We consider ‘CONTENT AS A KING’. By this, we mean that if we generate original and unique content for a specific term or keyword, then we can rank high in the search engines.
But what if the content is not original? This is considered as thin content or low-quality content. Such type of content can make your website unattractive to the users and even lower our SEO rankings.
So, if you do not want this to happen with your website then read everything about thin content –
- What it means
- Why it is bad for SEO
- How you can identify it
- The best ways to fix it.
What is Thin Content?
A content offering little or no value to the users is considered as thin content. As per Google, low-quality affiliate pages, doorway pages, or pages with very little or no valuable content are considered thin content pages.
But this is not it! Even pages with duplicate content, scraped content, and non-original contents are thin content pages too. Most importantly, pages with too much keyword stuffing are not liked by Google and are treated as low-quality and invaluable content pages.
Thin Content and Google Panda Update:
The initial Panda update from Google targeted content farms, which are sites with too much content written purely to rank well in search engine and attract maximum traffic possible.
Most of us worked towards content farms. We included our pages with content packed with keywords and less factual information. Though it gave big relevancy for search engines, it added very little value to the readers.
The original Google’s Panda update also focused on scraper websites. These are sites that ‘scrape’ text from other sites and repost it as their own. This way, they used the work of other people to generate traffic for their site.
With continuous rolling out of the Panda updates, the focus moved from scraper websites and content farms to ‘thin content.’ It is the content packed with copied information and keywords, but lack original and real information.
To ensure that the content on your website is not considered as thin content, you must publish best and unique content. This will provide satisfactory results to the search engines. The more satisfied they are, the higher they will rank your website for keywords and information mentioned on your page.
Even though you offer little content to the search engines, if it’s unique, valuable, and informative then it would help search engines to understand your site’s focus. As a result, you will be ranked higher for search keywords and can even enjoy excellent search traffic.
What Does Exactly Google want?
Google is the best friend to the users and it always tries to provide the best results to match their search intent. Your website or business can rank high on Google, only if you convince it that you are offering a unique, valuable, and rich answer to the user’s query. This is possible only if you write extensively on a topic at the same time being unique.
Thin content rarely impresses Google. The least benefit it can offer to Google is to tell him what your page is all about. You can avoid entering into such a condition if you write informative, enjoyable, Google-friendly and most importantly, user-friendly content.
Some of the important traits to look in your content are:
- It must be published on a high-quality website.
- It must be original and unique.
- It is not biased and must be interesting to read.
- It is comprehensive and detailed.
- It is well-structured and presented in an easy to read format.
Why Thin Content is bad for SEO?
There is so much fuzz about thin content, and why not? After all, it can truly affect your SEO results. Just remember that search engines are clever enough to find out thin content and simply discard it.
But this is not it! Thin content can do more harm to your SEO in the following way:
Reduces a Site’s Quality:
When Google evaluates a website’s quality, it takes into consideration the quality of each page. A site is ranked for quality if it has a higher number of quality pages in total. So, a website with most of the thin content pages can reduce our page rank and break Google’s trust on your site.
Thin Content Pages are Unattractive to the Users:
Thin content pages are of no use even if they are able to fetch high rankings. It is because they would not be of any use to the readers.
Users don’t prefer websites that do not give them exact information about what they are looking for. Also, duplicate content can disturb their overall experience as this is not what they want.
If you intentionally publish thin content on your website just to get high rankings, you would end with no benefits. It will not work and even if it works then it would be for a temporary basis only. If you continue to practice it then this can put a penalty or a permanent ban on your website.
Content is King Only If It’s Unique:
To get a high ranking in SEO, you need to have rich content that satisfies the search intent of the users. If you are unable to offer it then you will not get anywhere to the first page of Google, even if you use the best SEO practices.
Content is king only if it is informative, original, and valuable. Websites with such content have better chances of ranking high in Google search, with or without SEO. Websites with low-quality content have almost negligible chances to high rank.
Thin Content Gets You at Risk of Google Penalty:
With changes in Google algorithm related to devaluing and identifying low-quality pages, it has become easier for Google to identify thin content. Such an evaluation is a part of their normal process.
Google’s algorithm can easily check and identify low-quality pages and remove them from the index. In this case, such sites can even be imposed with a Google penalty.
