500 Words Isn't Enough - Mini Case Study

27 replies
  • SEO
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I'm going to provide a more in-depth case study later, but I wanted to shed light on something with how much emphasis there has been on link building and private blog networks lately. Long story short, 500 words isn't enough anymore.

As of this moment I have 6 domains I am running (AdSense and Affiliate income). Of the 6, one is ranking on page 5 or 6 just by having the keyword in the domain (not EMD tho), having good on-site SEO and having 1,500 words of content on the homepage. It is a thin site with only 2 posts, but it is also a 50,000 search/month keyword. I have not built a single link for this site, and have done nothing but one socialadr blast (which did some good in the short term but nothing lasting). I did not even go through the Google Dance with this site; page 5 or 6 just by having lots of content.

My second site I started before I knew how to do keyword research properly. After starting the site I learned how to do research, and let's just say I wouldn't have gone for this KW had I known how to do it right in the first place. With that said, by having 800+ words on the homepage and using great on-site SEO, my site is on page 1 despite being a mere three months old. As for link buildling, I am doing 1 or 2 BMR posts maybe 5 days/week since Feb. 1st, and did not start varying my anchor text until maybe 2 weeks ago. I have no doubt I can move up into the top three once I start doing link-wheels/pyramids and moving beyond BMR links.

On the other hand, 3 of the other 4 domains I am running that only have 500 words of content on the homepage (and no more than 800 in some of the posts) are not doing so well despite the fact that I am using the same exact link building strategy (BMR and occasional SocialAdr blasts). Further, the keywords I'm pursuing on these sites are less competitive (sometimes much less) than the second site I already have on page one. The only one that is doing well is in an odd niche, and I am convinced it's doing better because I waited a month before sending BMR links (versus sending them in the first 2 weeks, which is another case study I'll be posting eventually).

Because of this I am now updating all of my homepages to 1,500 words minimum. Somebody else posted on here a while ago how he had been building links for weeks and nothing was working, but when he sat down and cranked out a 5,000 word post he jumped up to page one virtually overnight. The post gained some attention but not too much, so I thought I would reinforce what he learned here.
#500 #case #mini #study #words
  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Unless you do the case study in the same niche, targeting the same keyword, this is pretty much invalid and you can draw absolutely no conclusions from it.

    Wonder why I have so many clients ranking #1 with less than 300-400 words on their homepage?
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    • Profile picture of the author Talen
      Why not 2000 words or 5000. The length of the article is meaningless. There are a few people here, myself included, that rank extremely well with no words whatsoever. What does that say about length of articles?
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      • Profile picture of the author seoforu
        I think the length and freshness of the article is an important factor in the ranking of the website. Ever wondered why Wikipedia ranks so high? Because it has a lengthy article and its articles gets updated frequently.
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    • Profile picture of the author kickmoney
      Yea look it's just one of those speculation things.

      It's cool that you've figured your way through something, because lets be honest, were all relatively in the dark.

      And like Mike I've got personal evidence that points to the contrary.

      A lot of guys hear could tell you the same. Yukon ranks pages with just a Pic, a line and a download link.

      So as far as a revelation goes...I'll keep doin my thing XD

      But happy marketing!
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    • Profile picture of the author penpoint
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      Unless you do the case study in the same niche, targeting the same keyword, this is pretty much invalid and you can draw absolutely no conclusions from it.

      Wonder why I have so many clients ranking #1 with less than 300-400 words on their homepage?
      What do you charge? I might be interested.
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by penpoint View Post

        What do you charge? I might be interested.
        I don't have cookie cutter packages or anything like that. My prices all depend on the number of keywords and the competition.
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        • Profile picture of the author nik0
          Banned
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          I don't have cookie cutter packages or anything like that. My prices all depend on the number of keywords and the competition.
          What do you promise them when they pay for a few keywords, first page or top5 position maybe?

          Do you make them pay monthly or first a startup fee and then monthly to maintain it?
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by nik0 View Post

            What do you promise them when they pay for a few keywords, first page or top5 position maybe?

            Do you make them pay monthly or first a startup fee and then monthly to maintain it?
            I don't promise anything. I'll share samples of my work if necessary. I've never failed to hit the top 3 for any primary keywords I was working on though.

            I charge monthly, rarely any startup fees unless it is a larger project.
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            • Profile picture of the author paulgl
              I edited a page today and washed my hands afterwards.
              The page went to #1.

              The last time I did this, I did not wash my hands.

              I am now going to wash my hands after editing every page.

              Cause and effect are many times misinterpreted.

              There are a zillion intangibles when it comes to SERPs.

              People still look for the Holy Grails. There are none.

              Paul
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            • Profile picture of the author nik0
              Banned
              Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

              I don't promise anything. I'll share samples of my work if necessary. I've never failed to hit the top 3 for any primary keywords I was working on though.

              I charge monthly, rarely any startup fees unless it is a larger project.
              Okay, was just curious, an old supplier of mine went into sea with an seo company and the deal went like this:

              20 euro/keyword, 20 keywords in total, contract for 12 months, he pays for each individual keyword that reaches page 1 and stays there at least 24 days. If it doesnt reach page 1 he doesnt have to pay.

