The battle between long copy and short copy will probably still be raging when our great-grandchildren are adults.
Some say you MUST have 2,000 words if you expect Google to find you. Others say that web visitors won’t read more than 200 words. Both theories have been proven wrong – over and over again.
I sent a bio to a client a week or so ago and he wrote back to say it was way too long (at 400 words) because people only have a 9 second attention span. I disagreed, but "The customer is always right."
The truth is – there are reasons why people stop reading after just a line or two – and of course there are reasons why they WILL keep reading.
I’m not a fan of long copy, but when The Flooring Girl publishes information about flooring, I will likely read 2,000 words – or more. I read Debbie’s posts for two reasons:
- I’m interested in the topic.
- She presents it well.
If she rambled around, repeating herself and adding fluff just to increase the word count, I wouldn’t read it and I doubt if you would. But she doesn’t do that. She introduces her topics in a manner that tells me I want the information she’s going to share. Then she breaks it all up with photos, sub-headings, and breaks that present her paragraphs in “bite sized” pieces. And of course, each paragraph conveys good information.
The same can be said for the marketing messages I get from Bob Bly. His daily emails are seldom shorter than 500-600 words, and I read them all. Why? Because he's telling me things I want to know, he presents his ideas in a readable format, and he often illustrates his points with stories.
What people won’t read:
Today I came across 30+ agent bios that would substantiate my client’s claim that “no one” would read a 400 word bio.
To back up for a minute - Creating that first introductory sentence in a real estate bio is sometimes tricky. Thus, I occasionally go out surfing to look for new ideas and inspiration. Today was one of those occasions, and I was startled by what I found.
A search for agent bios took me to several sites that offered samples of “Dynamite bios” and “Knockout examples.” I didn’t find any knockout examples, dynamite bios, or intros that sparked ideas, but I did see examples of how NOT to write bios.
Some were as short as 200 words. Some were more than 300 words. NONE had any paragraph breaks. On top of that, the intros were boring, and some had garbled sentences.
Will anyone read those bios? I suppose some will, but I sure wouldn’t.
It does bother me that some will see those examples and the words "from experts" and believe that they should follow that lead.
My take on length: Whatever you write needs to be long enough to say what needs to be said – without adding fluff or filler.
As long as you keep the reader’s interest, they’ll keep reading. If you bore them, or make your words difficult to read, they won't.
Laptop and Coffee Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Failure stamp courtesy of stuart miles at free digital photos.net