Generating website content can be a tricky task. It needs to be engaging and depending on what the users’ goals are, it should also contribute a means to achieve them. Whilst it may not seem like a hard task, all of this has to be accomplished in a short and succinct manner. This leads to the concept of content density.
What is content density?
Content density refers to the ratio of content on a page in relation to the size of that same page. Pages with higher content density tend to fare better in Search Engine rankings. For example if Page A contains 200 words and is 10Kb in size, it is likely to rank better than Page B which also has 200 words but whose size is 20Kb.
From a usability perspective, website content needs to be clear and to the point. If a page contains a large amount of long paragraphs, it will lose its readers. Most website visitors tend to scan a website’s content looking for the information they want. If they cannot easily locate this information, they will move on.
The Importance of Content Density for SEO
Content density helps with a website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Websites that take care of content density usually contain content that has keywords and is easy to understand. Providing the right keywords and easy-to-read paragraphs helps websites rank higher in search engines. When a search engine robot crawls a site, it is looking for keywords that will help assign it to the right category and give it the right ranking. The better the ranking, the higher it will appear on a search result listing. This gives it a better chance of being found when users perform searches that contain specific keywords.
Websites that have too much content may make it too hard for search engines to crawl, and websites that contain too many keywords (an unethical SEO practice known as Keyword Stuffing) will be considered as offering negative user experience, and get lower search engine rankings. Websites that take too long to load will also receive a lower search engine ranking.
The more Adobe Flash elements, large images and calls to external files a site contains, the longer it takes to load. This also impacts the content density, as search engines also tend to crawl the HTML code and other java elements on the back end of the site.
The Importance of Content Density for Usability
Since the main objective of Search Engines is to provide relevant results to their users, there is quite some overlap between SEO and Usability where content density is concerned. Content that contains the main keywords but in moderate proportions is also good for usability. This is because users can clearly identify if that content appeals to them, in which case, they will continue reading it. Additionally, if a page takes too long to load, then that also negatively affects its usability (apart from its search engine ranking) since users will only wait approximately 8 seconds (±2s) for a web page to load.
In simple words, when users visit your site, they are looking for content. The longer they take to locate and understand that content (because it is such a small proportion of your web page), the less usable your web page is. For more information on how to write content that is good for usability and SEO, please refer to the article entitled “10 Guidelines For Writing Usable And SEO Friendly Content“
Addressing content density
First, examine the content of your web pages in relation to the other elements. Does your site contain pages with too little content? Do your keywords feature appropriately in each page (i.e. not too little and not too much). Does the site contain too much content? By asking these types of questions, you can quickly determine if your content density on your web pages is optimal for usability and SEO
Based on the answers to the above questions, you may need to tweak your content in such a way that it provides your target readers with what they require so as to achieve their goals. At the same time, your content must also contain an optimal amount of keywords in order to be ranked. It is also important to examine how long it takes a page to load. Addressing content density will ultimately contribute towards making your site both usable and SEO friendly – something which ultimately helps in the achievement of your goals and those of your users.