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300 word news pieces, are they any good?

     
3:31 pm on Jul 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I want some feedback on what is the correct size of a short news piece on new products for example on our site. I read we should be looking at 500 to 2000 words but that is just not possible with this style of news in my opinion. There is just not that much to write about.

Personally, I quite like a quick hit of information and we generate reasonable amounts of traffic however my problem with it is the site metrics are quite poor on these style pages and i am trying to make ever page work better. So what is the correct answer?

We do like to get fresh news out 2 or 3 times a day to our client base but we do seem to suffer with panda updates so we are trying everything to improve our site metrics. So not sure the correct path.

Thoughts people. :)
4:28 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't know that its a size issue so much as a usefulness. If you are breaking news and attracting links from your news coverage, I don't think it matters if its 50 words or 2000. Google should generally see that as valuable content. The problem comes when you are reporting on news that 20-50 other sites are also reporting on. That content doesn't stand out from the rest of the noise. It may be great for your users, but not great for the internet as a whole. I'd either noindex those articles so your users have the benefit of them and you can share them with your social networks or try to come at the news from a unique angle -- maybe doing a commentary type piece instead. If you want to go longform (800+) that can work as well, but you'd need to add a lot of additional information to the conversation.

I've done a survey of sites that I visit and those publishing these 300 words news pieces (even authoritative ones) seem to be taking traffic hits courtesy of Panda. Unfortunately, I don't see that changing anytime soon.
4:45 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Interesting, i find it hard to believe its come to this. I can no longer produce what i think is best for my visitors for the fear of Panda related penalties. The no index thing is not a bad idea but it will not help me with my biggest concern which is the site metrics. Which is probably Panda related, I know visitors are having a quick read and disappearing. So time on page is very poor compared to the rest of the site. So i either knock it all on the head or make massive article pieces that no one is going to read. I must be missing something.
5:31 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you are writing honest articles you aren't even thinking about character count. Why must everyone be obsessed with a number of words. Write good content with as many words as needed. Sometimes 200, sometimes 2000. Otherwise it's obvious you are trying to game the system by writing lots of crappy content.
6:00 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Don't write more than you have to say. Product descriptions are hard; I have a client who sells something close to office supplies - try finding 300 words to write about paper.

For those ecommerce clients, I try to focus on user experience more than product descriptions. Make sure the site architecture is good, the navigation clear, and the user can get where he needs to go in as few clicks as possible. Offer tools or assists to help her choose the correct product, and make sure they know everything we offer that Amazon doesn't.

In other words - be *useful*
7:32 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"We do like to get fresh news out 2 or 3 times a day to our client base but we do seem to suffer with panda updates so we are trying everything to improve our site metrics. So not sure the correct path."


Just my two cents: Write the best article you can that is geared toward YOUR CLIENT BASE.

If YOUR CLIENTS expect short, "just the facts" pieces, then write those types of pieces and make it clear to people BEFORE they click through to your site that they will find those types of pieces on your site.

Again, just my opinion.
9:21 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I must admit, this is something that has me worried too. Most of my articles are over 500 words long, but sometimes you're just giving a short answer "what's the capital of England" for example. I then worry that giving a short answer is going to result in a "thin content" penalty from Google.

It's not about gaming the system, it's about being terrified of the wrath of Google.
10:12 pm on July 1, 2014 (gmt 0)

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While one should write for their users, and one would like to be seen in the serps and get traffic, one needs also recognize that a zillion others are doing the same thing and if all your traffic comes from one source (instead of many) and they change what they show... well, traffic will drop and in the chase to get it back you might be tempted to write for the search engine instead of your users. And that might be the kiss of death.

Your article or description should be just as long as it needs to be.
7:38 pm on July 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Union_Jack sent me via sticky the url so I could comment more accurately. I can. That niche is so packed with competition it will take more than bells and whistles, sparkly lights and nuklear thunder to stand out. Whew!

That said, however, the content is spot on, accurate, exactly as it should be for that product, and was well displayed in a very functional page. You're doing everything right. You're just bang head up against not only others, but the big brands, too.

Not really sure what to suggest as I suspect that margins are already thin, and overseas shipping (if you entertain international sales) could be problematic.
10:22 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the feedback... we do try our best. I think i am going to leave the news for now. I need to get rid of all the duplicate manufactures content off the site and if we still get hit by Panda a rethink on the news might be in order.

We get in Google news so it can't be all that bad....

Just keep plugging away like the rest of us. Trying to find the correct answer. :)
10:35 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Trying to find the correct answer.


Unfortunately sometimes there is not one, it sounds like you're a little fish in a big pond, would that be a fair description?

If so then you need to find an "angle" rather than a complete answer, good luck.
11:28 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I would not say a 'Little Fish' i think we are a top 5 site in our field. We do 200k a month in visitors. The correct answer is trying find the reason Panda does not like us. We dont get walloped but its just annoying when you drop across the board a handful of places. I will report back if i get to the bottom of it
2:32 pm on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I hope you don't mind if I add just a little more insight into the situation, as Union Jack was kind enough to send a link to me.

His site has two sections: a news section that announces the (upcoming) release of widgets, and an ecommerce site that sells those widgets.

So a product such as:

Nebraska Blue Widget

Might appear twice on his site: First as a news article, and later as a product that can be purchased off his site.

(Maybe the news article and the ecommerce page appear at the same time.)

My opinion is that Panda would PREFER to see JUST ONE PAGE relating to the Nebraska Blue Widgets instead of two pages (one news, one ecommerce).

One thought is if they want to rank for the news, but won't have the product ready to sell for a while, they could write the news article and when they do have the product ready, put as much relevant content from the news article onto the (new) product page, and then 301 redirect the news article to the new product page once the product page has been created.

I think it is also important that the news articles seem to be based on manufacturer press releases, so while the content seems to be rewritten by Union Jack, it is still not presenting new facts or new features when compared to other news about the product.

~~~~~

Another thing I suggested is that for the products that they sell, they might consider NOT doing a full page news article. Instead, they could get a handful of products that are released at the same time and group them together as a weekly news blurb. Something like:

Widget Roundup for July 1st through 6th, 2014

On this roundup page, they would have shorter descriptions of several products.
5:34 pm on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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(We are getting a little close to site reviews here...)
6:22 pm on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Mod's note: netmeg is correct... As the the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com] explains, we don't offer site reviews in our public forums, and we also do not allow public discussion of private messages.

You can discuss anything you want via stickies, but please don't post this in the public threads. We have made rare exceptions to this, and in this case we'll permit what's been posted so far, since members have described the background information enough that it is generally useful.

We do offer site reviews for paid supporters in the "Review My Site" forum of the Supporters Area.