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How Long Should a Web Page Be?

Posted by in Conversion Optimisation

As an SEO strategist, I keep getting told that it’s too long. Most of my clients, especially the ones with websites that are wrapped in red tape and “best practice” know-how, think that the key to having a good page is to have a short one. One that does not scroll too far below the scroll and looks neat and tidy and fits within one screen.

Pffffft.

If you’re buying something, wouldn’t you want to hear everything about the product that that hits your spot? If you’re chatting to the cute brunette at the Fluffy Dice store, would you expect to say “Hi, I’m Dan and I’m pretty amazing, take my number now!”?

Yet that’s the way that most webmasters try to control their websites. Minimise the whitespace, keep everything compact and neat.

But wait! Look at Amazon – arguably the most succesasful online retailer. Their pages are over 6 foot long on average and are filled with white space, reviews, comparisons, useful links and great information. If you’ve been following my blog posts, you’ll know that whitespace is perfect for today’s fast-scanning readers. You’ll know that stacks of reviews build up a copious amount of trust. You’ll know that the extra high quality content is more likely to convince your readers that the product (or at least one of the linked products) is the one for them.

It’s pretty hard to argue with that case study, right? OK, so now that our minds are all open, the big questions remains:

How long should my pages be?

The answer, as always, is not a simple one. It is based on the type of page, the type of product, the amount of information required/available. As a general rule, the page should contain as many words as you’d use when selling face to face.

The next thing to figure out – how can you get people reading that far down?

1. Find out how far people scroll
Use heat map analysis to find out how far people scroll. There are a range of tools available for this:

  • ClickDensity
  • ClickTale
  • ClickHeat
  • SkyGlue
  • Google In-Page Analytics (beware, the click % is at a destination URL level and not a link level)

2. Find out where the fold is
Depending on how big a screen is, the fold will be in different places for different users. You can use Google Analytics to tell you what the common resolutions are and design your pages around them. Estimate how much space will be taken by the avergae user for menu bars (not much with today’s lightweight browsers) and voila! You have a good idea of where the fold is.

Note that you will probably require 2 different designs to account for mobile users. However, long pages still work for mobile users. Rememebr that a lot of mobile users browse the web while on public transport, so they have the time to read it all. Also, they will benefit from a single long page where they can scroll instead of loading another page (at least while network speeds remain as they are).

3. Encourage them to scroll more
Next, you have to figure out how to make people scroll down further. How can you do this? By keeping them captivated. One such technique is by using a cliffhanger. The others…well, they will be revealed in the next installment in this conversion rate optimisation series…

About

Dan is an slightly mad and wildly offensive online marketing consultant. He manages campaigns for E-Web Marketing with an irreverent style that inexplicably nets fantastic results. He is obsessed with all things online and can frequently be found blogging about Conversion Rate Optimisation, SEO and whatever random ruminations go through his questionable head.

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