Wednesday, 20 October 2010

SEO Myths - 50 apples a day will keep the doctor away

They won't. They'll make you sick. Very sick.

We're constantly told that five portions of fruit and veg a day is good for us. But there are always those that take it to extremes, eating nothing but carrots and bananas and become very sick as a result.

Well surprise surprise this gluttony holds true for more than just healthy levels of fruit consumption.

Yes - the same philosophy can be used for SEO and in particular the length of page copy.

Many experts will tell you 'the more text you have on your site the better'. Whilst the origins of this sentiment hold some truth, here are some reasons to be cautious in your approach:

1) Research tells us that website users don't like to scroll (down a webpage). So if your web pages are too long you're unlikely to still have the attention of the reader at the bottom of your copy. Why is this important? Well many web pages have their call to actions and important links/forms at the bottom of the page. If people don't reach this important area of the page it'll be having a large (negative) impact on the success of your page.

2) Boredom and impression. If a visitor lands on your web page and can't see what they're looking for they won't invest the time to read anything, let alone paragraphs and paragraphs of convoluted copy. Make sure your page copy is clearly broken up with the use of H tags. It pays to be clear and concise.

3) Usability. Research again tells us that visitors don't read web pages (unless it's a news article - like something you might find on BBC news) they scan them. Time is a precious resource and visitors to your web page certainly don't want to waste it. If they can get to where they want to be with the minimum amount of time invested they will.

With this in mind long page copy will only hinder this process giving the visitor more reason to click that dreaded back button (and leave your page, or worse, your site).

As a general rule ask yourself if your page is specific to one topic/product or service. If it isn't, break the topics up and introduce a larger number of shorter, more specific pages. This in turn should improve the success of each of your pages.

Not only will you be able to more specific for search engine marketing but it will also prove easier to capture the attention of visitors looking for specific information/products/services.

As a final note of caution - remember you need more than fruit and veg to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same is true for the length of your web pages and their relative success.

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