Web content really IS critical!
Today I had the pleasure to hear web content guru Gerry McGovern speak at a full-day workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s got to be one of the very best speakers I’ve ever heard! His course material, his sense of humor, his thought-provoking insights, and especially his Irish accent — had everyone in the audience mesmerized. Here’s a sampling of the day’s take-aways:
- Action vs. reaction: If a site visitor’s action results in a reaction from your web site that has a wait time exceeding that of the action, the visitor will become frustrated. That frustration will build as more . For example, clicking on the File menu tab only takes a second, so the time it takes for the menubar to appear underneath should take no more than a second.
- 80/20 rule of content: For many sites, less than 20% of the site content accounts for over 80% of the pageviews. With Microsoft.com it was 1% of their content accounted for 99% of the pageviews. In fact, 35% of their pages had never been viewed! That’s well over a million pages of content that people at Microsoft worked hard to write ? for nothing. Focus your efforts on the copy that will be read, not on the copy that won’t.
- Columns: Readers use their peripheral vision to keep track of the beginning of the next line down while they are reading across a line. So with text that has a long linewidth, it becomes difficult to read. Gerry recommends a three column format, with 20% or so of the width going to the first column (use this column for navigation), 60% or so dedicated to the middle column, and another 20% or so for the right hand column.
- Call for action: Always end your pages with a clear action for the reader to take. Never leave the reader hanging, wondering what to do next. The center column at the end of the body copy is a critical piece of real estate for these calls for action.
- Links in copy: According to Gerry, links in the middle of body copy distracts the readers making it difficult for them to read the paragraph, and it connotes “hey, click on me… the rest of this text is really boring!” Instead of embedding links within the body copy, consider using the right hand column for the related links. If there are important links there that take the reader to the “next step,” also repeat them at underneath the body copy in the center column.
- Simplicity: Einstein purportedly was quoted as saying “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Apply this idea to your web copy. Keep your copy as short and simple as possible. People tend not to read long copy on the web. With a 300 word page, 50% will read it to the end; 500 words, 20%; 1000 words, 5%. Gerry recommends headings of 4 to 8 words, summaries of 30 to 50 words, sentences of 15 to 20 words, and paragraphs of 40 to 70 words.
- “Kill your darlings”: William Faulkner once said this. If there’s a particular expression or way of saying something that you’re particularly fond of, delete it from your copy, because you’re probably overusing it.
Gerry covered so much more than this, but it would take a book to cover it all. Oh, wait a minute… there is a book covering it all. Buy Gerry’s book, Content Critical.
From the fundamentals of link building to the nuances of natural linking patterns, virality, and authority.
Your Ultimate Guide to Google Penalties
When your website’s traffic suddenly takes a tumble and you don’t know why, it can be maddening. Why is this happening? It’s possible you’ve been hit with a Google penalty, or have come up against one of Google’s algorithm updates. If you’re wondering how Google penalties work and what you should do to avoid them, […]Read More
Using Psychology to Boost Your Conversion Rate Optimization
Can a better understanding of the human brain help you get more conversions? Absolutely! Let’s look at how to incorporate some psychological concepts into your conversion rate strategy, along with some examples. Behavioral economics: humans are irrational What is behavioral economics and what does it have to do with conversion rates? Traditionally, economists believed that […]Read More
How to Master Social Selling on LinkedIn
Social selling could be your key to securing new prospects and boosting your bottom line. When not done properly, however, social selling can also ruin your online presence and repel potential customers. So what is social selling, and why does your brand need it? More importantly, how do you master social selling? Let’s look at […]Read More