It's time to reconsider that old advice that I and others have given that the best page length for website content is around 1000 words. That advice came from an SEO /data-junkie firm that measured the correlation between page length and page rank /conversion back in 2011. It was tested and repeated by others, notably Neil Patel at QuickSprout, one of my go-to sources for all things SEO.
Let me pause for a bit of vocabulary for the non-techie. Page rank was the score that search engines -- notably, Google -- gave websites that contributed to sites getting shown on page 1 in search results. Conversion refers to the people who visit your site and end up calling you for an appointment, or following any other call to action that you have given such as sign up for a class, download an ebook, etc.
The thing is, Google has significantly deprioritized page rank in their latest algorithm tweaks. It hasn't even updated its page rank metric for years, according to SearchEngineWatch.com. Many techies expect to see page rank disappear altogether, to be replaced by social media signals such an inbound links from Facebook.
First Newest Priority for SEO is Mobile Indexing
Because of the explosion of people using cell phones to search Google, the big gorilla search engine has just changed the way it indexes websites. Called Mobile-First Indexing, when Google crawls (visits) your website now, it will be doing so first as a mobile user, not as a desktop or laptop or large tablet user.
And we all know that most potential therapy clients just don't have the unstressed frame of mind to read 1000+ word pages on a cell phone, if they ever did on a desktop.
Now, here's where you really need to know your own ideal client audience, and what their information-acquiring behavior are, in general. When they are feeling suicidal, do they turn to their cell phone to search for therapists, or do they climb on a laptop?
When their kids are out of control, or they suspect their spouse of an affair, do they not mind doing a search by phone and getting interrupted by texts and phone calls, or do they search from their office or library desktop?
I suggest you add a question to your intake form such as -- on what kind of device did you search for my services. Or if you use Constant Contact to send out a practice newsletter, check your open rate stats to discover what your potential clients are using to read your vital tips. My stats show 60% still use their desktop, but it's important to keep an eye on this because the mobile users have increased from 0 to 40% just since March 2015.
So both for the new mobile-first indexing algorithm Google is using, and for the sake of a therapy client's sense of urgency and likely higher level of stress, long content pages just aren't going to cut it any more.
Second SEO Priority is UX
More vocabulary -- UX means user experience. This may seem a subjective measure, and to some extent it is. But Google measures this in several ways, and not just in how long it takes to read 1000 words. UX is also reflected in:
the ease of navigation and overall use
the number of pages viewed
the number of videos watched
the number of downloads
the number of shares to social media
and other factors that may not be used by the typical clinician or solopreneur service provider. We can surmise that if your website visitors are overwhelmed by lengthy content on your homepage, they really won't like lengthy content on specialty pages. They might not even get that far.
Impatient readers and those who prefer to skim bullet lists tend to click off websites that make them work too hard to get to the point when they are already anxious, depressed, frustrated, and angry.
New Modular Designs Are Better for Retention and Conversion
Website design has shifted quite a lot in the last year, with more designers moving to the modular aesthetic. This is definitely a less is more approach for contemporary websites. Trying to fit 1000+ words of text into a readable mod design makes most websites a confusing, awkward, or nonsensical mess.
Well done modular design moves the visitor's eye through your visual and written message in a more efficient and compelling way than ever before. This design helps potential clients reach a faster decision to make an appointment, and conveys the subtle impression that your services are on point and just what the client is looking for.
New design is also more dynamic, making use of element animations to increase interest and direct attention to both your message and your calls to action. If your website is more than 3 years old, chances are it will be looking and sounding fairly stale and out of touch by the end of this year.
Time for text editing, and a new way of getting your message across? Let me know if you need help. Just send me an email to get started. Website re-design and content editing to maximize visitor retention and client conversion is what I do.
Of course, even with mobile-first indexing, UX and modular design, many of the customary SEO standards like meta tags, H1 and H2 tags, and inbound links from high volume traffic sites such as social media and good locator directories will still be required.
And we still need to engage in other forms of marketing, such as:
Google My Business
producing podcasts or YouTube videos
developing info products
giving signature talks
engaging in business networking
doing referral building
posting on social media regularly
promoting your blog posts in social media
By the way, lengthy content in blogs is where to put your length. This one is 1007 words long. Because Google really likes to see frequently fresh content on websites, blogs are ideal for helping boost your mobile indexing and desktop SEO scores.