How Long-Form Content Helps Your Church Rank Higher On Google

Increasing engagement on church websites could be as simple as using long-form content for churches. Not only is it usually more informative, but Google loves it too.

If you’ve hesitated on spending the extra time creating longer blog posts, now is the perfect time to adjust your blogging strategy to include more in-depth posts.

Yes, they’re a little harder to write, but the benefits are well worth it. For growing website traffic and even your church, swapping a few short posts for a longer one could be the solution you’ve been searching for.

Understanding Long-Form Content

Before getting into the benefits, it’s important to understanding exactly what long-form content means. A dozen experts might give you a dozen different content lengths, but generally, 2,000 words and up is considered long-form. Going over 3,000 or 4,000 words just makes it extra long.

Creating long content just for the sake of extra words isn’t what this type of content is about. Just like a shorter piece of content needs to be informative, engaging and useful, so does long-form content. All of the 2,000+ words need to be meaningful. If it’s 25% useful and 75% fluff, you won’t see much benefit at all. This is also what makes creating this type of content more difficult.

However, a good way to look at it is combining multiple short-form pieces into one, much longer piece of content. In fact, that’s how some people create these posts. They divide the long piece into segments, treating each like a smaller blog post. Then, they’re able to work on each segment separately, combining them when they’re finished. It’s less intimidating, but still provides a highly in-depth piece for your readers.

One more thing to keep in mind is that long-form content isn’t just blog posts, though. This can be a variety of content types, such as:

  • Ebooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Guides
  • Sermons (a great resource to go with sermon videos)
  • Pillar content (more on that later)

You might think people would hate longer content since they’re always so busy, but studies have shown that high-quality longer posts get more views on average. For instance, content up to 600 words receive an average of 59 page views, while 2,000-3,000 words received 104 page views. Extra long content over 7,000 words received over 300 page views.

Short-Form Vs Long-Form

Long-form content for churches is beneficial, but only if you use it at the right time. Ideally, the best blog strategy is a mix of short-form and long-form content. After all, not every single content idea needs thousands of words to explain it.

When it comes to short-form content, Yoast (an SEO plugin) recommends content be at least 300 words. You should need at least this many words to provide a detailed answer to a single concept or search query. Remember, you’re writing for people, not search engines. If fewer words work best to answer a search query, then use fewer words. Always keep the writing relevant without relying on fluff filler.

In most cases, short-form content covers one or two quick ideas. It might contain a short list or be written specifically for social media, where shorter content reigns supreme. You might also be creating a series of posts where each covers a single concept. This is ideal for engaging mobile visitors that just want something quick to read.

Some topics, on the other hand, need more explanation. For instance, you might create a blog post called “Why Should I Attend Church In Person Vs. Online.” A short post that briefly highlights community and face-to-face engagement might not make as much of an impact as you hope it would.

Writing 2,000 to 3,000 words that address common reasons people don’t go to church along with the benefits of attending in person. You can divide the content into short sections with scannable headlines. This type of post shows readers you’ve truly thought about the benefits from the point of view of the reader. It also provides well-researched evidence that shows the benefits, helping reduce common excuses people give for staying home instead.

Both content lengths are beneficial. Short-form helps you deliver content more regularly, which gives you more chances to rank on Google. Long-form helps answer questions better, leading to higher engagement and more love from Google. So, don’t think of it as either/or. Instead, create both types based on how much information it takes to answer a question.

SEMRush offers two great tools for researching what type of content others are writing for specific keywords. SEO Writing Assistant and SEO Content Template are free to use, but you do have to register for an account.

Benefit From Pillar Content

A common type of long-form content for churches is pillar content or pillar pages. These are well-organized posts or pages that serve as a complete guide to a topic. Google loves these types of posts because they target a variety of keywords, have clear headings to show what the content is about and serve as an all-in-one resource for searchers.

Of course, well-written pillar content is incredibly informative, keeping readers on your church’s site longer. And, if it answers their questions well enough, they’re likely to share it with others.

Google ranks authority sites higher. Creating successful pillar content signals to Google that your church is an authority on the subject. This can even help your site’s other content rank higher.

Plus, pillar content typically links back to other content on your site. All these internal links keep visitors on your site even longer and increase traffic to your other posts. A great example is our own pillar page The Ultimate Guide To SEO For Churches. In general, there are three main types of pillar content that work great for ranking higher on Google – guide, how-to and what is.

Increases Traffic To Your Website

Yes, people tend to have short attention spans, but give them content that dives deep into a subject and they can’t get enough. This is probably why content of 3,000 words or more receives three times more traffic than shorter content. They also get 3.5 times more backlinks, meaning people are far more likely to find your church’s content linked to on other sites.

