Web Copy How Much is Enough?
By Glenn Murray *
These days, theres widespread acceptance that a website is an integral part of marketing plan of any business. Likewise, its commonly accepted that web copy is a vital component of any website. But how much web copy is enough?
The pure volume of information available on Internet is daunting often counterproductive. There are approximately 550 billion documents on web, and every day another 7 million are added. According to an A.T. Kearney, Network Publishing study (April 2001), workers take so long trying to find information that it costs organizations $750 billion annually!
Yet people continue to use it. Information gathering is most common use of Internet (American Express survey, 2000). And it seems work-related searches are amongst most common, with 48% of people using Internet to find work-related information, as opposed to 7% who use magazines (Lyra Research, 2001).
Interestingly, however, average person visits no more than 19 websites in entire month in order to avoid information overload (Nielsen NetRatings in Jan 2001).
So how do you ensure your site is one of those 19? How do you make your content helpful without making it overwhelming? Thats what this article is about
Ive written several articles on what to write on your website in order to make it helpful. (See Engage Your Customer Write About Benefits, Writing Benefit-Driven Web Copy, and Wording Up Your Website.) But thats only half battle
Businesses also need to know how much to write. Here are 5 quick rules of thumb to help you decide how much is enough.
1) Know your audience (Reader or Search Engine?)
Think about whether youre targeting human readers (potential customers) or search engines. This must always be one of your very first questions, as answer will determine your approach to content.
In general, human readers think less is more. Search engines, on other hand, think more is more (well, more or less
). In many ways, it comes down to a question of quality versus quantity. Human readers are interested in quality, whereas search engines are interested quantity. Human readers want you to answer their questions and make it clear how you can benefit them. And they dont want to wade through volumes of text. Search engines want a high word count, full of relevant keywords, and short on diagrams. (See Writing SEO Copy for more information on writing for search engines. See Search Engine Optimization Unmasked for CEOs for an introductory article on search engine optimization.)
You need to think carefully about your audience. In most cases, itll be a trade-off. A high search engine ranking is important (or at least beneficial) to most businesses, so a happy medium is required. The following tips will go some way toward providing this balance.