First of all – don’t panic!
There could be a few reasons your content isn’t quite hitting the spot. We often find the main culprit – and the easiest to fix – is thin content.
What is thin content?
Not all website content is created equal. Thin content refers to low-value pages with little helpful information for visitors. For example, duplicate articles, short blurbs lacking substance, or pages with barely any info. It’s like a book filled with blank pages – there may be words but no meaty value. These thin pages don’t give users what they want.
Why thin content is a problem
Thin content hurts your website and your visitors. It makes it harder to show up high in search engines. When Google updated its ranking system in 2011, it started penalizing sites with low-quality content through its Panda algorithm. Sites with thin pages drop in rankings. They also lose credibility and appear less trustworthy to visitors. This causes visitors to disengage and not return. Ultimately, thin content fails to deliver the experience and value your audience seeks.
What is considered thin content?
Examples of thin content
- Duplicate content: This is content that’s identical or very similar to other content found online. It confuses search engines and dilutes the value of the original content.
- Short or unoriginal content: This includes brief content lacking in originality or depth, It doesn’t provide value to users.
- Content with little value: As above, pages with scant information, or overly promotional or spammy pages fall into this category. They offer little relevance or usefulness to users.
Google’s view on thin content
Google still penalizes thin content. The Panda filter in its ranking system targets low-quality pages. It downranks sites without useful, meaty content.
Google wants websites to focus on value for visitors. Its content guidelines highlight originality and relevance as key qualities. Pages should provide what users are looking for.
The impact of thin content on SEO
Decreased search engine rankings
Thin content hurts search rankings. Pages lack the depth and value search engines want to see. Simply having keywords is not enough – you need quality content to back them up. Without it, sites struggle to rank well in results.
Negative impact on website authority
Thin content also hurts your website’s authority. Sites filled with low-quality pages seem less trustworthy. This makes search engines see them as less credible. More importantly, it makes visitors perceive the site as less valuable and reliable too.
Avoiding thin content
Conduct a content audit
Auditing your website’s content is key. Carefully review all pages to pinpoint thin ones to remove. This clears out duplicate and low-value content. Both negatively affect your search ranking efforts. An audit is essential to find and fix these issues.
Embrace original, high-quality content
Instead of duplicating content or creating shallow, unoriginal content, focus on crafting original, well-researched, and valuable content. This approach enhances the quality of your content and provides significant value to your users.
Add depth and value
Make a point to offer in-depth and useful information that adds real value to your users. Avoid shallow or overly promotional content. Depth and utility are key to making your content stand out showing the search engines you are helpful to your visitors.
Site content checklist
Audit Website Content
- Use a tool like Screaming Frog to analyze word count and identify thin pages
- Review template words that may inflate counts
- Check analytics for low-traffic and bounce-prone sections
Set Content Guidelines
- Define standards for length, originality, depth, etc.
- Create editorial guidelines and policies
Eliminate Thin Content
- Remove or refresh duplicative, shallow, low-value pages
- Redirect to better content when needed
Create Valuable Content
- Produce original in-depth articles and resources
- Add context through internal linking and external references
- Set up systems to monitor new content quality
- Gather user feedback via word-of-mouth and reviews
- Refine practices to keep content high-value
Use links for context and credibility
Relevant internal and external links can provide additional context and credibility to your website. This practice not only builds the value and quality of your content but also boosts its SEO potential.
Pro tips for identifying and handling thin content
- Using Screaming Frog for content analysis: Screaming Frog is a powerful tool for conducting a content audit. By sorting the Word Count column in ascending order, you can identify pages with the lowest word counts, which can often weed out thin content.
- Adjusting for template words: When using Screaming Frog, it’s helpful to consider the words contributed by the template. Subtracting these from the reported word count gives you a better picture of the substance of the content.
- Using Barracuda’s Panguin tool: This free tool connects with Google Analytics to help identify if a site has been impacted by Google’s Panda updates. It’s valuable for diagnosing issues related to thin content.