The great content debate

The great content debate

Content is king we are always told. Luther Vandross would tell you there’s ‘Never too much’… although maybe he wasn’t actually talking about content. There’s much talk about Google algorithms liking lots of website content but let’s face it, you're more likely to find a unicorn doing a headstand than working out a Google algorithm.

We can’t tell you we have a definitive answer to the great website copy debate but honestly? It’s more than you think.

Is bigger better?

Not to be size-ist, but not really. We’ve all sat in meetings with someone who uses 1000 words when 100 would do – there’s one in every office! The result of doing that is you reduce the value of what you’re actually trying to say. It may well increase your ranking in the short-term but eventually the google algorithm will adapt to compensate for this. Think quality over quantity. If visitors arrive on your site but find that your content isn’t of a particularly high quality, how does that translate into their perception of your brand? Badly. It leaves them with a sense of being ‘duped’ into thinking your content and offering is something it’s not.

Tell me why

Why are people visiting your site? Why do you want them to? Basic questions but ones that need addressed. Firstly, it can often depend on your industry. A photographer for example, is likely to be more image heavy with some blog content. A plumbing merchant is more likely to have detailed content on how to in install their pipes. Knowing your audience and what they need from you is key to ensure they return to you for information, advice and instruction. It gives them a feeling of reassurance that they’re getting the right type of information. E-A-T – Expertise, Authority and Trust – it’s one of the things Google looks for when ranking websites. Nail that, and you’re ensuring your website performs well in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Experience is essential

So, we’ve agreed that written content needs to be relevant and interesting. However, creating an experience for your website visitors is what keeps you ahead of the competition. We’re talking videos, graphics, animation, and audio. Many people respond better to visual content rather than written (Instagram anyone?!) so make sure you consider this, especially if you’re trying to explain something visual or complicated.

Take a garden centre for example. You could tell customers how to plant a great rockery in detailed written instructions. But what if you added is a video, showing how to turn the soil, which plants work well in certain soil and where to place them? If customers can see an end result and how to get there, they are far more likely to buy from you and become repeat customers.

For this reason, many instruction manuals now come with images in them, and more and more companies have detailed videos on their website or YouTube channels. Both of these options are far superior to words, and this is why content length is arguably not very important. Your page may only have a hundred words on it, but it might be accompanied by multiple images and an incredible video that provides huge value to your customers.

Additionally, recent studies have shown that pages with images on them tend to rank better. People are more likely to visit websites that have detailed videos and graphics on them instead of plain text.

Remember the basics

There’s no need for basic spelling and grammatical errors. We all have spellcheck. Getting a second pair of eyes to proof-read your content is essential. Again, it comes back to quality. If visitors to your site see basic errors, they’re going to wonder about the quality of your offering. If you can’t be bothered to check copy, what level of customer service are you going to provide? A recent study indicated that people are less likely to convert into paying customers if there are obvious mistakes. We don’t know if Google checks for quality in terms of spelling and grammar but if they don’t now, they’re likely to at some point.

Content Keywords

So, you’ve written your great piece of content. How else can you ensure people are finding it? One word – keywords. Working out which keywords potential customers are searching for makes it much more likely that you will rank for these.

We’re not suggesting you focus solely on SEO but utilise the keyword search software that is out there. Research the keywords that people are using, and you can then optimise your posts, so they rank higher. Look for terms that have a high search volume but aren’t competitive. Google offers a great keyword research tool.

Remember to focus on what it is that the customer is looking for. Again, this all varies by industry and to an extent, what people are looking to spend in terms of the item they’re looking for. This gives you some great insight into potential customers and how to manage them.   

Efficient and effective

Again, we come back to quality vs quantity. Don’t focus solely on length, focus on giving value to your customers. If you are determined to write 1500 words but could write better copy in 1000 words. Do the latter. Your customer will prefer that you give them the information they want in a concise manner.

Efficient use of copy shows your reader that you value their time and want to help them get to the answer they are looking for sooner rather than later.

Learn to differentiate between the questions that people are asking and work out when they want a quick answer and when they want more detailed information. This should reassure them that you value their time, but you can still provide them with everything that they are looking for.

Think about it from a customer perspective. Run searches on queries they would use on Google and review other websites that are ranked. Google your company and your competitors. Who ranks higher for your desired search terms? This will help you focus on keywords for your particular industry.

So, does content length actually matter or not?

Like everything in life, you need to strike a balance. Quality and relevant content will always rank well. A combination of shorter and longer articles that are industry relevant will rank well. Focus on word count after you’ve written your article rather than before. This way, you’ll cover everything you need to then you can add and edit as appropriate. You’ll then be creating articles that provide a far better user experience. And if your user finds the content useful, so will Google.