SEOs have often been condemned for writing for rankings. I'll be the first to admit there's truth in that. A very successful strategy we've employed for several years has included writing long pillar, or cornerstone, articles to attract links, then spreading the word. There weren't any studies to go by, but we had a pretty good idea that most of the visitors weren't actually reading the whole articles, no matter how well researched and useful the information, or how eye-catching the graphs and photos.
Jon Wiley, lead user experience designer for Google Search recently helped lead the research exercise, known as the Daily Information Needs Study, in which it was found that only 10% of us like long form content or in-depth reporting.
If 90% of us can't be bothered with slogging through all that information, why are most content marketers promoting the writing of in-depth articles and why will you find these writers including them on their blogs? Because Google loves them! Spend some time in Google and you'll discover that articles of between 2,000 and 5,000 words in length — many by big brands with large content teams and budgets — tend to dominate the search results.
As any good SEO already knows, in-depth articles are very useful in building a quality link portfolio. The articles remain relevant for months or even years to come. In addition, visitors will share the articles and clip them for reading later. In-depth articles attract loyal email and RSS feed subscribers. Though few die hard content marketers are likely to admit it, in-depth articles are more for Google than the 10% of readers that will make it all the way through these epic articles. I draw some amusement from the knowledge that even the more antagonistic SEOs and content marketers now find themselves on the same page when it comes to in-depth articles.
Leading content marketers are encouraging writers to make the first few paragraphs exciting. I couldn't agree more. The more of the article your visitors actually read or view, the better. Consider including a captivating photo or infographic, or perhaps a video.
With the time involved in writing them, one in-depth 2,000+ word article a week may be the way to go, along with one or two shorter posts. Or every two weeks. It's the kind of content you can research and write over the weekend and publish Monday morning.
In-depth articles are definitely the kind of high quality content you want associated with your Google+ author profile.
You will of course want to let people know about your new article. In addition to Twitter, Facebook and Google+, we've picked up quite a bit of traffic by commenting on poppular CommentLuv blogs. The CommentLuv plugin automatically adds a link to the last post, or posts, you've written along with your comment. If you subscribe to some of the blog feeds, you'll be able to comment shortly after the release of new posts, providing greater visibility, a better chance of receiving a personal reply from the author and an active thread of additional comments below yours. We're considering adding CommentLuv to this blog and I believe shall be adding it within the next few days.
Maximizing Your Author Rank
Google Inside Search – In-Depth Articles
1000 CommentLuv Blogs
How Cornerstone Content Gets You Traffic and Subscribers
Google Pushes In-Depth Articles To The Top Of Search Results