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How long should a web page be?

Updated on February 20, 2014

Short web pages can be sweet

There are two completely and at first seemingly opposing answers to this question. As a writer, it is sometimes hard to accept that you are writing copy that is very likely to NEVER be read. It seems like a waste of time and effort, it is certainly demoralizing for the author.

Most website visitors will look at the screen full of text and images they are presented with and those that are interested will either scroll down to read more or follow a link away from the page they landed on. So why bother writing beyond ‘the fold’ where the majority of your visitors will never venture?

There are now several reports suggesting that a lot more web browsing is done on tablets and smart phones. Have you tried viewing your own web pages on your smart phone? They will present quite a challenge unless they were designed for multiple formats.

Long. long web pages!

One answer comes from those dubious sites you may have followed a link to at some point. The ones where you have to scroll past many pages of text, images and video to get to the point the page is making. They do this because it gives them a chance to get a good repetition of the keywords they want the search engines to find them with. By having lots of text wrapped around those key words and phrases, they don’t get blacklisted by the search engine the way they would if they just repeated their key words many times over at the bottom of the page.

My own comments here tell you what my perception of those very long pages is. I lose trust as soon as I realise just how long they are and that is the point when I usually leave. I also expect one of those pop-up messages that asks if I really want to leave. This is a major turn off.

different screens - different message
different screens - different message

Long or short web pages?

So two valid answers which together seem to offer no help at all. Well there is help if you combine the two. I am NOT suggesting that you write 20 page landing pages, that would put you firmly in the same category as the dubious sites.

The best idea is to refine your messaging so that it fits onto the screen people see when they arrive at your site. Of course that becomes virtually impossible when your visitors are arriving via their smart phone. The first question to ask yourself is ‘what kind of device is my target audience most likely to be using when they come to my web pages? If the answer is iPhone or Android then you will have to get creative in how you put your message across. If it is more likely to be a tablet or regular computer, then you have an easier time of it.

Put your key message where it will be seen on any device, your next message below or to the right of that and so on until you have used up your available space. 2 point text is not an option for fitting more onto the screen. If you can, test the page on several different computers and devices to see how it looks, and how it changes in feel from device to device. It will even have a different feel on different sized computer monitors.

Reiteration of keywords

Reiterate and expand your key messages below the fold until you have a good repetition of your chosen key words and phrases. Do not get carried away with this. Your chosen keywords should account for around 2.5% - 3% of all the words you have written. They should also appear in the heading, sub-headings, first and last lines of copy. Where they appear in the body of the text you have written, pick them out in bold or italic. NOT all occurrences, just where it seems to fit. If you are tempted to add a string of word just containing your keywords, go take a cold shower and stay in there until you have reconsidered your actions. All the major search engines pick up on that kind of activity and mark you down for it.

Make sure your call to action is also above the fold and prominent enough not to be missed. Then repeat the same call to action at the end of your web page for those bold enough to make it that far

What do you think

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