What is Thin Content?

Thin content is described in search engine lingo as any content that adds little or no value. This type of content can be hurtful for SEO. Google's algorithm uses content as a benchmark for site rankings.
When Google sees pages that with affiliate or auto-generated content, it flags them as thin content, as these web pages do not fulfill the search intent of a user. Hence, they are classified as 'Thin Content.'
Google considers content as thin when it’s created using any of the following methods.
You may unintentionally have thin content on your site. You may have scripts running or plugins that scrape content from the web. Your site may contain doorway pages you created to rank for specific queries.
It's tricky to define what exactly falls under thin content from the view of a search engine. Ideally, longer and original content on a page qualifies as the relevant content for a user. We will examine thin content in more detail in the rest of this article.

Will Thin Content Attract Penalty?

Google is wary of thin content. It started with the Panda algorithm update in 2011. This update penalized thin content as millions of pages were auto-generated.
A massive wave of audits from Google de-ranked thousands of sites with poor content. This action encouraged websites to put out better content.
Thin content is bad for SEO. It affects SEO even without warnings from Google. Longer form content is one way to mitigate thin content warnings and penalties.
Thin content attracts a penalty compared to duplicate content which only lowers your SEO score. Sites with plenty of ads or external links usually get slapped with a thin content penalty.
To avoid thin content penalties or recover from one, focus on excellent content. Good content not only helps your SEO but also builds trust with new visitors.

How Can Thin Content Hurt Your Website?

1. Direct Impact on SEO Scores

Thin content adds no value to your page or visitor. Google considers it as a type of content with the lowest quality. Thin content pages are often auto-generated. This is deemed to be acceptable for dynamic product pages but not for content pages. It sends a message that there was little or no focus on the content creation.
Google usually notifies the webmaster through the search console in case of thin content. However, this is not always the case.
You may be losing rankings due to thin content without realizing it.
So, keep a check on your content quality with certain guidelines.
Regular content audits and a strong content strategy are the way to go. These best practices help you catch any content issues before it is too late. It is a safe way to prevent penalties from Google and safeguard your existing rankings.

2. Increases the Bounce Rate

Visitors to any site quit the page if it does not meet their needs. Content on a page needs to be relevant and accurate. Vague content or a page with too many ads instill reluctance in a visitor. They may think that the site is unsafe for online transactions.
Visitors spend less time on pages that do not fulfill their intent. They expect to find helpful information when they visit any site online. Not seeing the details, they need makes them lose interest in your products.
When visitors leave pages abruptly, it increases the bounce rate. An increased bounce rate translates as a poor user experience for search engines.
Always maintain a bounce rate of 40% or lower.
Thin content is a primary contributor to an increase in bounce rates. Spend time on creating and updating content to encourage user engagement.

3. Diminishes Backlink Opportunities

Quality link building is a crucial tenet of good SEO. Visitors trust sites with quality backlinks and content, as it helps build authority with search engines and leads to organic SEO growth. Backlinks are like endorsements from one website to another.
Backlinks send a strong ranking signal to Google. No one would link to a site with thin content. Sites with authority look for linking opportunities with other quality sites. We can primarily determine the quality of a site by the design and content.

Related : Legit Ways to Earn Backlinks to Your Site

A lack of focus on linkable content hurts backlink opportunities.
Here’s an example where a page’s quality content has several websites pointing to it.
Your SEO grows when more sites link to your content. Google sees this as a positive signal and infers that your site contains content relevant to a user's search query.

4. Hurts Brand Credibility and Trust

Content on your website can make or break your credibility with prospective customers. Imagine if you went to a website to buy a product after seeing an online ad but found little or no details about it? Would you still be confident to make a purchase?
Of course not. Sites with thin content are a red flag even for people who are not very web-savvy.
When people who visit your site close it without spending time, it sends a negative signal to Google. Google infers that the content on your site is not trustworthy or valuable.
Thin content is a leading reason for customers' lack of trust. It indicates that the company has spent no effort to provide helpful information to new visitors. Thin content diminishes trust and confidence in your brand.

5. Prevents Organic Increase in Rankings

Your website ranks well when the content is of high quality. The site draws more visitor traffic naturally. This organic traffic helps in better SEO scores. Organic web traffic remains consistent if you audit the website design and content regularly.
Thin content is bad for organic traffic generation. It sends a negative message to users. Over time this can seriously hurt any SEO efforts on the website. It is challenging to bring back a site to its previous SEO scores after being penalized for thin content.
It is best to focus on good content during website planning to draw quality traffic to your website organically.
Create a checklist to ensure that your content passes boxes to make it search engine and user friendly.
Update your website as often as possible with fresh content. Use popular SEO tools to track traffic and visibility.
Avoid duplicate content or auto-generated content as much as you can.

How to Create Great Content?

