The answer to the question above is, as so often is the case, “it depends.” In theory at least, websites with thousands of unique pages do in fact get lots of love from Google and the other search engines. These kinds of websites are generally known as “authority sites” because they have become “authoritative” in their particular niche. The thing is, not every site which has thousands of unique pages would actually qualify for such an accolade.
Made for Adsense Sites
One of the most popular ways to make money online just a few years ago was the so called “made for adsense” website. In essence, these sites offered up low quality, junky articles which had specific keywords included. The idea was to get people to visit the websites and then click on the Adsense ads which were placed throughout (nobody really cared if you read the articles though).
This concept worked for a while and a whole industry sprung up around doing this kind of junk work. It’s one of the reasons that content writers still offer up their wares for just five bucks or even less (more on that in a moment). Google decided that they’d had enough with these kinds of sites though and they started to drop them in the rankings. These days, such sites, even though they have thousands of “unique” pages, are considered to be next to worthless.
There are also other kinds of websites with similar efforts to the MFA sites including autoblogs which spin content as it comes in and other sites built around junky material. These places, while they do have thousands of unique pages, tend to not to get much search engine love these days because they are considered junk.
So What Does Work?
Real authority sites still get plenty of search engine love. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to build such a website. Here’s what you need to know:
Your Content Needs to Worth Something
First and foremost, content is still king and probably will be for the foreseeable future. While people these days are all up in arms about web 2.0 and social media, all they are saying is that content is king though in a different way. Ultimately, those web 2.0 and social media links are considered by Google and the other search engines to be indicators of quality sites because people find them useful. In other words, it’s all about the quality content (the theory being that people won’t like, tweet or bookmark junk).
You Need to Keep Updating
Even if you build a website with thousands of unique, quality pages on it, if you one day decide to abandon it completely and stop updating it, it will fade into obscurity and become relatively worthless in the eyes of Google and the other search engines. You need to be adding content on a regular basis otherwise you can kiss all your hard work goodbye.
So What Constitutes Quality for an Authority Site?
Now here’s what we really need to talk about and what will take up the bulk of this blog post. Just what is it that constitutes the kind of “thousands of unique pages” that will actually get you some serious Google love? There are several things that you need to keep in mind and several ways to do this:
Go for Trending
The first possibility is to go for trending stuff. This means that you are basically running a kind of a news website. You could run such a site in a specific niche and then offer up content about things that are hot right now, whatever it happens to be (it’s easy enough to find trending topics in Google, Twitter and Facebook).
The issue here is that you need to have people ready to write or build infographics or videos on relatively short notice so as to explain things that people want to know about. For example, the so called “fiscal cliff” which the United States is facing – what does that mean? What do we need to know about it? You could create an infographic and make some good traffic from it.
You could also create videos. By the way, you should keep in mind that video can take any number of forms – I recently found for example an uber cool site called Sparkol which allows you to create stop motion videos with the hand drawing them (it is a bit pricey though – around $22 a month, though if you do around 10 videos a month, that’s really very cheap considering what you get and they really are easy to make).
You could also create videos using PowerPoint. Puppets are also popular. In other words, video doesn’t have to involve spending a fortune on live actors and then waiting for them to shoot your video for a trending topic. You could easily make cool looking videos in a few minutes using the techniques above and then get in on the trending market.
Finally, as I said above, it’s possible to use infographics. I found out that there are a number of services online which will allow you to create them easily without needing to hire a professional designer. Piktochart for example is a very popular option for doing this.
Go For Evergreen
The other option in doing this is to go for evergreen material. In essence, this means creating content which is interesting to people now or five years from now. Some good examples of this would be places to vacation, how to plan for retirement, ideas on paying for college, how to make various things at home, etc. Oh and of course, humor is often timeless…
The same basic concepts apply here with the possible exception of video. My feeling is that if you are doing how to videos, you do need to use live actors who show you what to do. It’s a vastly different thing than the above, where you’re talking about things in the news because people need to see what you are doing.
If you do how to articles, it’s important to include images which actually show what you’re doing (this is something I always hated about eHow – they didn’t allow their writers to upload their own images and so the how to articles are often utterly useless because they’re so hard to follow).
