Today, I am starting a series on the SALT.agency blog entitled ‘SEO Questions’. This new series aims to provide answers to some of the most common SEO-related questions we hear.
The straightforward answer to today’s question is that a website should have as many pages as necessary to be comprehensive and authoritative on a topic. By doing so, the site will provide value for the user.
The less than straightforward answer to the question, however, is that it depends on the website in question. This is because the content required for a medical information website is very different from a SaaS site, or an e-commerce website.
Google’s relationship with content has evolved considerably over the past decade and the old approach of targeting individual keywords with individual pages and focusing on your keyword density scores worked well for a long time.
However, this strategy became old news when Google released the Panda update in 2011. The relationship has since evolved further with the advent of machine learning algorithms and Google’s increasing ability to better understand the relationship between entities and topics.
It’s also essential at this point to clarify that webpages have differing values and that traffic and rankings are not the only metrics that your SEO efforts should be judged by.
Some pages are there for users, and building user trust — including About Us pages, Delivery Information pages, and Refund & Returns pages. These are essential to the website as a whole.
Google expects to see this type of user page when assessing a site and decides whether or not it demonstrates sufficient trust for users (this is one way of showing trust as part of EAT).
How many pages does a typical website have?
There are three groups of pages every website should have:
- Main content — describing products, services, and service delivery
- Supporting content — such as blogs, guides, FAQs
- User content — such as an About Us page, a Contact page, and a Refunds & Returns policy page
Depending on your business and the products/services you offer, the number of pages will vary.
Some large e-commerce websites can have 10,000+ pages due to extensive product portfolios, whereas the top result in my local map pack for gardening services only has three pages (Home, About, and Contact Us).
The goal is not to have as many pages as possible and spread yourself thin; it’s to create an easy to navigate website offering areas of user value. These “areas” can also be referred to as context vectors, or “micro-sites” within the larger site itself.
An example of this, using the travel industry, would be:
Almost like a filing system, you file each travel destination in the appropriate folder.
This means that if a user is looking for [city breaks in spain], when Google looks at the /city-breaks/spain/ page, it also sees what’s filed under this directory and that you have content for Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, etc. This increases the value of the folder overall.
You also need to find a balance between communicating your message and overloading a user; it might be tempting on the main Spain page to then also list all the cities, text on the cities, and links to specific travel deals and packages. To do so would be to present a user with a monster page and information overload.
An excellent website architecture comes from understanding your audience, in-depth keyword research, content strategy, competitor analysis, and then overlaying all of the aforementioned with business information, goals, and objectives.
How many pages should an e-commerce website have?
E-commerce websites can vary greatly depending on the platform that you use, and some platforms force you into website structures and pages (like Shopify), while others create excessive URLs through complex faceted navigations (like Salesforce Commerce Cloud).
For best practice in handling faceted navigation issues, we wrote this short guide.
Your e-commerce website should clearly categorise (and subcategorise) products so users can find them, even if they don’t know the name of the product. It should categorise product pages themselves, as well as pages to generate user trust and show that you’re a real business (such as the aforementioned About Us, Refunds & Returns, etc.).
Then, depending on how much you want to invest in your SEO, elements of supporting content, including news, blogs, and guides should be added.