Using Long-Form Content to Supplement Your Blog

Law is complicated, and a blog post may often not be enough to cover a topic fully. Find out how to use occasional long-form content to supplement your blog and increase your SEO.

Attention Spans Are Getting Longer

In the early years, most bloggers thought short and frequent was the best way to go. Marketing experts advocated micro-blogs. They said something as short as 200 words could be enough, as long as you committed to doing it every day.

As search engine algorithms became more sophisticated, these micro-blogs became less useful. Most search engines now ignore “stub” pages, which contain less than 300 words of content. In response, the average blog article increased to 300-500 words.

Today, online attention spans seem to be increasing. A more recent survey shows that the average reader will be engaged for approximately 7 minutes. Depending on the density of the information, this could translate to upwards of 1,200 words. (However, in more complex areas, like law, readers often take more time to process the content, which leads to shorter articles.) This trend allows for longer posts and more detailed analysis than a standard blog post. It’s is why I have recently increased my ghost-blogging word limits from 500 words to 750 word maximums.

Longer Blogs Don’t Always Work

The 7-minute rule could seem like good news to lawyers. As an industry, we tend to take a long time to say what we mean. But higher word maximums and longer attention spans aren’t a green light to use legalese in your blog.

No matter the length, a blog post should still be a tightly focused article on a single event, question, or topic. This laser focus will make it easier for search engines to tag a post as relevant to a user’s search. It will also help readers digest the one issue that brought them to your site without getting distracted by related, often complicated ideas.

Simply lengthening your blogs to hit that 7 minute mark could dilute the usefulness of your posts and make them harder for your readers to follow. Instead, commit to adding long-form content to your regular blogging schedule. This will let your readers go deeper when they need to without overwhelming those just stopping in.

Deciding What Long-Form Articles to Write

A long-form article should clock in around 1,500 to 2,000 words. It should be clearly organized and make thoughtful use of headers, bulleted lists, white space, and infographics to make it easier for people to read. All of the content should still relate to one issue, though that topic should be broader than a standard blog post. To choose a topic, Roberta Gubbins of the State Bar of Michigan suggests:

“Start by identifying your objectives. Understand who you are trying to help with the content, why it is important, and how you will measure its success. Now, decide on a topic. You can write about new legislation, recent court decisions, or new questions and answers in your area of practice. Spending time to review the analytics on your blog to identify the most viewed topics will help find new topics.”

How Long-Form Articles Can Help

Long-form content allows readers who are really looking for help to dig deep into their issues. It demonstrates the depth and breadth of your understanding so they know you will be able to help them. It also helps boost your SEO. Gubbins explains:

“Long-form content can improve your standing on Google and boost your listings for key pages and phrases. By providing interesting and informative content, visitors will stay longer on your pages and often return as they make their final decisions. Developing pages that bring readers back for more tells Google you have developed a loyal audience.”

Long-Form articles also lend themselves well to cross-linking. For example, say you are a personal injury lawyer. You take the time to write a thoughtful, in-depth white paper on the types of damages available to injured motorists, and how these damages are proven. Now, whenever the topic of damages comes up in your blog, you can link to that white paper for more information.

These links give your readers instant access to a thoughtful explanation that is related to your blog without distracting from the focused topic at hand. It also shows search engines that your site is highly relevant to these particular kinds of searches.

A well-written long-form article can also help you develop a following outside your website. For example, you could require readers to provide an email address before downloading that how-to guide or preparation checklist. With proper language in the information prompt, you can get permission to send that person e-newsletters and other direct online marketing. This can increase the chances of converting a casual click into closed business.

Long-form articles will never replace blog posts for continuous, high quality content online. But they do provide benefits not available through a traditional blog. Carve out time to prepare a number of high-quality long-form articles. It will help your SEO, and your bottom line.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She ghost-writes blogs and online content for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help drafting long-form articles to support your web marketing efforts, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.

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