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Beginner's SEO

What is thin content and how do you fix it?

Written by

Mackenzie Griffith

Have you ever visited a website where the content seems off and provides no value to you? 

Does the article seem like it took the writer no time or effort to deliver? Perhaps even it looks as though it was written by a robot?

It’s happened to me, and in those instances you are viewing thin content. Something that you want to avoid at all costs with your own website. When most people hear ‘thin content’ they think it means short. That’s a misconception though. I’ve seen 200-word posts that were extremely valuable and 1000 words of drivel.

What really is thin content though? Does Google care about thin content? And how can you avoid having thin content on your website? We’ll answer these questions and more in this post.

What is thin content?

Thin content is content that is completely useless as it offers no value to its readers. 

Google reads thin content as the lowest man on the totem pole, the lowest of all low quality out there. It is very hard to understand how Google’s algorithm determines thin content, but the best way to determine this is by looking through Google’s guide to creating high-quality websites. If you read through the guide, you will see that Google suggests that high-quality websites have:

  • Their own original content written by experts
  • Content that is not mass produced or auto generated
  • Content that has been read through for grammar and readability mistakes

Websites that have thin content do not live up to these same standards, and so Google will usually knock their rank with a penalty (yikes!).

Why is thin content bad?

Thin content is considered “bad” because it does not provide adequate and factual information for its viewers. Often times, websites with thin content usually have:

  • Content that is copied and pasted from other websites
  • Content that is full of typos, poor readability, and/or grammatical errors
  • Content that is  mass-produced or auto generated

How do you identify thin content?

Google says that thin content typically comes from four distinct areas: 

  1. Automatically generated content 
  2. Affiliate content of low-value 
  3. Content that is copied from other sources 
  4. Through using doorway pages

Automatically Generated Content

Automatically generated content is thin content that comes from automated sources that have not been reviewed. These can be automatic transcriptions and automatic translations. An example of this is taking an article written in French and running it through Google Translate and publishing it in English without having a professional translator review it.

Another popular form of auto generating content (especially among startups) is using machine learning models like GPT3. Sure you can get a blog post written up in seconds. But the quality is likely to be off, and relying on these types of methods is going to hurt your site far more than it helps in the long run.

Affiliated Content of Low-value

Website pages that have numerous affiliate links that add no value or significant information for its readers are considered to be thin content. However, not all pages with affiliate links are thin content. 

If you are using affiliate content, to avoid getting in trouble with thin content, make sure:

  • That whenever you are updating your website, you keep your affiliate pages up to date as well.
  • The affiliate links that you offer on your site match with your target audience.
  • Your affiliate links are not the main portion of your website. Your website should have its own purpose without these links.

Content Copied from Other Sources

Taking content from other sources can also put you at risk of thin content. Some common ways in which content is copied include:

  • Placing external content onto your site that has no unique value of its own
  • Making small tweaks to copied content
  • Copy and pasting full articles created by someone else onto your site
  • Embedding content without adding new value

Doorway Pages

The last of the four areas of thin content are Doorway Pages. 

Doorway pages are a way to spam search engine results in Google with thin content. Doorway pages are pages or websites created to rank for highly specific search queries. We say that you should ‘create content for people, not search engines’ and doorway pages are pretty much the exact opposite of that mantra.

They create poor user search experience by flooding Google with low-effort content full of specific keywords and zero value. This causes searchers to take multiple steps in order to get the search results that they are looking for. Doorway pages cause users to end up with lower quality search results and leave people in frustration.

Conclusion

You want to avoid thin content on your site at all costs as it ruins user experience, and consequently ruins your site. Not to mention it puts you at risk of a Google penalty. Make sure to create authentic content that is beneficial to your users, and don’t forget to proofread for grammatical and readability errors!

Let’s make the search process as easy as possible for your customers!


Updated on:

April 19, 2021

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