If you’re a website owner, then it’s very likely that you have come across the SEO term called thin content.
Usually, most SEO experts identify thin content as one of the most common reasons why pages fail to rank on the web.
Let’s see what exactly is thin content, whether your website has been plagued by this issue, and if yes the ways to fix it.
So, let’s understand what thin content is and its ramifications on SEO.
Before that, check out what Chris Dreyer said to us about thin content and how to navigate when you stumble upon a lot of thin content on your website.
What is the SEO Thin Content Issue?
Thin content is a type of content that provides little or no value to the reader or user. It is often characterized by low-quality, shallow, or duplicate content.
Thin content can take many forms, such as:
Short articles or blog posts that provide little information or depth on a topic are published for the sole purpose of tricking search engines into believing that the content website is a high-authority one.
Pages with little or no original content, but rather a collection of unhelpful text which in fact is a tactic used by a few website owners who try to monetize their website by selling backlinks.
The length of the content isn’t the only determinant of thin content; there are sites that publish duplicate content that has appeared on a different domain without giving due credit. Such content also comes under the ambit of thin content.
A few websites try to rank on Google for a specific set of keywords by sprinkling it across content that adds very less value to the users, such content can also be classified as thin content.
Thin content can hurt the search engine optimization (SEO) of a website. Search engines like Google aim to provide the best possible results to users when they search for something.
To do this, they use algorithms to analyze and evaluate the quality and relevance of a website’s content.
Thin content can be seen as low-quality and not very useful to users, which can negatively impact the ranking of a website in search results.
In addition to hurting the ranking of a website, thin content can also lead to a higher bounce rate, as users may leave the website quickly if they do not find the information they are looking for.
This can also negatively impact the ranking of a website, as search engines may view a high bounce rate as a signal that the website is not providing a good user experience.
To avoid these problems, it is important to focus on creating high-quality, useful content for your website. This can help improve the SEO of your website and provide a better experience for your users.
How Do You Determine Thin Content?
There are several factors that can be used to determine whether the content is thin or not. Some of the most common indicators of thin content include:
Lack of depth or detail Thin content often lacks depth or detail and may only provide a surface-level overview of a topic without delving into it in any depth. This is mostly because such content is published for purposes other than providing value to the users and the website only focuses on attaining some kind of monetary benefit out of the content.
Low word count Thin content may have a low word count, as it may not provide much information or may only skim the surface of a topic. An article about a vast topic cannot have a word count that’s fewer than 200 words. This is an easy indication that the content is thin. However, there are topics that don’t require a lot of content, and in such cases, you may have to check if the content actually satisfies the user’s search intent.
Lack of originality Thin content may be copied or paraphrased from other sources rather than being original and unique. Most of the time, such content is either rephrases or spinner to look original. However, with NLP-based Language Models and the machine learning advancements made by Google, such content can easily come under its radar.
Poor quality Thin content may be poorly written, with grammar and spelling errors, or may be difficult to understand. That’s because most websites that publish thin content don’t really care about it or they may not have a proficient content team that can identify thin content.
Keyword stuffing Do you find articles that use too many exact match keywords that don’t make any sense contextually? Then you are looking at a classic example of thin content. Thin content may be packed with keywords or phrases in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings but may not provide much value to the reader.
To determine whether the content is thin or not, it is important to consider these and other factors, as well as the overall quality and usefulness of the content. High-quality content should provide value to the reader, be well-written and well-researched, and provide depth and detail on a topic.
5 Classic Examples of Thin Content
1. A page with only a few sentences of text that do not provide any real value or information to the user. For example:
“Welcome to our website! We are a company that sells widgets. Contact us for more information.”
2. A page with copied or duplicated content from another website or page. For example:
“Our company is the best in the industry. We offer high-quality products at affordable prices. We have a team of experienced professionals who are dedicated to delivering the best service possible. Our customers are always satisfied with the results they get from our products.”
(This content is copied verbatim from another website and does not provide any original or valuable information to the user.)
3. A page with a large amount of text, but the content is poorly written, lacks depth or is not relevant to the topic. For example:
“Our company offers a wide range of products and services. We have a lot of experience in the industry and are always looking for ways to improve. Our customers are very important to us, and we always strive to provide the best possible service. We offer competitive prices and are always looking for ways to save our customers money.”
(This content is poorly written and does not provide any valuable information about the products or services offered by the company.)
4. A page with a lot of filler text, such as repeated phrases or lists of words, that do not add any value to the content. For example:
“Our company is the best in the industry. We offer high-quality products at affordable prices. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to delivering the best service possible. Our customers are always satisfied with the results they get from our products. We offer a wide range of products and services and are always looking for ways to improve. We are committed to providing the best possible service to our customers and offer competitive prices.”
(This content includes repeated phrases and does not provide any valuable information about the products or services offered by the company. To make this content valuable, the features listed here must be tied to benefits the users will get)
(This content includes a large number of spammy or irrelevant links that do not add value to the content or serve the needs of the website’s audience.)
How Do I Fix Thin Content Issues?
Thin content is generally considered to be poor quality and may be penalized by search engines as it does not provide a good user experience.
In fact, there are cases where a website owner fails to understand that he/she is inadvertently publishing thin content.
