Most businesses are familiar with the “content is king” mantra, first coined by a certain Bill Gates back in 1996. Since then, content marketing has grown at an astounding pace. Executed correctly, it plays a number of key roles within a company or brand’s wider marketing strategy. Good website content drives traffic, nurtures relationships, generates business leads and boosts SEO rankings. But the important word to look out for here is ‘good’. Not all content is created equal. If it’s not valuable, relevant, qualitative, or linked to specific business goals, it’s a waste of time, money and resources. But where website content is concerned, quantity is just as important as quality. That’s because it is most definitely possible to have too much of a good thing.
Keep it simple
Good content – and the right amount of it – should make life easier for your customers. However, if your website confuses, frustrates or overwhelms them, they won’t be your customer for long. The typical internet user has a very short attention span: typically just a few seconds per page. If your site is difficult to navigate and understand, they will not linger. That’s why is really important to show restraint with your homepage content. Don’t try to say it all, and do it all, here; simple is much more effective. Make sure your homepage content is focused on the really important elements. Think overview, not overly detailed. Your homepage should offer a summary of what you do, and introduce the products or services you offer. Include plenty of links (instead of excess copy), which allow users to navigate to the specific areas that interest them. Your homepage should be the equivalent of a magazine cover – not a tome the length of War and Peace.
Keep it concise
Writing for a website is very different from writing for print. Your website content needs language that is simple, direct and easy to skim and scan. Most users have neither the time nor the inclination to read every single word on your page(s). Instead, they scan a page until they spot something of interest, and only then do they read on.
To make this process as easy as possible, include plenty of space – tight blocks of text can be intimidating. Include meaningful headlines. Use bullet points and lists. Keep your paragraphs short. Above all, be ruthless about unnecessary words and complex sentences. Get to the point every time, as fast as you can. The paradox is that writing precisely often takes more time and effort than writing everything that might be relevant. But today’s users are impatient. Make sure your content gives them a reason to stay and not a reason to leave.
Know your audience
Your content should drive traffic to your website and keep that traffic engaged. Yes, you need to keep your content fresh and appealing – but never post just for the sake of an update. “Padding” your website with information that’s just not relevant to your audience is the fast-track to failure. If you’re short on time and resources, it’s tempting to duplicate – but don’t. Less frequent, but original, optimised content is always far preferable to a near-constant, panic-stricken, scattergun approach.
Appeal to search engines
Too much content isn’t just a turn-off for potential and existing customers. It can adversely affect your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) too. This happens for a number of different reasons. For example, dwell time (how long visitors stay on a page) is an important SEO analytical metric. If your users leave quickly because they are bored, overwhelmed or confused by too much content, your rankings will suffer.
Dwell time aside, content quality, length and amount are also key search engine ranking factors. If you duplicate or write too much about similar topics, your content starts competing with itself, risking keyword cannibalisation. Be consistent, but don’t keep repeating the same focus. Great content delivers relevance without endless repetition. Too much of the same type of copy, about the same topics, is counter-productive.
Too much ‘me’
It seems completely logical to devote a lot of website content to your company, brand and products. But it’s important to realise that for users, this information is only useful if it’s linked to them. They don’t really want to know that much about you per se; they want to know how you and your offer benefits them.
Always put yourself in your user’s shoes and make sure your content prioritises their needs, instead of your ego. Don’t be self-indulgent. For example, that ‘about us’ section does not need to be 17 pages long. Include only the elements that enhance your credibility/reliability in the eyes of your customers. Launching a new product? Don’t go overboard with a long list of technical jargon (however fascinating you might find it!). Emphasise instead how such a product could benefit your customers. For example, will it last longer, save them time/money, achieve faster results?
Never assume too much specialist knowledge. Your customers won’t necessarily know nearly as much as you do about certain topics. Blinding them with science – and lots of indecipherable content – will only frustrate and alienate them. Limit the acronyms and technical terms. And always include links to background information, so your customers can easily find out more if they choose to. Lastly, make sure your content incorporates images and graphics – and isn’t just a dense wall of words. Eye-catching visuals can greatly aid and speed up understanding. Infographics can even increase website traffic by 12%.