How Google Identifies Thin Content?
Google identifies thin content by using its algorithm. These algorithms use different rules to determine how valuable a page is. Some of the aspects that Google checks are:
The originality of the Content:
The content on our webpage must be original and must not be available on other webpages across the web.
The format of the content:
Content with proper headings and an easy-to-read structure falls under the category of great content.
The number of Popups and Ads:
Google ensures that your webpage is not full of annoying popups or ads.
Slow responding pages do not offer a good experience to the users.
Content with all these aspects is considered as the originally great content and is able to pass Google checks.
Most importantly, it must satisfy the user’s intent as only then the page will be shown in SERP. It might be difficult to have good content for all webpages, especially when your site is growing on content.
What is the best you can do?
The answer is simple – you can identify pages that Google considers as ‘thin pages’ and fix them by making the content better, removing thin content, or redirecting search engines to other best pages of your website.
How to Identify Thin Content Pages of Your Website?
You can identify thin content pages of your site through the process of content audit. This process is suggested even if you don’t have any major issues with the content. To identify thin content on your site, you need to perform the following steps:
- Identify pages with little or no text content
- Identify pages with auto-generated content
- Identify pages that were published months ago but have no traffic and rankings
- Identify pages with duplicate content, including tag pages and category
- Identify pages with high bounce rate
- Identify landing pages with duplicate content, including pages for PPC or other promotional campaigns not related to SEO
Thin Content Issues and How to Fix Them:
In this section, I am going to focus on prominent issues leading to thin content and the best ways to fix them.
Internal Duplicate Content:
Internal duplicates are content pages that are exact copies of your own pages satisfying the search intent. This usually occurs because of multiple URLs that result in the same content. For Google, every URL is unique and every duplicate copy makes a thin content.
The best solution is to get rid of them. Internal duplicates must be canonicalized with a 301 – redirect or canonical tag.
Google is becoming highly aggressive about cross-site content duplicates. Such content pieces are the exact same pieces of content across more than one site.
Most of the people consider it as an issue of legality or legitimacy. But scrapers are bad and having same content across numerous sites will ruin SERP rankings.
If you own all the domains or control syndication, then using a cross-domain canonical tag will be an ideal solution. Select any one version as a source. If in case you are being scraped then you need to build an authority file.
Near Duplicates Across Websites:
There is a possibility of having near duplicates across sites. Product descriptions are a common example of this. This usually occurs when you add multiple partners and original manufacturer’s site.
Though the sites may differ in their wrappers, they all have the same core product information and this can affect the ranking advantage.
The best long-term viable solution is to build unique content to support borrowed content. This will not take much time and you only have to be creative to generate content cost-effectively.:
Near Duplicates Within the Site:
Another possibility of this content is within your site with near duplicates. These are the pages that vary only by a small amount of content, like a couple of lines in the starting and at the end. An example of this is when you consider one page of content and spin it off for different topics by making a few changes in the strategic keywords.
Such pages can also appear when the pages vary only in terms of color or size of the product. Since these pages are in multiple, so they may appear low-value to Google.
In this case, you need to block the pages or you can shift the focus of search engines on one product page instead of every variation. Just focus on more valuable pages. Alternatively, you can add value to the content with few swapped out keywords.
Searches Within Search:
Most of the e-commerce sites have lots of internal pages, which can be reached by links placed category-wise, tags, alphabetically, and more. This search within search process intends to let users reach to your actionable and specific information and not to jump from other search results to yours.
This can create innumerable near duplicates once you tie in sorts, pagination, and filters. Also, such pages may create a poor search experience for Google users.
The situation is tricky but if you have concise conceptual duplicates, such as search sorts, you must consider blocking or non-indexing them. The descending and ascending version of a search page in Google index is mostly low value. Similarly, you can create tags and filters to avoid near duplicates.
High Ratio of Ads:
Web pages packed with banner ads of all sizes can be considered thin pages. As per Google, web pages must have at least 30% unique content with ads being given the same space share.
You need to scale back your site and include only those ads that get that attention.
To Sum Up:
Writing meaningful content for keywords can help you with SEO and user intent. We understand that every situation is different, but try to make sure that every page has some original and valuable content instead of a big introductory image and a buy button. Hope this helps!