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Long-form content in 2023: How AI can help with content creation
Content is one of the fundamental ways to drive traffic to your website. Everything from short-form blog posts to long-form guides helps build your brand as an authority in your market and tells search engines what your business is all about.
Long-form content should be a core element of your digital marketing strategy. Unlike shorter blogs, long-form pieces are comprehensive, covering more topic details.
With bite-sized content gaining popularity, including short-form videos on TikTok and YouTube Shorts, is long-form content still relevant in 2023? The short answer is yes, and creating it is more accessible than ever, thanks to the boost from AI content generators! With B12's AI Assist and other AI tools in your pocket, you can kickstart your next content pillar piece in no time — just don't forget to add a human touch.
What is long-form content?
As the term suggests, long-form content is long. At least longer than the average blog. With most short-form posts ranging from 800 to 1,500 words, long-form content usually reaches or exceeds 2,000 words. You'll find differing opinions on the length, but the key to long form is that it is comprehensive.
You've likely encountered long-form content before, in the style of "Everything You Need to Know About..." or "The Ultimate Guide to..." type of posts.
Long form is a content marketing strategy combining an entire topic within one piece rather than several shorter pieces. The goal is to provide complete topic coverage in one post so readers don't have to source it elsewhere. With thousands of words, you can include more frequently asked questions as headers, associated keywords, and additional calls to action.
When SEO optimized, long form tells search engines and readers alike that you are an expert in your field and a topical authority. In essence, long form can help drive more organic traffic to your website.
What is an example of long-form content writing?
Chances are, if you search for a high-level topic, like "What is long-form content writing?" you'll find most of the search results on the first page actually fall into this category. Why? Because with a broad topic, there are a lot of related subtopics to cover, which means a lot of information to convey.
Let's check out a few good examples of long-form content and why they work:
The Ahrefs guide to beginner’s SEO packs everything you need to know about SEO into a single piece of content in about 2,000 words and 25 headers. While on the shorter end of long-form content, Ahref still infuses every paragraph and sentence full of helpful insight, not just filler.
It works because it delivers value to the reader and it's easy to skim, thanks to the number of images, lists, and media to break up the text. It works for search engines, but most importantly, for the reader.
Coming in at just under 10,000 words, this ultimate guide is a behemoth, but it's working. It brings HubSpot 35,000 visitors a month and has over 3,000 backlinks. It's comprehensive, covering everything from types of content to idea generation to SEO considerations.
Again, it's well-optimized with media elements, graphics, lists, and more to make it easy to read by search engines and humans.
Our explainer article on the importance of having a content marketing strategy for your service business comes in at just under 2,500 words, with headers that will get you thinking about your own approach to content marketing.
In the article, you’ll find recent research about small service businesses conducted by Service Direct. Fresh data from reputable sources allows you to produce content that’s timely, thought-provoking, and more likely to be appreciated by Google and readers. Bullet points and linked statistics stand out as the reader skims the article, tactics you can easily apply to your content.
How long should content be in 2023?
This will forever be one of the most hotly debated questions in the content marketing world. Depending on what authority you ask, you'll get a different answer.
- SEO.co suggests the average word count is 2,200
- Backlinko found the average first-page result was 1,500 words
- SEMrush explained that blog posts should be 400 to 1,500 words, while guides should be 1,500 to 2,500, and pillars at +3,000
So what's the correct answer? Your best bet is to ignore the numbers. Instead, focus on creating detailed, actionable, and informative content. Many readers will enjoy a 500-600 word blog post that quickly gets to the point and gives them the high-level information they’re looking for.
Remove all 'fluff' that is overly generic, repetitive, and irrelevant to your audience. If it sounds bland to you, your customers will think the same. Quick, specific questions will naturally end up in short form, while more comprehensive topics will travel into long-form territory.
Is long-form content still relevant?
Absolutely! But with a few caveats.
Not all ideas are destined for long-form treatment. Hyper-specific topics won't have enough juicy content to fill out 2,000+ words.
For example, "How much does a website redesign cost?" from B12's Resource Center makes a great short-form post because it's a single question requiring a focused response. Remember, content should be valuable for your audience, not just content for content's sake.
In general, guides and how-tos work best when tackled via long form because there is often a lot of ground to cover. Writing about a broader topic naturally includes dozens of elements, like definitions, benefits, examples, FAQs, and the step-by-step process.
Long form also still plays a core part of a larger content strategy. This is often called a hub and spoke approach or pillar content. The hub or pillar is the longer piece, and the spokes are the shorter but interconnected elements.
- Everything you need to know about redesigning a website
- How to revamp website content
- What platform should you use to redesign a website?
- How much does a website redesign cost?
Naturally, our hub example would include brief sections on each of the spokes, but the spokes would allow us to go into a bit more detail.
Get help writing long-form content with an AI writing tool
Thankfully, you don't need to tackle 2000+ word pieces all by yourself. The recent wave of AI-powered writing tools is making the content writing workflow more accessible than ever before. With the rise of ChatGPT, Jasper.ai, and other generative AI platforms, everyone has the means to transform their expertise into valuable content for their website.
