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Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?]

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Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] TheBigK 11/17/12 11:08 PM
We run a news blog and base our reports on various sources. We used to write bigger articles with opinions and descriptions. However, our members reported that instead of writing bigger articles with in-depth analysis, we should write two things: the 'crux' of the news and our quick opinion on the news. That's what they love reading.

So, over a period of time, we began writing shorter articles [~ 150 - 200 words] and increased the frequency covering more topics. This has made our existing user base stick to us loyal; but it looks like Google doesn't like it and most of these short articles don't rank well.

That makes me wonder -

1. In Google's eyes - is short article => Thin Content? Our experiments more or less confirm this.
2. If we write big articles - Google may rank us well; but we'll lose our current loyal audience. We began writing shorter articles because of their demand!

What should we do? 
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] StevieD_Web 11/18/12 12:33 AM
Google wants rich, compelling, unique quality content.

Visitors want rich, compelling, unique quality content.

Size is not important to visitors nor Google.
.

I pulled two important dates from history:

November 22, 1963

January 28, 1986 


I can write a rich, compelling, unique comment in 5 words for either date.


Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Kevin-UK 11/18/12 5:30 AM
I think this is something that google is now beginning to tackle with what appears to be more reliance on writers of blogs rather than the bolg itself.
 
If as a writer you build up your reputation using authorship then as a writer even if you write the occassional short article then it will be treated well by google. But as an author you are only going to build up that reputation by demonstrating a good knowledge of your subject and that will involve longer articles as well as short pieces.
 
I think the soical standing of authors - google, facebook and twitter etc - will aid this determination of author quality.
 
Site reputation wil still impact on google rankings but author reputation will have a growing presence.
 
Kevin
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] TheBigK 11/18/12 6:01 PM
Thank you Kevin and StevieD for your responses. 

@Kevin: If Google's going to determine who's more effective based on their social networking profiles - then that's going to be a big trouble for authors like me and several in our team. Not many authors are good at forming connections and being popular in the social media. Plus we are tech bloggers and the only unique thing we can offer about technology is our opinion on it. And that's what we really do.

I've found two ways of writing articles -

1. Take out 2-3 main points and keep on extending it so that overall article becomes an 800-1000 words 'well researched article'. It's got several keywords, a great text/html ratio and so on. But the article basically talks about 2-3 points which most people want to read.

2. Write the article talking about the main points and the most important points about them - making the article < 300 words but still covering the 'crux'.

It turns out that Google ranks the former type better over the second one.

Is Google suggesting that Authors should start building their social network presence over focusing on producing great content?
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Kevin-UK 11/19/12 9:09 AM
No I don't think google is telling authors to build social networks over content.
 
If you produce good content then you will get followers automatically. I've never done any promotion on social networks and in less than a year I have over 100 facebook followers and twitter followers. I've never promoted to join my followers and I've never bought followers.
 
 
If you produce good content then you will be followed and your articles will be shared.
 
Just write good stuff that people want to read. Sometimes when my articles go viral the visitors from facebook far outnumber the visitors from search engines. If you write a lot of articles that go viral then your own author reputation will increase and that will be picked up by google and other search engines and your future articles will benefit from that.
 
Kevin
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Kevin-UK 11/19/12 9:17 AM
This gives you a good indication of where google is going with authorship. It's over a year old so some of the plans are already in place with google.
 
Kevin
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Ashley 11/19/12 10:59 AM
Just a thought - but have you ever read the magazine Men's Health?

I never have time to read mags, but I love glancing through this subscription that my husband brings home sometimes. Why? Because the long thoughtful articles are there, but they highlight the main points so I can skim for value incredibly easy. It's the best format I've seen a traditional mag take to try and reach both audiences. They've made a fan out of me and I'm not even their target demographic (considering I'm not a man). :)
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] StevieD_Web 11/19/12 1:04 PM
>They've made a fan out of me and I'm not even their target demographic 

eyeballs are eyeballs.  Advertisers in Dead Tree Mags love eyeballs even if they are wrong kind.
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] JohnMu 11/26/12 1:59 AM
Hi TheBigK

Rest assured, Googlebot doesn't just count words on a page or in an article, even short articles can be very useful & compelling to users. For example, we also crawl and index tweets, which are at most 140 characters long. That said, if you have users who love your site and engage with it regularly, allowing them to share comments on your articles is also a great way to bring additional information onto the page. Sometimes a short article can trigger a longer discussion -- and sometimes users are looking for discussions like that in search. That said, one recommendation that I'd like to add is to make sure that your content is really unique (not just rewritten, autogenerated, etc) and of high-quality. 

Cheers
John
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] TheBigK 11/26/12 4:22 AM
Hello John,

Thank you for your comment. Our content is unique - and we make sure that it's properly edited. 

PS: May I request you to please look at this discussion thread I've started? I'd really appreciate your inputs - https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/webmasters/G7bOABFo9DY/3agRTHOLJ3wJ
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] David Dunbar 11/27/12 10:20 PM
No doubt  in user point of view it good to read a short content, but if someone wants to know very briefly about a topic.
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Lysis 11/28/12 5:03 AM
Matt Cutts has an example of a good article. It's a tech article describing how to do something in Linux. It's like 200 words and straight to the point. Don't get caught up in all the BS slung around by poor SEOs. Just write naturally and write a lot.
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] TheBigK 11/28/12 10:11 AM
Is this the article -> http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/howto-strip-jpeg-metadata/ ? If yes, I think we're doing a pretty good job then ;-)
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Lysis 11/28/12 10:22 AM
I think this is the one: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-writing-useful-articles-that-readers-will-love/

I thought he linked out to an external article, but I guess not. It's been a while since I read it.
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] seunome 12/10/12 3:41 AM
Kevin, it looks you're telling that old mantra: If you did they'll come, is it? Sorry but that's not that simple or thruth anymore since some pairs of years ago! 
(unknown) 12/10/12 3:43 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Dinesh Rohila 12/10/12 3:51 AM
Yes, I saw a sudden change in one of my site ranking, Its keywords going from 1st to 5th position even one of these going at 18th position, while all back links are natural and content is also unique, but not too much content so I think it may be the reason for lengthy and descriptive content.
Re: Is Short Content = Thin Content? [Who To Follow? Google or Users?] Lysis 12/10/12 7:32 AM
>> Kevin, it looks you're telling that old mantra: If you did they'll come, is it? Sorry but that's not that simple or thruth anymore since some pairs of years ago! 

Well then you're doomed and enjoy failure.