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Words Matter: 11 Reasons Effective Websites Pay Attention to Text

One big reason blogging endures: words matter. Before you commit developer time to that next widget or hatch a scheme for injecting your company’s node into your prospect’s social graph, consider the power of text.

Here are 11 reasons why text rocks and why its mastery continues to be key to marketing and building an effective site.

  1. Text gets noticed. Check out the eyetracking data: Text attracts attention before graphics. Formatting matters, and long blocks of text are ignored, but even with stiff competition, the written word draws the human eye.
  2. Text is light. The next 1000 words you add to your website will likely weigh a thousand times less than the next picture. Even with high-speed connections, we grow impatient waiting for fat pages to load.
  3. Text is fast. At the 11th hour, which one would you rather change? Your headline, your layout, or your lead image? Words are written quickly, revised quickly and read quickly.
  4. These words will outlast Cher and cockroaches

  5. Text is eternal (or has a really long shelf-life). These words will outlast Cher and the cockroaches. Flat ASCII text from the earliest days of the Internet is still perfectly readable and will be 1000 years from now. Look at a catalog from 1987. Chances are the haircuts look funny but the headlines still ring true.
  6. Text is searchable. Search engine spiders look for words, properly formatted. So do the humans who buy your products.
  7. Text is a conversation. Your customer types words into your site search box. You read each one of these, and craft the words you send back in response—or place on the page in anticipation.
  8. Text sells. Google Earth is mind-alteringly cool. And it’s one of many wonders made possible by the success of those tiny little text ads that make money for Google and the people who buy them.
  9. Headline Test

  10. Text is testable. Multivariate testing can raise your site conversion rate. Headlines are among the easiest – and most effective elements – to test.
  11. Text scales. Short copy sells. Long copy sells. Layered copy sells. In the hands of a skilled writer, text can expand and contract, catering to your customer’s level of engagement and your product’s price point.
  12. Text is malleable. Bigger. Smaller. Redder. Bolder. CSS lets the words on your website change clothes. Fast.
  13. Text is personal. You experience this sentence differently when it starts with the word you.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Words Matter: 11 Reasons Effective Websites Pay Attention to Text”
  1. Excellent article. You’re right on. I think this is also why it’s so important to add alternative text to every image you use on a website. Not only does it make your site accessible, it makes it more searchable and, therefore, more successful.

  2. Larry Becker says:

    Thanks for the comment, Matt. Yep, alt text for images still matters, and with the rise of Google Image search, *naming* images in a way that conveys their content is important as well.

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