Are You Killing Your Website With Shorter Pages?
It's no secret that most individuals shoot for around 500 words when they write online content or order content from an online writing service. However, there is a wide variation in article content length as some individuals prefer that their page articles be around 300 words while others prefer that each of their pages are at least 1000 words.
So the question that comes into play; which is better, shorter pages or longer pages? While I cannot be certain of the correct answer, I do have an answer for you. I believe that the length of the page doesn't matter and should not even be looked at.
So What is the Best Length for an Online Article or Blog Post?
This is definitely not the norm, as there are very few out there that do not put word count limits on their content orders. However, I have good reasoning for the opinion that I hold. It's actually very simple. The length of a page should be dictated only by how many words it takes to write about the topic in detail, while insuring not to leave anything out. If it takes 500 words to write on a specific topic, then 500 words is the right length. If it takes 5,000 words, then so be it; that is the right length.
Now of course, if the article is extremely long you might consider chopping it up into several different articles (although that is not my preference). The point is, that without an in depth page, what good is it? With the web evolving each and every day, you have to prepare for what is ahead. In my opinion there is no better route than creating pure value. The word count does not dictate the value.
If I did have to choose between long pages and short pages, I would pick long pages every time. I believe that there is a lot more ranking power with long pages, versus short pages. My theory is that there are more words, which naturally enables you to rank for more keywords. Longer pages (in my experience) tend to rank for a much larger variety of long-tail keyword phrases. Of course, short pages can rank well too. In fact, pages with hardly any writing at all can rank well.
Short pages generally do not rank as well as longer pages for a variety of different reasons.
- Short pages generally lack info, where there are often competing pages that have all of the info.
- Short pages naturally have less words, which means less keyword ranking potential.
- The probability of a short page being a true resource for many topics is not high.
As you can see from my thoughts above, it may not be that pages that are short just suck. It is more likely a coincidence and a fact that most short pages are a result of someone being lazy or cheap. The bottom line is that long pages are costly. They take a lot of time and money. Well written content is extremely expensive. Most are happy to get by with average 500 word pages that offer low value.
It's All About the Meat
Taking a look at some page examples should help you to further understand my point.
This page is stellar to say the least. A business partner of mine pointed this page out to me the other day, and since then I have been studying it at great depths. The page is more than 4,000 words long. It is a truly valuable resource about Harvard Online Master's Degrees. It is also an excellent source of information for anyone looking to get a masters degree in general.
It is 4,000 words long, because Mark Shead (the author) wrote about every aspect of the topic and left nothing out. When all said and done, it came out to 4,000+ words. Now it is one of the most successful Masters Degree pages on the web. It ranks on the first page of Google for virtually all keyword phrases related to masters degree.
This is another page that is on the same topic. Productivity501.com wrote more specifically about Masters Degree online, while this page is dedicated mostly to online classes at Harvard in general. This guy wrote 968 words, half of which is just a large list of courses offered. While this page also ranks decently well for Harvard specific terms, it does not rank nearly as well for the lucrative terms that the first example ranks for. If online-college-blog.com wrote a page as in depth and detailed as productivity501.com wrote, I can almost guarantee it would be much more successful.
The examples outline the difference between a page that fully covers the topic and another page that is clearly just trying to throw up a page. The difference in results is significant, and I can tell you that Mark from productivity501.com is surely seeing the reward associated with taking so much time to write a killer page.
You can find many examples of pages that are rank well in search engines that are short pages. On the other hand, you can find many that are long and also rank well. It is hard to say whether or not it really matters. What it boils down to for me, is that long pages are generally going to be more valuable. My hope is that where you rank in search engines will eventually be based on the value of the page you are ranking for.
The page that is most useful for the user and adds the most value should rank the best. At least, that is what I want to see as a search engine user. If the search engines do their job, that is eventually what we will get. Will your pages be at the top if/when this happens?
1 Response to Are You Killing Your Website With Shorter Pages?
Mark - Productivity501 says:
April 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm
Thanks for mentioning my writeup about Harvard's Extension School. I think this is the first time I've had anything I've written described as "stellar". :) One other things about longer content: When you write something that is longer than what someone can read in one sitting, they often will book mark it to read later. Sometimes these links end up on their blog, delicious, etc. Of course this only works if the content is engaging enough to make them want to keep reading so they feel they need to save it.
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