Once such a case is commonly seen among e-commerce websites that use the same cataloged product description that other websites use. This also falls into the ambit of thin content.
To fix thin content, you can try the following:
Identify the thin content on your website:
If a website has too many pages with thin content, Google will slap such sites with a manual penalty.
However, you can identify thin content pages before anything of that sort happens.
Step 1: The most preliminary step is to use tools like Grammarly or Copyscape to check if your website has original content.
Step 2: Once you are sure that the content on your website is original, check the length of the content.
If you see that your content has very few words when compared to the competitors ranking on the top of Google for similar topics, that means you may be dealing with a thin content issue.
Step 3: If you are certain that the content has enough word count to satisfy the user’s intent, then look for keyword stuffing. Use a tool like SmallSEOTool or CopyWritely to check if you have used too many keywords within the content than what’s generally acceptable.
Step 4: Use Ahrefs or any other content audit tool and make sure that you don’t have similar or duplicate content appearing elsewhere on your website.
Expand or update the content on your website
Now that you have identified thin content on your website, the next step is to update the content with relevant information that really adds value to the user’s search intent.
If you identify thin content pages that are not worth updating, we recommend removing them from your website.
This is the best way to avoid a thin content penalty from Google. In fact, removing thin content has been proven as an effective strategy for improving the overall search rankings of websites.
But when removing the pages with thin content, make sure you are using the proper canonical tag or 301 to a relevant page within your site. This way, you can avoid losing the benefits of backlinks that you might have earned for the pages removed.
However, if you are going to update the content, make sure to add examples, personal experience and supporting evidence within the content, as this makes the content unique from the rest.
Also, adding internal links to relevant pages within your site will also help in improving the overall quality of the content and also aids in a better user experience.
How to Recover From Thin Content Penalty?
Did your site end up getting a manual action because of thin content? Fret not, this isn’t the end of the road.
Can’t Fix? Delete It
This is an easy method but must be done with caution. If you have identified the pages that are causing you the thin content penalty, delete them.
However, make sure that such pages aren’t really offering any value to the users. If you think they are worth keeping on your site, then continue with the next option.
Make Substantial Changes to the Content
If the content is something that your users may value if tweaked, then do a complete overhaul of it.
I would like to stress the word complete here because you need to show evidence to Google in a later stage that indicates you have made adequate changes to the content on your website and not just a few titles, meta and other cosmetic changes.
Try Adding Secondary Content to Add Value
This is something that you can try if you are dealing with a very large website like an e-commerce store.
It’s going to be a daunting task if you decide to write unique content for hundreds or thousands of product pages. In such cases, you can open up doors to your target audience to leave valuable content for each of your products.
You can add a community-managed FAQ section or product review section to each of the products. As more user leave their questions, answers, and reviews, the content becomes highly valuable to the audience as each user adds a lot of information that can help in making a purchase decision for others.
Additionally, this makes your content highly unique from the other sites that have used the same product and description. This is an easy win as there is very little effort that you have to put in to generate content on your website.
Apply for Reconsideration Request
When you are absolutely sure that the key issues with regard to the thin content penalty have been resolved from your end, head on to the Google search console and apply for a reconsideration request.
Here is how you do a reconsideration request aftertaste fixing thin content SEO issues:
Sign in to Google Search Console with the same Google account you used to register your website.
Select your website from the list of registered sites.
Click on the “Security & Manual Actions” tab in the left-hand menu.
Look for a message about a manual action being taken against your site. If you see one, click on the “Request a Review” button.
Fill out the form provided, explaining what steps you have taken to fix the issue and why you believe the manual action should be removed.
Attach any relevant documentation, such as a list of links that you have removed or a report showing that you have fixed any technical issues on your site.
Click the “Submit Request” button to send your reconsideration request to Google.
If your website has a lot of thin content, it may be difficult for it to rank well in search results. This is because search engines, like Google, value high-quality and informative content that provides value to the user.
If your website is full of low-quality or copied content, it may be seen as a sign of poor quality and may be penalized by search engines. To avoid this, it is important to make sure that your website has high-quality, informative, and relevant content.
If your website has already been penalized for thin content, you can try to get the penalty removed by filing a reconsideration request through Google Search Console.
However, it is important to address any issues with thin content and make sure that your website is providing value to the user before submitting a reconsideration request to increase your chances of success.
Dileep Thekkethil is a distinguished figure in the SEO and digital marketing landscape, recognized for his in-depth knowledge and ability to provide actionable insights. Holding a postgraduate degree in Mass Communication from Pondicherry University, Thekkethil has established a notable presence in Bangalore. His journey in digital marketing began prior to 2013 when he joined The American Bazaar, following his tenure as an SEO content specialist with a U.S.-based online magazine. Over the years, Dileep has amassed over 12 years of expertise, making a significant mark as an innovator in the SEO domain. His role as an author and a dedicated learner has led to the transformation of numerous websites through customized digital marketing strategies, underpinned by his profound insights into the field. Presently, Dileep serves as the Director of Marketing at Stan Ventures, where he contributes his extensive knowledge in SEO. Additionally, he is renowned for his frequent blogging, where he provides updates on the latest trends in SEO and technology. His commitment to staying abreast of industry changes and his influential role in shaping digital marketing practices make him a respected figure in the field.