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Should I combine smaller articles into 1 larger article?



10:14 am on Apr 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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My site, although primarily eCommerce also has a 'free advice' section. This has around 100 articles offering advice in my niche.

Would I be better for SEO purposes to combine smaller articles into larger ones? As an example, I have one article on 'what makes a good xxxxx' and then another entitled 'common xxxxx mistakes' - should I keep them separate or make them into one much large article?


12:05 am on Apr 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

How many words are in each article?


2:09 am on Apr 30, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Keep in mind the attention span of your visitors!

Articles/info usually likes to be 500-1,000 words

Subjects such as "Breeding Widgets", "Care and Feeding of Widgets", "Grooming Widgets for best show", "How to barbecue Widgets", etc. might be collected to a 3,000-10,000 word page.

Anything less than 500 words tends to be a description, definition, or a term... thus should be collected into a larger page presentation where quick scrolling, search, and (best method) alphabetized will serve the user more rapidly.

Write for your visitors first, not Google (seo), then apply good technique to make sure you're not OVER optimized for keywords, etc.

One of my sites has several hundred "pages" which are actually novel size (110,000-265.000 words). Users don't seem to mind, and those which were originally broken out in "chapters" per page fared less favorable than the single "novels".


11:27 am on May 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The longer an article the better it should be readable, i.e., it needs structured text (pics, heading, boldings ect.).

You should also read about Google's in-depth articles:

Robert Charlton

7:25 am on May 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

I've been wanting to get back to this discussion, as I'm seeing that it may be making some members believe that simply making an article 3,000 words long may suffice for it to rank or even be treated as an "in-depth article"... and I feel compelled to say that, IMO, that's an overly simplified view. I also doubt it's likely that we're going to see many articles on ecommerce sites promoted to in-depth status, but there are some examples of long and thorough ecommerce articles, not officially called "in depth", that rank very well, and I'll discuss them at the end of this post.

"In-depth articles" in Google serps...

The articles that I've seen which Google classifies as "In-depth articles" in the regular serps usually originate in extremely well-known publications... The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Washington Post, BBC, etc. They are for broad searches... one or two words... and even on the several I've seen about products, they seem to occupy a different mind-space from typical ecommerce articles. Often they're subjects of world import.

All that I've seen that are specifically called "In-depth articles" are at the bottom of the search page, generally in positions 8, 9, and 10, lower than where you'd like an ecommerce article to rank.

They're also written by widely acknowledged experts in the field. It's worth noting that back in March, Barry Schwartz reported in Search Engine Roundtable that Matt Cutts had tweeted to confirm that "Google uses a form of author rank or author specific authority in the in-depth articles ranking formula"....

Google's Cutts Confirmed That Author Authority Is Used For In-Depth Articles
Barry Schwartz - Mar 13, 2014

I don't think the above has previously gotten mentioned here.

Regarding length... I doubt there's any one-size fits all formula. Keep in mind the expectations of the reader you expect to engage with the material. I've always felt that certain topics simply demanded longer articles, and anything much less was simply fluff. There's also a certain kind of "gravitas" that a longer article conveys... but your writing and content need to sustain that... and the subject needs to have an audience willing to spend the time absorbing it.

It's also often the case that extremely long articles can be helped by being split up into segments... providing more exposure to sections, particularly if titles are adjusted to describe the subtopics. The article breaks can provide manageable equivalents of "chapters" for online reading.

In our discussion about in-depth articles in this thread, topics like length, audience, markup, etc, were touched upon....

In-Depth Articles - Only for Brands and Google ? Or for Everyone?
Aug 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4599873.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I'd say the most common format I found was the 8,000 word article that was broken into roughly five 1,600 word pages. In general, segments of between 1,000 to 1,600 words were typical. That said, I've come across at least one news article of c350 words that was classified in the news results as in-depth, a classification I felt was not very accurate... but perhaps at the time it was the deepest thing around.

In-depth ecommerce...

I have a favorite site that features what I consider extremely thorough product reviews which generally run between 10 to 20 pages, broken into well-defined and extremely clear segments. It's an affiliate site... and, typically, its reviews get top rankings. I've never counted the words... that's not the point. The content is comprehensive and completely absorbing, so much so that many people in the field follow the reviews even if they're not planning to buy the particular product. They follow the site just to follow the state of the art in the field.

I think that the architecture and thoroughness of the articles is certainly more important than the word count, and the quality of the information directly contributes to the reputation of the site. The reviews are also well illustrated, and the articles are also extremely well-edited.

This particular site is not an easy type of site to generate on a low budget, but I think its approach can be emulated in some areas by those who put in the effort.

Worth noting that many sites that got hit by Panda had knowledgeable material, but the writing was simply not good. The material wasn't well-organized or well-edited, and was often repetitious... and the articles in effect were too long.

I'm curious to see whether some of these will come back with the latest update, or whether further editing will be necessary.


7:41 am on May 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, Robert - great post!


11:38 pm on May 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I remember John Müller from Google saying about in-depth-articles that there is
- no certain minimum of words
- no limitation to certain topics
- a chance for everyone

Btw, in-depth-articles only exist in the US and GB at the moment. It is unsure if and when Google will introduce them worldwide.

