Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Advantages of a Text-Heavy Website

After writing about SEO for images last week, we can't help but return to our favored form of content: text. Of course, a great website should contain a mix of content, both images and text. In reality, though, search engines continue to favor text-heavy sites above all others.

The advantages of a text-heavy site are clear.

Load Time - Page Speed

First, in the absence of bulky images, a text-heavy site will load quickly. The SEO world knows from experience that search engines favor sites with simple codes and speedy load times. Google has even developed a tool, PageSpeed, that helps webmasters "identify ways to make your site faster..."

Although load time (or page speed, to use Google-talk) is only one of 90 ranking factors, it tends to receive a lot of attention from SEO specialists. The reasoning is simple: page speed not only effects your page ranking; it influences your browser's perceptions of your site.

As KISSmetrics reported several years ago: 47% of all browsers expect a page to load in two seconds or less. No doubt, in the age of mobile SEO, this number has increased.

Stripping your site of all the unnecessary frills, like excessive images (or worse, Flash), can dramatically improve your load time. If you do use images, of course, make sure you optimize each image for SEO. In the end, though, for browsers and search engines alike, the appeal of a text-heavy is clear. Text is clean, simple, and fast.

As soon as a browser clicks on your site, you're on the watch--for two seconds or less! A text-heavy site can help you reduce your load times.

Voice Search Compatibility

As the value of keyword-based optimization diminished, search engines continued to prefer "long-tail keywords," three or four word phrases that more accurately specify the nature of a certain search. In the distant past, a browser looking for a grey sweatshirt might have typed "grey sweatshirt." Over time, however, most savvy browsers learned to be more specific: "slim-fit grey sweatshirt," for example.

Today, however, voice search is changing SEO. A voice-based search has a different goal than a traditional search. Instead of "browsing," per say, most voice searches attempt ask a question or state a problem. Instead of revealing sites based on keywords, then, today's search engines attempt to answer questions and solve problems.

This is most easily seen in Google's semantic search, introduced at the time of the Hummingbird algorithm, which analyzes the spoken word to attempt to discover the intent behind any given search.

Naturally, a text-heavy site will be more likely to meet the demands of voice search. An image will not necessarily answer a question or solve a problem. The key, of course, is to make sure your text counts. When thinking about your content, try to answer your ideal customer's questions; try to solve a crucial problem.

Answers. Solutions. This is why your built a business in the first place, right?

Mobile Compatibility 

A text-heavy site will also be easily compatible on all devices: a desktop, tablet, and of course, mobile phone. We've reported exhaustively on the necessity of optimizing for mobile. Today we can safely say: of all possible search venues, mobile is the most important.

Since 2014, we know, mobile search has exceeded desktop search. As we wrote earlier this year (on the eve of Mobilegeddon):

"Mobile's ascendancy is likely due to its convenience, a fact that can be observed on any pedestrian street, and, unsettlingly, on any highway in America. One only needs to glance aside to see another person looking down to his or her phone."

If convenience is the name, you want to make sure your playing the right game: simply put, a text-heavy site will be much easier to read on a mobile device.

Read: "9 Things You Need to Know About Google's Mobile-Friendly Update"

Or: "Google is Making "Mobile-Friendliness" a Ranking Signal: Are You Optimized?"


Of course, we're not advocating a total disavowal of images (and other forms of content). Even text itself can be made to look like an "image." Today's programming languages are so sophisticated that a knowledgeable web developer can transform text to look like an image with simple CSS styling rules.

But it is important to remember that most browsers are looking for text-based information, and the clean presentation of text is often the quickest path to a high page ranking.

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Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

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