Digital marketing has come a long way since the first search engine, Archie (short for “archives”), was invented in 1990, and many small business owners are struggling to keep up in such a fast-paced industry. You may have heard that search engine optimization is one of the most effective forms of inbound lead generation, but months of blogging haven’t gotten you any closer to reaching your business goals. The reality is Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis, which means the SEO techniques you used last year may not work as well today. In this article, we will explore two of the most important techniques you can master to find digital marketing success in 2019.

Long-Form Content

You can’t do SEO today without a blog, but what makes that blog an asset in Google’s eyes? In the past, a business’s blog was designed to be supplemental to the website copy. Small business owners would write between 300 and 500 words per blog post, and that was sufficient. These blogs were far more basic and lacked any real depth. But today, with over 2 million blog posts published each day on the internet, the web has become saturated and the competition fierce. 

Five hundred words simply doesn’t cut it; SEO professionals recommend between 1,500 and 2,000 words per blog post. And data shows that the majority of page one listings on Google contain over 1,000 unique words. 

But why are blog posts getting longer? Do search engine users simply enjoy reading that much? Not really. In fact, most people skim long articles online, which is why extended list posts are so popular — they provide an easy opportunity to jump around the text, bouncing back in when they see a heading that catches their eye. 

No, Google favors long-form content because it is typically more in-depth and informational. Google’s aim is to provide users with answers to their questions. Which is why you must avoid the temptation to write 1,500 words of fluff. As artificial intelligence technology has advanced, Google has gotten smarter. And believe it or not, the search engine can tell when a piece of content is well-researched and well-written — in fact, Google’s 2011 Panda algorithm update was designed to assess the quality of a webpage’s content, considering grammar, syntax, and readability as lead indicators. 

Again, Google’s mission is to provide searchers with the information they are looking for. That means your blog posts should be highly informational. And searchers want to get their information from an expert source. Unfortunately, attempting to jam as much information as possible into a 500-word blog post might make you come off as less knowledgeable; you’ll only have enough room to skim the surface of a difficult subject. Long-form content, on the other hand, gives you the space to really cover a topic in full, making it more likely you’ll answer the searcher’s question. Not only will the reader come back next time they have a question, but Google will see that and will be more inclined to share your content ahead of less authoritative sources. In other words, well-written, detailed content will position you as a thought-leader or topic expert in your field.

Further helping your rankings, long-form content provides more opportunities to use more unique keywords. Additionally, longer content will cause the user’s time on page to be greater — and it’s believed that time on page is a key indicator of relevance in Google’s algorithm. Better content is also more shareable, which brings us to our next trend: link-building and content promotion.


The internet is made up of two main ingredients: content and links. You wouldn’t bake a cake with just half the ingredients, would you? So why would you focus on creating good content alone? The content only works for your search engine optimization strategy if you promote it. 

In Google’s famed, yet mysterious, algorithm, links to a site act as votes for that site’s authority. Unfortunately, not all votes hold the same weight, which is why you want votes from those sites that are themselves more authoritative. And these votes (or links) are not going to magically appear — like a politician, you need to campaign for them. And that starts with sharing your blog content. 

Once you’ve published heavily researched, high-quality content, you will need to get the word out. While email may not be the newest, sexiest technology in the world, it is an extremely valuable channel for distributing content and building relationships with influencers in your link space. 

You should be curating a list of opted-in email addresses belonging to users who have expressed an interest in your content. Reach out to these people first, asking for them to comment on your blog post and share the link on their own sites. 

Next, you can make contact with other online publishers in your industry to coordinate cross-promotion of content. In other words, suggest a guest post. Writing on other people’s sites is a great way to earn a link. In return for creating in-depth content, most website owners will allow you to include a backlink to your site in the piece. Or they may ask you to publish a guest blog with a link back to their site on your blog. 

Through email outreach, you can build long-term relationships with important influencers in your industry and extend your brand’s reach. Of course, as mentioned above, not all links are created equal — those from sites that are more authoritative will carry more weight in Google’s eyes. But relevance is also important: a link to your hardware store’s site from a DIY guru’s blog is going to be more valuable than a link from puppy adoption website. Ultimately, a good link creator is authoritative and relevant. That’s who you want to reach out to.

According to Neil Patel, content marketing costs are 62% lower than traditional marketing and it generates about three times as many leads. When you properly coordinate the creation of well-researched, in-depth, long-form content and the promotion of that content, you will see an excellent ROI. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the time to dedicate to content creation and promotion, which is why they hire an SEO company. Professional digital marketers know what works in 2019, and they’ll know what will work for your business next year and the year after when long-form content and email outreach are as antiquated as Archie.