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Is Long-Form Content Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

Is Long-Form Content Part of Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

“Content is where I expect the real money will be made on the internet…” – Bill Gates

In the online marketing world, “content is king” is one cliché that everyone hears. Practically every single marketing expert is talking about content and how it can help them rank better on many search engines. Unfortunately, almost half of the people that are talking about content and it being the king, do not know why it is critically important.

Why is content king?

#1: “Content Is King Because It’s The Information Age”

Some of the largest companies in the world today didn’t exist 20 years ago. Companies like YouTube, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter to name a few. And the one thing that all of these corporations have in common is their product: information.

20 years ago, if you wanted to find information on any given topic, you would need to make a pit stop at the local library. Not today. Today we have an entire world of information at our fingertips. Smart phones, laptops, tablets etc. have allowed us to access any sort of information at any point in time within seconds and without having to leave our homes.

So, if anyone ever asked me, “Why is content king?” I would answer, “Content is king because it’s the information age!”

#2: “Content Is King Because It’s The Way People Find You Online”

Information is so easy to access these days via the use of technology like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Wikipedia etc. We are able to find new products and services through these search engines and find solutions to our problems without having to leave our homes or pick up the yellow book from our basement storage. This is one of the major reasons why businesses decide to invest in SEO.

If your product or service is a solution to a problem that consumers face in your industry, there is a very good chance that people will find you via search engines. But in order to be found, you need content that will persuade them to do business with you or to learn more about the competitive advantage your company offers. Whether it is on the home page, a page on your blog or a news article on an independent news source with a backlink to you, content connects you with the appropriate target audience and allows you to make sales.

So if anyone asked me “why is content king?” I would also answer “content is king because it’s the way people find you online”.

The Pioneer Behind “Content is King”

The pioneer behind the cliché is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. Here is the article he wrote back in January, 1996 and was published on Microsoft.com.

Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.

The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment.

When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content-an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important.

But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.

One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience.

The Internet also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher. Opportunities are remarkable, and many companies are laying plans to create content for the Internet.

For example, the television network NBC and Microsoft recently agreed to enter the interactive news business together. Our companies will jointly own a cable news network, MSNBC, and an interactive news service on the Internet. NBC will maintain editorial control over the joint venture.

I expect societies will see intense competition-and ample failure as well as success-in all categories of popular content-not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and on-line communities devoted to major interests.

Printed magazines have readerships that share common interests. It’s easy to imagine these communities being served by electronic online editions.

But to be successful online, a magazine can’t just take what it has in print and move it to the electronic realm. There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content to overcome the drawbacks of the online medium.

If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.

A question on many minds is how often the same company that serves an interest group in print will succeed in serving it online. Even the very future of certain printed magazines is called into question by the Internet.

For example, the Internet is already revolutionizing the exchange of specialized scientific information. Printed scientific journals tend to have small circulations, making them high-priced. University libraries are a big part of the market. It’s been an awkward, slow, expensive way to distribute information to a specialized audience, but there hasn’t been an alternative.

Now some researchers are beginning to use the Internet to publish scientific findings. The practice challenges the future of some venerable printed journals.

Over time, the breadth of information on the Internet will be enormous, which will make it compelling. Although the gold rush atmosphere today is primarily confined to the United States, I expect it to sweep the world as communications costs come down and a critical mass of localized content becomes available in different countries.

For the Internet to thrive, content providers must be paid for their work. The long-term prospects are good, but I expect a lot of disappointment in the short-term as content companies struggle to make money through advertising or subscriptions. It isn’t working yet, and it may not for some time.

So far, at least, most of the money and effort put into interactive publishing is little more than a labor of love, or an effort to help promote products sold in the non-electronic world. Often these efforts are based on the belief that over time someone will figure out how to get revenue.

In the long run, advertising is promising. An advantage of interactive advertising is that an initial message needs only to attract attention rather than convey much information. A user can click on the ad to get additional information-and an advertiser can measure whether people are doing so.

But today the amount of subscription revenue or advertising revenue realized on the Internet is near zero-maybe $20 million or $30 million in total. Advertisers are always a little reluctant about a new medium, and the Internet is certainly new and different.

Some reluctance on the part of advertisers may be justified, because many Internet users are less-than-thrilled about seeing advertising. One reason is that many advertisers use big images that take a long time to download across a telephone dial-up connection. A magazine ad takes up space too, but a reader can flip a printed page rapidly.

As connections to the Internet get faster, the annoyance of waiting for an advertisement to load will diminish and then disappear. But that’s a few years off.

