The awesome power of long form posts for SEO

In November I ran a bit of a test on value giving long form content.

I decided to create a bit of an epic post for publishing on a client site so I could track and record the reactions and the benefits of extensive, information packed content.

A while back marketers were saying that if your post is too long you should break it up into several installments. People supposedly do not have the time or concentration to read thousands of words.

What I have seen on many of the top blogs has been a shift toward massive posts with tons of info, images, references, data, graphs and anything else that is relevant to proving a case.

Check out SEOmoz, Kaiser the Sage, anything by Kristi Hines, Kissmetrics, Distilled and even Copyblogger to see how prevalent the long form post has become.

So, does it work?

My post was on the mistakes made in content marketing and I started by creating the most expansive list of content fails that I could think of.

I settled on 30 points that I considered important and common errors.

I wrote an introduction explaining how Google and its various aggressive updates had shifted the goalposts – content really was the most successful way to improve SEO results.

Then I explained each of the mistakes with a couple of paragraphs.

With a quick summary and call-to-action at the end this post weighed in at more than 3,000 words.

Way too long?

It seems not. The post was viewed more than 600 times in the first month and was shared on social media more than 350 times. This was an outstanding result for a niche blog and the post was the fastest moving post in the history of the blog.

Why do you think that was?

First of all the post dealt with a topic that the audience was struggling with and gave clear, easy to understand direction on what is necessary to succeed in a relatively complex environment.

It is also a topic that is getting a lot of coverage yet as a concept it is still quite new to many in marketing and advertising.

So I gave a range of solutions to a current “pain point”.

The fact that it was 3,000 words long and had 30 strategies meant that it was seen as a reference document which meant that people wanted to share these comprehensive insights.

How does all this impact on SEO?

Firstly, the large number of shares sends a message to Google that this content is popular.

Secondly, the post gained a large number of natural links as people wanted to link to it to demonstrate points on their own sites or as a vote for the post.

In fact 561 people linked to the post in its first month.

Screenshot showing back-links

Fantastic!

This also resulted in the post picking up a 29 Page Authority score in just 4 weeks.

How did this all affect the SEO results for the website?

The interesting correlation between this single post generating a lot of interest and links and the sudden jump from 20% month on month growth in organic traffic to 50% growth by the end of November can not be ignored.

Google has been saying for quite some time now to create awesome, valuable, totally unique content and this little case study demonstrates what happens when you take their advice instead of trying to go head to head with the algorithm.

Neil Patel said recently that he spends 6-8 hours on each post he writes and then it goes for editing. My post took closer to 10 hours to create and edit.

OK, an increase in traffic is one thing but where can we see actual ROI from this exercise?

The first example was when our client won a contract and the company management they were talking to referred to the post and expressed an interest in using the same strategies.

And this is a big deal.

Second, we have used the post to demonstrate our expertise to prospective clients who are interested in improving their online performance and the content has been a critical element in us working with new clients on more than one occasion.

So, that’s how content strategy can work when it is done well.

  • higher visibility for your brand through increased shares on social media
  • increased visits for your website
  • better Google organic traffic results
  • demonstration of expertise or thought leadership
  • direct conversion to new business

Hard to argue with that now don’t you think?

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