Rich Owings

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I'm usually battling too little home page text, but I've got a prospect who may have the opposite problem. They are a managed IT services provider.

The word count is 2277. The home page starts off with a slider (of course!), then a section on six services with a short paragraph about each, then a similar section about six types of industries they serve. Not too bad so far.

But then we get seven lengthy bios with pictures of each manager, another slider focusing on their history, a section of blog excerpts, a current open positions section, an awards section, and a contact form no one has ever seen because no one is going to scroll that far!

It looks to me like it *may* have been a single page site, and then they started added internal pages. Amazingly enough the load time isn't that bad.

They rank well enough for some terms, but not IT security, even though it is one of the six services mentioned.

Is it possible Google is devaluing some text because of the sheer volume of text on the page? Has anyone ever come across a similar situation?
 

djbaxter

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But then we get seven lengthy bios with pictures of each manager, another slider focusing on their history, a section of blog excerpts, a current open positions section, an awards section, and a contact form no one has ever seen because no one is going to scroll that far!
First, there is a limit to how much text (including html, etc.) googlebot will crawl before it stops crawling a single page. I think today that limit is quite generous compared to say 10 years ago but it isn't infinite.

Second, you are diluting potential search terms on the page with other content containing it's own (different) search terms. This is going to make it more difficult for Google to decide what the page is about - and it may be something different than the owners would like.

Recommendation: Split the quoted portion above into 4-6 new pages: Bios on a separate page, contact page on it's own separate page, blog page separate, history and awards separate (could be 2 pages), and current open positions separate..

This will also help visitors to the site, especially on mobile. Keep the information to easily digestible bites. Don't heap the plate like it's Thanksgiving. :)
 

Phil Rozek

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@Rich Owings, no. Hell no. There's no such thing as too long; only too boring.

Also, in my experience, the homepage has the greatest shot at ranking for a wide variety of search terms, often in the most cities/towns. (I can only speculate as to why.) Subpages: not so much. Having plenty of in-depth info on services, on "success stories," USP / "why choose us"-type info, and maybe even FAQs is the way to go. It's served my most-successful clients well, at least.

It sounds like the problem here is less the text on the homepage and more what's between the text. Nobody clicks on sliders, and they slow down load-time, so I'd get rid of those. Likewise for many of the other bells and whistles you mentioned (e.g. the blog post previews).
 

JoshuaMackens

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That wouldn't be my first concern. I don't think there's such a thing as too much homepage text as long as it's relevant. And all of that sounds relevant.

Just make sure the keywords are where they should be and I think you're fine.

I'd remove any text you find unnecessary to a user that lands on the homepage but beyond that I think you're good.
 

djbaxter

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I'm suprised no one else seems to be concerned about these two points:

you are diluting potential search terms on the page with other content containing it's own (different) search terms. This is going to make it more difficult for Google to decide what the page is about - and it may be something different than the owners would like.
and
This will also help visitors to the site, especially on mobile. Keep the information to easily digestible bites. Don't heap the plate like it's Thanksgiving. :)
 

Phil Rozek

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I'm suprised no one else seems to be concerned about these two points:

@djbaxter, for what it's worth, I agree that it's good to avoid creating content so long it becomes a sand traps for mobile users. In general, though, I'd keep the bites small by breaking them up with other scenery (e.g. photos), rather than by keeping the whole page brief.

As long as a clear call-to-action is at the very top of the heap, at least the quick-action people (often on mobile) don't have to read everything. The in-depth content is for the undecided people and the read-every-word engineer kind.

Guess it all depends on the specific page, though.
 

JoshuaMackens

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I'm suprised no one else seems to be concerned about these two points:

I'm not hung up on keyword density anymore. I'm not sure how much of a factor that really is. I think it's likely Google has a better way now to determine the relevance of a page to a keyword search.

True on mobile. I'd probably shorten it to what is necessary and remove what detracts and then rely on backlinks and other offpage signals to make up the difference in ranking loss due to content length (if that is a thing).
 

djbaxter

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I'm not talking about keyword density per se. I've never paid much attention to that, not even back in the 90s - it's always been a bogus metric.

I'm talking about a very long page that tries to cover several different topics:

The home page starts off with a slider (of course!), then a section on six services with a short paragraph about each, then a similar section about six types of industries they serve. Not too bad so far.

But then we get seven lengthy bios with pictures of each manager, another slider focusing on their history, a section of blog excerpts, a current open positions section, an awards section, and a contact form no one has ever seen because no one is going to scroll that far!