              This are pretty tough 1 word keywords in Dutch, so the deal isn't terribly bad, but I dont really like the 24 day rule, and page 1 doesn't mean that much either, if he gets all 20 keywords at the bottom of page 1. He realised that himself as well.

              He is at the top of page 2 now for 1 of his toughest keywords so I have to give the company some props, will be very interesting to see where he ranks when the year is finished.
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              • Profile picture of the author seolvl1
                I'm also ranking for keywords with less than 200 words on my inside pages.

                No keyword density either.

                Just proper h1 and titles and meta tags.

                It's not about the length but the quality?
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvis Michael
    Good analytical skills, Laubster. However, as others have pointed out, I also have one or two blogs with roughly 400 words which are ranking VERY well. I think everything depends on niche/competition and who knows what other factors. Unless the Google Gods themselves disclose these factors, no one can really find a solid method.

    I hope the word count helps in your case, though.
    Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      While doing a lot of kw research I do think I saw a bit of proof of what the OP is saying. Often I saw a website ranking at page 1 that didn't belong there really based on his number of backlinks, PR and number of indexed pages, which made me curious to take a specific look at that site and more then not it turned out he had a huge few thousand words well written informational post at the homepage.

      Ofcourse it's possible to rank pages with no content, you can even rank pages where the keyword isn't even mentioned once, but cause of my own observations I do agree with OP that it seems easier to rank when you have a long information post that makes sense. If adding a 1500 wordpost instaed of a 500 wordpost would reduce the needed amount of links by 25% it would already be a big win.
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  • Profile picture of the author sovereignn
    I've ranked plenty of websites with only 30 words on the page and an image with the proper alt tag
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  • Profile picture of the author ralchevd
    I also agree that the word's quality is more important than their numbers.
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  • Profile picture of the author dotgirish
    Why don't you just try some backlink building on your site. Try to get some and see how fast you reach the first page. Or are you planning to reach first page naturally .. if so is life that loooong ..
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  • Profile picture of the author Goath
    I know this conclusion is not always valid, but I know from experience that in the most cases (niches with less competition) articles with an extraordinary long length will need less backlinks to rank well.

    For example: I have one website with 5000 words on it on the front page.. with 10 quality backlinks I hit the first place!
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  • Profile picture of the author Laubster
    Yeah I'm definitely not saying it's the end all be all, but between my experience and other threads I've seen on here it doesn't seem to hurt.
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  • Profile picture of the author AnnaSEO
    500 words is enough for most of the niches.But the fact is,More content means you can use your keyword more times and hence they affect the rankings.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cataclysm1987
    The last company I worked with had around 160 clients ranking in a huge variety of niches and keywords.

    The pattern we noticed was distinct. Regardless of h1 tags and popularity and all other factors, pages with 1k words or more tended to do a significant bit better than pages with 500 words or less.

    Anything anyone says is purely anecdotal about "Oh it's about quality not quantity." I've tested this. I have the data to show for it. They don't.

    1k words is just a bit better.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Cataclysm1987 View Post

      The last company I worked with had around 160 clients ranking in a huge variety of niches and keywords.

      The pattern we noticed was distinct. Regardless of h1 tags and popularity and all other factors, pages with 1k words or more tended to do a significant bit better than pages with 500 words or less.

      Anything anyone says is purely anecdotal about "Oh it's about quality not quantity." I've tested this. I have the data to show for it. They don't.

      1k words is just a bit better.
      Exactly what I observed as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author shiko5000
    words quality and the variations of the number of keywords in each page help you in ranking fast especially after Panda update
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
    My sites do very well in the serps (all 3) and my product reviews are no longer than 300-500 words each. 500 words is plenty if it covers the material adequately. Heck, the site in my signature is a week old and is already ranking on the first page of google for most products.
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
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      Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

      My sites do very well in the serps (all 3) and my product reviews are no longer than 300-500 words each. 500 words is plenty if it covers the material adequately. Heck, the site in my signature is a week old and is already ranking on the first page of google for most products.
      Just bought your gig cause I was curious, smart way to do it indeed!
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  • Profile picture of the author TorremochaJ
    I think 500 words is right excluding the google stop words. If we count the stops words, it might reach to 1000 or more words.
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  • Profile picture of the author OneManSEO
    It doesn't matter. What matters is quality of domain and # of OBL from that domain. Having contextual content that is related to the keyword helps, but I doubt it matters much right now. No doubt Google is working to make that more important with each update...but... --->

    I caught a competitor website just last week that bought sidebar keyword links for insanely competitive keywords from Russian websites and they ranked just days after their website was launched.

    Obviously I reported them to the Google webspam team and they were promptly destroyed, but it showed me that contextual backlinks really don't matter as much as the first two things I mentioned. imo

    I still focus on niche-specific links though, because any idiot with a keyword understands that this is where Google's drive is going towards. Gotta be in it for the long haul...
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  • Profile picture of the author Tanya E
    If you have packed in content within those 500 words then they are enough. If you write 1000 words for something that you could have said in 100 words then even 1000 words may not be enough because it is actually worth only a hundred words. Hope it makes sense.
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