Category “Web Content”

The Usefulness of Long-Form Content – for Sites and Readers

Wednesday, 30 November, 2016

pencil and shavingsWhile I tend to focus on creating concise, focused web copy for my clients (for many reasons – reader attention spans, mobile phone use, effectiveness, “punch”, etc.), it’s important to also keep in mind that readers do actually also look for and enjoy long-form content. It has many benefits for site owners, including on the search engine ranking front, and can help you engage more with your specific audience. I think it can be argued that the more reliant we get on our devices, too, the more we use them for all types of reading – both long-form and short-form content.

So, What is Long-form Content?

Long-form content is usually defined as content longer than 2,000 words, so that might include white papers, research reports, or a long article (all of which I do write for clients as well). Yes, as online readers, we’re inundated with clickbait lists and ‘viral’ – what I’d hesitate to even classify as – articles. Much of what we see these days is designed to be shared or skimmed by a social media audience (think of the Facebook “news” section of trending topic “headlines”). However, a lot of readers are looking for depth and value, and longer articles do also get shared – actually quite a lot more than you might suppose. I firmly believe that well written, engaging content can be of any length – as long as you’ve thought about your audience and purpose. For example, I wouldn’t recommend long-form content for a Home page of a website, but it’d be a great for an in-depth case study.

How Does Long-Form Content Help Site Owners?

One of the reasons I advocate for a blog for many clients is that it allows you to show your audience that you are a source of knowledge and expertise on your particular service/product/industry. Long-form content can be an integral part of this same approach. It helps connect with readers and can actually increase your leads. As a recent article on Content Marketing states, “Users will not only stay on a page longer to read lengthier content, but also they’ll look at more pages than the average visitor. In addition, holding a reader’s attention for more than three minutes (as opposed to one minute) makes it over twice as likely that they’ll return to a website.” So the more engaged your readers are with your long-form content, the more likely they will actually come back to your website, which can lead to more business and a better bottom line.

One of the elements that counts when optimizing a site for Search Engines is fresh content, and it has been shown that Search Engines also like long-form content. This provides more opportunities to then include more keywords when optimizing a website, which then drives more leads. In simple terms, adding new, longer articles to your website can boost where you show up on search engine results pages. Given that most web users these days use search engines to find what they’re looking for online, you can see how this important and helpful this is!

What Should You Be Careful of with Long-Form Content?

As I mentioned, you do have to make sure you’re picking the right time and place for longer articles. The information still has to be well written and applicable to your audience, and it also has to fit into an overall marketing strategy. You can churn out content (or hire someone like me to do it for you), but if there is no strategy on how it will be used, where it’ll be shared, etc., then it won’t serve your purpose. You also have to be careful that you aren’t using “shovelware” (content that was created for a different medium that has been dumped online); long-form content still needs to be written and planned with web users and the medium of the web in mind.

Interested in finding out more about how long-form content can help your website and your business? Feel free to get in touch with me.

Geraldine

 

 

Less is Definitely More When Writing Web Content

Tuesday, 10 June, 2014

Man surrounded by paperwork

I wrote the following post on the new LinkedIn publishing tool, and I know I’ve written similar topics before, but I thought it was worth reproducing here:

The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe famously stated that “less is more” when it comes to good design. The same applies to many things in life such as asking for favours, applying make up, McDonald’s, and above all, web content.

The challenge all web writers have is not only how to write engaging content but also how to keep visitors on a website long enough to actually read that content so they’ll do what you want them to do (e.g. buy your product, hire your company, etc.). One of the recommended rules of writing is that you should take what you’ve written, halve it, and then halve it again – leaving you with the core of the message.

It’s definitely something I’ve found hard, as a lover of words and coming from an academic background, but there is a certain satisfaction in knowing you’ve picked the most precise language, used one word instead of five (what’s wrong with using “because” instead of “due to the fact that”?), and kept it simple but eloquent.

So when you’re considering writing web content, remember the following tips:

  • lists and headings/sub-headings can often replace a chunk of text (but make these count – engage the reader and focus on your main ideas and calls to action)
  • images really can be worth 1000 words
  • paragraphs should be short and start or end with the main idea (think about how seldom we read everything on the page)
  • nouns and verbs should be concrete and precise
  • language should be easy to understand, concise, and conversational
  • meaning should be very clear – don’t make the reader search for key information (hint: they won’t!)
  • links and sub-pages can divide up long chunks of text and add value for the reader (remember we don’t read web content in a linear way like a book)

So, focus on what you want the reader to do on your page, help them navigate the information and the website as a whole with logical ideas and design, and make sure that whatever content you include answers all the reader’s potential questions.

Finally, Van der Rohe also said “God is in the details,” so don’t forget to do a thorough proofread, spell check, and fact check before you publish. Heaven forbid you include an incorrect phone number or broken link.

PS – If this sounds like your worst nightmare, despite my tips, then why not hire me to do it for you?

Monday, 28 October, 2013

“High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.”

― Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web