Now about that Writing
It happens that I recently had the opportunity to dip my toe into purchasing content instead of writing content myself. I got a deal on Warrior Forum to buy already built blogs which have a certain amount of PR already built into them and I wanted to put content onto them to support the PR. I felt that it didn’t need to be great stuff – just legible because I was mostly going to build links back to my money sites.
I found out that I one of the most underpriced writers on the web. Those who read this blog regularly know that I write it on Yasir’s behalf. I happen to be very inexpensive considering the amount of experience I have in writing and the quality of my writing (not to toot my own horn but I’ve been writing professionally for nine years and I know I’m really good).
Most of the stuff I was buying at a cost of $5-$10 per article (i.e. 1-2 cents a word) had lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Moreover, there was no flare and no personality in the writing. The people who wrote this stuff, even when they mostly didn’t make mistakes in their spelling and grammar were just incredibly boring!
Trust me, if you want to put your customers to sleep, you can buy boring content on Fiverr for five bucks. It may not even need much editing as far as making it sound legible (I’ve found that it’s a mixed bag). However, none of it is likely to be up the kind of standards that will get people to keep coming back looking for more.
I found for example that the ideas that people offer in the articles I ordered were the same stuff that I’ve seen everywhere with nothing new. They were also written as if someone was just trying to do a job instead of offering genuine passion for what they write. Compare that kind of material with what you can find on a place like about.com.
About.com offers up content from writers who are paid pretty well though not very well (a large percentage of their income is based on traffic). However, one thing that I found is that the people who write in their niches tend to be passionate about them. They don’t do it solely because they are trying to make money. They also are genuinely interested in these things.
I realized after my little foray into buying content that I have my areas that I’m passionate about too and that’s why my writing is so good. I’m passionate about internet marketing and SEO. I’m also passionate about personal finance and about politics (I have a few other areas of interest but that’s not what this blog post is about).
Ask me to write a series of articles about beauty schools though and while I might do a competent job of it, I’m not going to be passionate and it’s going to show in my writing. I mention that often by the way because I once had to write 50 articles about beauty schools and felt like I wanted to tear my hair out by the time I was done…
So What Does This Have to Do with Authority Sites?
I’m glad you asked that question! Basically, as I said at the start, just because a website has thousands of unique pages doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to get any Google love. Sure, it helps to have those thousands of unique pages even it’s mostly uninspiring and boring. However, the authority sites which truly get Google love are the ones written by people who are passionate about the subject.
You see, Google doesn’t just look at how many pages you have. They also look at how much time people are spending on the page and they look at how many people are tweeting it, liking it or sharing it. They want to see that those thousands of pages are designed to do more than just attract the search engines. They want to know that they’ll also be useful to real people.
What All This Means
Bottom line is this: when people tell you that they’ll sell you an “authority site” for twenty or thirty bucks, they’re offering you a pile of garbage. Even if the content they offer up is “unique,” it’s likely to be written by folks who are just pushing out as many articles as they can as the people who I found and paid $5-$10 for an article to.
If you want a real authority site, the best advice is to buy one which is already established or to do the hard work of building it slowly. You can get plenty of Google love for sites which have thousands of unique pages. However, it’s not as easy as running a few thousand articles through The Best Spinner and throwing them up on your site. You need to build a community that’s passionate.
One More Idea
Before I m, I have one more idea for building those sites with the thousands of unique pages which I want to share with you and unlike the ideas above, it doesn’t require you to write about the subject yourself or hire writers or actors who are passionate about it. The idea is forums. Forums are great in that you can get the content built by real people who are really passionate about the subject that you are promoting.
However, it’s important to start off a forum on a strong footing. Most new forums fail because they have a chicken and egg problem. You need lots of people already there in order to get new people there but you can’t get lots of people there without first having lots of people there.
The solution is to pay people who know what they’re talking about and are passionate on the subject to start having conversations on your new forum. Yes, it’s an expense, but ultimately, they’ll likely stick around if they find that it’s interesting to them even when you stop paying them.
Just because a website has thousands of unique pages doesn’t necessarily mean that it will get Google love. However, an authority site, where real, useful information is offered and where people can drop by and see that it’s a place worth bookmarking will indeed get that Google love and will be well worth your effort to create.