At the heart of what Google does, is ensure that quality results are shown for searchers. Part of the drive behind the Panda Update was to eliminate not only duplicate content but also “thin content” that has little or no value.
What Is Thin Content?
At the core, thin content is basically not enough information on a website page. Content needs to have enough to it to engage a visitor and drive them to take action. When a site page doesn’t engage or answer primary questions, it fails. It is hard to answer most questions effectively without writing an average amount of text. The same goes for action. There needs to be enough trust gained via the text to make the action worthwhile.
Since it is hard for Google bots to gauge quality from a human perspective, Google uses a rudimentary approach and measures the amount of words on a page. Although no one but Google knows the exact amount of text to have on the page to look good to the bots, the 300-500 word mark is a good number to target. This is based on what works for regular blog posts to be effective with SEO as established by Copyblogger and others.
The Crutch of Website Authority
On the flip side of content are people like the marketing guru Seth Godin, who is fond of short posts that provide ideas or information without taking too much of his or the reader’s time. If Seth Godin has a post with 83 words of text, he is not going to expand it to at least 300 words just because it is best for search engines.
Keep in mind though that Seth Godin’s website has established authority with Google so it is easier for him to have shorter pieces without affecting his site overall. Until website authority is established, it is best to provide at least 300-500 words of text as an easy guide. This is the easiest way to measure your content at the outset. After a page has been up for awhile, you should be able to get some indication of how successful that content is from such metrics as bounce rate and time on site.
How To Avoid Thin Content
In truth, it is anyone’s guess as to the “right” amount of text to have on a page. However, to get a visitor to trust what you are saying and have your primary answers be effectively understood by most people, you need a couple of paragraphs of solid text. If your page only has a sentence or two then you need to expand upon it. Don’t just add fluff, but really get at the meat of what you want to say.
Every website will be slightly different but a basic guide at the outset is 300-500 words. After awhile you should look at analytics to get a better idea of how your page is actually performing. Some indicators include bounce rate and time on page.
When a page is performing well then you can generally leave it alone.