Many businesses are unaware of the appropriate length for website content. Copywriting costs money: the longer the page, the more it will cost. So it’s easy to want to opt for the shortest word count, but it’s not always the best choice, editorially.
Deciding on the optimum length for an article or some other form of website content varies depending on an array of factors, such as:
- The message or offer you are attempting to convey.
- The amount of factual data, statistics, etc. that you want to back it up with.
- The average intelligence of your demographic.
- The difference in conversion rates, according to word count.
- The quality and length of the content you are competing for rankings with in the search engines.
To make this all a bit simpler, let’s dissect each of these points.
What is the Purpose of the Website Content?
Each piece of website content has one deep-rooted purpose, whether it’s to help readers with future advice, or to sell them a product that can benefit them.
First, you need to figure out what it is you are offering your audience and then decide how many words are appropriate to get this message across.
However, don’t just think about how many words it literally takes to spell out your offer; there’s more to it than that. It is usually best to let audiences infer, or subtly pick up on your offer by ‘reading between the lines’ – most readers will be wary of direct, open and obvious sales patter. Think about things like developing a rapport with the reader; providing relevant information about the product or service as a whole; back this information up with facts and data. All of this comes together to complete a fuller picture and a more interesting piece of content.
How Much Factual Backing Should You Use?
As already noted, it’s important to include some type of assurance that your claims and products are backed up with some facts and data. This can be shown through analogies, referencing other websites, specifying certain statistics, adding charts or graphs or using insightful imagery.
However, a common mistake that businesses make is information overload. At the end of the day, effective copywriting is more focused on who the reader is, and identifying a problem they have – you then draw them in, and provide a solution to this problem or something that can benefit them as a person (creating desire for your product or service).
If, however, you are using this particular piece of content as a landing page to generate email signups, your factual backing would be more limited. You would likely build a rapport, then quickly hit them with an incentive to make them act on the signup request. With this in mind, you’d want to keep the material short, snappy and informative – perhaps around 500 words.
On the flip side, if you’re selling an Internet marketing course, for example, you want to provide proof of your claims, which means the initial rapport section will require something a bit more extensive and detailed. Writing material for a sales page could easily stretch into the thousands with regard to word count, so proper formatting is highly recommended. Think of how the page looks; is it all one big block of text? If so, divide it up with imagery, infographics or smaller sentences.
A good way to decide what data to include is by first creating a facts sheet for your business. This allows you to dip in and out, sprinkling relevant and interesting facts throughout the writing, where needed.
What is the Average Intelligence of Your Demographic?
The general, average, intelligence of your audience can also play an important role in establishing the ideal word count. You will want to include this in your ‘reader profile’ when strategising your website content (i.e. painting a picture of your ideal client/reader).
For example, a website that provides custom meal plans, for users trying to lose weight, gives the writer some authority. This means that the writer can write in short form, with close-ended points and claims, or stretch things out with factual backing to further emphasise their knowledge, depending on their thought process.
Sometimes a particular market just doesn’t need a whole lot of wording, not necessarily because the readership isn’t clever, but because there’s simply not much that needs to be said. An example of this would be an appliance repair company; they can quickly state what they offer and justify why you should choose them – writing anything longer, or more expansive will blur the original point, with too much information. Instead of getting the idea that they should hire you, they might, instead, focus on some other piece of irrelevant information that’s been included simply to bring up the word count.
What is the Anticipated Conversion Rate?
The conversion rate of your website content can vary depending on a huge number of factors. One of those may be the length of the website copy: a longer post can be justified, but it really has to hold strong relevance and every part of it needs to add value. If the material doesn’t remain concie and focused, you’ll end up pushing your reader away.
There’s no easy way to predict your conversion rate, prior to publishing, although you could use A/B testing to try out a few different approaches. This is particularly useful if you have a large turnover of readers, on a regular basis.
For example, factor the cost of two copywriting pages for the same product that are A/B tested. Calculate the conversion rate for each. Now, let’s say the results show that the second version pulls a 0.5% higher conversion rate on your 100,000 monthly visitors. This will provide 600 extra conversions a year. Now calculate your extra profits!
What Does Your Competition Look Like?
It is common knowledge that longer content tends to have a better chance of top 3 rankings in Google. Comprehensive information ranks, and that takes a long word count, often over 1500 words. If your competitors are savvy, and are writing mega content, it is probably advisable for you to follow suit. Otherwise, it will be difficult to compete for your main target keywords. If you are taking a longtail approach then you may be up against shorter, lower quality content, and be able to prosper with shorter content.
So How Many Words Do You Need?
Suffice to say, there are many variables that may influence the number of words that are necessary for your copy to convert well. Thus it’s hard to say exactly how many words you should request when hiring a copywriter.
It may be easier to explain the purpose of the website content and what details need to be included. The writer will then be able to indicate an appropriate word count.
At the same time, you may want to approach it with an open mind and allow the copywriter to write out the material naturally. Give them all the points to hit and let them add their personal touch.