Google: It's Not About How Much Or How Many...

Dec 16, 2013 • 8:59 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

quotasGoogle's John Mueller gave the typical Google line at this Google Webmaster Help there - quality over quantity. He wrote:

I wouldn't worry about the technicalities - how much you can write about how many topics - and instead just make sure that the content which you're creating is really of the highest quality possible. This isn't something you should do for search engines, it's really something you're probably already doing. You almost certainly know yourself where the content that you're creating is thin, and where it's really significant, unique, high-quality and compelling to users. The awesome stuff is what you should be aiming for -- and from my point of view, you should be doing that independent of any algorithms (real or not).

It isn't about how much or how many - it is about the highest quality as possible.

Truth is, I am sure many sites have writing quotas. Be it having to write one story a week, a story a day, or several stories a day. Heck, I have this artificial number in my head that I need to push out around 5 stories here a day and several on Search Engine Land, but truth is, I really don't. I just like the number. I've done more or less and truthfully, I've done stories that I probably would not have written because I wanted to publish at least four stories on a specific day. I probably should not have but quotas, we all have them as part of our job or as a number sitting in our head. Be it budgets, yearly revenue goals, to weight loss and heck, I am sure Google has their spam and quality quota metrics. We all got them.

But should step back and say, it isn't about how much or how many?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for quotas image

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Durant Imboden

12/16/2013 03:20 pm

"But should step back and say, it isn't about how much or how many?" Let's hope it isn't about proofreading. :-)

Barry Schwartz

12/16/2013 03:21 pm

I never step back, as you can see from the proofreading.

Durant Imboden

12/16/2013 03:51 pm

On a more serious note: One needn't believe that Google, Amazon, and Facebok are part of a Dan Brown-style Masonic alliance to ask "Where's the beef?" when Googlers preach content quality over quantity. It's been nearly three years since Panda made its debut, and content farms haven't gone away--not by a long shot. Lately, I've been doing quite a few informational searches outside my own subject area, and what do I find? WikiHow is the new eHow, and WikiAnswers (possibly the most annoying content farm of them all) seems to be baked into Google's search results for many Q&A-style queries. I don't question Google's desire to promote quality in its search results, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Wendy Kirwan

12/16/2013 04:18 pm

watch this rank for a search query about correct grammar usage. "how much or how many"? (in case you landed here because of that, i'll give you a quick answer: if there is an exact number, use how many. if not countable, how much. example: how many words vs. how much water.)


12/16/2013 04:20 pm

Good to know after the latest PR update.


12/16/2013 04:44 pm

Well, as I think about this - I think there are 2 situations in play here. Google naturally desires articles which are not only rich in content, but also which are longer. Longer content allows room for more ad placement. So if I look at the situation as a webmaster, I'm going with the longer, rich-content as my goal. Now if I step back and view the situation as a user, I don't want to muddle through long content. There are only so many things that one can say that are interesting about 'certain' subjects. Among other things I don't like are ads which pop up and hide the content. Annoying. I don't like 2-4 paragraphs about the subject before the article provides the information it promised in the title or lead-in. I don't like the page mined with ads - and I don't use adblockers because I need to see how my pages look after I write them, with the ads in place. I don't like ads which look like the website's content, but which are actually paid adverts. I don't like social media as an advice-source in the search because this is layman's information and generally is based on personal experience rather than facts. And then if I look at the situation involving the modern web, it appears that the majority of searchers are drawn to short content. I am. My family and friends are too. Barry, I like your shorter to-the-point articles so I can read and go. It's what draws me to your site. Another example, Twitter. Short, sweet, to the point. So I feel that shorter content gains more following, but Google doesn't appear to favor the shorter content. And when we're looking at rich-content, as I said, it's very challenging at best to evoke a huge interest story with certain topics. Conclusion: CLUSTER

Durant Imboden

12/16/2013 04:51 pm

Google doesn't like short content? To borrow a phrase from Matt Cutts, "au contraire." WikiHow and WikiAnswers are both doing just fine in Google's SERPs. As for whether people prefer long or short content, I suspect that depends on the topic and the reader. Somebody who's looking to settle a bet about the capital of North Dakota has different needs from someone who's searching on "early symptoms of parkinson's" or who's researching a thousand-dollar purchase. And while some people prefer Cliff's Notes and Search Engine Roundtable, others prefer The New York Times and Danny Sullivan's in-depth articles at Search Engine Land.


12/16/2013 06:01 pm

And therein lies the problem. Google seems to be saying that they don't like short content. Yet as you said, lots of that in the search. It's all confusing.

Durant Imboden

12/16/2013 06:57 pm

If content length is a ranking factor (something that may or may not be true), it could easily be trumped by other ranking factors in Google's algorithm. That may be one reason for the seeming inconsistency in Google's search results. Over time, personalization may play a role, too. Someday, if Google knows that I tend to favor in-depth articles, it may skew my personalized search results in that direction, while someone who prefers "short and sweet" may get more results of that type.


12/16/2013 10:22 pm

googlebot not cares about content, it cares only about number of pages, wikipedia links, links from blog networks (with authority spam), and other very important blackhat things. Google unable to recognize and separate good sites from bad sites, so it using whitelists and randomization and placing ads above fold in their search results, in hope what nobody will click at good sites at page N99 of unnatural google organic search results... google, -100500!


12/16/2013 10:25 pm

no, it just using -5000 of top english words filter. google is very clever, it know good how to destroy websites using automated algorithms. :)


12/16/2013 10:26 pm

because that sites is white listed.

Yogita Aggarwal

12/17/2013 07:11 am

Well Said @durantimboden:disqus


12/17/2013 12:35 pm

So, it´s not about how many. It´s not about how much and with all the penalties it´s not about quality either. So google, tell us, what is it all about?

Ashish Ahuja

12/17/2013 07:03 pm

alas if google could read content like a user, then there would not be any content written for the bots. The truth is many time quality is loosing to junk.

Gracious Store

12/18/2013 05:05 am

I think the essence of writing anything is to educate or inform the reader. Rather than publish five stories that give no value to your readers why not write just one story that will be beneficial to your readers


12/18/2013 06:12 am

I enjoy Barry's take on a variety of topics. Barry's covering a wide variety of topics that could command a small army, I'm sure. And, you ask the impossible of your request to have 1 thing benefit everyone. People are different and have different needs. Barry does a great job of touching on the important and key stories. Thanks for your comment.

Spook SEO

01/06/2014 08:42 am

Google gives priority to quality rather than quantity and I also agree that better to pay focus upon creating quality content for readers, not for search engines and by adopting this technique you will ultimately go higher in the search engine ranking due to your quality work.

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