positioning
  • Higher organic click-through rates
  • Potential rich snippet results
  • Increased user engagement
  • Longer average session duration
  • Lowered bounce rate
  • Overall improved user experience
  • Potentially increased incoming leads

It’s best to cover all of your bases and address as many ranking factors as you possibly can so they can all work together and enhance your organic search results. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start working on long-form content so you can reap the benefits that come along with it. Contact Page 1 Solutions at 800-368-9910 to find out how to enhance your website and market your practice.

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