We’ve all heard the phrase “Thin is in.” That may be true on the runway, but on your website – not so much. Too many “thin” pages on your site can actually do more harm than good, hurting your Google rankings and decreasing your chances of being found on the web. Let’s discuss what thin content is, why it’s an issue and how you can bulk up your website if you’ve created thin content in the past.
Defining Thin Content
Thin Content describes any page on a site that has little to no original content. This could mean that there is not much information on the page at all or that there seems to be a fair amount of relevant information, but this content is also used verbatim on many other similar pages throughout the site – also known as duplicate content. Google stresses that these pages have, “little to no added value.”
Matt Cutts explains that there are several types of thin content that routinely get webmasters in hot water, including:
Pages built and optimized for specific keywords that are simply meant to lead users to other pages. These pages can either have very limited information or they can have a wealth of information that is then copied and pasted on all of the doorway pages on the site with few, if any, changes.
Those created to promote affiliate products on which a webmaster simply takes product images and descriptions directly from the partner company and put them on the website without changing any details.
Syndication or Feeds:
Any time you are pulling content from other sources and posting it on your site word-for-word without adding your own thoughts and insights, particularly if the sources are poor quality, you are creating thin content.
Eric Ward adds that thin content can also describe pages that, by design, don’t require much content, such as pages for individual glossary terms, products that don’t need much description.
The Problem with Thin Content
As Google’s definition would suggest, the problem with thin content is that it doesn’t add much, if any, value for the user. Essentially, the user could get the exact same information on another site, so you are not giving them a reason to choose your site specifically. Thus, Google takes action against these sections of the site – or potentially the whole site – and stops indexing them, meaning that that site now has a much lower chance of being found through a Google search.
Bulking Up Your Website
Should Google identify thin content on your site, they will alert you in the Manual Actions section, under Search Traffic, in your Google Webmaster account. If you receive one of these messages, don’t panic! There are measures that you can take to rectify the situation.
The first, and most obvious, solution is to simply remove the content that is considered thin. However, this is not always the best move. There are two options that may make more sense, depending on the type of content:
If the content Google has marked as thin includes many pages that you’ve created with limited, but unique, information on each page, consider consolidating all of the content to create one long page with all of the necessary information.
If the thin content relates to items that you’ve pulled from other sites, determine how you can add value to that content. Ask yourself what would make a user prefer to read this information on your site versus any of the others that feature that same information. What makes you better? This may include adding in-depth reviews (for affiliate links) or expanding on the topic in further detail. Whatever action you take, ensure that it differentiates you for other sites that provide the same content.
The options above are great alternatives to removing the thin content altogether because they maintain the page count on your site, allowing Google to go back in and re-index them, rather than just eliminating the pages, and therefore your chances to be indexed.
Need a Trainer?
If you’ve never set foot in a gym before, you may need the help of a trainer to choose the right exercises and equipment to achieve the toned or beefy physique you desire. In the same way, you may need someone to guide you on the path to identifying and solving the issue of thin content on your website. That’s why we’re here. We’ll help you evaluate your site, determine the best way to add value, and write compelling content that will whip your site into shape for Google. Ready to get started? Reach out for a free consultation.