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3 Web Content Rules to Live By



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Mar 11, 2016

Content: the red-headed step-child of website design and development. Don’t bother denying it. Just take a gander at this heartbreaking factoid:

Research shows that less than 20% of the text content is actually read on an average web page.

While you wait for me to stop weeping, drink this one in:

Studies suggest you have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression with your website before people bounce.

You might be thinking, “What’s the point of trying if nobody’s going to read my content anyway.” It’s a fair question. But, if you think of the bar being high as a reason not to try, you’re getting it backwards. It’s a reason to try harder!

So what do you need to do to make sure your website content beats the odds? There’s three tips to live by.

1. Tighten it Up

When it comes to web copy, it often boils down to a classic case of quality vs. quantity. Even though the answer is ALWAYS obvious, it’s trickier than you think to find the right balance!

There’s no set-in-stone number of characters that each web page should contain – but each page must serve a purpose. The content should be thorough enough that it efficiently supplements services and products. However, based on research by blog publishing platform Medium, the ideal length of a blog post takes visitors 7 minutes to read. That works out to be between 1,400 and 1,750 words, as the average person reads 200-250 words per minute. Medium found that after 7 minutes, readership started to drop off.

When you’re applying this strategy to your key landing pages, there’s a few different ways to go about it. For pages that are too long, consider splitting content into multiple pages or subbing in infographics for some of the information. If content is too thin, get creative about what kind of information you could add in. However, never add content just for the sake of meeting a word count target. Quality is key!

2. Keep it Fresh

Regardless of whether or not your content is hitting the right targets for length and quality, if you’re not keeping it up to date, you’re missing the point.

While some old content will almost always rank high for terms if multiple points indicate that it is the best search result for a particular query, Google does consider new, fresh content to be an important factor. Quite frankly, it tells Google that you’re paying attention and continually adding value on your site. And at this point, we all understand why we have to care what Google thinks.

So do it Mentos-style and create some space on your site and in your calendar to freshen things up on a regular basis. Have a blog or news area in order to post new content regularly. And, read this article for some additional points about how frequency, amount of content and linking all factor in.

3. No Copycats

Duplicate content refers to pages within or across domains that share similar or identical content. This is typically due to a lack of canonicalization (the process of telling Google which version of the content should be indexed) or a lack of sufficient (in regards to volume) content on pages. And it’s a no-no.

When you take shortcuts here, it can cause your web page’s authority to be divided among the many versions of similar content pages. Additionally, Google has the ability to index whichever version it chooses; which may or may not line up with your preferences.

Search engines do not like duplicate content because it suggests the content in question may not be legit or of the highest quality, and it forces them to crawl the same page multiple times. For these reasons, a site may be penalized for duplicate content, resulting in lower rankings or de-indexing of pages.

Strangely enough, it is possible not to be aware that you’ve got a duplicate content issue. So, the first step in eliminating this scourge is a tool like the Screaming Frog web crawler.

You can download this free tool and use it to crawl up to 500 pages on your site. Identify duplicate page titles by simply clicking on the tab “Page Titles” or “Meta Description” and filtering for “Duplicate.” You can also find pages that have multiple URL versions by simply clicking on the “URL” tab and sorting by “Duplicate."

If you establish that there is a duplicate content problem on your site, there are several strategies for dealing with the issue. Check out our latest Ebook to learn more and find out which one is right for you.

Be The Exception

Regardless of how high the bar is, sloppy content strategy is never the answer! Follow these three content rules to live by and your site is certain to clear the hurdles!

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