You’re working on your website’s SEO and are learning a lot of different things. A big question that can have a big impact on your site is:

Does page number affect SEO? Page number itself does not affect SEO. Your SEO can benefit from more pages if they have content that ranks for more keywords. However, having more pages with similar content can cannibalize traffic and hurt your SEO.

In this article, I go over page numbers and content in relation to SEO with information from Google.

Does Page Number Affect SEO?

Page number itself does not affect SEO. As confirmed by John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, in his reply to a Reddit post saying “A higher page count means nothing.”

John even goes on to say that anecdotal evidence points to large sites seeing better rankings from reducing the number of pages they have but this is only because they are cutting out unnecessary content and combining similar content.

The statement by John is backed up by Google themselves as they have admitted and shared that websites get a certain crawl budget limiting the number of pages that Google will index from a site at one time to avoid overwhelming the website’s servers.

it is not the actual page number that is affecting the SEO but other things that are related to page number, like the content itself, page URLs, and more.

If you think about it this makes sense otherwise there would just be a ton of people with websites with millions of pages at this point.

By increasing page number that means you have more pages. If these pages happen to be pages with different content and URLs that reflect that content those pages may rank for keywords related to that content.

This improves the ranking of the website overall so while the page numbers are going up they are still not the actual cause.

How Many Pages Should a Website Have for SEO?

The magical question: how many pages should a website have for SEO? A website should have 35 pages minimum for SEO purposes. 5 pages should cover pages like the homepage, about us, etc. The remaining pages should cover content like blogs, resources, products, etc. The more of these the better, there is no limit to these as long as it is good, helpful, & unique content.

On average most websites will be fine with around 30 pages of information content to help them begin to rank on Google and bring in some online traffic. Adding common essential pages puts the total at around 35 to 40.

Of course, this is just an average and depending on your industry you may need to modify this number. But I’m going to go over the most common factors that will require you to do this to help you out.

To start you know your brand and your website better than anyone else if you need more pages to cover just the bare essentials for your website then of course do so.

Going from there depending on the competitiveness of your industry or the niche your website is in you may need to increase the number of pages. For example, a website in the general fitness or cooking niche will definitely need upwards of 100 pages to be able to compete and get any type of SEO.

Another way to combat a competitive industry is to simply narrow down your niche and specialize. So for example instead of general fitness, you could specialize in circuit training or hypertrophy, a cooking website could specialize in homemade Turkish food. By niching down like this you’ll be able to reduce the number of pages you need to improve SEO.

By niching down you’ll reduce the length of time it takes to rank on Google for keywords by going up against less competition. Specializing your content also results in a better user experience as you more perfectly match people’s queries with separate pages.

With this you’ll be able to determine a more accurate number of pages you’ll need for more competitive niches like fitness, cooking, and others.

What Is an Ideal Number of Pages Recommended by Google on Any Website?

Google has not recommended an ideal number of pages for any website. John Mueller from Google has stated that a higher page number means nothing. Creating more “great content” is something we can by “all means” pursue.

For more information on how Google initially dealt with the number of pages and content as a ranking signal for SEO check out my other blog post here.

Google is not forthcoming at all when it comes to its algorithm updates and any exact guides regarding SEO. The closest we can get are these vague quotes from John Mueller that are open to interpretation and rarely give any direct instruction.

The best thing you can do when looking for any tips recommended by Google for your website is to follow the Google search Central website. Go straight to the actual source and do not trust the interpretations of different SEOs online.

Google constantly is making updates and sharing the news so make sure to stay up to date with them to get the most information you can.

Many SEOs will make assumptions that are NOT backed by Google but based on their own data and sometimes that data is very limited or biased. If you do follow influencers in the SEO space make sure you double-check their data but still always take it with a grain of salt as what might be observed by them might not be true for you.

How Much Content Do I Need for SEO?

The more helpful unique content you can share online the better but there is no minimum content needed for SEO. For SEO you want content that is better than what is already online. Review the content on the leading websites in your space to learn what information is missing that you can provide. Make content based on that in amounts sufficient enough to cover whatever topics it is about and you’ll improve your SEO.

While there is no specific number of words or pieces of content that correlate to SEO, a study of 11.8 million search results by Backlinko found the average Google first page result contained 1447 words.

“If you have the information that you need for indexing so users and Googlebot understands what the page is about in a short version then fine, keep a short version, you don’t need to make it longer”

John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst

This was Mueller’s response to the questions: let’s say I want to improve the content on a page. I add as much relevant content as I can for the users. Is more text better in the eyes of Google?

