What is that saying? A picture is worth a thousand words?

I write copy for websites – landing page copy optimized for a strong search engine indexing; product page descriptions; blog posts; case histories; white papers; marketing emails; and, more. In essence, I sell words, just like the Billy Crystal character in the movie “City Slickers,” a radio advertising executive, sold air.

In today’s world where instant answers, instant gratification, and instant service, are demanded, though, words take time. Search engine robots eat words, and they must be fed. The words you choose for your website will determine how your website is indexed and for what searches it will be presented as a relevant result. So, for the robots, words must be chosen with care.

Humans also visit websites, and they need to be fed, too. Quickly, succinctly, and impactfully. Tell them what to do, tell them how to do it, and then get out of their way. A strong call to action serves that purpose, but how to present that call is the question. Words? Maybe. Images, videos, or animation? Better.

A well-prepared video, carefully curated images, or product infographics, can present your product or service more quickly and more effectively than words. Engage your website visitor in an informative, entertaining, or amusing way, and they will stay with you. Bombard them just with words, lots of words, and their eyes will glaze over, they’ll lose interest, and they will leave. It’s sad to say this, but you need to have that metaphorical 2×4 handy to hit them in the face to get their attention and hold them.

I don’t necessarily believe the phrase “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public,” but I don’t necessarily not believe it. How else to explain the popularity of reality TV shows?

Slow readers can average between 125 – 200 words per minute. This breaks down to around 2-3 words per second. If you can’t tell your story or describe your product in 30 – 45 words, which would represent 15 seconds, you should consider showing it in video, images, or infographics. This is not to say you should forget words. After all, the robots need to be fed, too.

Marry together the showing and the telling to feed your entire audience. Robots will be happy and know what to store in Google’s database about your story; humans will be happy to learn quickly what you sell; and, the result can be a high ranking on Google, and good sales or good visitorship.

After all, that is the point of the exercise.