A Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy often contains some actions to a website’s content, either in terms of improving what’s already there, or creating new high-quality content.
And the reason we often do this is because of this idea that content weighs a lot when it comes to search engine results. Websites with a lot of high-quality content have better chances to rank high in the SERP since more content means more keywords, opportunities to engage users, and so on.
But SEO is often misunderstood by a lot of people. In the case of content, a question any website owner may ask themselves is how much content do they need to make Google and other search engines notice them? Do pages with little content have no chance of ranking well?
Let’s analyse this predicament.
First, How Search Engines Work
Search engines like Google are often the key to getting new audiences to your website. When someone types a query, a web crawler looks for potential relevant results, then brings them back in the SERP in a particular order.
Whether your page makes the cut depends on a few different things:
- Is it indexed?
- Is it relevant to the search query?
- Does it match user intent?
If your page is relevant to the query, then it will be included in the search results. However, the position your link will earn then depends on how SEO-friendly the website is.
Search engines have algorithms that automatically determine a page’s position in the SERP, and while the code isn’t public, we do know of the criteria Google and other similar platforms consider for ranking:
- Page load speed
- High-quality links
- And yes, content quality
And this ‘recipe’ is always changing to ensure search engines provide users with the best experience possible. So, when there’s an algorithm update, new ranking factors may be added, or some being to gain more importance the previously.
You see, there are a lot of different things that search engines analyse when it comes to rankings, and the content itself isn’t the sole factor that will make or break your SEO efforts.
Still, let’s keep going to see if ‘little content’ affects your SEO.
When It Comes to Content, It’s Quality Over Quantity
What does little content mean, in the end? Consider your favourite news site and a website that promotes just one product. The news site will have much more content than the later example, even fewer pages.
Content is needed to help website owners achieve a particular goal. In the case of a news site, that goal is to inform a certain audience, so here you would be interested in content volume. But for a product page, you may not need that much content, as a picture and a short description could be enough for the audience to get the idea.
How much content a page should have depends on what the page is supposed to achieve. Even your industry may have a say in the matter. For instance, the healthcare industry generally works better with long-form content, as it allows you to give the user as much information as possible.
In the tech industry, you may not need that much chit-chatting, as you could likely get away with a paragraph and some specifications.
When it comes to content and SEO, it is more about quality than quantity. The word count of the page doesn’t matter too much for Google, believe it or not.
Google’s Content Requirements
Since Google is the most-used search engine out there, let’s focus on its expectations when it comes to content.
Right off the bat, you should know that Google wants original content. Having loads of content pages filled with words doesn’t mean a lot to your SEO efforts, and in some cases may even result in getting your website excluded from the Google index altogether.
Some practices Google really hates can include:
you can find apps or create a program that automatically generates a piece of content just to hook in audience members for clicks. These bring no added value, and they are often just strings of words, rather than complete sentences;
Thin affiliate pages
affiliate websites feature product descriptions that exist across the entire affiliate network. Be careful which affiliate program you choose, especially if that affiliate page doesn’t have any original content;
essentially copy-pasting content from other sites. Apart from Google not liking this content, you may also have legal troubles because of it;
Low-quality blog posts
Blog posts created just to raise your website’s word count or add some extra keywords;
Sneaky 301 redirects
trying to trick search engines that your page is about one thing, but thanks to the redirect you take them some other place entirely;
pages created just to rank for specific search queries, that only have the purpose of ‘opening a door’ for the users to get to another page. It’s like stealing traffic from a search query and getting it to a page that’s not 100% relevant;
links are essential to SEO and are usually signalled with an anchor text so the user can click on it and visit another page. However, some people hide links just so search engines see them, not the public.
Digital marketing efforts take a lot of effort, and these practices can be ways to speed up the process. However, they take away from user experience, which is why Google doesn’t accept them.
How to Improve Page SEO
If the word count isn’t a ranking factor, and we now know some of the ‘bad practices’ to avoid when it comes to content, what can we do to improve what we have?
Quite a few things, actually:
- Address duplicate content issues – these issues can sometimes even happen unintentionally, like by having URL variations for a single page. You can use canonical tags to search engines which is the master page you want to rank;
- Focus on internal linking – your content is a great opportunity to support navigation, so consider adding some internal links when the copy warrants it;
- Run a diagnostics – Google Search Console or Screaming Frog are great tools to test your website or page and see any SEO mishaps, including those relating to content;
- Use essential keywords – content is an opportunity for you to use valuable keywords that users type in the search query. You should identify some essential keywords and integrate them in your page if you want to drive traffic to it;
- Bring visibility to your content – don’t rely just on Google to do the heavy lifting. You can promote your content by running a social media campaign or email campaign to increase visibility to your website.
To Sum up
SEO has a lot of rules, but they’re not always black and white. A lot of website owners would likely love it if Google announced that web pages should only have 300 words maximum, but we feel fairly confident this will not be a part of the following algorithm update.
Instead, you need to adapt the SEO requirement to what works better for your website, and your target audience. Google wants you to create content for people, not SEO, so as long as you focus your efforts on providing something of value to your readers, you shouldn’t stress about volume.
If you need help with your website’s SEO, book a free 30-minute strategy session with Australian Internet Advertising now to get the first taste of what your SEO efforts should look like.