Our prediction is that companies creating well-written, appropriately optimized and strategically targeted long-form content will benefit in 2018, more so than ever before. Long-form content typically consist of 1,500-3,000 words, and presents a fairly comprehensive look at a particular topic.

Long-form content benefits companies that create it in multiple ways. This type of content usually ranks better, which boosts traffic to the website. When well-crafted and targeted, it keeps site visitors engaged for longer periods of time and can boost the number of pages viewed, especially when internal links are strategically included. Overall, long-form content improves engagement metrics, which can cause Google to rank the content more highly.

Long-form content is also the ideal vehicle for including checklists, FAQs and bulleted content. This is the type of content Google typically includes in its Answer Boxes, which gives websites outstanding visibility. This content can then be segmented for use in email marketing campaigns, social media messaging and much more.

But, how do you create top-quality long-form content? It’s not just a matter of writing more content, but of strategically creating comprehensive, useful content.

Here are five tips to creating quality long-form content:

1. Glean the Wisdom of Your Team

Before you even start writing, talk to members of your team who have contact with and/or in-depth knowledge of your customers. What questions are they frequently asked? What topics are of special interest to customers? What content is missing from your site that your team believes is needed?

Using this intelligence, you can brainstorm the best topics for long-form content and use it to begin crafting FAQs to include.

2. Gather Intelligence from Analytics

Again, before you ever start writing, do legwork. What posts bring the most traffic to your site? What patterns do you see? What gaps can you fill in and how can you add value to these subjects? How can you create a high-level, long-form piece of content from which you can naturally link to these other assets on your site?

3. Benefit from Expert Perspectives

Interview people from the company to gather quotes about the subject at hand. Also consider interviewing experts from outside the company that are in your business and social networks. If your site meets the Alexa-rating requirements of HelpAReporter.com (known as HARO), this is an excellent way to connect with experts across multiple industries. Requests for interviews and quotes go out three times a day, Monday through Friday, and you can also request urgent help. Another quality source to find experts to interview is ProfNet from PR Newswire.

4. Put the Pieces Together

Types of content often included in long-form content are:

History/context of an industry or product

Let’s say you’re writing content about IoT, and the company sells the latest in wearables. There can be value in including the development of IoT so that the cutting-edge aspects of the products sold can become clear. Contextual history can be a valuable part of long-form content creation in general, helping site visitors who are new to the products and/or services sold, and to create a comprehensive post that Google will reward. But you don’t want to get lost in the myriad of details. Choose what matters. Also know that what happens first, chronologically speaking, doesn’t need to be at the beginning of your long-form post.

Quality images and how-to videos

You don’t want your long-form content to consist of long blocks of unbroken text, because that’s a sure recipe for site visitors to bounce off. Create original images, whenever possible, including infographics; when you need to use stock photos, use them judiciously. Creating original video is a real plus. If you’re using YouTube videos from other sources, embed the videos into your post so people don’t need to click off the site to view them.

FAQs and Checklists

Use the information you’ve gathered from members of the team and from your research to create FAQs that include questions likely to be asked from people just beginning to do research to those who are ready to buy. Consider creating a checklist, as just one example, that shares the top ten things someone needs to know before buying the ideal wearable. This will be useful to a spectrum of potential buyers and may end up in Google’s Answer Box.

Industry leader quotes, testimonials and case studies

You can scatter the quotes throughout the piece so it’s clear your company is in the know, a real authority on the subject. Near the bottom of the post, it makes sense to include testimonials and case studies so that people who are ready to buy can be reassured your company is the one to choose.

These are not the only elements to include in long-form content, but they are important ones. If you’ve got original research data you’re willing to share, definitely include that, as it will be a magnet for inbound links. If you’ve got engaging anecdotes or little-known pieces of information of interest to your target audiences, those are also important to include.

5. Linking!

Whenever it’s helpful to link from the long-form post to other assets on your website, do so. This is an ideal way to keep people on your website, which will boost engagement metrics, and to strategically nurture site visitors along to where they are ready to buy. Appropriate internal linking is also helpful for SEO purposes.

Concluding Thoughts

No two pieces of long-form content are the same, and neither are the ways in which you will research and write them. In general, though, it makes sense to gather together as much relevant information as you can from multiple sources, and to structure the piece well. But, stay alert to possibilities that will take you off the beaten path to create content that surprises and delights your readers.