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The Importance of Page Count in SEO

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I have read multiple theories regarding the SEO benefit of page count (the number of pages contained in a website). I continuously test and read theories related to this and can’t get past the logic behind its importance. After all, when comparing the information on a single sheet of paper with that contained in a book – to which would you assign more authority?

When applying this analogy to the subject of shoes, 2 scenarios come to mind.

  1. A person writes a 700 word document on the topic of shoes.
  2. Another person writes a 700 page book about shoes – it incorporates red shoes, black shoes, running shoes, hiking shoes and dress shoes.

If the document and the book are both placed in front of someone and they are told to choose which they find more informative about the topic of shoes, how do you think they are going to choose?

It seems quite simple that the person will almost definitely choose the book on shoes – same reason why people a few years ago would buy encyclopaedias and why Wikipedia ranks well for just about anything.

While I would never recommend that anyone create a Wikipedia-sized megasite to rank for a niche market, the fact remains: more is more, and more is better.

Increasing page count also increases the ability to mould the SEO authority of the site.  If you have 10 pages that all have a PageRank authority of 10, you have 100 points to move around the site through internal linking.  If you have 100 pages with an authority of 5 or even 2, you only have 500 or 200 points to move around the site. So if you are to push all this authority to the homepage then you have a higher ranking homepage – everyone wins! (Except for your competition.)

Having said that, lots of extra pages isn’t good just for the sake of it. Here are some practices to avoid when growing the page count of your website:

  • Write bad content
  • Spam the same information over and over
  • Create pages that are irrelevant to the website’s purpose.
  • Copy and paste duplicate content

If you are able to write quality unique and relevant content, it will no doubt increase your website’s authority, and ultimately increase the rankings of your targeted keywords. This is a major factor of SEO!

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3 Comments

  1. Dejan Reply

    Very interesting article, I wonder if the effect of page count works more as a fish net for link or it actually acts as a signal for search engines as to the quality and value of the site. Perhaps something more complex.

    One thing to watch out for is that your pages are not looping to infinity. We managed to penalise and boot out of Google one of our test websites and the cause for that was a never-ending navigation structure.

    Google did issue three warnings via Google Webmaster Tools prior to issuing a penalty and removal from index.

  2. Andrew Reply

    That’s interesting @Dejan. Although with my own tests, I have noticed increases in rankings above websites who had more content but did not update it as regularly. Once I stopped adding content after a few months, my rankings started to fall. Obviously this test was not done with ultra competitive terms, eliminating a lot of off-page factors. (None of us having a great deal of backlinks on the first page)

    With the introduction of Google Caffeine, the importance of fresh and unique content could not possibly be any more important. Another significant factor to page count is the author. Would you read a book about business success from someone who went bankrupt?

  3. David Shepherd Reply

    Hi Dejan,

    I feel both the points you bring up are valid, the size of the site, and the advantage of natural links to articles or pages are advantages of a high page count in SEO.

    That being said, a high page count with irrelevant or spammy content is next to useless. Content, pages and the internal linking structure needs to be clean and “natural” for it to be effective.

    Site architecture is, I feel, more important that tonnes of pages, even the URL structure is extremely important when considering a large site.

    To be effective, all sites need a good base to work from, before considering the addition of pages, and designing the internal linking structure.

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