In the world of content marketing, thin content refers to poor quality. Thin content may follow all relevant SEO best practices but fail to deliver value to the reader. As each of Google’s algorithm updates places an increasing emphasis on relevance, brands must optimize their sites with a focus on reader expectations.
Identifying Thin Content on Your Website
To gain a general sense about the quality of your content for SEO purposes, look at your page bounce rates. Google’s Panda update from 2011 created new standards for the quality of webpages. It enables website crawlers to weed out weak, duplicated, and untrustworthy sites. The update has been in place for years, but many brands continue to struggle with thin content-related penalties. When content marketers fail to balance quantity with quality, they often fall into thin content traps.
You may have a problem with thin content on your website if you notice:
- An unusually high bounce rate for the majority of your pages. Bounce rates show how many site visitors leave a site after only clicking on one page. While a high bounce rate can signal thin content, some bounce rates are actually good. They can signal a reader received the information he or she needed from the first page of the site.
- Poor keyword correlations within webpages. Thin content pages may include highly relevant keywords, but fail to answer a search engine user’s query. For example, someone who conducts a search on “how to cut hair” may not be interested in an article espousing the benefits of going to a professional salon.
- Generic information within webpages. If every other page on Google contains the exact same information, your content is thin. SEO-friendly content in 2017 is unique and delivers both perspective and value to the reader. Research, references, and examples are all great ways to move content from the general to the specific.
Many people mistakenly believe that upping their word counts will solve the thin content problem. In reality, thin content may include pages with 200 words and pages with 1,000 words. Adding more meaningless content will not resolve the issue. Brands must invest in uniqueness and relevance to overcome thin content penalties.
SEO Best Practices for Dealing With Thin Content
If you have a problem with thin content on your site, you can take steps to beef up its quality, eliminate Panda penalties, and meet your target audience’s needs. Consider some of the most commonly recommended SEO best practices for improving thin content:
- Consider de-optimization. Sometimes businesses and SEO professionals focus too much on optimization. They optimize phrases, URLs, links, and keywords to the point that content no longer adds value to the searcher. As in other matters, moderation is key for SEO success. Focus more on subtle SEO tactics, including audience research, topic relevancy, and content diversification to improve the quality of content.
- Remove unnecessary pages. Instead of letting a poorly performing page impact your SEO goals, take it down. Eliminate all duplicate and irrelevant pages. Scaling back and refocusing on quality can help brands identify and invest in more value-added topics.
A lawn care company might try to rank for search phrases like “local arborist” or “horticulture expert near me” without any experience, training, or services that align with those two landscaping/lawn care subcategories. Don’t try to make those terms work if they aren’t relevant. Get rid of the pages and focus on audience-targeted topics. Many brands use generic content as a placeholder and never get around to updating entire sections or pages with unique content. Until you can create fresh, new content for the pages, eliminate the duplicates.
- Rewrite thin pages with a focus on quality. Some thin content pages are too important to sacrifice. Instead, they may require reworking. Keep any language that sets your brand apart, then start over. Pull brand champions and expert writers together to develop engaging, relevant, and useful content. High-quality content can range from 300 words to 2,000-plus words per page. The shorter the content, the more punch it needs to pack to meet Panda requirements.
High-quality pages align well with search terms and answer search engine users’ most-pressing questions. They contain original insights, phrases, and perspectives. Search friendly pages feature experienced and well-researched facts, and they inspire action. Great content can feature personal anecdotes, factual research, entertaining lists, and more. As long as the content meets the needs of targeted searchers, it will perform well in all major search engines.
Thin content is a barrier to SEO success, but you can easily remedy this incredibly common problem with a focus on quality over quantity. Before you publish any new content to your site, ask these questions: Does the content align with the chosen topic? Have we presented the information in an original way? Will it add value to our readership? Green light publication if you can answer yes to all three.
SEO best practices change every year, and content relevance and credibility will only become more important. Give your site the best possible chance for visibility with consistently updated and original content. With these insights and tips in mind, you’ll never have to worry about the consequences of thin content again.