Authority is the name of the game in SEO these days. By that we’re not referring to the term “domain authority”, although that is related.
With Google’s push for quality content in its preferred rankings, there is now a greater importance than ever in creating a sense of authority in your industry. But how do you do that?
Once certain ranking tactics became well known years back websites all over the internet used them. After awhile it was kind of hard to distinguish one from another within the same industry. Some sites may have had better designs than others, but more or less the same information in very similar format. At that point outranking a competing website had a lot to do with mastering technical aspects of SEO and quantity of content.
Fast forward to now, and search engines are hungry for quality information. “Content is king,” said the internet.
It’s conceptually helpful, but doesn’t actually say much.
SEO leaders like Neil Patel discuss at length why longer content is a key way to establish authority. In Neil’s case it’s a great read and if you’re learning I definitely recommend it.
Long content does two major things that short content does not.
First, it grants far more opportunities to employ ranking factors like images, subheadings, etc. There will be far more of these in a 2000+ word piece than your average 350 word article. We’ll cover more on those in another article.
The more significant aspect of the longer content is that it acts as proof of your knowledge on the topic. After all, anybody with 15 minutes of research can cobble together a 300-ish word article on basically any topic. A site full of those doesn’t as readily come off as an expert in a given field, consequently.
Having written my share of long pieces over the years, I can attest that writing a 2000-4000 word article that remains interesting all the way through is quite a task. You either need significant knowledge on the topic, or need to have done a considerable amount of research.
Most of your run-of-the-mill websites won’t have content this long anywhere. The business owners usually don’t invest the time, and if they use SEO writers they usually won’t do the research.
The first time I wrote a 2500 word article for a client heavily optimized for a certain keyword phrase, it had huge impact. A few weeks later when I reviewed rankings reports that one article had done more for that keyword than several shorter ones months before.
Long form content attracts more backlinks.
It’s not simply that Google sees long articles as authoritative. Think about if you were doing research on a topic and stumbled on a 4000+ word article like Neil Patel writes. Even if you’d never heard of him before, you’d probably assume he knew what he was talking about and that piece, if helpful, would be something you’d want to refer to others.
The same tends to be true of social shares.
Neil points out that articles over 1500 words on QuickSprout got 68% more retweets than shorter pieces.
Since it takes more time to read a long article, if you can hold the reader’s attention it will also drive your average time spent per page up in your analytics. Though not a huge factor for ranking, it does play a part in how strongly your site is considered in the rankings.
So in summary, long form articles over 2000 words improve the odds of being shared, being found, and help establish your site as an authority. Over time as you continue adding more long form content in conjunction with regular length stuff that momentum will build into a powerhouse.