What Are Common SEO Challenges With Long-Form Content?

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    What Are Common SEO Challenges With Long-Form Content?

    Navigating the complexities of SEO for long-form content can be a daunting task, so we've gathered insights from SEO Managers and Digital Marketing Directors to illuminate the path. From improving engagement with structured content to boosting SEO with an internal linking strategy, explore the diverse tactics and solutions employed by our experts in these thirteen insightful responses.

    • Improve Engagement with Structured Content
    • Set Clear Goals for Content Cohesion
    • Prioritize Key Information with BLUF
    • Keep Long-Form Content Fresh and Relevant
    • Design for SEO and User Accessibility
    • Optimize Structure for Engagement and SEO
    • Engage Readers with Diverse Content Formats
    • Restructure Content for Better Engagement
    • Enhance Readability for SEO Performance
    • Strategize Keyword Placement for Natural Flow
    • Enrich Content with Value-Adding Elements
    • Focus on Primary Keyword to Avoid Cannibalization
    • Boost SEO with Internal Linking Strategy

    Improve Engagement with Structured Content

    One specific SEO challenge I've faced with long-form content is maintaining user engagement throughout lengthy articles. Long-form content can suffer from high bounce rates if readers lose interest. To overcome this, I implemented a few strategies:

    Content Structuring: I broke the content into clearly defined sections with descriptive headings and subheadings to improve readability and allow users to quickly find information.

    Interactive Elements: Adding images, infographics, and videos helped to maintain user interest and provided visual breaks in the text.

    Internal Linking: I included relevant internal links to guide readers to other related articles, reducing bounce rates and increasing time on site.

    Table of Contents: I added a clickable table of contents at the beginning of the article, allowing users to jump to sections of interest.

    These strategies helped to keep readers engaged, improve on-page time, and ultimately boost the overall SEO performance of the long-form content.

    Dhruv Shah
    Dhruv ShahSEO Manager, Forge Digital Marketing

    Set Clear Goals for Content Cohesion

    Not Having a Clear Vision

    In my experience as a UK-based digital marketing consultant, aligning expectations around long-form content goals can be a major challenge. I once collaborated on a white paper where stakeholders envisioned a thought-leadership piece, while the sales team craved a product brochure. The result? A confusing Frankenstein's monster that did neither effectively. User engagement was low, conversions were dismal, and frankly, the writing itself felt disjointed due to conflicting stylistic aims.

    This experience underscored the importance of upfront goal-setting. Now, I start every long-form project by facilitating a brainstorming session with all stakeholders. We map out objectives (brand awareness, lead generation, etc.) and target audience. This clarity ensures a cohesive content strategy, a more focused writing style, and ultimately, a piece that achieves its intended purpose.

    George Papatheodorou
    George PapatheodorouDigital Marketing Consultant, George Papatheodorou

    Prioritize Key Information with BLUF

    Structuring long-form content is a common SEO challenge because most content is written for search engines rather than human beings. It's very common that you'll come across tons of long-form articles packed with 3,000 words, where you'll need to scroll halfway down the page to get the answer you're looking for. The reason for this is that SEOs write articles to cover every question related to the topic, and usually, the most basic and broad questions are placed at the top. For example, if you're searching for the 'best project management tools,' you won't need to read a section that covers 'What is Project Management?' because you already understand that concept. You're interested in the 'best project management tool' to help with your workflow.

    One way to overcome this is to use the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) principle, which is when you begin your article with the most important information at the top and expand on it later. This prioritizes the reader's experience and builds trust because you're providing value upfront, which incentivizes the reader to stick around.

    Andrew Ganesh
    Andrew GaneshDigital Marketer, neshworks

    Keep Long-Form Content Fresh and Relevant

    One challenge with long-form content is updating it. It becomes difficult to keep it relevant to current standards due to the wealth of insights and data it contains.

    One solution I've employed is to add additional sections like 'Key Insights' and 'Takeaways,' which can be easily updated to keep the content fresh.

