Long-Form Content: What Is It, Why You Need It, and Why You Shouldn’t Use AI To Create It
Ask two people about long-form content and you’ll likely get two different answers. Ask two people about AI, and you’ll definitely get two different answers. Ask them about where the two intersect, and they’ll tell you they have no idea anymore, given the hullaballoo created by recent AI releases.
What is long-form content?
The definitions differ, but the consensus is that long-form content is written text of around 1000 words or more.
It’s the meatier stuff, where you can delve deeper into a topic. Think blogs, articles, whitepapers, guides, etc. It’s also podcasts, YouTube tutorials and webinars. But is there an advantage to this?
Don’t people prefer short, snappy content?
Nope. Stats show that marketers are more successful when they use long-form content. Even with Twitter and TikTok shortening our attention spans, long-form content still reigns supreme. If your content is interesting, readers and listeners stick around to learn a bit more. It’s easier for your customer to find all the information they want in one place, rather than having to research one thing after another, keeping 20 tabs open and getting lost in Google.
Long-form content takes you a step above your competitors, making your website an important resource for your audience. People still like and care about the nitty-gritty details. Even if we’re all used to quick bursts of info, readers will find value in you spending more time and effort researching and writing long-form content.
What can long-form content do for your brand?
Employing long-form content more room to spark interest and a lot more opportunity to drive traffic to your website. A brand’s long-form content provides resourceful and valuable information to its audience: and more words means more ability to dive deeper into topics. And with helpful information comes trust. And with trust comes online shares. And that’s how you grow your audience.
Why long-form content is important to your marketing mix.
You’ll find a number of benefits to publishing long-form content:
Improved Search Engine Rankings
Long-form content consistently ranks higher on a search engine. The reason being that more quality content in your post makes it more likely that a searcher’s query will be answered. And if you’re not ranked on page one of a search result, you might as well not exist: the click-through rate for links on the second page of the search engine is less than 1 per cent, compared to 28.5 per cent on the top link of the first page.
Increased Time on Page for SEO
When your reader chooses to visit your page after finding it on a search engine, this decision is tracked. The time they spend on your site is tracked as well, and them staying on your page for a while (even if they’re skimming the content) tells the search engine that your website had all the valuable info for them — and for future searchers as well. Search engines assume your page has valuable information and ranks it higher.
Authority Building For your Brand
Multiple posts about different aspects of the same topic tells readers you know what you’re talking about. This leads to a foundation of trust between your brand and your readers, which is good for developing future business — especially if you can demonstrate your expertise.
Increased Social Shares
Because your long-form content is information-rich and comprehensive, readers are more likely to share your brand’s content with their network.
Increased Conversations and Commentary
After they share, they talk. More words = more content for additional readers to form an opinion on. And to share with their friends. And to comment on your post.
Ok, so long-form content works. Can I get AI to write it for me?
Kind of, but not really.
AI Has a Long Way to Go
AI writing tools are still developing, which means they can only create content based on existing data. Granted, it’s a lot of data being ingested and churned out. But it’s comprised of entirely pre-existing information.
AI Can’t Tell What’s “Off Limits”
This rewritten, pre-existing information creates a huge issue if you want your posts to reach the top of Google. Because AI can only write from existing data, there’s no guarantee that the content won’t include stolen information and intellectual property — in fact, it likely will.
For example, say you want to write a post about watering a plant. You feed all the correct information to the AI writing tool. The software churns out decent step-by-step instructions on how to water said plant.
Now, one of two things happens:
- Your step-by-step is too similar to another instructional tutorial on the internet because AI software only relies on pre-existing data. So, it won’t have your unique voice and can’t differentiate you in a crowded market.
- The AI comes back with what seems like an original idea (which is impossible because AI can’t think freely). So what you have is probably stolen intellectual property. If you’re found to be sharing information taken from another source, without adding any useful or insightful information, Google then hugely demotes your website on their search rankings.
Either way, you’re not leveraging the benefits of producing long-form content.
AI vs. Human
AI doesn’t think creatively. It’s not built that way. And lacking the capability for creativity means lacking the capability for humour, understanding and real emotion. Sure, AI can spit out information, but it’s not going to result in return customers. Most sentences are quite boring and full of errors — and not just grammatical or statistical errors. AI has a history of creating incredibly biased content, that then needs to be fact-checked and edited by real people anyway.
So, what’s the short-term prognosis for long-form content?
It’s alive and well. And when it’s worth reading, long-form content can add value at any stage of a sales funnel because it can answer questions, remove doubts, empower readers, demonstrate excellence and clearly articulate your unique message — all in one piece that people will want to read.