All this extra traffic shows Google that your content is valuable. After all, why would so many other sites link to it and why would so many people want to view it? If you’re looking to benefit from organic search, long-form content for churches is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Of course, as you rank higher on Google, your content shows up more regularly at the top of search results. This can also lead to coveted featured snippets in results. You can also optimize your content for different types of SERPs.

Provide More Valuable Information At One Time

If church sermons only lasted five minutes, many people probably wouldn’t make the effort to come out on Sunday mornings. Instead, they attend for the longer sermons that help them better understand difficult concepts in the Bible.

Think of long-form content for churches the same way. When someone’s looking for guidance and details about a topic that’s important to them, they want a full answer or solution. You could provide a short overview in a 500-600 word blog post, but that’ll leave the reader with even more questions.

Instead, long-form content gives you the chance to provide more valuable information in one place. Instead of having to search further on your site or other sites, readers get all the information they need from a single piece of content. Plus, they can use sub-heads to quickly find what’s most relevant to their needs.

Google Likes Long-Form

Google wants to provide searchers with the best possible results. This is why the search algorithm is constantly changing based on how people search and engage with results. Imagine if you’re trying to find the best result and discover a piece of content that’s optimized for a variety of search terms, is well organized with clear headings and keeps readers on the page longer.

Would you rather recommend a bunch of content that only partially fits what searchers want or recommend the content that has everything? You’d recommend that latter, of course. This is how Google looks at long-form content. It’s the ultimate answer to the search query and it’s easy for search engines to understand what they content is about.

Establish Your Church As An Authority

You can’t just claim to be an expert in your field without proving it. But, how can you prove it if no one’s paying attention? The great thing about your church is you already have members who trust you. This means they’re more likely to share your website’s content with their social media friends and family.

As your content is shared, more people engage with it. Long-form content gives you more time to engage the reader and answer their questions. Someone might see a link to your post from a friend. They check it out, learn something new and want to share their revelations with someone else.

Plus, search engines pick up your long-form content better than short-form content. All of this leads to more traffic and sharing. As you create more long-form content, you gradually become a well-known authority on the subject.

As you might expect, Google ranks authority sites higher than others. This is because they’ve proven themselves to value the searcher’s time and needs by providing relevant, useful content time and time again.

Allows For More Keyword Opportunities

With shorter posts, your keyword opportunities are limited. But, when you have content that’s 4x to 5x longer than usual, you have the chance to optimize for far more keyword phrases. Suddenly, your content is able to rank for a variety of different search queries.

Long-form content for churches works great as part of a local SEO strategy. You can mention multiple areas, add locations to headings and still provide highly informative content.

While you shouldn’t go overboard with keywords, just think of natural phrases people might search for. Use a few in your subheadings, focus on different keywords in different sections and so on. Plus, you can still have one or two main keywords.

Keeps Visitors On Your Site Longer

If your long-form content is useful and well organized, visitors stay longer to read it all. Lower bounce rates are always a good thing. If Google sees that visitors are staying on your site after clicking a result, it signals that your content provides value to the reader. This goes back to proving to Google that your church’s site is an authority. Plus, if you’re linking back to other content, you’re keeping visitors on your site even longer.

An internal link strategy is surprisingly great for SEO. This involves linking to other pages on your site. If you stuff in too many links in a short post, it might come off as spammy. However, long-form content gives you the chance to add relevant links to other informative content on your site. For example, pillar content often links to shorter content that provides extra information on a specific point.

Plus, if you’re receiving backlinks from reputable sites, your internally linked pages also get a boost from that backlink, creating more authority for your site.

Long-Form Is Shared More Often

Not only does long-form content for churches lead to more traffic, it also gets shared more often. In analyzing their own posts, HubSpot found posts over 2,500 words got the most social shares. In fact, shares more than doubled from 1,000 word posts. And, if the content’s title was between 11-14 words, shares increased even more.

More sharing leads to more website traffic. All that extra traffic leads to a higher overall rank on Google. You can increase shares even more by learning how to create more shareable social media posts.

Balancing Time And Long-Form Content Creation

While you might be excited about the benefits of long-form content for churches, the time commitment might still put you off. To balance things out, consider starting with just one piece of long-form content each month. Ask your members to share things they want to know more about. This helps you come up with ideas. You could even do posts on a set of common related questions. You can work on the post a little throughout the month, making it easier to fit into a busy schedule.

More On Long Form Content

Long-form content needs a great home. Contact us today to see how we can help you create amazing church websites that make visitors want to stick around.

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