    Another approach is to incorporate FAQs into the content to ensure its ongoing relevance. This way, long-form content can be updated regularly, even on a monthly basis, by simply adding snippets of content.

    Nikunj Tamboli
    Nikunj TamboliDigital Marketing Director

    Design for SEO and User Accessibility

    One specific SEO challenge we faced as our competition in the software development niche increased was transitioning commercial page content to a long-form format. We encountered a significant design issue, as our design team frequently used tabs and accordions to hide content, negatively impacting page performance in search.

    To address this, we revised our SEO guidelines and content briefs, specifying which content should not be hidden in tabs (main content) and which could be partially hidden in tabs (supplementary content). Additionally, we collaborated with our design team to create new page elements that accommodate more text and developed additional navigation aids for better content accessibility on the page.

    Ulad Yanouski
    Ulad YanouskiSEO Team Lead, Vention

    Optimize Structure for Engagement and SEO

    Effective SEO for long-form content involves not just using the right keywords, but also structuring your content to keep the reader engaged and ensuring it's easily navigable.

    If long-form content isn't optimized for both search engines and user experience, it risks being ignored by both algorithms and readers. Long articles can become overwhelming or unappealing to readers if they're not strategically structured.

    Without a solution, valuable long-form content risks being buried under competitors' more optimized pieces, resulting in lost opportunities for visibility and traffic.

    Many content creators assume that longer content naturally ranks better because it is perceived as more authoritative. However, without strategic formatting and engagement hooks, even the most thorough content can fall flat in search engine rankings and reader satisfaction.

    I've not only overcome SEO challenges but also witnessed substantial improvements in content visibility and engagement metrics.

    To optimize long-form content for SEO, start by structuring your content into clear sections with engaging headings to address specific topics. Create content with clear headings and integrate keywords naturally. Link to related articles on your site to improve SEO. Engage with your audience by responding to comments, which boosts interaction.

    Consistent implementation of this strategy will not only address specific SEO challenges but also contribute to the long-term success of your website.

    Nicholas Robb
    Nicholas RobbHead Honcho, Design Hero

    Engage Readers with Diverse Content Formats

    A common SEO challenge we faced with long-form content was keeping our readers engaged. The last thing you want is low on-page time and high bounce rates.

    The way we combat that is, firstly, you need a well-written piece of content that matches the user intent. Without that, nothing matters. Secondly, you need to start breaking things down into deeper subheadings, bulleted lists, numbered lists, tables, images, and GIFs, and even interactive content.

    Just like YouTube videos that change scenes every 5 or 6 seconds to keep users engaged, think of your long-form content the same way. People have a much shorter attention span today than they did just 20 years ago. Breaking things down into chunks and frequently using different types of formatting keeps the reader engaged and wanting to continue.

    David Martirosian
    David MartirosianFounder, David Martirosian

    Restructure Content for Better Engagement

    A recurring pain with regard to long-form content is keeping readers engaged throughout the entire piece. At Dog with Blog (https://dogwithblog.in), while curating content for the pet care domain, we had to keep readers engaged in our long-form adoption guides. We had an insightful piece on responsible dog ownership, but traffic sniffed out after the intro. To fetch better results, we adopted a new approach. We restructured it with paw-sized sections on doggy training tips, used heartwarming before-and-after pictures of adopted pups, and even included a playful infographic. By breaking down the content into clear sections with concise headings and subheadings, it became easy for readers to scan and find the information they're most interested in.

    Abhishek Joshi
    Abhishek JoshiDigital Marketer, Dog with Blog

    Enhance Readability for SEO Performance

    Creating long-form content that is SEO-friendly can be challenging, especially when we do it for our clients in our healthcare marketing agency. For example, we once had a detailed and informative guide about a particular medical condition. While it offered significant value, it initially received low traffic.

    The reason? Readability. We recognized that the sheer amount of text could be daunting for readers.

