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Thin content – what is it, and how does it affect your website?

Thin content - what is it, and how does it affect your website?

A long time has passed since the Panda algorithm’s introduction, but its operation’s effects can still be noticed. It is one of the most important Google updates, after which you can finally say: Content is king. The website’s content is currently one of the most important ranking factors – so sites with duplicate content and many low-value subpages have come under fire. In that way, Panda passed judgment on those containing duplicate and thin content. Content is important for customers looking for the necessary information about a product or service and for Google robots, which analyze the website’s content very carefully. In this analysis, they consider factors important from the point of view of Internet users – the content is to be adapted to their needs. Therefore, websites with high-quality content fare much better in the algorithm ranking. So how do you know that the website’s content is of little value to users and search engine crawlers? 

Low-value websites – what is thin content?

Recently, a lot has been said about duplicate content and the dangers of such a practice. However, an equally harmful phenomenon is gathering less attention – and unjustly so. Thin content is a broad concept generally described as low-quality content. Therefore, the “blacklist” of this algorithm includes:

  • pages with automatically generated content,
  • pages with too little unique content and subpages that do not differ much from each other,
  • too high saturation of the content with keywords,
  • hidden content on the page,
  • low-value texts for users. 

Pages with automatically generated content

We are talking mainly about texts created with the use of various types of generators and synonymized articles, often saturated with keywords. Even though you don’t usually put these types of texts on your subpages, remember that the quality of incoming links and the value of the content they are surrounded with affects your website’s ranking in Google.

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Insufficient unique content on the website and subpages that do not differ much from each other

A crucial stage in building and optimizing any website is enriching it with valuable and unique content. Therefore, a common mistake is a complete lack of or too short text on the page. It is especially true for online stores that do not have product and category descriptions. In such a situation, the subpages differ only in the name of the product and its technical data.

Another common mistake is duplicating descriptions when each product variant is presented on a separate subpage. Regardless of how many subpages your website has, you should make sure that the content placed on it is varied. If you do not want to create separate descriptions for individual product variants, a much better solution will be to place them on one subpage – and allow for choosing a variation from that particular place within the website.

Too high saturation of the content with keywords

Another practice disciplined by Google is excessive saturation of content with keywords or using only direct phrases. Such texts are assessed by Google robots as artificial and of little value for your website. Remember that SEO optimization means, as the name suggests, optimal, not the maximum, use of elements that affect the position of your website. The text should look natural, useful, and easily digestible. Content that revolves solely around using key phrases unrelated to its subject can also be classified as thin content – robots evaluate it negatively due to low relevancy.

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Hidden content on the page

Hidden content is one example of black hat SEO activities aimed at deliberately outsmarting search engine algorithms. This is most often done by changing the appearance of the text using CSS styles or displaying the changed content only to the indexing robot. This does not mean, however, that these activities cannot be detected – it is controlled by the so-called Raters – Google employees who manually verify websites.

Low-quality content for users

Everything that makes the reader want to stay longer on the site is appreciated. Texts that do not convey specific information and are muddy instead are useless to visitors to your site. On the other hand, the content should be user-friendly. It is, therefore, not good practice to include only complex technical specifications in product descriptions. The text should be supplemented with additional information, fully understandable and useful for the recipients. Interestingly, Google’s algorithms also take content formatting into account. Visually unattractive text, i.e., without paragraphs or designated headings, does not encourage reading. It is worth considering this while enriching the content with photos or multimedia. 

How does thin content affect your website?

The biggest threat is, of course, the drop in the position of your website in the Google search engine. The low value of the content and the lack of uniqueness make it unattractive for both users and crawlers. This, in turn, contributes to a decrease in its position in search results and an increase in the bounce rate. When your website develops and is systematically expanded with new categories and enriched with new products, its content can quickly get out of control.

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That is why it is so important to monitor your website constantly. If it is struggling with the problem of thin content, information about it should be found in Google Search Console: Search traffic -> Manual actions. In such a case, improving the quality of texts on the website will be necessary – only after this action can you request reconsideration. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so it makes sense to invest in high-quality texts already at the stage of building and optimizing the website.

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Author of the article

It’s been 8 years since Maciej took his first steps in the world of marketing - especially the one related to content. So far, he has worked for politicians and the b2b and b2c industries. A fan of content marketing in the digital strategy and its influence on customer navigation and brand reputation. He is also interested in the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility and sees this topic as a springboard for the communication development of many businesses. Responsible for marketing in Verseo. In his free time Maciej reads reports from the world and scientific + sci-fi literature. :)