Web Copy ? How Much is Enough?

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These days, there's widespread acceptance that a website is an integral part of the marketing plan of any business. Likewise, it's commonly accepted that web copy is a vital component of any website. But how much web copy is enough?

The pure volume of information available on the Internet is daunting ? often counterproductive. There are approximately 550 billion documents on the web, and every day another 7 million are added. According to an A.T. Kearney, Network Publishing study (April 2001), workers take so long trying to find information that it costs organizations $750 billion annually!

Yet people continue to use it. Information gathering is the most common use of the Internet (American Express survey, 2000). And it seems work-related searches are amongst the most common, with 48% of people using the Internet to find work-related information, as opposed to 7% who use magazines (Lyra Research, 2001).

Interestingly, however, the average person visits no more than 19 websites in the entire month in order to avoid information overload (Nielsen NetRatings in Jan 2001).

So how do you ensure your site is one of those 19? How do you make your content helpful without making it overwhelming? That's what this article is about?

I've written several articles on WHAT to write on your website in order to make it helpful. (See,, and But that's only half the battle? Businesses also need to know HOW MUCH to write. Here are 5 quick rules of thumb to help you decide how much is enough.

1) Know your audience (Reader or Search Engine?)

Think about whether you're targeting human readers (potential customers) or search engines. This must always be one of your very first questions, as the answer will determine your approach to content.

In general, human readers think less is more. Search engines, on the other hand, think more is more (well, more or less?). In many ways, it comes down to a question of quality versus quantity. Human readers are interested in quality, whereas search engines are interested quantity. Human readers want you to answer their questions and make it clear how you can benefit them. And they don't want to wade through volumes of text. Search engines want a high word count, full of relevant keywords, and short on diagrams. (See for more information on writing for search engines. See

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