What Is Thin Content and What Can You Do About It?

How much do you know about web pages with thin content? The reality is that not all web pages are created equal – not even on your own site. Some pages have high-quality content of value to the reader; others have very little original content and seem designed merely to solicit unwarranted clicks. The latter type of page represents thin content, and you don't want them on your site – or your overall search ranking will suffer.

What is Thin Content? 

Thin content is, in a nutshell, content that doesn't provide value to users. These are pages that don't justify their existence. They're full of fluff, often contain duplicative content copied from other pages, and are typically overstuffed with keywords designed only to get a high Google ranking without supplying anything of value to the user. (Ironically, keyword stuffing and other thin content results in lower Google rankings, which is why you don't want thin content on your site.)

Note that the term "thin content" may or may not refer to the number of words on a page. A thin content page may contain thousands of words, it's just that those words don't add up to anything of worth. They're what Google refers to as "low quality or shallow pages" and they violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines

What Type of Content is Thin Content?

There are several types of web page content that almost automatically qualify as thin content. You should avoid creating these types of pages for your website.

Duplicative Pages

One common and often inadvertent cause of thin content is having two or more pages on your website with essentially the same content. This often occurs when you have a lot of articles or blog posts on your site that, over time, cover a lot of the same topics. It can also happen deliberately if you try to gain traffic from multiple pages with similar keywords. Duplicative pages often result in keyword cannibalization and force multiple pages on your site to compete for the same keyword in Google results. 

Funnel Pages

Sometimes you may have content buried a level or two deep on your site and use introductory pages to funnel users to those pages. These funnel pages, unfortunately, qualify as thin content. (The same goes for cloaked pages designed to automatically redirect visitors to other pages on your site.)

Doorway Pages

A doorway page is one created solely to rank for specific search queries. When users click on a doorway page in Google's search results, they're typically redirected to another, totally unrelated page where the page's publisher collects some sort of affiliate commission. Since doorway pages – what some people refer to as "scam pages" – are designed for search engines, not for human beings, they're relatively easy to spot. 

Scraped Content

Scraped content is content deliberately copied from another website. There's nothing original there, just borrowed content for content's sake – with no added value beyond that provided by the original source. The only reason for scraped content pages to exist is to try to lure visitors searching on a given keyword. 

Thin Affiliate Pages

Affiliate content qualifies as thin content because it doesn't provide any added value over the same page appearing on other affiliate sites. In essence, affiliate pages are duplicative of content displayed on other sites; there's no real difference between landing on your affiliate page versus landing another affiliate page on another site. 

Pages with Too Many Ads

A web page overrun with ads and popups can also quality as thin content. This type of page may have actual useful content but it's difficult to get to due to the profusion of intrusive advertising blocks. 

Why is Thin Content Bad for SEO?

At this point you may be asking what the harm is in having less than ideal content on your site. The answer is that it's bad for SEO. It can affect your search rankings on Google and other search sites.

The reason for this is simple. Search engines consider thin content as not valuable to users. Pages may be ranked lower than other pages and Google doesn't want to direct users to low-quality pages. The lower rankings for thin content pages thus bring down your website's overall SEO ranking – which is why you need to improve your  thin content SEO.  

What is Google's Thin Content Penalty?

Even worse, publishing this content on your website can result in a penalty from Google. The penalty doesn't just reduce the ranking for the given page, it can remove your entire website from Google's search results. It's effectively a death penalty from Google.

To remove a thin content penalty, you must first fix or remove this undesirable content. Then you can submit a reconsideration request to Google. At this point Google may or may not reinstate your page or site. 

Best Practices for Dealing with Thin Content

If you identify thin content on your website, there are several courses of action you can take. It all depends on the type of content and what your goals are for a given page.

Improve the Content

Improving thin content typically involves adding more content. It may also involve removing overstuffed keywords and unnecessary images and other fluff. This is a good approach if you truly intended the page to be of value but somehow failed in that goal. 

Consolidate Duplicative Pages

If thin content arises from too many pages offering similar content, combine those pages into a single page. This will avoid keyword cannibalization and typically increase the traffic to the new combined page.

Remove the Page

Sometimes the best approach is to simply remove these posts. If the pages weren't providing much value to begin with, no one will miss them. (This is especially true of scraped content or content liberally copied from another site.) Plus, removing low-performing pages will improve the overall search rankings for your website. It's a win-win solution that doesn't require much work.

Deindex the Page

Sometimes you don't want to remove the page in question but also don't want it interfering with your SEO rankings. This is often the case with legacy content that is duplicative with more recent content. In these instances, you can simply deindex the page in question and avoid any content penalties.

How Best to Avoid Thin Content: Create More Useful Content

Thin content hurts your site, it doesn’t help. You want to create a website with unique, high-quality content that provides true value for human visitors. It's content with what Google calls E -A -T: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Providing this type of valuable content for human users – not just for search engine spiders – is the best way to avoid thin content and the penalties that come with it.

Let Kinetiks Help You Identify and Fix Thin Content – and Improve Your SEO Rankings

When you want to get rid of thin content and improve your site's search ranking, turn to the experts Kinetiks Consulting. We're your one-stop-shop for everything related to search engine optimization and can help improve your thin content SEO. We have years of hands-on SEO experience, so we know what to look for – and how to fix it.

Contact Kinetiks Consulting today to learn how we can help you deal with thin content on your site.


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