The Google Algorithm is a tricky customer to deal with. Its updates are as frequent as a OnePlus phone release. Therefore; it’s hard to comply with it’s changing demands. Consider this: You get all your SEO strategies right. Still, the algorithm ensures that the all-important first page of Google eludes your website. Why?
Most probably, this because of ‘thin content’ issues of your website. Thin content is a fancy way of saying that the content on your website is of low quality. Prior to the Google Panda update; thin content was never penalized so severely. More often than not, it was overlooked. Thankfully, for the general audience, Google has addressed this issue and quality is again an important scoring factor.
First things first.
What’s ‘Thin Content’?
Look at it this way. You are the student. Google is the teacher. The content that you post on your website is like a submission of some sort. If Google doesn’t like your content or thinks that it’s not valuable; it classifies your submission as ‘thin content’. Again, in simple words, poor quality content is thin content.
So how does Google classify content and determine whether it’s thin or not? According to Google, thin content is content that’s:
- Unoriginal or copied
- Poor word count
- Stuffed with keywords
- Irrelevant subject matter when aligned to the topic
- Lack of information
- Unstructured content
- Overstuffed with ads and popups
That’s the gist of exactly what thin content is and what it looks like. Given below are some pictorial examples:
Moving one step further. The importance of addressing a ‘thin content’ issue.
Importance of Addressing a ‘Thin Content’ Issue
Through the Google Panda update; Google is trying to bring about an overall improvement in the content quality online. Thus; thin content is penalized harshly. Its specific importance is underlined below:
- Thin content has an adverse impact on the overall quality of a website. Websites with a lot of thin content have a low Google page rank.
- Thin content doesn’t make for happy readers. When presented with unwanted content, people get frustrated and lose trust in a website altogether.
- There’s a possibility that Google imposes a penalty upon you. Google strives to make quality content available online. Thin content is the exact opposite. Hence, Google has the power to impose a penalty on such websites either manually or algorithmically.
In one of the paragraphs above; we have briefly covered how Google identifies thin content. All the sorting is done by Google’s algorithm. Sadly; there’s no algorithm as such to help individuals identify their thin content web pages. We have to do it manually.
How To Find Thin Content Web Pages
‘Content audit’ is a process wherein one reviews all the web pages that make the website. The general norm in companies is to conduct this audit on a quarterly or half-yearly basis; whatever works best for you. It’s through this process that one can identify the web pages with thin content. The challenging bit with a content audit is when there are a lot of web pages to audit. When the number of web pages is less; it’s a fairly simple process. However, for websites with a large number of web pages, this process can get quite confusing and irritating.
Patience is key.
The step-by-step process to conduct a content audit is given below:
1. Go Through Each Webpage
Content audit is a review process. The first step is to go through all the web pages and collect some information. Scan through each page to find out the following:
- Identify web pages with little or no content at all.
- Identify web pages that have been created by automatically generated content machines.
- Look for old pages that have no ranking.
- Look for pages that exhibit duplicate content from the internet.
- Look for landing pages with duplicate content.
- Identify those web pages that have a high bounce rate.
2. Select The Right SEM Tool
Manually without the use of any tools, it’s impossible to get access to such data as mentioned above. Therefore; in order to identify the thin content web pages; most marketers use SEM tools. All the data that you need to identify thin content web pages is provided by these tools. Most professionals use either SEMRush or Google Analytics to help uncover this data.
And, that’s about it. As you can see; a content audit is not all that hard. With the right tool and an eye for the right kind of information; identifying thin content web pages is an easy task. What’s a little more challenging is fixing the thin content web pages.
How To Fix Thin Content Or Low-quality Web Pages
Identifying the thin content web pages is just one half of the solution to your problem The next half involves taking measures to fix these low-quality pages.
Once you conduct a content audit review; you will know the reasons as to why the content of a particular web page is being deemed as thin content. Based on the problem; you take action.
Problem #1: Dealing with unoriginal content.
An easy problem to fix. For content that’s considered to be unoriginal, you mainly have three corrective measure options available to you. One, remove the content or delete it. Two, change the content, improve it, reduce the amount of duplicate content. And the third option is that, you keep the web page on your website as it is but you de-index them so that they don’t show up on Google’s page ranking and thereby, adversely impact the entire website’s ranking.
Problem #2: Dealing with navigation based web pages.
Certain web pages on some websites are created in order to facilitate easy navigation through the website. The problem here is that, these pages generally have a low word count. As you know by now, low word account is a thin content characteristic according to Google. These navigation pages are extremely important for the proper functioning of the website. But at the same time, you don’t want them to be a reason contributing to your website’s poor Google page ranking. Therefore, the best way to deal with such pages is to de-index them.
Problem #3: Dealing with old web pages with little content.
Old web pages generally means old content. Old content is more often than not, useless to your website. Therefore; the best strategy while dealing with such thin content web pages is to delete the pages altogether and also remove them from one’s sitemap.
Problem #4: Dealing with duplicate content.
Some pages, like category pages for example, exhibit duplicate content automatically. Now, when you are dealing with duplicate content as a whole; it’s not smart to de-index or delete the web page. Instead, work on improving the content. Two simple strategies that you can use to improve the content are:
- Redefine the web page title and meta description.
- Place all the relevant content at the very top of the web page.
Problem #5: Dealing with web pages that do not have a Google page rank.
This is where things get slightly complicated. Google does not assign all web pages online a page rank. Why? Simply because there are too many web pages online to go through. Therefore; often you will find a lot of web pages with a low rank or no rank at all. Now, not all low ranked web pages translate to poor quality web pages. That’s precisely what you have to identify. While trying to identify the thin content web pages; keep the following aspects in mind:
- It takes time for Google to rank your web page. Look at only those web pages which have been online for more than 6 months.
- If the web page is older than 6 months and is still ranking low; relook the SEO strategy that’s been employed.
When the web page has no ranking at all; there are two options at your disposal.
- Redirect users who land on that web page to a more relevant web page. To do so, you can add a 301 redirection.
- Use the content of that page to improve the content of some other page, if possible.
Problem #6: Dealing with pages that have a high bounce rate.
Today, high bounce rate pages do not classify as thin content web pages. But, it’s highly possible that the next Google algorithm update puts such web pages on the list. A smart person with foresight would keep this in mind and address the issue immediately. Pages generally exhibit a high bounce rate when they are unable to satisfy the searchers needs effectively. The only way to solve this problem is to actually improve the content and make it relevant for prospective searchers.
To Sum Up
Everyone online has to address thin content issues if/when it arises. Avoiding to do so, would be foolish and naive. Fixing low-quality pages is not difficult. If you stick to the basics, you are good. Always remember; when it comes to SEO, quality content reigns king.