“Thin content” with “little to no added value”- this Webmaster Guidelines violation is a message many website owners dread, as it can translate to an SEO nightmare. The good news is that this issue can be fixed.
Understanding the violation
Google defines ‘thin content’ as a low-quality, shallow pages that do not offer users with much value. They are pages that have little to no original content, such as cookie-cutter sites, thin affiliate pages, automatically generated content, doorway pages, and duplicate content.
Because one of the most critical steps in helping your site rank in Google searches is making sure that there is plenty of rich information within its pages—including keywords that are used appropriately and indicate your content’s subject matter—having thin content hurts your quality score and therefore affects your ranking in SERPs.
What qualifies as thin?
Below are some of the common forms of thin pages that don’t offer substantial value to users. Check if your website has any of them and be sure to fix the problem right away.
- Automatically created contentThese are a low-quality content that are typically created using machine concatenation (machine support/auto generation). Although there are some good examples of high value content generated by robots or machines, most are low-quality, auto-generated content that can cause rankings to plummet.To make sure that automatically created content doesn’t penalize your site, it is critical to create a proper framework for content. The framework should include elements of auto-generation, such as a standard format designed to pull database information (including addresses and contact details for different business locations). This way, content included in your pages becomes more valuable to your audience.
- Low-value affiliate contentAffiliate sites usually have web pages that provide the same information or at least a closely matched variation of the same page. These links (which drive traffic, enquiries, or conversions back to the main supplier’s website) are great sources of additional profit for websites, but they should be more than static backlink pages made for the sole purpose of affiliate offering. They should also contribute value to your website, such as adding something new or value-enhancing to the affiliate audience’s user experience and refreshing website copy to add depth to the content. Limiting affiliate opportunities to those that closely match your target audience is also one way to add value to your affiliate content.
- Scraped or copied content from another resourceSystematically adding content to your site using external sources and spinning or directly copying and pasting articles that you did not create also puts you at risk of getting hit by a thin content penalty. All content that you add to your site should always provide unique value so as not to trigger thin content. Other forms of scraped content include repurposed external content and minorly tweaked but predominantly copied content. Embedding images, videos, and infographics without adding value or bringing something new to the table can also be considered content scraping.
Solving the problem
Identifying thin content within your site is as easy as doing some simple on-site diagnostics such as using a crawler like ScreamingFrog to identify pages with the smallest content size or the least word count. You may also crawl your site to find internal duplicate content. Some off-site diagnostics will also help you identify thin content or at least signs of it on your site, such as examining backlinks and checking for copied or stolen content.
Apart from the above fixes for thin content, you may also address the issue and avoid manual penalty by improving old content with the help of new upgrades and removing useless content entirely from your website. Upgrading old content can be done by providing updates on a certain topic or increasing interest to your original piece by expanding it or repackaging it to become more relevant. Other times, it might be more practical to remove useless content or add a no-index meta tag to it so Google won’t count it as crawlers index your site. Removing content should be treated as a last-resort measure when you have large amounts of pages that need fixing in order to lift your thin content penalty.
SEOValley can help you address thin content issues. Our team of SEO experts and writers can create high-quality content for your website—content that will pass Google’s strict quality standards. Contact us today.