How many words should be on your home page? A closer look

Greetings! Ready to get your learn on? Great, because today’s SEO copywriting video post delves into the question:  How many words should be on my homepage?

Heather’s SEO copywriting tip actually piggybacks on a recent (Google) Matt Cutts’ (“that’s a good question”) video addressing whether you should have more or less content on your homepage.  In his 57-second response, Matt doesn’t really cut it with his abbreviated answer. So here, Heather follows up on the question with the specifics on optimal homepage word count, discussing why you should move beyond counting words to how you can achieve reader engagement, conversions and page rank with a killer home page.

What Matt Cutts from Google Says:

  • The original question posed to Matt Cutts was: “Should I have more or less content on my home page? There’s certainly a difference of opinion here.”  His answer?
  • “If you have more content on your home page, there’s more text for Googlebot to find.” You can view the very brief video at http://youtu.be/4rsOpkDFDtc

So What is the “Correct” Word Count for Your Home Page?

Yes, there are a lot of different opinions on this subject, and that’s precisely why so many people are confused about what to do with their home page.  On one side of the coin, they want to have an exceptional home page that makes it easy for prospects to take action.  On the other, they want to have a home page that positions well in the search engines.

As usual, there is no definitive “right” answer.  The “correct word count” for your home page depends on a number of factors.  Yes, you do want a respectable word count, but you don’t want to bloat your home page with fluff just to make it with the search engines. So let’s look at this more closely…

Looking Beyond the Home Page Word Count: Factors that Matter Most

You want to think about your home page from your prospects’ perspective.  What benefits and message do THEY need to read?

  • Landing on your home page, your prospects may or may not know your company.  Focus on what you need to say on your home page that will engage your readers and keep them on your site.

What are you doing on your home page to make it easy for your readers to take action?

  • You certainly don’t want to see your visitors land on your home page and immediately bounce off of it.  Your goal is to get your readers to go deeper into your site to learn more about how you can help them with the products/services you provide.
  • If you have a blog, you want your visitors to be able to read more of it, not just stop where you blog ends off on your home page.

How is your home page positioning?  How is it faring with conversions?

  • Analytics!!  Check them.  If your analytics show a high bounce rate from your home page, and that your visitors are not going to your site’s inner pages, then this presents a huge opportunity for your to revise your home page and make it easier for your prospects to do what you want them to do.
  • If your analytics are indicating that things just aren’t “clicking” in terms of conversions, time spent on you home page, or positions, you need to make some changes.

Is your existing home page content written for readers – or is it just serving the search engines? There’s a big difference.

  • We’ve all seen many sites where the top part is all pretty pictures and slick graphics, with maybe a few words.  Then beneath the fold, there are about 500 words comprised mostly of hyperlinks to serve the search engines. It’s not like anyone’s actually going to read that hyperlinked content, and often those 500 words are not even well written.
  • If that’s the way you’re writing your home page, the good news is that you can have the best of both worlds:  a good amount of quality content on your site that is targeted to your readers and still serves to get those search engine positions.

You can have it all with great home page content and search engine appeal.

  • A great example of serving both your readers and the search engines with your home page content is the site 37 Signals. These folks do it right. You’ll find that on the top part of the screen, 37 Signals funnels users into the different types of products they offer.  (They follow up with a lot of copy on their site geared towards these distinct users).  Then below that, they’ve fantastic content written for all users, with social proof, etc.
  • You can have the best of both worlds on your home page: quality content targeted to your readers and still achieving good search engine positions, if you make sure that the ranking-oriented copy is good, solid value-added content.  It won’t work for anyone if it’s simply “fluff” for the search engines.

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s SEO Copywriting how-to video!  Do you have a burning SEO copywriting or content marketing question for Heather?  We’d love it if you send it on over to askheather@seocopywriting.com. Have a great week!  We’ll see you next Monday.