Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.198.108.19

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Word count doesn't matter as much as user satisfaction to Google

     
7:16 pm on Nov 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

Administrator from US 

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

joined:June 21, 2004
posts:3317
votes: 243


I just wrapped up another site review and the best performing pages are averaging about 300-400 words which is not alarming to me. This isn't the first time I have found this type of situation. Why do these light content pages perform so well? Because they satisfy users. For example imagine an online calculator page. Those pages don't usually have 800 or 1000 words per page. They tend to have a few hundred words and a functioning calculator and perform well.

I've actually come across sites that got penalized for boosting their word counts. In one situation they were blindly trying to make sure every page had at least 1000 words and that lead to ugly keyword stuffing, horrible usability and a total nightmare to their rankings. After we reworked the content to make it appropriate for human users, the pages rebounded.

I am not advocating people chase after short content but rather that we use common sense when trying to figure out how much content is the right amount. Using common sense, if you are writing a webpage on a complicated topic, it probably will need a big amount of content (you might even want to split it up between a few pages).

So what do you think? Why do you agree or disagree with me? What has been your experience?
10:25 pm on Nov 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

Full Member

5+ Year Member

joined:June 4, 2008
posts: 202
votes: 0


Thank you for this timely post. I literally just walked out of an SEO meeting with my company's top brass where I said pretty much exactly what you posted.

Don't write content for Google's sake (which is the mentality I'm trying to change at my company). Make the user happy. Answer their questions thoroughly (or satisfy whatever their need is) and do so in a user-friendly/easy to digest format. Don't skimp on content but don't draw it out either for the sake of keywords or word count.

The challenge I see most websites facing with content is that they don't take the time to understand what it is the user will want from their content (and as a result, they can't understand why their 100% unique and wonderfully written content doesn't rank in Google).

Just before I started with this company they started adding a lot of low quality, keyword stuffed, redundant content purely to try to rank. Today I showed them a revenue chart from organic-only traffic with an overlay of Google Panda/quality updates on it. It finally made more sense to them when they saw revenue drops after each Google update.
12:27 am on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:7882
votes: 547


The content/topic will usually suggest "how many words", but when marketing, strategy, SEO and the like is given a higher priority over the content AND THE USER, mixed results will always happen.

Data point type content can be a few to perhaps a few hundred words. Social commentary might run a few thousand. Detailed manuals or ascertainment might hit 10,000. At that point the more logical question is "how many pages (if any)".

Yet, all the above means nothing if the USER walks away dissatisfied, that's the one metric which trumps everything.
7:07 am on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 5, 2002
posts:887
votes: 3


So to summarize what makes a page 'çool', even it has shallow "content in text" -

1. Above average time per pageview (Above average within the website compared to other pages and outside the website compared to peer websites)
2. High dwell time
3. Low incidence of pogo-sticking behavior when user clicks to the page from SERPs
4. Social media shares? I am not sure it is important and haven't seen anything definitive. perhaps varies from niche to niche.
5. Bounce rate? I don't think it is important if "Dwell Time" is in favor of the page.

So, the classical notion of Content meaning Text may be misplaced. If a slide of images or an embedded video can keep the interest of a user for say 3 minutes on the page, that slide or video may be equivalent to 800 words of content in text?

[edited by: McMohan at 7:13 am (utc) on Nov 8, 2017]

7:12 am on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Mar 10, 2017
posts:165
votes: 68


I've read some articles that just go on and on and on...it is the most frustrating experience. They just do it to pad out content.

I have some pretty long articles on my site and am starting to review them, do I really need to spend 1,000 words on the best type of metal for widgets when it's an article on how to repair X using a widget. I have always thought that more is better, but am starting to wonder.

I've also recently focused on providing both short and long answers on many pages. So if you really do want to know about the best type of metal for widgets, then you can, but for those skimmers, people in a rush they can skip to the info.

I don't think it's just about words, it's also readability. Really using h tags so that people can jump to the section they want. If their unicorn is up at 3 am crying, they may not want to know what widgetitis is, or how it was contracted, just what the symptoms are.
8:31 am on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from US 

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

joined:Sept 26, 2001
posts:10113
votes: 550


I've also recently focused on providing both short and long answers on many pages
An approach I've used from the start.

On info thick pages, I always use a very short summary in the first paragraph. Then in the subsequent content, go on to more length.

I've found this often becomes the snippet in SERP.

In rewriting many pages for voice search, those short summaries have now become short answers.
10:30 am on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member editorialguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:June 28, 2013
posts:3050
votes: 581


In other words, think like an editor, and publish for your audience. What a remarkable new concept. :-)
7:54 pm on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 14, 2011
posts:923
votes: 97


Perhaps at this stage goodroi would be useful to give your theories on how Google evaluates user satisfaction, then people can look for those signals before they prune good content. EG you hadn't upvoted yourself so I did it for you :)
10:37 pm on Nov 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

Moderator from GB 

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

joined:June 15, 2001
posts:7698
votes: 42


Google is smart enough to know when content is being created simply for Google. The calculator example was spot on, if user intent is met with user satisfaction then it's a win for the user and Google. Years ago there was always suggestions that Google was gauging user satisfaction (hitting the back button etc) but now with a large number of Google users being on Android I am pretty sure they have way better methods at their disposal. Google is getting smarter, and anyone who is still adding content that is not entirely for the end users benefit might want to reconsider their motives.

Mack.
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members