Thin content may be the biggest downfall to companies looking for online market-share. Webmasters and SEO agency professionals are in a constant battle against their competitors to move up their website rankings, and one of the best methods to do this is to provide high-quality content — basically the complete opposite of the subject of this post, something called ‘thin content.’ Examples of thin content range from keyword-stuffed fluff pieces, doorway pages, pages with auto-generated text, and pages with duplicate content.
Google is beginning to update their ranking and search algorithm on a continual, on-going basis to keep users happy. Content, as they say, is king, and publishing thin content in order to get substantial web traffic is simply no longer tenable. For the worst offenders who intentionally publish masses of low-quality pages, Google may penalize your page or even issue a ban. As Google continues to tweak their algorithm to satisfy users who are looking for the content they desire, webmasters and SEO experts need to understand how these changes are affecting their search rankings, and most importantly what proactive steps they can take to ensure their content isn’t deemed ‘thin.’ Here is a great article on thin content published by Search Engine Journal, a reputable resource in the SEO marketplace.
What Is A Quality Page?
To distinguish a quality page from a low-quality one, some of the things Google looks at are the speed of the page and its number of obtrusive ads and pop-ups. High-quality content looks different to different users, of course, but in general, Google defines it as being:
-unique and original content
-fundamentally not biased
-comprehensive and thorough
-formatted well and having good structure
Even if your page passes these tests, Google could still rank your page poorly if users who visit your site aren’t receiving what they want or expected. A good rule of thumb is to always match as closely as possible titles and descriptions to the actual content within your page. This will make for a better user-experience and increase the SEO value of the web page.
Critical Content Audits
The following will explain what a ‘content audit’ is and how it can prove to be an extremely valuable exercise for improving the performance of your web pages. A content audit basically means identifying which of your pages are low-quality or could be deemed ‘thin content’ — using the definitions used above –- and fixing them by choosing to either improve the content, delete them, or redirect users to another, higher-quality or more relevant page. SEMRUSH’s Organic Traffic Insights and Content Analyzer can be used to obtain a report with useful information such as keyword rankings, the number of visits, organic traffic and bounce rates.
For sites with many pages, a content audit can be tedious and time-consuming, which makes tools such as is offered by SEMRUSH and Google analytics very useful. The following list will explain what to do with different types of thin content pages you find.
For pages with little to zero original content, either remove them, de-index them but keep them up, or work to improve the quality of their content.
Pages useful for navigation purposes only can be de-indexed by using the ‘noindex’ header tag.
For older pages, such as outdated announcements, either delete them outright or use a ‘301 Redirection’ to redirect wayward searchers to a more relevant page.
Category pages, while they may have a fair amount of duplicate content as is natural, should never be removed or de-indexed as they are very useful for SEO purposes. Instead, improve them by enhancing the meta description or title. Of course, the stock remedy of creating original, relevant content applies here as well. Also, if any of your pages have decent rankings, identify which keywords are leading seekers to that site and re-tool the content to emphasize those keywords and the relevant content.
While time-consuming, conducting a content audit is a good use of your time and effort. Identify which pages are thin on content and either improve them, delete them or redirect users to more relevant pages. A site with 1,000 low-quality pages will always lose to a site with 100 high-quality pages. Going forward, be cognizant that low-quality and thin content pages — no matter how many of them -– are simply not the future of SEO.