For me, that leads to the question what is the main topic of that page? There isn't one. There are a few. So how is Google going to categorize that and decide what the page is mainly about? It may not be the same as you intended it to be or hoped it would be.

And the issue of the visitor / potential client, especially on mobile. That's a lot of information to download in a browser and try to absorb or find the specific information you're seeking. In the world of smart phones you only have a few seconds to capture and keep a visitor. Why make it difficult to do that?
 

Rich Owings

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Thanks everyone, for all the input. I'll likely recommend moving the bios and history section to interior pages, which hopefully will improve home page UX and conversions. If they are reluctant, I may put Crazy Egg or something along those lines on it for awhile, to show them what is happening.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Thanks everyone, for all the input. I'll likely recommend moving the bios and history section to interior pages, which hopefully will improve home page UX and conversions. If they are reluctant, I may put Crazy Egg or something along those lines on it for awhile, to show them what is happening.

Hey Rich, if it's a YMYL website I wouldn't move the bios or history. Maybe shorten them and link to the full content on another page. Unless I've misunderstood something from Marie Haynes, it's important to have that information on the homepage in some capacity.
 

Rich Owings

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@JoshuaMackens It is an IT services firm, but what you said is interesting. I've got a few clients with YMYL sites, and while they've got some EAT signals on their homepage, maybe they could use more. I've focused a lot of attention on author authority for significant landing pages, but you've given me some ideas about home page improvements too. Thanks!
 
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Before touching the content I would delve into Google Search Console. After all, you may find that you're gaining valuable traffic through keywords that you (nor the client) were aware of.

You will then likely have a list of keywords which you don't want to loose rankings for (dependent upon search volume, relevancy etc.) Begin tracking these as well as the new keyword(s) you want to target.

I would then begin making small changes to the text. As others have highlighted the density of your target keyword(s) is not as important as it once was, but is still a factor. Also consider which associated keywords you are using, as Google seemingly groups keywords together.

As you make these changes you can analyse the impact on each keyword. Although, don't have too many keywords otherwise you'll make little progress. I would typically recommend having no more than 3 keywords per page, but it is always great to have fewer.
 
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The word count is 2277. The home page starts off with a slider (of course!), then a section on six services with a short paragraph about each, then a similar section about six types of industries they serve. Not too bad so far.

The previous comment about the page load slowdown from the web slider and the fact that no one ever clicks it was accurate. This sounds like what the client thinks their website should look like, vs what their internet marketer thinks it should look like. Bios on the the Home Page? Ridiculous. Show the various personalities featured in the Bio section the number of per month searches and CPC for their names.

If they want to mention 6 different services, fine. Someone who's actually looking for one (or more) of those services will click a button. Put all that stuff on a secondary page. You can optimize that page independently from the home page, and that juice will feed to and support the home page, assuming we're talking about organic page rank. In short (and in general) a secondary page can be an "internal backlink" to the home page. So under this theory, Rich Owings opinion on "dilution" is correct, IMO. If it doesn't have a business reason (meaning marketing to customers), it doesn't belong on the Home Page. I'll just disclaim myself here. I did a lot of research years ago and learned and knew about LSEO, but my knowledge is dated and my experience is limited. But the basics are always the basics. Plus, if you deconstruct the Home Page, Google Analytics (if it's still around) will show you where people go on the site, i.e. from what page do they start (usually Home, but not always) and from there do they A) Bounce B) go to another internal page. It's amazing sometimes when you compare what either you, or the client, think of as "important" to what the traffic is actually doing.
 

Srinath

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Late to the party. I know a couple of experienced folks had mentioned that Keyword density does not matter on the home page. My experience has been to the contrary. Two sites which were doing well tanked when we over-optimized the page. One went to page 2 on SERP and recovered as soon as we reverted back and the other went a long way back and we are in the process of recovering that as well.
 

Martinus33

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Interesting thread which recalls my own favor for long homepages, but - if I may contribute my 2 cents - 2277 words is IMHO really too much, by far:

- task of a homepage is to provide an overview and work as a "teaser"
- therefore you can mention a lot of important aspects of your site, but only short and then more comprehensive on all the pages, which are linked on the homepage
- a homepage should rank for its own proper KWs, usually the more generic ones, valid for the whole site, plus some longtail variations
- user experience is key, not because of bounce rate as SEO signal, which btw has been denied several times by Google (Gary I. and John M.), but because of the pure fact, that any bouncing user is a lost client
 

Srinath

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From a UX perspective, reviewing a lot of Hotjar videos, user interest wanes or peters out as he/she nears the lower portions of the page and scrolling on mobile. Getting the best material in the top segments is what I aim to achieve.
 
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