So with the roll-out of Google’s Helpful Content Update, aimed at the search engine not rewarding websites/pages with poor content, I got to thinking…
…so many people talk about content and it being king and all that. But what the heck is content, anyway?
Is content a 400 word piece of article on a page? Or is it 700+ words, now?
If this is the case, what about product pages, or even category pages? Should these types of pages have 700+ words of text? Above the fold?
If content is text, surely pages that do not meet this 700 word count shouldn’t rank so highly, right?
But that’s not what we see in the SERPs.
There’s a variety of page types that aren’t even close to 700+ words of text on the landing page.
So, content can’t be limited to the text word count on a page.
In fact, despite what some SEOs may say, there’s never been a confirmed word count a page must have to be considered as helpful content.
Google has never confirmed a set amount of words a page must have for the page to be regarded as one with ‘content’ on it.
In fact, Google have said the opposite.
In their documentation published as a guide upon the Helpful Content Update roll-out, they’ve stated that they do not have a preferred word count for content.
So if content isn’t a piece of text on a page with a specific word count, what the heck is content?
Here’s how I define content.
Content is information contained within a medium. And think of information as the end result of communication.
There is no set amount of words the information needs to be in order to rank highly in the SERPs.
Does this mean the SEO rhetoric of having 400 word articles for pages is incorrect?
Well, there isn’t a simple ‘yes/no’ answer, here, so let me explain.
When it comes to SEO, we deal with pages.
Pages is our ultimate medium that content is contained in.
One of the many ranking signals that helps a page rank highly in the SERPs is to ensure the page has value to it.
Now, there are different types of pages, and different ways that content can be displayed on pages.
Images, for example, can be considered content. An image, itself, can be considered a medium – think of memes, for example.
This image medium can be within the medium of a page. Remember, from an SEO point of view, a page is our ultimate medium. Why, because this is what search engines rank – pages.
Just like the medium of an image can be contained within a page, the medium of a video can also be contained within a page.
The traditional way of having content on the medium of a page is to simply have Copy on the page, i.e. text on the page.
Historically, before multimedia content, the content that search engines considered was Copy, text.
Now, back then, before multimedia content, one of the ways you would show value of a page was to have a lot of text on the page. The more text a page had, the more valuable the page seemed, which equated to a higher ranking of the page.
This is where the rhetoric of having a set amount of words, i.e. text, on a page, stems from.
And because content was seen as words, i.e. text, the recommendation to have more content on a page equated to having more Copy, i.e. words, i.e. text, on a page.
Recommending ‘more content’ wasn’t very quantifiable so numbers were put in place, for content.
First, it was 250 words, then 300 words, then 400 – which is where you have the phrase ‘400-word article’, and then 500+, 700+, etc.
Valuable content, for the medium of pages, has never been about the word count.
This is why when multimedia content became a thing, you had pages in the SERPs that had very little words and a lot of images.
You still see this these days with ecommerce sites. A product listings page, for example, will very well have a continuous scroll of product images.
The thought of having 700+ words for such a page would seem ridiculous, right?
That’s because this wouldn’t be the appropriate content for this type of page.
It wouldn’t be what the ecomms site’s targeted audience would want to see.
They would want images of the items, they would want videos of the items. They wouldn’t want to read a 700+ article about the items.
These days, we have all sorts of content on the internet, which is why you shouldn’t consider a valuable piece of content one that has many words on the ultimate medium for SEO, the page.
Is Copy/text still content? Absolutely.
This, being the classic type of content, as far as SEO is concerned, is very much still considered content, today.
But Copy, in itself, is not the only type of content that makes a page valuable.
And actually, these days, I would suggest that video has become the core type of medium that content is in.
This is why search engines like Google have made massive strives to ensure they are able to read the information contained in this medium.
It’s now the singular most powerful medium to have content in within the ultimate medium of the page.
This is why, you see, brands are using this medium more, these days.
So, if you’re looking at Google’s Helpful Content Update and considering making changes to your pages, you don’t need to panic over a lack of copy on your pages.
You may need to, this may be the case for you. What will certainly be the case is you’ll need to ensure your content is as useful as can be to the audience you are creating it for.
Will this require some analysis, using data? Absolutely.
Quantifiable analysis will be required.
What will also be required is some qualitative analysis of your content.
Everyone talks about quantitative analysis, i.e. data analysis but don’t underestimate the value of carrying out qualitative analysis to examine your content.
Content is not, and has never been a 400-word piece of text about a topic or subject of a topic.
Content is information. The information is communicated in a way that appeases one’s senses.
The more dialled in you are to the way your audience will receive your information, the more it will resonate with them.
Figuring this out is the joy of creating content.