Studies have shown that longer, more in depth content has a tendency to dominate page 1 of the search results, and that a higher word count correlates with a higher position. In fact, research by serpIQ showed that page 1, position 1 had an average of 2,416 words.
So why does Google love this ‘long-form’ content so much and why is it rewarded so highly?
It’s more shareable
Longer pieces of content are more likely to be linked to from other sources (including social media), ultimately increasing natural backlinks to your site – one of Google’s top ranking factors!
It’s a no brainer that people are much more likely to reference an in depth, informative piece of content that provides value to their audience. This then indicates to Google that your content is trusted, credible, and worthy of higher search positions.
If backlinks and social shares / engagement are a priority for you, consider quality over quality when it comes to your content.
It’s more engaging
Another key factor that Google takes into consideration is engagement signals. It uses a machine learning algorithm called ‘RankBrain’ to determine how users are interacting with a web page in order to position it accordingly.
This is where search engines get really clever. As well as looking into the content itself, they have the ability to determine whether it is engaging their users. At the end of the day Google aims to continuously improve its results and ensure its users are getting the best possible experience, and this is where RankBrain becomes invaluable.
One of the metrics used by RankBrain is ‘dwell time’ – essentially how long users spend on your site. The longer people dwell on a site, the more likely they are to have found what they were looking for and deem it worthy of their time. A short dwell time, much like bounce rate, indicates that the user wasn’t satisfied with the result, and didn’t find any value in that page / piece of content.
Long-form content unsurprisingly leads to longer dwell times (providing your content is valuable and not just ‘filler’, which we’ll come onto later…).
RankBrain is also clever enough to match these engagement signals to user intent. For example, those searching for “a beginners guide to digital marketing“ will trigger different signals to someone just wanting a quick answer to a question. If the query warrants a long form answer, Google will know to serve this type of content.
It encourages E-A-T principals
“Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are the three most important aspects of a website that Google uses to evaluate its quality”
Here’s more about E-A-T, but content forms a huge part of establishing your website’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google’s quality raters use a certain criteria when evaluating a website, but if you make sure your content takes all three into account, it’s going to naturally take a longer form. It needs to be comprehensive, of extremely high quality, and refreshed on a regular basis.
This is where it will become obvious if your content has been strategically ‘bulked out’ to up the word count. You’ll lose Google’s (and the users’) trust, so don’t think quantity over quality…
Types of long-form content
If long-form content isn’t something you’re typically used to, there are different types that are likely to trigger something more in depth and valuable.
Guides & How To’s
Teach your audience something new – a perfect way to demonstrate E-A-T principals. Don’t hold back and give the user as much information as possible on a subject matter relevant to your product or service.
Case studies can be a great way of showcasing E-A-T through real life examples of your product or service in action.
If you’re passionate about a certain topic relevant to your niche – share it with your audience and back up your thoughts as much as possible.
This could be a list of resources, a list of favourites, a list of anything you think your audience will find worthwhile. Take the time to explain why each one has been featured and add to it on a regular basis to keep it fresh.
Story / Experience Posts
This could be something like a travel blog, or a day in the life type post that really goes into some depth about a personal experience that ties in nicely with your product or service niche.
Has your business got any unique statistics to share? Perhaps an annual report into your industry’s trends? Another great way to get E-A-T in there and something valuable your audience will want to share.
So there you have it; adding some longer-form pieces into your content marketing strategy, as well as reinvigorating your website copy could do wonders for your organic search presence, not to mention your audience and overall brand reputation. For more advice on taking your SEO strategy to the next level, get in touch with us today.