    To address this, we divided the content into manageable sections with clear headings, bullet points, and even infographics. We also included a precise and concise "key takeaways" section at the end. Fortunately, these adjustments significantly improved user engagement and ultimately enhanced SEO performance.

    Shivam SinghFounder, Crawl Math

    Strategize Keyword Placement for Natural Flow

    One specific SEO challenge I faced with long-form content was managing keyword density without compromising the natural flow and readability of the text. Long-form content provides a great opportunity to delve deep into a subject, but it can be easy to either overuse keywords, making the content feel forced and spammy, or to use them too sparingly, missing out on potential SEO benefits.

    To overcome this, I adopted a more strategic approach to keyword placement. Instead of just sprinkling keywords throughout the text, I focused on placing them in key positions such as the headline, subheadings, and the opening and concluding paragraphs. This not only helped in optimizing the content for search engines but also in maintaining a natural tone that engages the reader.

    Additionally, I used synonyms and related terms (LSI keywords) to avoid repetitiveness and to provide more context to search engines about the content's topic. This approach not only improved the SEO performance of the content but also enhanced the overall user experience by making the text more informative and engaging.

    Shehar Yar
    Shehar YarCEO, Software House

    Enrich Content with Value-Adding Elements

    As a content marketer, the challenge with long-form content often lies not in reaching a word count but in making sure that every word counts. It's easy for AI to fill pages, but the real task is to add value.

    My approach focuses on comprehensively covering the topic with relevant data, insights, and visuals that answer readers' questions and prompt them to share. What truly matters is whether the content addresses the readers' needs and engages them effectively.

    To maintain engagement, I make sure the content flows seamlessly, much like knitting, where each section connects intuitively with the next. Including diverse elements like graphics and tables caters to different learning styles, enhancing understanding and retention.

    A well-structured table of contents is crucial, allowing readers to navigate the content easily and find answers quickly. This strategy is about more than just meeting search intent; it's about enriching the reader's journey through thoughtful, well-organized content that resonates and informs.

    Will Hawkins
    Will HawkinsOwner, Digital Business

    Focus on Primary Keyword to Avoid Cannibalization

    A specific SEO challenge I've faced with long-form content is around keyword cannibalization. Long articles often cover multiple topics that can be relevant to different keyword phrases. However, focusing on too many keywords in one piece can lead to Google seeing the content as less relevant for any single keyword. I overcame this by identifying the primary keyword intent of the article and focusing the content, internal links, and anchors primarily on that one main keyword phrase. I then wove in related, secondary keyword phrases in a natural way throughout the text while still ensuring the primary keyword intent remained clear.

    One tip I would give is to avoid stuffing the article full of every possibly relevant keyword variation. Resist the urge to optimize for every long-tail keyword you can think of. Instead, identify the one keyword phrase that most closely matches the primary intent you want readers and Google to take from the article. Optimize for that primary keyword above all others to give the content a focused relevance that search engines reward. Then naturally work in related, secondary keywords to support the main message without competing with the primary keyword. This approach helped me produce long-form content that achieved higher search traffic for the main targeted phrase.

    Huma Shaikh
    Huma ShaikhContent and Digital Marketing Intern, Mitt Arv

    Boost SEO with Internal Linking Strategy

    I loved my long-form guide but wanted it to be narrower for SEO. All that information might hurt my ranking for key terms. The fix? Double down on internal linking! I scattered links throughout the guide to shorter, focused pages targeting specific long-tail keywords. It shared the SEO power and helped search engines find those relevant pages. Bonus: I built a cluster of shorter articles around the guide, each a deep dive into a sub-topic. These linked to each other and the main guide, creating a strong topical network. Two wins: better rankings for the keywords and satisfied users. This way, my long-form content became an SEO powerhouse!

    Faizan Khan
    Faizan KhanPublic Relations and Content Marketing Specialist, Ubuy Australia