Long Articles Are Best For SEO But a Pain To Write. Here’s How I Do It
Why is Writing a Long Read Such a Challenge?
Anyone who works in digital marketing knows a simple rule — when it comes to SEO, long articles always work better. They bring more leads, they have higher CTR, and the search engines rank them better. Moreover, the modal length for the highest-ranking articles on Google is usually 2,450 words.
On the other hand, it is always a challenge to keep the reader’s attention for such a long time. Just one simple fact — the average reader spends only 15 seconds on an article before closing the tab.
Now, think honestly about your own reading habits. How many seconds do you typically give a post to impress you? How long before you click away from an average article?
Days and weeks of writer’s work and only 15 seconds of the reader’s attention to impress! That’s it. No more second chances. One-click with the mouse and your potential lead is gone forever.
No wonder it’s so overwhelming to work on lengthy texts. You feel the pressure. You know it has to have a perfect structure, it has to be funny and intelligent, it has to have ‘this thing’ to catch the reader and not to let him go till the end.
Every writer has their own way to overcome the fear of writing long posts. And mine will be described below.
Stages of Writing a Long Article
Even for the most experienced and talented writers, writing a long post is tough. Thoughts of frustration and despair are part of the process:
‘Meh, I’ve got HEAPS of time. I’ll start in an hour.’
My battle always starts the same. For a certain period of time (can be a couple of hours or a couple of days), my brain totally denies the fact that sooner or later, it’ll have to deal with the massive task lying in wait.
Instead of writing the outline for my future article, I just casually surf the web looking for answers to questions like ‘Is hotdog a sandwich?’ or ‘Why is Pluto not a planet?’ When I spot myself doing this, I know what the next few days are going to be like…
‘How am I ever going to write 4,000 fricking words when I can’t even string a sentence together!?’
The sudden realization of what a huge piece of work needs to be done within a short time BY ME AND NOBODY ELSE hits me hard. I start panicking, getting frustrated, crying, yelling – anything, but not working.
This stage is particularly hard on my family and friends. Sorry guys. You know it’s temporary!
‘hmmm… actually, this topic is quite interesting!’
When these feelings subside, I’ll try to cut a deal with myself: ‘Okay. I know it’s hard. But look, the topic isn’t that boring, and you’ll learn so much once you’re done!’
These short conversations with myself are pretty helpful, but they definitely don’t solve the problem. The article still needs to be written.
‘Damn! I could have finished the article by now!’
After days of struggle, another wave of despair hits me. ‘I’ve wasted so much time! I’ve hardly done anything!’.
If this also happens to you, try not to be too hard on yourself. I know it’s hard, especially when your colleagues are constantly asking ‘How’s the article going?’, and you’re far from done.
But you’ll finish it! Have some patience!
‘Okay, nobody is gonna do it for me. Get a move on!’
At some point, the realization sinks in that I just have to get this done. The deadline is fast approaching, and my workmates are depending on me.
So I chain myself to my laptop, and through sheer force of will make myself write sentence after sentence. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. If I get stuck on a sentence, I move on to the next.
Just keep writing, even if you think it’s awful. Take it step by step, and before you even notice, your first draft will be ready. You’ll feel how it’s already easier to breathe.
How to Avoid All the Stress?
If writing a long article is such a challenge for you as it is for me, there is a way out. Here are a few tricks I personally use to handle the pressure of writing lengthy posts.
Photo credit: lemon.io
Start From Writing a Detailed Pitch
This one might seem obvious, but after working alongside other writers for years, I’ve noticed how many times this point is neglected.
I am not talking about writing short outlines with only brief ideas included. With long form content, this won’t work. You need a detailed pitch with a clear structure, headings, short description of every paragraph, including links, citations, references, and keywords that are going to be used. A well-prepared pitch will make your life so much easier. Try it next time!
Ask For Enough Time
If your boss demands 5000 words by Friday, saying ‘Come on, it’s only 1000 words per day, how hard could it be?’ don’t fall for it. To do a good job, you’ll need more time.
Writing an awesome long article is so much more than just the writing itself. It also includes days of research, hours to think through your ideas and even more time to edit the piece.
Discuss Your Ideas With Someone (Or Just Say Them Out Loud)
I love talking about my job. I have friends who are writers, marketers, lead generators, and just good listeners. Good people to ask for a fresh view on what I’m planning to write. In 9 out of 10 cases, their suggestions are very useful.
In case you don’t have anyone to discuss the article with, put your kitten, your teddy bear, or a plant on your desk and read out loud every sentence. Act as if you are giving someone a TED-talk speech.
At first, it might feel like a waste of time. But when you use your voice, you might feel where the weak spots of the article are and which ideas might be unclear.
Give Yourself a One Day Break Before Submitting the Article
Once you’re done writing, don’t hurry up to send it for publishing. Take a day off from the article and come back to it in a while. You’ll be surprised by how many more changes you’ll decide to make!
OK, the tips above are just the suggestions. But they work for me, and I hope they’ll work for you. Or at least, I hope they inspire you to find what does.
Let me know in the comments how you overcome writing long articles? Are there any special tips you use?
Tania Ilutsa is a content writer at Lemon.io, a community of vetted offshore developers, perfect for startups. She has five years of experience in freelancing and marketing in the past. Today, she writes about tech startups, entrepreneurship, and remote work for the Lemon blog. She loves books, art, and black coffee.
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