Long-form Content Optimised for Search Intent
- What is considered long-form content?
- The benefits of publishing long-form content
- How to write long-form content
Long-form content describes a piece of online writing (most likely a blog article) that is between 1,000 to 7,500 words.
Content pieces that are longer allow the publisher or writer to explore the topic in greater depth. For this reason, a long-form content piece is a robust source of writing that provides valuable information to the reader and establishes the publisher as a trusted authority in their field.
Quality content has always been important for great SEO. But when it comes to your SEO strategy for 2022, long-form content pieces with topical depth are expected to carry even more weight. This is because there are several benefits of publishing long-form content:
• Build your website authority – valuable, in-depth content pieces help establish you as a trusted authority or a thought leader on a subject, which increases your site’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness). This, in turn, supports your SEO efforts.
• Get more social shares – long-form content enriched with detailed information is valuable to the reader. People are more inclined to share valuable pieces of information that they find useful and interesting.
• Have better online visibility – informative long content pieces of over 2000 words have been shown to rank better in SERPs. This will support your efforts in boosting your organic rankings.
• Explore more link building possibilities – other publishers are more likely to link back to in-depth pieces that users find valuable. Long-form content is a great way of supporting your backlink strategy.
• Get more conversions – long-form content punctuated with calls-to-action has the potential to generate leads. More leads means more conversions.
• Increase time spent on your site – since a long-form piece explores a topic in greater depth, it keeps its audience engaged for a longer period of time. Keeping your visitors on your site for longer (increasing dwell time), helps build trust and brand awareness, while also increasing goal conversion rates.
How to Write Long-Form Content
To write long-form content with topical depth, you need to consider the following best practices:
- Optimise for search intent
Search intent (or user intent) optimisation is all about giving the best answer exactly the way your target audience needs it. The better your content answers the readers’ questions and satisfies their needs, the more likely they will stay on your website instead of moving on to your competitors.
To align content with search intent, think about your user journey. The user journey consists of four phases: Awareness, Interest, Decision and Action. Each of these phases has its own type of search intent: Navigational, Informational, Commercial and Transactional.
The further down the sales funnel or user journey, the more sales-driven content can be. Whereas content in the Navigational and Informational phase will be based on offering insights to the topic.
- Research relevant topics
In order to optimise your content for user intent, you need to research topics that are relevant and on-trend. To find insights, look at what type of content your competitors are producing and what kind of topics your audience is searching for. What problems do they face?
SEO Content Gap Analysis can help you come up with strategic content ideas that truly resonate with your target group and match their interests. By using these insights in developing topics, you’ll produce high-quality editorial pieces that visitors find engaging.
Remember, content should never be created based on random assumptions. Put time aside to plan your editorial calendar and be strategic when choosing topics to write about.
- Enrich your content with keywords
Once you have your topic, do Keyword Research to build out and refine content, as well as optimise for organic search. Keyword volumes will guide you in selecting keywords that are popular within your topic.
Also pay attention to long-tail keywords with lower search volumes. These niche keywords may help you find angles to the topic you might not have considered.
KWFinder will help you find long-tail keywords with low search competition. Ahrefs and SEMrush are paid SEO tools that provide useful metrics on your competitors and highlight backlinking opportunities. BuzzSumo is a social analysis tool that gives insights on the level of social media engagement on a topic or keyword. By looking at the number of shares, retweets, etc. you can determine the type of content that will be most successful for your industry.
- Research your topic well
The purpose of long-form content is to explore topics in depth, hence the information contained therein should be accurate and useful. Aside from covering many, or all the important points of the subject, you should also ensure that the content is unique and original.
Make sure you cover the topic from a different angle than your competitors. This will provide added value to your reader and put you apart from your competitors. It’s also important that all the information contained within your article is accurate trustworthy.
This is even more important for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) pages. Google scrutinises YMYL pages’ content even more than other pages. This is because these pages could have real-world effects on users’ health, wealth and future happiness. YMYL pages include fields such as news and current events; government, law and civics; finance; health and safety.
- Make your content engaging and easy to consume
To keep readers invested in your content until the end, you need to create a seamless, engaging reading experience.
Here are a few key points in creating engaging content that is easy to read:
Don’t write long paragraphs. Break up your content in shorter sections.
Use visuals or video whenever relevant.
Make use of bullet points to summarise key points.
Experiment with list-based or Q&A formats.
Structure your content with clear headlines.
Punctuate your content with calls-to-action – this will guide the reader on what to do whilst generating leads, and ultimately conversions.
- Optimise your content for search engines
Ultimately, the goal of any online content is to rank well for its targeted keywords on search engines so it can be found. While on-page SEO (as opposed to off-page SEO) involves a number of factors, the ones below are the most important ones to focus on.
Important on-page SEO tips to optimise content:
• Use keywords naturally, based on an understanding of your user’s search intent.
• Don’t stuff your content with keywords. Keyword stuffing is widely condemned by search engines. In fact, it can actually lead to a search penalty.
• Use your target keyword within the first 100 – 150 words of the article.
• Wrap your blog title in an H1 tag and sub-headings in H2 tags – this helps search engines understand the structure of the page and hierarchy of information.
• Use keywords in your page’s metadata, this includes the page title, main header, as well as the page’s meta description.
• Optimise your images so search engines can read them. Insert keywords within the file name, as well as the alt text.
• Consider Search Experience Optimisation (SXO) – optimise your content for user experience. As search engines like Google improve their algorithms, user experience is becoming increasingly important. Mobile SEO, together with page speed and responsiveness are among the main factors that influence user experience.
• Use outbound (external) links. External links to related pages show Google that your page is a hub of quality information and helps search engines figure out your page’s topic.
• Optimise your page’s URL by keeping it short and inserting your target keyword.
- Monitor and keep improving
High-quality content is a great investment. But you need to know the impact and ROI of the money spent. To do so, it’s necessary to monitor the results of your content using tools like Google Analytics.
This can be done by setting up defined goals that can be quantified and measured. By keeping track of your content’s SEO performance, you’ll see whether it’s working and bringing in new visitors. By monitoring results you can also gage where and how it can be improved upon.
Down the line, it may be necessary to refresh and update content to keep it evergreen. This will ensure it stays relevant as times change and keeps providing value to your readers.
When it comes to SEO trends for 2022, engaging long-format content that’s optimised for search intent will prove to be a powerful strategic arrow in your SEO quiver.
Key to remember is that the content you create is tied to your brand image. Posting low-quality content can be harmful to your reputation, as well as your SEO efforts.
Get in touch to find out how we can boost your SEO in 2022.