As more and more websites/companies are including content marketing as a part of their overall SEO plans, the margin for weak or low-quality content has begun to diminish. The same blog that may have done great for your rankings only a few years ago will struggle to get any traction now.
Part of this is due to changes in the Google algorithm designed to prioritize top quality content, as well as deranking certain content via items like the thin content penalty. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the key questions you may have regarding this concept and how to avoid being penalised.
What does thin content mean?
At the core, thin content is content that has little or no value to the user. What exactly this term encapsulates can actually be quite expansive.
The obvious examples are things like low-effort affiliate pages, doorway pages, or pages with extremely minimal content, even if that’s by design.
However, as the algorithm develops, other forms of content have been drawn under this umbrella as well.
Examples of now-thin content include duplicate pages (even if it’s duplicates of larger, well optimized pieces), as well as pieces that have the same core content, only with different keywords swapped out.
Non-original pages (pages comprised primarily of quotes or material from other sites) or keyword-stuffed pages are starting to fall into this category as well.
Why does it matter for Google & SEO?
Google’s purpose is to try and come up with the best results to match the search intent of the user. As a result, you need to put yourself in the user’s mind. If they have a question with an informational answer, the best option for them is either something that goes deep into the topic of choice, or provides a quick or correct answer. If they are looking for a product or service, they either want one that’s at the top of their field, or a site with a list of potential options. In both of these cases, thin content doesn’t fit the bill. As a result, Google applies the penalty for them to rank further down on search results.
How to overcome thin content issues
There are a few steps to take to make sure you don’t end up penalised.
- Creating meaningful copy. Rather than pumping out blog posts for engagement, make sure there’s an actual point to what you are trying to say. Are you able to relate a unique experience, share valuable data, or at least show you’ve done a lot of industry research? For affiliate sites, make sure there’s a purpose besides the affiliate link.
- Use tools to monitor your keyword use. Since keyword stuffing gets penalized now, be sure to use some of the resources available to check your usage.
- Use a thin content checker. There are a variety of different free and paid options. Just understand, if you opt for a free one, you may not get the same level of detail that you do with a paid one. Do your research before committing to any one option.
Appraising your content in order to make sure that you avoid the Google thin content penalty is a good best practice to install for your web design/content teams.
This applies not just to new content you create, but also retroactively as you work to optimise older content.
The only other area of concern here is the fact that there are a variety of other issues that can drag down your Google ranking, from a poor link profile to slow loading times to overly competitive keywords.
To complement your thin content checks, be sure to invest in a SEO audit.
Our Melbourne’s SEO service provider is an invaluable partner to help you in this regard.