When Google rolled out Panda Update in 2011, the websites that got hit hard by Panda were low-quality websites. Those websites had a lot of Thin Content.
It’s 2019 and Google “Fat” Panda still hates Thin Content.
If you’ve already got hit by Thin Content Penalty or want to keep your site safe from this penalty, you are in the right place.
Here I’ll be sharing a detailed guide on Thin Content for SEO. Here’s what you will learn:
- What is Thin Content?
- Thin Content Examples
- How To Identify Thin Content
- How To Fix Thin Content
- How To Keep Your Site Safe From Thin Content Penalty
What Is Thin Content?
Thin Content is the low-quality content that has a little or no value to the users. Most of the time, low-quality or shallow pages which provide no benefit to the users are considered as Thin Content.
A common misconception about Thin Content is, content with fewer words is thin content. But it’s not just the number of words of a page that makes it thin content.
To understand Thin Content, let’s watch a video of Matt Cutts (Pretty old video, but still relevant)
Thin Content Examples
So if we visualize the examples of Thin Content from Matt’s video, it will be looking something like this:
Now let’s take a deep dive into the examples of Thin Content.
1. Doorway Pages
Doorway pages are the web pages which are specially designed for Search Engines, not for human beings. Most of the time, these pages redirect users to the same destination.
These pages are also known as bridge pages, jump pages, gateway pages, etc.
2. Different Pages Targeting Almost The Same Keywords
You can consider it as a smarter version of Doorway Pages. The idea is to create multiple pages with good content but targeting almost similar types of keywords.
Here’s an example of these types of pages.
- Best Fat Burning Foods
- Best Foods That Burn Your Fat
The main keywords of these two topics are almost similar. Creating different pages with the same types of contents is not working anymore. Those are considered as Thin Content.
3. Thin Affiliate Pages
Thin Affiliate Pages are the pages that have no original content or added value to the users. Most of these pages contain copied product descriptions and reviews from merchant page.
And those sites are made for affiliates only. These pages are also known as Cookie Cutter Pages.
To get rid of this, you need to understand why a visitor will visit your page rather than going to the merchant page.
4. Automatically Generated Content
As the name suggests, this type of content has been generated programmatically. It could be the pages that are pulled together from RSS, translated by an automated tool without human review, combined from different sources without adding any value, etc.
5. Scraped or Duplicate Content
Scraped or Duplicate Content is the content which is taken from other sites and publish it on own website. Even though it could be quality content, it doesn’t provide any added value to your users. And it might also create copyright infringement.
Let’s see some examples of Scraped or Duplicate Content.
- Copied content from other sites without adding any original value.
- Slightly modified or spin content which is taken from other sites.
- Reproduced content from other sites without any original organization.
- Embedded content (such as video, image, etc) without adding any significant value.
6. Low-Quality Content
These are original content but not up to the mark. Most of the low-quality content fill with stuffed keywords, ads, affiliate links, etc. In a nutshell, they provide a little value to the users.
Most of the time, blog posts with low word count fall in this category.
How To Identify Thin Content
By now, you should have a good idea on Thin Content. And if you have a blog with fewer pages, it won’t be tough for you to identify those content.
But if you’ve been running a blog for a while, chances that you have a massive number of indexed pages in Google. In that case, it would be a bit tougher for you to identify thin content.
To make things easier, I am going to share some ways that will help you to find
1. Find Pages With No Organic Traffic (Using Search Console)
If some of your pages are not getting any organic traffic (for 3-6 months), there is something wrong with those pages.
While we can’t level all of those pages as thin content, but a significant number of those pages will fall in the category of “Thin Content”.
So the very first thing you have to do is, find the pages with no organic traffic. Just login to Google Search Console. Then go to the “Performance” tab (1) and click on Pages (2). And make sure you are checking the data of at least the last 3 months (3).
Then select rows per page as 500 and scroll down to check the pages with “0” clicks.
Here you can see that we have two posts on Media Temple which are not getting any traffic from Google.
So what’s the mistake we have made?
The mistake is, we published two different posts targeting almost the same keywords. After digging down, we found more thin content.
Now let’s move to our second way.
2. Find The Pages/Posts With Less Than 300 Words
If you are using Yoast SEO plugin, you might have noticed that it suggests having at least 300 words per page or post.
Once again, I believe that all of the contents with less than 300 words are not thin content. But most of the time, these content are thin and don’t add much value to the users.
That’s why it’s recommended to check the posts/pages with less than 300 words.
To check the words count of your WordPress posts/pages, you can use WP Word Count plugin. You can consider it as Thin Content Checker.
After installing the plugin, just go to “All Content” tab and scroll down to see the posts with less than 300 words.
Now check those posts/pages and make a list of those posts that seem as thin content to you.
