There’s a common perception among people concerned with generating positive page rank in online searches that to show up high on the list, they must create pages jam-packed with text. If you are one of these well-meaning but misguided individuals, please relax. It is not necessary to have a high word count, copious links and all the possible keywords repeated multiple times. In SEO, size doesn’t matter.
What does matter is content. Google is on record as saying that the most important ranking signals are content and backlinks. Just yesterday, in response to a question by Ammon Johns about the first two ranking signals during a Google hangout, Google Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lepattsev said,
“I can tell you what they are. It is content and links pointing to your site.” “In that order or the other order?” pressed Ammon. Lepattsev responds, “There is no order.”
Creating random links works against your ranking, so don’t even think about doing it. Legitimate links include postings on social media and other relevant websites, so the more you can share your post in different places that make sense, the better your ranking will be based on the link signal. Sharing your content widely yourself and focusing on quality can boost the number of other sites that link to it; beyond that it is out of your control.
The quality of your content is determined by multiple factors that you can control. Among them are:
- High information value
- Direct answers to search queries
- Low spam value (a sense that the content is crafted to sell specific products or services)
Notice that word count is not among these factors.
A huge wall of text is off-putting to readers. Most who find the page will leave without even attempting to find the information they seek because it appears at first glance to be a daunting task. Remember that as we spend more time on the Internet, we actually become less willing to read long blocks of text – the old-fashioned concept of reading. Today it’s all about 140 characters or less, easily scanned and digested small headings, mini-paragraphs, bulleted lists or other literary baby food.
Rather than making value judgments about the death of the work ethic as illustrated by modern reading habits, it’s probably best to simply bear in mind that less is more when it comes to content in most cases.
I’m not saying you must forever skim the surface, denying detail to those who wish to dig deeply and really get into the subject, but that including too much information severely limits the potential success of most pages you’re likely to publish.
There are certainly times to take a comprehensive approach. Books, journal articles and even some blog posts call for a thorough treatment of the topic at hand. There may even be inner pages on your website, reached by clicking through several layers of brief introductory pages, that offer vast information troves and detailed discussions for those who want that kind of resource.
But for the purposes of SEO you don’t need it, and to maximize the general appeal of your content, you should avoid excess. Keep it short and simple. In streamlining your content you’ll also be improving it by forcing yourself to focus on what’s really important and communicating it clearly. You’ll also have space for images and avoid that unpleasant crowded feeling. Visual appeal translates to more engagement.
Give your audience valuable information in a package they can handle without strain, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor too. When visitors find your content and like it, they’ll read more, bookmark your site, interact with your other pages and generally boost your SEO by engaging with more of your content than if you try to shove too many words on the page. Google doesn’t want that, and neither do your readers.