Going back to the study done by Backlinko, Brian Dean the founder of Backlinko emphasized that while they did find that the average Google first page result contained 1447 words that it was just that, an average.

Google’s first page results that were observed in this study were all evenly distributed in terms of length with blog posts both shorter and longer than 1447 words. So the amount of content in terms of individual page word count carries absolutely no weight as a ranking signal.

“Having the same word-count as a top-ranking article isn’t going to make your pages rank first…”

John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst

These 11.8 million results are the largest recent data set studied. This study supporting Google’s John Mueller’s comment that content does not need to be a certain length leads me to confidently say that there is indeed no specific amount of content needed for SEO.

Content needs to be more helpful than what is already online and really stand out from the crowd. The more unique content you have or can share online, the better you’ll do with SEO.

So instead of simply asking yourself “how much content do I need?” ask yourself “what type of blog posts, website pages, YouTube videos, etc could I create that would provide real value to my audience?

“I think first and foremost there should always be a focus on user benefits.”

John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst

The value of the content to the users is what matters most. What will your content do for them? Remember, Google is an excellent search engine because it provides relevant information that fulfills user’s needs and they hold themselves accountable to do the same.

  • Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
  • What problems can I help solve with my content?
  • How does my audience want to use this type of content?
  • What benefits could they gain from reading my content?

Not only should there be a focus on user benefits but also provide the information that someone searching for similar keywords or queries would be looking for. Whatever amount of content you need to do it, create that much.

Is Too Much Content Bad for SEO?

Too much content is not bad for SEO. More helpful unique content is better for SEO, but similar & fluff content can negatively affect it. Google’s Martin Splitt confirms “there’s no such thing as too much content.” But Google’s John Mueller & others’ data show large sites with more content share problems that get solved by reducing content.

Too much content is not bad for SEO.

“…there’s no such thing as too much content.”

Martin Splitt, Google’s Developer Relations

Confirmation from Google is as absolute an answer as you’ll ever need but for this question of too much content being bad for SEO, there is a lot more intricacy to how the relationship between SEO and content works.

There’s (still) no magical ranking factor that results in a site ranking better if it has more pages indexed. If anything, anecdotally from conference presentations & talking with folks, large sites that reduce the number of indexed pages end up ranking better (usually from cutting out cruft, merging similar content, etc). Of course, if you have more things to say about the niche that you’re active in, by all means create more great content for it, but if you’re thinking about just splitting your existing content out across more URLs, that’s unlikely to be a good strategy for search.

John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst

Some common problems large websites have that come along with creating more content include:

  • Outdated Content
  • Similar Self Cannibalizing Content
  • Low Quality/Fluff Content

Outdated content is an issue all sites run into as their content gets older. Once content becomes out of date to the point where it loses any relevancy that content can negatively affect your SEO.

This is because content that is incorrect or misleading will trigger Google’s algorithms to not only take away your rankings but even de-index that content entirely. If the content is simply less relevant than it used to be however you will only lose rankings if Google finds better content.

Content that is similar to other content on your site can negatively affect your SEO because separate pages take traffic away from each other. By dividing the traffic you are preventing the snowballing compound effect that is essential to your SEO to get the best results.

Duplicate or similar content confuses Google. It doesn’t know what content to choose to rank so you may end up ranking the wrong article for the wrong query. Google and other search engines will rarely show multiple pieces of the same content from a site.

Other websites will link to both pieces of the content instead of just one dividing the backlinks between them. Since inbound links are a direct ranking factor this divides the ranking power and SEO benefit you would have between all the similar content.

Large sites sometimes get to a size where the original site owner or team cannot handle all the content. When this happens a large site may acquire new content, new content creators, or they might not. All of these can potentially result in new content that is low quality that may negatively affect SEO.

Content mills, agencies, and freelancers are plentiful online but unfortunately a lot of them produce very low-quality content that can be filled with inaccurate, redundant, duplicate, or useless information.

Hiring new writers is a better move for the long term on average but that depends entirely on how well they are trained. Otherwise, new writers can make the same mistakes that outsourced content writers can.

Regardless of training, however, sometimes the first few pieces of content they create can still suffer from low quality. All content should go through some sort of quality assurance with an editor who is already familiar with the existing content level of quality.

Finally, there are some large sites that simply don’t increase the size of their team despite the growth of the website. The site owner and original team begin to get stretched thin between updating old content, creating new content, and maintaining the larger site. With no more human resources if the rate of growth isn’t slowed the quality suffers.