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Could Home Page Having More Words Than Inner Pages Cause Rankings Drop
gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 4:55 pm on Feb 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

I added words to the home page of a site in late 2011, and the site saw traffic increases for several months after that. Most of the visitors from Google were arriving to an inner page that has more words than the home page even after the addition of words to the home page.

The site was then affected by Panda in March 2012 and Penguin in April 2012 (the first Penguin, I believe) and my traffic levels since then have not reached the levels that they once were.

I am wondering if the addition of the words to the home page might be the reason for my traffic decreases. After the addition of the words to the home page, 25% more of the pages on the site have less words than the home page. I am thinking that maybe the search engines consider it the “norm” for the inner pages of a site to have more words than the home page, and when a certain percentage of inner pages on a site has fewer words than the home page, it is affected by Google’s algorithms?

Maybe I saw increases for a few months because it took some time for the increase in the home page’s word count to be assessed by Google on a site level, and then compared to the “norm” in the niche? Or maybe this “norm” became a part of Panda and/or Penguin, and I had to wait for them to be run to see the effect of the change that I made?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

 

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 7:58 pm on Feb 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

Maybe I saw increases for a few months because it took some time for the increase in the home page’s word count to be assessed by Google on a site level, and then compared to the “norm” in the niche?

When I say "norm in the niche" here, I don't mean the norm in the niche for the number of words on the home page of a site; I mean the norm for percentage of inner pages on a site that has fewer words than the home page.

MonkFish



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 11:07 am on Feb 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think you have answered your own question. If a page on my site had less content than the homepage then it makes sense that the page does not have enough oomph to be considered a quality page. I do not think it is for this reason though (correlation != causation) but 99% of pages that have little content Google would algorithmically not consider them good enough. I would think about going back through the 25% of pages and seeing if you can improve them in any way.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 6:47 pm on Feb 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

If a page on my site had less content than the homepage then it makes sense that the page does not have enough oomph to be considered a quality page.

So you are saying that for the most part, an inner page should have more words than a home page?

I would think about going back through the 25% of pages and seeing if you can improve them in any way.

The inner pages that have less words than the home page after I added words to the home page, I would say, have good content, something that visitors find helpful. Do you think that there is something in the algorithm that looks at percentage of inner pages that have less words than the home page and if a site exceeds that percentage, it is affected by Google's algorithms? If the percentage is exceeded, is the site seen as having a lot of thin content?

Also, do you think that we should aim to make all inner pages have more words than the home page? Would that be considered the "norm"?

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 7:38 pm on Feb 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

What the algorithm looks at, on both the home page and on inner pages, is specificity.

You don't want your home page to be providing more detail about a product, service, or subject than your inner pages do. That doesn't make sense for the user... and, if you think about it, it doesn't make sense for Google either.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 5:53 pm on Feb 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

You don't want your home page to be providing more detail about a product, service, or subject than your inner pages do.

Robert,

I agree with what you are saying. On the home page, I have some information and an anecdote, things that I would say you would expect to see on a home page, and the inner pages contain more information about the subject than the home page does.

Even though I think the home page has content that you would expect to see on a home page, its word count is higher than about 25% of the pages on the site. I am wondering if this fact is affecting the site. Could Google have some sort of norm for the word counts of a site's pages (probably that inner pages should have more words than a home page), and when a site gets away from that "norm" by a certain percentage, it is affected?

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 9:49 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

I am wondering if the search engines might have some sort of minimum word count for a site, determined by subject matter.

I am working on a site that has been affected by Panda and Penguin, and its word count is less than most of the other sites in the niche. It is informative, and I think that people find it helpful the way that they find larger sites in the niche helpful, but maybe the algorithm has word count as a factor?

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 11:27 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

If your inner pages are specific for the subject, then okay. If your home page is specific for the topic, then okay. Not sure what you're looking for... almost seems like grasping at straws. I have many sites with many inner pages with LESS "words" then the home page and some of those sites were hit by recent (last few years) G algos... but were not affected in B, Y, or any others. So, it's G that's changed the game, my opinion, and there is no hard and fast answer for "less words than the home page".

I'd be more concerned with the actual content offered, the page layout, the number of ads, etc. as the reason for any loss in G. If the "love has been lost" then find a way to become lovable again.

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 12:08 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Inner pages need to be very specific. Your homepage, for example can be a lot broader in terms of content. If you have a site selling widgets, your homepage should be content containing very broad information about widgets in general.

Your deep pages should be very precise in their targeting. Blue widgets, yellow widgets etc. This works well in both directions. A user may use a very broad search term and find your homepage. They can then drill down through your navigation to find the specific pages. A very specific term should lead them right to your deep content pages.

Mack.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 12:19 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the responses.

Do you guys think that there is an expectation for overall word count for a website based on subject?

For example, a website about Subject A should have more than 10,000 words?

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 12:42 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

For example, a website about Subject A should have more than 10,000 words?

Your website should have just as many words as necessary for the subject/product. There's no rule for the number of words.

Obviously a site about dust bunnies might have fewer words than one about nuclear reactors... (most of the time).

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 1:58 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Like tangor said. There is no limit to the number of words. To be honest as long as you are using enough content to get your message across the search engines will be able to analyse this content.

Also, don’t think per site, think per page! it is the pages that rank, not the site.

Mack.

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 2:10 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Also, don’t think per site, think per page! it is the pages that rank, not the site.

How freakin' true... and how freakin' overlooked.

What does the SERP return? A PAGE.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 1:02 pm on Mar 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

I appreciate the responses.

So what I'll do is focus on each page providing good content and not think about if an inner page has more words than the home page.

If an inner page does not need more words than the home page to cover a certain aspect of a subject, then it will have less words, and I should not see that as a reflection of the quality of content on that particular page.

I think this is what you guys are saying.

On websites that you guys work on, do you have instances when a good percentage of inner pages have fewer words than the home page?

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4648326 posted 5:29 pm on Mar 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Nearly every eCommerce site I work on has fewer words on inner pages than the home page. Nature of the beast. On information sites, well, it depends on how granular. Definition sites (think dictionaries) get down to one word and definition a page and those are usually WAY less than the homepage. But if that definition page has the love of SERPs then it will rank quite well.

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