General question about SEO Optimisation for page content

When I first started developing my website around three years ago, I followed the SEO mantra that you must have at least 400 words on a page (better 500 to 600) so that the page would not be dropped by the Search Engines.
I also understand that there are many other factors involved in SEO Optimisation.
I am just about to redesign my site and build some new sites using the very latest modern WordPress themes.
My current site ranks number 1 for many keywords, as I have an excellent but very narrow niche.
However, in researching other sites, which are promoted as excellent modern sites, and which use the latest full width responsive themes, I notice that many of these have "all singing and dancing" front pages that have such things as full width sliders, iconised widgets, videos and other very impressive visual attractors, but which have vary little written content.
My questions are
- how do these type of pages pass the SEO tests an don't get dropped?
- Have the SEO content tests changed to cater for these new type of visual pages?
- Is content word volume still important?
I am very interested in understanding this before I start building my new sites, as I would like to use some of these new visual attractors.
All replies and comments welcome
Paul Yates

  • Adam Czajczyk

    Hello Paul,

    I hope you're well today and thank you for this question!

    I believe you spot some quite interesting issue here:

    I notice that many of these have "all singing and dancing" front pages that have such things as full width sliders, iconised widgets, videos and other very impressive visual attractors, but which have vary little written content.

    I'd say that "classic" factor such as image/text and text/keyword ration are no longer that important as they were not so long ago. I'll stick to Google if you don't mind :slight_smile: They announced some time ago a few important things:

    1. "long reads" are preferred in terms of text content
    2. responsive and/or mobile-enabled pages are preferred
    3. no more "keyword stuffing" and HTML "over optimization"
    4. security counts
    5. site has to be made "for people", not for "crawlers"

    I'm not in a position to "deconstruct" their algorithms, actually nobody is. However, being very close to SEO for last few years I think I can explain above points (and consequences) a bit.

    1. "long reads" are preferred in terms of text content

    This isn't quite a clear statement but there were a lot of sites built upon multiple short (500-1500 characters) texts literally filled with carefully selected keyword/phrases. A good copywriter was able to write a real masterpiece following this rule but anyway - it was clear that this was targeted only in search engines and not humans that would visit a page. So, Google doesn't want this kind of content anymore.

    This doesn't mean however that you need to have "long reads" on your site. An example: there are two pages with "no layout" (just blank white pages built upon simplest HTML) in the same niche, there's a short "keyword filled" paragraph on one and a valuable long article on second one. The second one should get better ranking then.

    However, if you take other (explained below) factor into the account it may turn out that the first page actually gets better rankings. That said...

    #2. responsive and/or mobile-enabled pages are preferred

    Web is mostly consumed via mobile devices these days: smartphones, tablets etc. Therefore every website should be designed the way that would make it fully readable and usable on these devices. Search engines are testing this and ranking partially depends on this.

    3. no more "keyword stuffing" and HTML "over optimization"

    I mentioned "keyword stuffing" before. This was often used along very "heavy" HTML optimization. This would mean that the HTML code developers would use each and every "trick" available to put key phrases into HTML "the right way" (like "alt" and "title" tags or moving <p> elements containing significant content at the beginning of source code and then placing it in a right place with CSS, etc). This is another technique that's punished by Google.

    4. security counts

    At this moment SSL protected sites are graded better than non-ssl sites. There are rumors though that at some point in future, sites not secured with SSL may be pushed at the end of search result lists or even taken out from rankings entirely. That's definitely something worth taking care of.

    5. site has to be made "for people", not for "crawlers"

    I think this point would sum it up nicely: as AI algorithms are getting better and better search engine operators (such as e.g. Google) are able to better differentiate "real" sites from "seo" sites and identify unique, valuable and useful content (even if it's packed with "flashing bells&whistles"). Therefore, the golden rule her would be to build a valuable site that would a) use standards-compliant code b) bring value to user experience.

    As "generally" as it sounds, it's a good way to proceed. It's also good to keep an eye on these blogs:

    Google Wembaster Central Blog

    Search Engine Land

    and of course SEO tips on our own WPMU DEV blog

    https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/?s=SEO

    I hope that helps a bit and if you have any further questions, I'll be glad to assist!

    Best regards,
    Adam

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