Robert Charlton

7:37 pm on May 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

deeper - thanks for sharing the John Müller information. His three points may be ideally how they envision it, but I suspect that they may take a while to evolve....

no certain minimum of words
As I mentioned above, I have seen a 350-word "in depth" news article. In depth articles in organic search have tended to be a lot longer... though I should note that when I've clicked on the "more in depth articles" at the bottom of the page, some of the additional articles returned are shorter and by less prominent authors.

no limitation to certain topics
Currently, at least in organic search, I'm only seeing in depth articles returned for broad, general queries. You may get in depth treatment of "widgets", but probably never for "green widgets"... though an in depth widget article might discuss red, blue, and green widgets, as well as big and small ones.

a chance for everyone
Chances are that you'll first need to become recognized in a field that's somewhat related to the topic of the article. I'd say this is analogous to the Google engineering idea of a "brand", and is probably easier to do in a niche. Google would look for a range of signals that might suggest author authority... which I see as analogous to some of the signals that might confer brand authority. The idea of the author as an identifiable entity is part of this.

Reputation signals are probably recursive to the extent that some of the recognition which a specific article receives could raise the 'author authority' of the writer... and that could affect whether the article is seen as "in depth".

You made an excellent point in an earlier post, btw... that longer articles need to be structured and formatted well. Readability is definitely an important consideration.


10:41 pm on May 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your valuable thoughts.

Certain topics:
May be Google doesn't see any need for green widget-"dephts", if there is already a widget article covering also the green ones. Would make sense. So be the early bird?

A chance for everyone:
I suppose the most important thing will be the quality of the article. Google always cares about the user... Therefore, on principle and in theory, I believe in good chances for amateur authors. Actually however big brands like the NYT surely have some advantages; they know how to write good articles, they have big archives of fantastic pics, have big resources (money, staff, equipment, experts for many topice) and may even have an authority bonus. "Authorities" are a fact, there may be an equivalent especially for articles.

Ultimatelely, I guess, it will be similar to the normal ranking. All are equal and have a chance, but some are "more equal"... (not sure if correctly translated).

Matt Cutts and John Mueller both confirmed that authorship plays a role, but as far as I know they were not talking about a "author authority".

I will give it a try after choosing wisely one my niches, but at the moment in-depth-articles don't exist in Germany.


5:18 am on May 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I will give it a try after choosing wisely one my niches, but at the moment in-depth-articles don't exist in Germany.

My German, at best, is "high school" learned in a US State where Spanish is usually the "second language" taught. German was the science and history... and to say there are no "in-depth" articles in German on the web is a rather unusual statement.

In depth does not mean "long" or "big".

Es ist nicht wie groß, es ist wie genau!


11:55 am on May 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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In some US States you can choose to learn German? Surprised to hear this. So some of you know more than just "Oktoberfest", :)

The official "in-depth-articles" of Google, with special highlightning in the Serps, don't exist in German Serps at the moment. That's what I tried to say.

"in-depth" means "tiefgehend" and this means "in more detail, thoroughly", but usually you can't separate this from being "long and big", right? You won't succeed in writing an in-depth-article about white hat linkbuiling in just 10 sentences.

Not alone big and long but also big and long.


6:14 pm on May 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

Dear all,

This is not directly linked to the initial question, but as I see some discussants who have looked at in-depths articles before, I thought it's better to join this topoc than to start a new one.

I am wondering if I should recommend a research center client to mark-up their articles following schema.org guidelines in order to increase the chances to get their articles indexed as "in-depth articles".

My research on the topic leads almost exclusively to articles from August 2013 when the in-depth article feature was launched. Now I have a hard time simply finding such search results. Even for the search term "censorship" that was always used last summer to illustrate the concept, the in-depth articles appear at the end of the SERPs and without any images.

I haven't succeeded to generate a single in-depth article in French.

I read in this thread that in-depth articles are only available in the US and UK, but is there an online source to look this up? At the time of writing, Google's webmaster help article on the topic
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/3280182 [support.google.com]
still exists in French and German for example without any mention that this isn't available in these languages.

Hence, I'm wondering if Google is still pushing this feature or if it's more or less an abandoned project.

What do you think? Any John Müller quotes or other online sources are very welcome.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 11:02 pm (utc) on May 26, 2014]
[edit reason] Made URL clickable [/edit]


10:44 pm on May 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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JM said, Google intends to introduce it worldwide, but at the moment - as far as he knows - it is not certain, if and when this will be done.

Btw, I have to correct my statement about "author authority", MC actually talked about author authority:

Robert Charlton

11:42 pm on May 26, 2014 (gmt 0)

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

seidelbast - Officially labeled "In depth" results only occur on very broad searches, and though Google initially suggested they might rank up at top, I've only see them, from the time of the launch in Aug 2013, occupy the last few results... as I'd noted above.

To check for languages supported... you might try searching for something like "world hunger", "censorship" (as you noted), or "climate change", as well as other broad topics of world import in your local language on your local Google and see what comes up. I don't want to mention the one product search I've seen for in-depth results. It was a single word. The Matt Cutts comment on author authority which I'd also noted above, was in March 2014, so in-depth hadn't been abandoned at that point.

I should add, btw, that I don't believe, as some have speculated, that Google has abandoned "author rank" or "author authority". Google is simply relying on other signals, as it has with rich snippets, to confirm author markup... and it's just not relying simply on markup to establish trust and authority or to identify "entities".


3:06 pm on May 29, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The thread below mentions the NY Times and the ?pagewanted=all query string.

The New York Times returns an entire article instead of a partial article when it receives this query string.

Since Feb. 2011, Googlebot has been randomly tacking this string on to queries to my sites. I have verified that these requests come from legitimate Google IP addresses. As mentioned in the thread above I don't think there are inbound links to my sites with this query string. The requests for various pages are just too random.

Thought this might be a useful tidbit of information regarding pagination.
You may want to emulate the Times.

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