A website without content is just a blank page, but merely having something on there is never going to cut it in a competitive market.
Here, we’ll take a look at what content is, and how much you should consider putting on your pages.
What is content?
In its broadest sense, web content is anything that is consumed by the visitor. That can mean text, audio, video or images, or forms of interactive content such as games and quizzes. TV companies describe their programmes as content, and it’s clear to see that in such cases, the content is the whole point of the channel. It’s the same with the media presented by YouTube, Netflix, Audible, Spotify.
A blog is also a form of content, and it has become one of the most important when it comes to making your site searchable.
There’s room for a little nuance here, though. While the examples above are of audio and visual media that people turn up for, content can also serve an auxiliary purpose. You can have a blog on your site selling golf equipment that talks about technique, clothing and pro competitions as well as the gear itself.
You can also make videos or do a podcast to support sales. It’s not necessarily the reason you run the website, but it might well be the reason people visit it – and some of them will become customers.
It also brings us to an important reason for having content, in particular written text. Since the dawn of the web, search engines have read the copy on a page and attributed it to that page, so when people search for those subjects, the site or even the specific page should appear in the search results.
It’s the basis of the entire SEO industry, and has made Google the powerhouse it is.
Other forms of content can be great for shareability and building credibility, but even they are usually supported by readable text that tells the search engines what kind of content they are.
Can there be too much or too little?
So the fact that your site should have text-based content is beyond debate. But what is debatable is how much there should be in a single article to maximise usefulness.
The simple answer is that there should be as much as is needed to get your point across, whether that’s ten words or 10,000. If you’ve got a ready supply of visitors (for example if you have a newsletter or you’re otherwise well known), your subscribers and visitors will probably already be accustomed to the average length of your content, and you can keep them happy by maintaining consistency.
If you’re relying on content to attract search results, however, there is evidence that you can indeed have too much or too little, which will negatively affect you. If your copy is too short (say, less than 150 words), you might not give Google much to play with when it comes to keywords. If it’s not obvious to the engine what the page is about, it’ll be hard to rank for the subject.
On the other hand, if the content is too long, there’s a chance a lot of it will be wasted if you’re just using it to help sales. If you think about it, a very long piece (say, 3,000 words or longer) will cover multiple topics, so might not give the algorithms a clear picture about the subject of your page. And if it is focusing on the same subject, it’s possible that it’s repetitious and spammy, which certainly won’t help your rankings.
The conventional wisdom is that copy of about 300 to 2,000 words works best on a page. If you run a blog with hundreds of pages, you can safely stick to that lower end, whereas if you like to be a bit more in-depth but post less often, you’re probably better off going longer.
The best thing to do is to get some content online, then use analytics to see what works best for you. The ideal length is different across sectors and audiences, so try posting a range of lengths and see which ones lead to the most engagement.