No, web visitors won’t read a whole page of copy – unless…

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

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 failure stampa 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

Failure stamp courtesy of stuart miles at free digital


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 04/21/2017 04:52 AM
  2. Nathan Gesner 04/22/2017 06:41 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Addicted to Active Rain
Blogs Happen...
Bartender, Make it a Double
agent bios
real estate marketing grammar

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Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

I also think format, font size and photos matter in a post. Long run on paragraph roll my eyes in contempt. A meandering of smaller paragraphs and appropriate graphics work well for me and of course it has to be well written.


Apr 21, 2017 05:03 AM #15
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Save them money, time, frustration and you will have a friend as strong as the cat when they hear a can opener whirling and fresh fish is about to be served up.

Apr 21, 2017 05:25 AM #16
Corinne Guest
Corinne Guest, REALTOR® | Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington Lifestyles

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.


No truer words spoken and am so glad you started out with this paragrapgh. LuckyOrange tracking allows me to see what my visitors do in real time. It's a huge eye opener!

Apr 21, 2017 06:02 AM #17
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This is a good subject to explore. Setting up a subject, making a point of it and then submitting it to others is the very heart of marketing, public relations, blogging and sales.The enemy of all? Attention spans. Second up, Topics. Thats why you see a lot of sex  along with the word free making the rounds. Good post

Apr 21, 2017 06:24 AM #18
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

If something is interesting I will read it, pages of the stuff, but if I feel they are repeating themselves, I'm gone. The same if I feel a writer is trying to blind me with tons of technical stuff which I don't need to know,but makes the writer feel clever. The old adage keep it simple.

Apr 21, 2017 07:36 AM #19
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Marte, I always enjoy reading Tom Clancy novels.  They're never short, but they're engaging.  I don't worry about the length of my blog posts.  Some (okay rarely) are under 300 words, some go a bit longer.  But I also don't seek to write 1000-2000 words or more unless it's something really critical that the consumer needs to thoroughly understand although even then I'm likely to break it up into a series (e.g. the steps of building a patio home).

Apr 21, 2017 08:03 AM #20
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Marte, you sure know about writing effective copy! If someone fails to capture the consumer's attention right away, they move on quickly. I like the short and to the point approach the best!

Apr 21, 2017 09:34 AM #21
Lisa @ Chime Technologies
Chime - Phoenix, AZ
We market for agents, build CRM and tools. Ask me!

Hey Marte! Congrats on the featured post. 

Google is always changing their algorithm, and there's a lot of 'faux-science' when a change is announced  or discovered. I too have read the 2000 word/long form best practice which contradicts what another SEO influencer says in another article!

As long as the content provides value (and has great pacing and flow), the length shouldn't matter. But for bios, I do believe shorter is sweeter :)

Apr 21, 2017 10:49 AM #22
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

You are so right.  I've written some really lengthy stuff that I continue to be contacted after people read it.  Quarterly and annual market ... deep into what the numbers mean are some of the ones that let people know that I know how to help them.  It's long and perhaps to some boring material, but to a buyer or seller in my market neither would find it boring. I know, because they say so when they call or email.

Apr 21, 2017 11:27 AM #23
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Great advice on making a longer bio something that does hold attention.

Apr 21, 2017 12:17 PM #24
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Funny how you went out in search of the best & ended up with anything but. I'm going to say that the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. I never read Debbie's posts because I feel like I've been put through a ringer. Because 'it has to be' doesn't make it good.

Apr 21, 2017 02:02 PM #25
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

A good intro will draw them in to read more.  Presented in small, well defined pieces of information with headers helps with scanners looking for specific information.  If they see what they want, then they'll land and read. 

And you won't get everyone.

Apr 22, 2017 02:03 AM #26
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, you are so right, if it is well written and worthy of reading, I will read also.   Congrats on the Feature.

Apr 22, 2017 06:44 AM #27
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Likewise with videos... I hate to click on anything over 1 minute unless it's something I'm really interested in.  Therefore I'll keep my videos as short as I can.

Apr 22, 2017 01:19 PM #28
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I have such a short attention span these days and I have no patience for walls of words. The shorter the better in most cases for me. But I do agree with you that I will stick around and read a very long post or article if it's well written and the information is valuable to me.

Apr 22, 2017 01:55 PM #29
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

It's all about the reader's level of interest.  Without that, you have nothing.  Thanks for another great post, Marte!

Apr 23, 2017 08:31 AM #30
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Marte Cliff - this is what I also believe - if the topic demands length, please go ahead with writing a long blog post! People who are interested in the topic would read it for sure.

Apr 23, 2017 09:45 PM #31
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Grab the intention and compile them or lose them in those couple of seconds. Just the way it seems to be

Apr 23, 2017 09:52 PM #32
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

A really important topic is always taken seriously if the writer takes it seriously and get his or her point across. I agree with you, Praful Thakkar

Apr 23, 2017 09:53 PM #33
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

I need to go back and re-read my data on my website.  Or better yet, I should have you look through it and give me a proposal on updating it.

Apr 24, 2017 08:43 AM #34
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