Some content companies are experimenting with subscriptions, often with the lure of some free content. It’s tricky, though, because as soon as an electronic community charges a subscription, the number of people who visit the site drops dramatically, reducing the value proposition to advertisers.

A major reason paying for content doesn’t work very well yet is that it’s not practical to charge small amounts. The cost and hassle of electronic transactions makes it impractical to charge less than a fairly high subscription rate.

But within a year the mechanisms will be in place that allow content providers to charge just a cent or a few cents for information. If you decide to visit a page that costs a nickel, you won’t be writing a check or getting a bill in the mail for a nickel. You’ll just click on what you want, knowing you’ll be charged a nickel on an aggregated basis.

This technology will liberate publishers to charge small amounts of money, in the hope of attracting wide audiences.

Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products-a marketplace of content.

Bill Gates foresight was accurate in that it was able to predict the internet being driven by content. The most popular online applications in the world today are the ones that populate the internet with more content – social networks, blog hosts, video sharing platforms etc. And then there are search engines that dominate the internet and encourage marketers to fuel this greed for even more content by providing consumers with the platforms to explore and discover new content.

3 Key Points That Ring True to Our Ears:

– The internet will become more interactive and involving. Internet has literally taken over the world and nearly half of its population is online.

– Advertising online is promising. Google and Bing AdWords program revenue are now well into the billions of dollars per year and an unavoidable part of surfing the internet. . Advertisers not only appear but they follow us and provide tantalizingly little information that encourages us to give them a click.

– The Internet Will Become a Marketplace for Ideas. Every person used to have three things in common: eat, drink and breathe they ate. Today, with the internet becoming the fourth thing everyone has in common, half of the entire planet has access to the internet at home which is simply staggering.

How Much Content Is Too Much Content?

A very common question that is asked among internet marketing specialists and consumers is: How much content is too much content? It’s a common axiom that nobody wants to read long pages of content on the internet. That is the long form content that goes past the 1,200 word mark. That axiom is a myth and there is compelling evidence to support this claim. Here are four benefits of why long form content is more advantageous than short form ones, according to SearchEngineLand.com columnist John E. Lincoln:

1. SEO Benefits

A serpIQ study of 20,000 keywords and the top 10 results that showed up for those keywords found that the average content length was 2,000+ words. The average length for the #1 spot was 2,416 words.

Average Content Length of Top Ten Results

Average Content Length of Top Ten Results

Image Source

2. Search Engines Encourage It

Pandu Nayak, technical staff member, once said “Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.” [source: Google Webmasters Central Blog]. He basically implied that websites with long-form content rank better than websites with thin content.

3. It Garners More Backlinks

Backlinking is still very much alive today. Although the criteria for finding good backlinks has narrowed with Google Panda and Google Penguin updates, it has a major impact on how well your website ranks on local search results as well as organic ones. A 2012 study conducted by Moz found a direct correlation between the length of the content on websites and the number of backlinks pointing to them.

4. It Encourages More Conversion Rates

If you’re operating a blog that issues some type of call-to-action, whether you’re looking to build your email list or sell something, then you’ll find that long-form content can play a role in your conversion rate.

It is very important to keep in mind that quality should always take precedent over quantity. Boring and thin content that adds no value to customers will not bring you the results you need, especially for your SEO efforts. Here are few ideas on how to spice up long form content:

– Cool infographics that are interesting to look at.

– Embedded videos that substantiate info being discussed in the blog

– Listicles that categorize the info in 10, 12, 15 points etc.

– Funny cartoons and graphics that relate to the topic.

Want to know more about content marketing and how long form content can fit into your digital marketing strategy, click here to contact iRISEmedia.

About iRISEmedia

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto digital marketing and social media marketing agency, specializing in web design, SEO, social media marketing, online PR, and more. Our team helps clients increase their reach and profitability by developing and implementing customized and targeted online and social media marketing strategies. We service clients in Toronto, Ontario, the GTA and throughout Canada as well as globally.

By |2015-10-13T14:58:56-04:00October 13th, 2015|

About the Author:

Alex Noudelman earned his Honours B.A. in History and Political Science in 2007 from York University in Toronto, ON. He went on to complete his Advanced Certificate in Adolescent Education in 2008 at D'Youville College and became a certified teacher in Ontario in January, 2009. He's been working in the digital marketing industry since 2010 and enjoys writing to intrigue his readers and educate them about the fundamentals. Feel free to contact Alex Noudelman if you have any questions or would like to see a specific topic covered on this iRISEmedia blog.