The most effective brand websites utilize a dynamic blend of text copy, graphic images, and videos. All three of these webpage layout elements offer discoverability, UX, and virality advantages for your SEO. Each also has drawbacks that businesses should consider.
When to Use Copy
Is an image really worth a thousand words? Sometimes! But if you make your words count, you’ll be glad for the copy on your site.
Blogs are a good example of where website copy is helpful. Blog content backs up what a website says, offers examples, and augments the rest of your content. It also makes you an industry leader. Blogs are a way of safely categorizing content that might otherwise be deemed “extra” or supplementary.
Product descriptions are another area where copy can be beneficial. Well-written copy can explain and describe in ways that images and videos often cannot.
H2 and H3 headlines on page layouts are opportunities for copy to shine and stand out on a page.
Gated content — content that’s accessible only after a user fills out a form, for example — is another area where the promise of copy (i.e., information) can tempt a user to spend more time on your website. This isn’t likely to benefit SEO since the copy is gated, but it will drive KPIs.
Benefits of Copy
The most obvious benefit of copy is SEO; after all, text is what’s used to categorize, index, and rank pages. Using exact phrases and keywords will rank your pages and website higher in search engine result pages than using specific images or videos.
Drawbacks of Copy
Copy enthusiasts would do well to learn when too much of a good thing is just that — too much. No one wants to read book-length text from a computer screen or a smartphone.
Copy also can present another challenge, and that is that, very often, it must be written to match a brand or corporate voice. This constraint can mean that copy takes longer to be written and approved and may be diluted or sterilized when it finally gets added to a page.
When to Use Graphics and Images
The Web was designed from the very beginning to integrate images with text in a webpage layout. Frpm its earliest days, the value of its images could not be overstated.
Images were useful for explaining how something worked or clarifying various data points (these images are often called infographics). Data visualization is important for charts, graphs, and other visuals. Images can be used to show pictures of a product in real life — either being showcased or captured while in use.
Benefits of Graphics and Images
Because images are a core component of the web and its HTML underpinnings, so they can be easily saved, stored, and shared among millions (or even billions) of people. Social media has made it easy to “tag” people and link them to photos and photosets.
Images increase the “skim-ability” of content, so viewers can quickly find what they’re looking for, remember where they were on a page, and mentally digest and assign meaning to content.
Indeed, images are so fundamental to content that Google created an image search tool to rival its core text search tool. Google Image Search allows people to search the web for an exact match of an image or an approximation.
Drawbacks of Images
A drawback of using images is that it’s often more difficult to maintain a cohesive style or format for content if you have many images to integrate. Just making sure their sizes match, the styles of each image (whether they’re lit the same way or shot with the same background if they’re photos) are comparable, and whether they’ll work with all the other elements on your pages can be difficult.
There are some visitors to your web pages who may not be capable of seeing the images you’re presenting (or at least seeing them the way you do); you need to consider visually impaired and colorblind users when planning your content.
A third drawback with images is their loading time. Weighing down a page with too many images can make it too “heavy” to load on mobile devices or even on a computer if you haven’t optimized and resized your images.
When to Use Videos
For tutorials, videos have become the perfect medium for running through all the steps in using or assembling a product. Complex concepts and instructions can be explained, and “step-by-step” videos are common.
Companies and individuals can demonstrate how products and services function and consumers can rapidly comprehend what previously might have been confusing or convoluted.
Videos can also be utilized for testimonials. It’s now easy for a person to capture themselves offering a testimonial of a product or service using their smartphone camera.
Benefits of Video
The sheer spectacle of video on a webpage layout makes it immensely appealing to use within the content.
The ease of adding videos to websites makes great “understanding gaps” bridgeable. To a great extent, the power of the moving image has been democratized by digital video.
With testimonials, “social proof” of products and services — which previously might have had to be a television commercial or a promotional film — is now even easier to demonstrate.
But perhaps best of all, with branded video, the visibility and goodwill of a brand or company can be quantified (as a key performance indicator, or KPI) by analyzing the number of “views,” “likes,” and “shares” a video clip receives.
Most importantly, videos have become essential to SEO. The words said in a video are transposed to appear in search results, especially on Google, which owns YouTube. This content is often used to populate answers for Google Home and Amazon Echo devices.
Drawbacks of Video
Indeed, video has perhaps the greatest potential to transform how content is made and delivered — but it, too, has drawbacks.
The first of these is cost. Lighting, sound, production design, and editing all need to be considered.
As with images, the file size and/or bandwidth of videos has to be taken into account as these will affect how fast (or even whether) a website can load.
Although it can be tempting to add video in lots of places, an excess of it can become distracting or even annoying for a viewer. Videos that pop up and start playing without the user engaging with them can be disconcerting and take away from the experience of digesting content. Having to stop a video from playing (to simply keep the soundtrack from continuing) is a modern conundrum of using the web and can be one of the biggest reasons not to explore content further.
Finding the Perfect Webpage Layout
Website copy, graphics, and video all have their place on a webpage layout. Talented website designers, art directors, and creative directors are skilled at integrating and balancing these elements so they all work in harmony rather than conflict. Effectively planning your content from the beginning will allow you to use these elements constructively and to your best advantage. If you need to hire an outside agency or talent to enable this, this can often be worthwhile.