In 2011, Google changed their search algorithms to prioritise blog-style content. With people visiting blogs more and more, this made perfect sense: give the consumer what they want.
But should you fill your homepage with tonnes of written content just to stay at the top of the search engines?
This update, known in the trade as “Panda”, had a massive effect on the SEO industry virtually over night. However, mis-understandings about Panda’s subtleties, as well as a dismissal of human behaviour, seems to have led some developers and writers down the wrong path.
The first mis-understanding often made about Panda is that it prioritises “masses of content”. Clients very often come to me asking for “lots of content” on their front pages. ”Just bulk it out”, they say.
But, with Panda, the quantity of content is not the key to great search engine listings: it’s the quality of the content that’s important.
Google’s algorithms are insanely clever – you really, really can’t guess just how clever they are. Google’s servers, humming away in the barren deserts of mid-west America, will read the text on your website and, here’s the impressive part, it’ll understand it, just like a human would. If it’s well written, with genuinely interesting information that’s relevant to the search, Google will recognise that. It even knows if it’s written in a way that’s appealing and easy to read.
See? I told you it was clever.
And that’s what Google is looking for: Good content. If there’s lots of it, all the better, but word count is not the key, here. It never has been.
And here’s where things get tricky for people filling their home pages and landing pages with reams and reams of content: it puts people off.
A home page or a landing page on a commercial retail site is a very different beast to a Blog. It’s not there to provide a library of reading material, it’s there to grab attention and sell.
Your retail homepage is the first thing that your customers will see when they’re browsing (and that’s an important word – browsing).
If you want to grab the attention of someone visiting your site for the first time you’ve got just 6 seconds to do it. If you can’t entice them and provide the information that they need in this time, there’s a very good chance they’re going to bounce out to their search page and look elsewhere.
In short: consumers are impatient. They don’t have the time or inclination to read 1500 words of content to find out what your prices are or whether you sell what they’re looking for.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t provide plenty of information about your products and services. There’s a good chance that your customers will happily read a small essay on a product page or blog when they’re making their decision. It’s where that information is placed that’s important – and your homepage isn’t where it belongs.
So make your landing and home pages clear, easy to digest, concise and direct. Not only will potential buyers find it more appealing but there’s also a good chance that your Google ranking will soar just as high as any Blog.
If you’d like to learn more or chat about how I could help optimise your homepage copy, get in touch using the details below. I’m always happy to talk.
Tim Austin in the Winged Wordsmith – Lead Copywriter for www.wingcopywriting.co.uk, smartphone nut, Norfolk boy, occasional dieter.