3. Find Posts/Pages With Duplicate Content
As Google considers duplicate content as the thin content, you have to find and fix duplicate content.
There are several tools that you can use to check duplicate content. Here I’ll be sharing 2 such tools:
The most popular duplicate content checker tool on the web. Just enter the link, and it will tell you if there’s any exact same content on other sites.
The only problem with Copyscape free version is, you have to enter the URL one by one.
That’s why I won’t recommend you to check all the contents of your blog. Just check those posts which are not ranking. And make a list of those posts that have the duplicate content issue.
Another great duplicate content checker tool. While Copyscape checks the external duplicate content, Siteliner checks internal duplicate content.
Having too many internal duplicate content can make your content thin. So it’s wise to find and fix it.
Just go to Siteliner.com and enter your blog URL. It will start scanning your site and will show you the duplicate content.
It shows almost accurate data as it excludes common content such as menu, navigation, etc.
Now make a list of pages that have more than 10% duplicate content.
4. Find The Thin Pages Indexed By Google
Sometimes, Google indexes automatically generated pages. A good example is this –
Here Google indexes some thin pages that have no content rather than an image.
As those pages are generated automatically, there is no way to find those pages from your site directly. You have to find those from Google.
Just search for the term “site:yoursite.com” in Google, and it will show all the indexed pages of your site.
Go through all the pages and find if there are any thin pages indexed by Google. And make a list of those pages.
How To Fix Thin Content
Now you have all the thin pages. It’s time to fix those pages. Let’s see the step-by-step guide to fix thin content.
1. Delete The Page & Redirect It To A Related One
If the page doesn’t provide any value at all, then it should be deleted right away. Just edit the post and click on “Move to trash”.
Once the post has been deleted, you need to redirect it to a related page (if any) or just to the homepage.
If you’re using Yoast SEO, just go to WordPress Dashboard > SEO > Redirects and enter the deleted URL in “Old URL” box and the URL where you want to redirect in “URL” box.
If you are not using Yoast SEO, you can use other redirection plugins like ‘Redirections by Rank Math’.
2. Merge The Page(s) With Another Page
If you have similar types of pages which are targetting almost the same keywords, you have to merge them in one post.
The page which is ranking higher should be the main page. Then make that page more content rich by adding content from other similar posts.
Once you are done, just delete other pages and redirect them to the main page.
3. Noindex The Page
If it’s a landing page or a page that adds value in some way but doesn’t have much content, you can consider no-indexing the page rather than deleting it.
This way Google can find the page, but it will keep the page out the search results.
Here’s how to no-index a page.
Just edit the page on which you want to add a No-index tag and scroll down to Yoast SEO box. Then click on ‘Advanced’ icon and select ‘noindex’ from Meta robots index.
Then update the post.
Almost all of the Major SEO Plugins have this option to noindex a page.
4. Fix Duplicate Content Issues
If the page has duplicate content issues, then fix it by adding original content.
The best way to keep your content original is, using Grammarly. It’s mainly a grammar checking tool, but it can detect plagiarism in your content quickly. It has a database of over 16 billion web pages.
Use Grammarly extension and keep away from duplicate content issues.
5. Update The Page With Better & Relevant Content
This is the best advice I can give you to fix thin content. Just make your content better and more relevant.
Glad you asked. Just go through all the pages which are ranking for your target keywords. Scan them and try to understand what’s they have done better than you.
Then write 10X better content and make it relevant as much as possible. And optimized for On Page SEO.
However, content with more words doesn’t make it better. Try to understand the users’ intent and deliver your content.
6. Reduce The Number of Ads & Affiliate Links
If your pages contain a lot of ads or affiliate links, Google might consider it as thin content.
So try to reduce the number of ads and affiliate links.
Having too many affiliate links can actually get you penalized. Try to use fewer affiliate links.
How To Keep Your Site Safe From Thin Content Penalty
As Thin Content is one of the reasons why Google penalizes a site, you need to keep your site safe from Thin Content Penalty.
Here are a few things you can do.
1. Writing Meaningful, Better, & Original Content
It’s 2019. There is no way of writing an average content and hoping to rank well.
You need to write meaningful and better content. The content that people love to read and share.
And you have to make sure the content you are writing are 100% original.
2. Update Contents Regularly
This is the best way to keep away from the thin content penalty.
As everything is changing so fast, you need to make sure that your content is up to date and contain the latest information.
3. Stay Away From Common Plagiarism
Things like categories & tag pages, HTTP & HTTPs, WWW & Non-WWW, mobile version of your sites, pagination, etc can create internal duplicate content.
Try to avoid these issues.
Hope this post helped you to find and fix thin content for SEO.
If you have any questions regarding Thin Content, feel free to ask me via comment.
And if you’ve found the post useful, please help me by sharing the post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.