Google’s Martin Splitt and Interactive’s Lily Ray, held a webinar discussing the most common concerns that the SEO industry has to face when it comes to creating website content.
In this webinar, it was discussed in detail whether more content is better, what to do with underperforming content, is word count a ranking factor and more.
Here we take a quick recap of the Q&A were discussed in the webinar session. We hope this will help you bust all myths regarding more content.
Updating old content or creating a new one
One of the participants asked if a publisher writes about the same topic every year, should they be updating the old content are creating new ones.
Answering the question, Splitt recommended update existing articles only if there are incremental changes to be made from one year to another. Otherwise, Google may view similar articles from the same publisher as duplicate content which you must avoid.
How much content should you have and to what extent it will help your performance?
Splitt recommends against producing content for the sake of producing content.
About certain topics, there’s only so much to be said and rambling on with article after article is not going to help your rankings. He recommends producing lots of content on a regular basis for an industry blog where new information is being generated all the time and there are topics to write about without being repetitive.
Does having a blog and producing new content help my ranking performance in Google?
To this Splitt says, frequently publishing new content is not a sitewide ranking factor. That being said, frequently updating your blog with new information such as industry news can help you enhance your reputation with the visitors.
This is something webmasters should keep in mind. If their industry is a dynamic one, then they should frequently update their blog with what’s happening in their industry.
Updating older pieces of content
Updating older content is recommended if something significant has changed. If there are no significant changes, then you should publish new and different content while linking the old article to the new one, according to Splitt.
While this will have no impact on search performance, it can be very useful to the users.
Is there a way in which Google can tell us if there is too much content on our site or if the content is underperforming?
Ray put up a question regarding whether Googlebot crawl statistics can be used in any way to determine if any site has too much content.
Splitt answers that the frequency of Googlebot crawls is not an indicator of whether your content is good or bad, or if its quantity is too much.
He recommends, checking the performance report in Search Console. If the report suggests that your content is getting a lot of impressions, but not many clicks, then you need to do something to fix the issue. He specifically states that “there’s no such thing as too much content.”
It all boils down to, what your users expect from visiting your website. If you are delivering satisfactory results than any amount of content will do otherwise cramming too much content won’t help your rankings.
Can underperforming content bring down your overall authority or trustworthiness?
From Google’s perspective, underperforming content will not necessarily bring down the authority of your website.
There can be many reasons why your content is underperforming. For example, it can be that the content is spammy that might negatively reflect on your website.
Regardless of why your content is underperforming, it is a good practice to reassess your content and decide whether it should be updated or taken down.
Grouping and consolidation of one’s content
Ray asks how the substantial amount of very short articles such as single Q&A or information with only a few sentences impacts the ranking.
Splitt answers that Google may treat such pages as thin content that will eventually have a negative impact on search rankings. He recommends grouping the short piece of content together into one big article as long as it makes sense.
Grouping together multiple pieces of relevant information at a single source is something that is seen positively by Google.
Is the word count a ranking factor?
Splitt clearly states that word count is not a ranking factor.
It is all dependent on how much words you need to communicate what your readers want to know, if it takes 50 words, 500 words or thousand words, it’s all fine in Google eyes as long as searcher’s intent is met.
If your user is looking for a quick answer for the question, then a short piece of content would be a good match. Google does not appreciate you extending the length of content just for the sake of word count. The search giant cares most about satisfying user intent.
Specific keywords and word count
Following the question above, Ray asks whether publishers should aim to match their competitors’ content’s word count.
“It depends,” Splitt says.
Even if all your competitors are doing the same thing, it does not guarantee that they are doing it right. Even if they are ranking well right now, they might not in future.
He again points out that publishers must focus on what their users need and write content accordingly without worrying about their competitors’ word count.
If you can communicate well with your users within 500 words, then don’t spend time writing 5000 words.
Auto-generated content & canonicalization
Another question was asked about having the same content on multiple location pages on a website.
“Either they work or they don’t,” Splitt says.
He says such pages can work if there is at least some sort of unique information specific to each location on these pages. However, if the content is too similar, then the pages may not work.
If you are changing just a handful of words from location pages keeping most of the content the same, then Google might de-duplicate such pages from its index.
How does Google determine duplicate content?
Ray asks if there is a threshold by which Google identifies duplicate content.
In his reply, Splitt said he’s not sure of any such threshold. He explained that Google uses content fingerprinting to determine whether the content is duplicated or not.
Each page has its own fingerprint that is used to determine how similar it is to another page. He also mentioned something called “similarity metrics” that Google uses for determining duplicate content.
Watch the full webinar:
This is all that was discussed in this webinar. We recommend you all to pay attention to the points discussed as they help you bust most of the myths associated with content production.