Dumb SEO Questions

(Entry was posted by John Pitcher on this post in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Tuesday, November 5, 2013).

Will longer website pages do better for the KEY SEARCH TERM?

All other things (eg backlinks etc) being equal, will longer website pages do better for the KEY SEARCH TERM (not for long-tailed keywords which can obviously be helped)?

I have a number of customers who only want to write terse 100-200 word pages - are they damaging their chances in the serps? My own personal view is that longer, WELL-WRITTEN pages are likely to do better but I am not sure if I am justified in stating this to customers who are reluctant to do so?**

Note that I am NOT talking about waffly pages where they add words just to bump up the word count and I am NOT talking about long-tailed keywords. (Obviously, if you write a longer page then there is more chance to naturally work in long-tailed keywords.) My question is purely about whether the length of the page affects the PRIMARY search term.

As a slightly different but related question, will a 10 page website do better in the serps than a 2 page website for the PRIMARY search term if all other things (eg backlinks) are equal?

** Note that some customers want shorter pages so there is no need for vertical scrolling, some do not like wordy pages and some are just not very good at writing copy and do not want to pay for copy-writing.

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YOUR ANSWERS

Selected answers from the Dumb SEO Questions G+ community.

  • John Pitcher: All other things (eg backlinks etc) being equal, will longer website pages do better for the KEY SEARCH TERM (not for long-tailed keywords which can obviously be helped)?

    I have a number of customers who only want to write terse 100-200 word pages - are they damaging their chances in the serps? My own personal view is that longer, WELL-WRITTEN pages are likely to do better but I am not sure if I am justified in stating this to customers who are reluctant to do so?**

    Note that I am NOT talking about waffly pages where they add words just to bump up the word count and I am NOT talking about long-tailed keywords. (Obviously, if you write a longer page then there is more chance to naturally work in long-tailed keywords.) My question is purely about whether the length of the page affects the ;PRIMARY search term.

    As a slightly different but related question, will a 10 page website do better in the serps than a 2 page website for the ;PRIMARY search term if all other things (eg backlinks) are equal?

    ** Note that some customers want shorter pages so there is no need for vertical scrolling, some do not like wordy pages and some are just not very good at writing copy and do not want to pay for copy-writing.
  • Collin Davis: Hi  ; Answer to your 1st question - All other factors being equal, having a longer page could increase your chances to be ranked for long tail keywords.

    For your 2nd question, a 10 page website will help to you target a larger set of keywords. So in that scenario, it works plus if there are more no of pages, interlinking would be better leading to more inbound links which is always good. Would it rank better? I don't know really.

    With your point of customers wanting short pages, I am sorry to differ you John. It really depends upon one's perspective. Some may want detailed descriptions while others just want to buy without reading too much and you can only know how your customers behave via A/B testing or via surveys.

    However as far as search engines are constrained, they still largely depend on text (which is a constraint, they are improving with time) but in time, I am sure other non-textual will definitely started getting interpreted better...
  • John Pitcher:  ;- Many thanks for reply. I agree that long-tailed keywords can be helped but was wondering about the effect of page length on the primary keywords?

    I do, however, take your point that some people want to buy without reading too much!
  • Brent Wildman: Quality and relevance are more important than just length alone. A shorter page will perform better than a longer page if it gives the user exactly what it wants.
  • Simon Fryer:  ;As  ;points out, a longer page doesn't necessarily mean it will receive improved rankings, but as  ;has said, it may provide you with an opportunity to target more long-tail search terms, provide more value for users, and therefore rank for more terms (not rank more highly) to gain additional traffic. ;

    Here's some food for thought - Bounce Rate. ;

    If a user hits a 2,000 word page when all they wanted was a short, snappy answer, there's a good chance they will go back to the results page - an indicator to Google that your content wasn't a suitable result for that search. To my knowledge it has been confirmed that bounce rate can impact your rankings, which makes complete sense.

    I'd recommend whipping up a couple of versions and running some A/B split tests to see which creates better metrics. Odds are, that's going to be better for your site on the whole. ;

    With regards to the second question - the number of pages indexed for your domain won't impact rankings, as I believe  ;recently pointed out. However, if you have 10 pages which are targeting a semantic group of keywords, and each of which adds real value for a user, you can bet that it's going to do you some favours in the SERPs. ;

    Hope this helps, and apologies for the wall of text!
  • John Pitcher:  ;  ;Many thanks for helpful replies.

     ;- I agree, bounce rate is important and users need key text up front; whether a more detailed explanation below is useful or not for serps would be great ;to know.

View original question in the Dumb SEO Questions community on Facebook, Tuesday, November 5, 2013).

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