Long Tail: “how many words to make page unique google supplemental”

I figured I’ll serve the public occasionally by answer a few questions people are arriving here with, including this lengthy one: “how many words to make page unique google supplemental.” I know these questions will probably bore the hell out of most readers, since they’re un-news-worthy and fall under the beating-a-dead-horse unbrella, but hey, a few “timeless” posts wouldn’t hurt, right? Future posts like this will be labeled “long tail”, so its easy for you to avoid reading them if the topic doesn’t interest you.

Also, keep in mind, I don’t pretend to be an SEO and I don’t play one on TV or Google Video either, so I’d recommend you verify whatever I post or at least take it with a dose of salt. If I knew everything about SEO, I wouldn’t be blogging about it :) Anyway, if you happen to disagree with me, it’d be awesome if you leave me a comment (concrete examples and a decent rationale behind it preferred). I’ve been coming across a few lapse-in-logic type statements on forums and Google Groups like “sitemaps killed my site!” - but I’m sure you’re way smarter than that.

So there you have it, my “long tail” posts official disclaimer.

Anyhoo, this guy is wondering how many words should he have on a page to keep it from turning supplemental. I wish I knew. From looking at my domains, low PageRank pages 110 words or less (not counting anchor text) largely end up supplemental, especially if its template based. Vanessa Fox also recently mentioned that thin pages aren’t a good thing:

You should also take a look at your site and make sure it provides unique content. Most of your categories don’t seem to have any content. You’ll need your pages to have value in order to get them indexed.

(Google is more about philosophy, passion, and marketing than tinkering with code.)

Since I see other pages on the same low PageRank domain with over 150+ words remaining in the main index, my money’s on 200+ words per page. This is a debatable figure, of course. Some people will tell you unique content pages with 300+ words have gone supplemental, therefore page size doesn’t matter. I’ve seen both extremes - a page with 10 words indexed by Google, and a page with 300+ words wind up in the supplemental index. But as I recently posted on WMW, would you believe me if I told you being 300 lb. overweight isn’t a factor in getting hot dates because I have three fat relatives that got married to supermodels before they hit 30?

No, I didn’t think so.

If a 10 word page stays in Google for 5 years, it’s there in spite of the low word count. The fact that it’s not supplemental isn’t a proof that low word count doesn’t matter. It just means there are other factors that make that page valuable.

BTW, if you need a tool that counts words (except for text in HREF), check out my word count tool. It’s buggy and rudimentary, but I use it, so it’s gotta be good.

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