ChatGPT and others are large language models trained on the entire internet. This means AI writers are predictive, not creative. If you prompt, "Write a blog post about accounting firm marketing tips," an AI will spit out text based on what's already been written.
This is a great place to start because AI-generated content helps determine what your audience is looking for when they Google "accounting firm marketing tips." It also gives you structure, headers, and basic copy. If you aren't a writer or are short on time, this can exponentially speed up the ideation process.
But, there is a caveat: AI-generated content is by no means perfect. If you've experimented with the ChatGPT interface, you'll know it's a bit bland and needs to be fact-checked or edited to fit your brand voice. If you write long-form content with an AI tool, know it will always need some work to make it sound human and reflect your unique expertise.
How can I create content with an AI writing assistant?
By now, there are a dozen or more AI writing assistants to experiment with. Try a few out, as one AI writing assistant may be better than another for your working style.
While each platform operates a little differently, the fundamentals are the same. If you want to write articles, blogs, and long-form content with an AI tool, follow these basic steps for the best results.
Start with a concept and a keyword
B12's AI Assist feature for blogging begins by prompting you for a title and a keyword component. From there, it can help you outline or write a blog post. Other tools work from a similar starting point.
If you already have keyword research, great! If not, don't worry. You can use B12’s No-code AI tool to generate a list of keywords or do your own brainstorm by thinking about what your customer would use as a search term for the topic and then searching for it yourself.
For example, for a blog on "Marketing Best Practices for Accounting Firms," the keyword could be "accounting firm marketing."
Draft an outline
Using the keyword and title, ask the AI to write an outline first. With ChatGPT, this step often produces a lengthy blog brief, including headers with relevant points underneath. B12's AI Assist feature (nested under Blog Feed on your dashboard) will also walk you through the blog creation process.
Just like working with a human writer, an outline gives the AI text generator a direction and what information to include. Review the brief and tweak it to suit your customers. Does it include all the information you'd like to cover? Any points you'd like to skip? Add and delete bullet points as needed.
With your outline in hand, it's time to generate text for your first blog post draft. With B12, you'll get the first AI-generated blog in a minute or so. With ChatGPT, it can be helpful to generate on a section-by-section basis to better guide the output.
Make it human
As much as we'd love AI to pump out perfect content, the technology isn't quite there yet. AI blogs may be bland, repetitive, and missing personality. Don't hit publish before you've had a chance to read, review, and adjust the final piece.
Tips for using AI writing tools for content
Now is the time to transform the AI draft into something that perfectly fits your unique brand, values, and services. It's amazing how much time you save using AI to draft your content, but ensure you plan time to edit the output. It's still a relatively new technology, so you should not publish what it creates for you without editing and fact-checking. Learn more about the technology's limitations.
Read for style, tone, and brand voice
They can get close, but AI writing tools can't quite capture your brand's exact tone of voice. That's up to you to add this in during the review process. This might mean making the blog post sound more casual (or professional). It could also mean adjusting some of the terminology for language and acronyms common within your niche.
Adding real-life examples, quotes, or anecdotes from your own experience is also a good idea. You might want to include statistics, client stories, expert quotes, and timely news. Readers want timely and specific information, so you must humanize the AI-written content with these elements.
By now, you've likely heard about AI's tendency to spit out incorrect information, even if it sounds entirely confident.
These inaccuracies (if published) reflect poorly on your brand, whether it's due to human or AI error. Take the time to fact-check every claim made throughout the AI draft for accuracy. When needed, add backlinks to high-authority websites to add more credibility to these claims.
Edit for SEO and UX
Finally, go through your AI article to adjust with SEO and user experience (UX) in mind. Throw in the primary keyword a few more times or consider using a few associated keywords. In our accounting example, we can make this better SEO content by adding "marketing ideas for accounting firms" and "social media for accounting firms" as secondary terms.
Blog UX is a final consideration. Online readers love to skim. They tend to dislike long walls of text. Review your blog one last time, breaking up long sentences and paragraphs, then adding in media, bulleted lists, and other elements to make it skimmable.
Kickstart your long-form content strategy with an AI writer
Long-form content isn't going anywhere in 2023. When applied to the right topic, this is a proven tactic for generating more organic traffic to your website and establishing your business as a topical authority in your market.
While there may always be arguments about the ideal length for longer pieces like guides and how-tos, the golden rule is to focus on quality. A shorter post with more relevant information is more valuable than a longer post filled with fluff.
The biggest change for long-form content in 2023 is the addition of AI-generated text. Now, you don't have to be an experienced writer to start creating content for your website. With B12's AI Assist and other AI writing tools, you can produce a first draft in minutes and once it’s final, publish it yourself on your site.
Remember, you still need to review, edit, and adjust to make it an effective post your audience will want to read.
Sign up for B12 to discover our blogging and AI features that enable you to launch your website faster and publish high-quality content regularly, whether you prefer long-form or shorter posts.
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