Content Rule of Thumb: If You Feel Full Reading, Stop Feeding

By 01/08/2010 February 23rd, 2010 Content Strategy

There is probably no SEO misconception that I despise more than the “more is better” argument. A good rule of thumb when it comes to content on your web site? If you’re feeling tired (and full) when you’re reading your content, stop feeding it to your visitors.


A very wise woman recently wrote:

“Online, when it comes to informational, marketing, or promotional content, more is almost never more.”

We need look no further than a pair of popular cleaning product makers to see this process in action. When we examine the homepage for Lysol and compare it to Clorox, a few clicks will show just how much more content is jammed into one versus the other.

As you can see below, Lysol’s site is jam packed with Did you Knows, Germ Information, PDFs, menus, sub-menus and enough cookie crumbed pages to choke a small child. - Home & Family Tab

Conversely, the Clorox page features a great deal more whitespace, has fewer downloadables, and no submenus linking into deep pages. It also segments users based on their cleaning locales of interest (someone did their personas!). - Healthier Living Tab

So, who has the better SERP ranking? Clorox beats the crap out of Lysol with far less content. - Cleaner Home Tab

A Google search of the keywords “Cleaning Products” put number one in the sponsored links and the top result of actual products (7th in the organic list). Lysol didn’t appear in the organic search on the first page, nor did it on the next 20. While it appeared in the sponsored links underneath Clorox, I didn’t have the heart to keep digging to see if they made the organic SERPs within 40 clicks.

Not only are the search results better, it’s also far easier to find the information you’re looking for. The fonts are larger, the headlines are shorter, written specifically for a web audience and sub headlines provide an accurate description of what we’ll find within a link or article page. Product information is weaved in nicely with informational articles, there are graphics that engage users while informing and useful tools that help decide the best way to treat stains.

Bottom line, good content helps improve search ranking, but it has to be useful, tagged and relevant.

So before you go off and publish a mammoth Web site with tons of pages, articles and information, with high hopes of a higher SERP ranking, ask yourself a few questions.

  • “Does this information add to my brand story, user experience or increase engagement?”
  • “Would I lose anything if this content wasn’t here?”
  • “Can this information be better organized, bulleted or edited down?”
  • “By including this content, am I preventing my users from getting content they need?” (THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE!)

Useful, usable Web sites are not not about providing every single piece of information that anyone could ever think of. It’s about providing solid content that is on strategy, that means something to your visitors and that is properly tagged optimized and placed to be useable for machines and humans. Tag better, write better, and spend more time optimizing and editing less content to get more of a result.

If you get overwhelmed and feeling too full looking at your site, chances are your users feel exactly the same way.

Photo: Sandeep Nair

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Peggy E says:

    You continue to amaze me with your insight and ability to communicate it in a clear, concise manner.

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