Google's John Mueller answers questions about SEO best practices for news websites, especially those related to the publication of shorter articles.

News websites shouldn't be too concerned with article length, says Mueller, since shorter articles are sometimes fine for the particular query.

This will be explained during Google Search Central's SEO hangout recorded on February 19th.

An SEO named Lene Hegland who runs a news website asks Müller about the risk of short articles being viewed as thin content.

She mentions that she is even considering not indexing the short articles, which can be a single paragraph, in case that helps her website find rankings.

Your concerns about thin content are justified as Google is known to devalue thin content.

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Google's Panda algorithm update is designed to reduce the spread of thin content with little or no added value.

What should Hegland do with the short articles on her news page? Shouldn't she index them so Google doesn't see the thin content?

Here's what Müller recommends.

Google's John Mueller on short messages

Regarding setting a noindex tag on the short articles, Müller says the decision depends on whether the website owner wants to index the pages or not.

Mueller says he doesn't think a noindex tag is needed just because an article is short, as sometimes smaller stories can be fine.

"If you don't want them to show up in search, you can use noindex. However, I don't think you don't need to index something just because it's a short news article.

Sometimes short articles are perfectly fine. I wouldn't focus so much on the length of the article as I would like it to be indexed or not? "

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Hegland says yes, she would like the articles to be indexed on google search, but worried about sending negative signals with thin content.

Mueller tries to calm her down by saying that Google doesn't care about the length of the content:

"We don't care about article length when searching the web. I don't know if there are guidelines for Google News. Especially when you mentioned this is on a news website – I vaguely recall some of the mistakes we made in the search console at the beginning when we showed that this news article is too long or too short.

Maybe that plays a role there in terms of news content. In this case, you can also use the Googlebot news metatag to block it specifically for Google News. So that you can show it in search and easily block it from Google News. "

Short content is not automatically considered thin content. Google doesn't assess the value of content based on length alone.

Long articles are equally at risk of being viewed as thin content if they are full of spam or if they don't add anything unique to the web.

Content that has been duplicated or removed from other sources without adding any new information is other forms of thin content.

A short article can add value if it brings something new and useful to the web, such as: For example, a breaking news update that other websites don't have.

Short content can also be fine if it answers the user's query. Google strives to get the best, not the longest, results for every search.

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Hear Mueller's answer in the video below:

For more information on this hangout, see the following articles:

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