1. Focus on Originality

Original and thought-provoking content is always great for SEO. Content that is a rehash of other content must be avoided. Google rewards original content.
Create a list of original ideas that are relevant to your customers. Look for ideas that are not explored by your competitors but are genuinely original.
Start researching and prepare a structure and framework for the content. Bring in as many top-ranking keyword phrases within your content. This is a great way to attract quality traffic.
Follow these tips to create excellent original content:

  • Start with an original idea and a great introduction.
  • Use attractive images and GIFs that complement the content.
    Add screenshots to prove the points.
  • Engage people using a relevant story or anecdote related to the topic.

Ask readers’ questions in your article or their views about it. This is a great way to get them to comment. More comments tell search engines that your site has valuable content!

2. Keep Content Skimmable and Actionable

People have a limited attention span when browsing online. This is truer for people looking at web content on mobile devices. It is unlikely that a visitor to your site has the time or the inclination to read a long-form article. Visitors skim articles to spot the exact information they are seeking.
Your content design must be in sync with visitor behavior. Maintain a consistent word limit for each article. Ensure that all the required information is captured in the content.
For instance, while shopping for products, users don’t like to read thousands of words before purchasing. So, use short and crisp paragraphs with easy to navigate links to make a purchase.
Make sure that customers can take the next steps in their journey with your content. It could be information they can apply in life or help them decide about a purchase. Your content should have strong calls to action.
Incorporate internal links to product pages and other key landing pages to help them navigate easily.

3. Provide Accurate and Useful Information

No one trusts a site that makes tall claims or has content whose accuracy is shifty. Getting verified and correct information in your content is crucial. The easy and proven way to do this is to spend time on research.
Browse legitimate sources on the web for facts and statistics that you use in your content. Visitors are quick to spot content with unsubstantiated claims. This is hurtful for SEO as visitors don't return to such sites.
So, it’s better to attain trustworthy information from reputed sites like Statista who update actual information from time to time.

Related : Factors That Cause the Website Ranking to Go Down

Try and link to authentic sources and check if you can obtain quality backlinks from sources. Authoritative backlinks go a long way in boosting your SEO rankings.
Your site content reflects your brand and professionalism. Any wrong information can damage your image in the industry. Avoid posting content that you cannot verify.

4. Use Strong Headlines and Relevant Keywords

A catchy headline creates interest in readers. It is the first thing a visitor will read on your site. A visitor is lured into reading your content when the headline is relevant and exciting.
If you’re a novice or find it a little hard to draft an attractive headline, then consider getting some ideas through blog title generators.
You can choose to include your target keywords within your headlines. Be cautious, though. Overusing keywords in headlines when they are not pertinent is a poor SEO tactic.
Be strategic in using keywords within your content. Google penalizes excess keyword stuffing. Your visitors will also not gain any value from your content.
Perform extensive keyword research. Compare the keywords used by your competitors and the trending ones in the industry. Use keyword research tools like UberSuggest to come up with unique keywords to use in your content.
Focus on the placement of words rather than the frequency of them.

5. Include Quality Media in Your Posts

Most people prefer visual content over plain text. Research shows that articles with images get more clicks. This is true for pages with videos and infographics as well.
Media can positively contribute to better SEO. The images and videos you use in the content should add value. Avoid adding too many photos to fill up space on the page.
Optimize your images and videos as per SEO best practices. These include:

  • Adding alt-text for images
  • Reducing file sizes for fast download
  • Optimize image titles and file names
  • Include a strong caption for each image
  • Use original and unique images as much as possible
  • Insert transcripts and a catchy thumbnail for videos

Implementing one or more of the above practices is a great way to produce quality content.
If you don’t have a skilled design team, you can use copyright and high definition free images from Pixabay, Pexels, etc.
Quality media enriches your content and user experience leading to increased SEO scores.

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6. Research Trends and Competitor Content Strategies

You cannot expect to have quality content without hard work. Research plays a significant role in producing great content. Writing generic articles to fill the content gap does not boost SEO. It may help in getting rid of thin content but adds little value.
Look up the latest trends in your industry and come up with a list of unique topics.
You can gather the niche-wise latest trends through Google Trends, Buzz Sumo, or other SEO tools.
The topics you shortlist must be thought-provoking and help answer visitor questions. Keep your content short and to the point.
See the content shared by your competitors but do not copy it. Monitoring their content strategy will help you create your unique content which will stand out. Ensure that content is updated from time to time to include the latest keywords.
Well-researched articles have great SEO value and lead to strong organic growth.

Top Tools to Create Great Content

1. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a popular tool for content creators. It helps with discovering unique content ideas to engage your audience. The Web Content Analyzer tool lets you get a list of the most popular content on the web linked to a keyword.
Use the Topic Discovery feature to generate dozens of content ideas for your site.
You can easily keep tabs on content created by your competitors. Its latest feature lets you check popular content on YouTube. This feature is excellent for generating impactful content ideas.

2. Portent's Content Idea Generator

Portent's Content Idea Generator is a treasure trove of new ideas for your blogs and articles. It's free and easy to use. You simply type in a keyword or subject, and the tool generates catchy titles and headings.
After it suggests a title, you can click it to get further tips on improving your content. You can come up with never-ending ideas with this helpful tool.
The big benefit of this tool is that you don't have to spend time worrying about a catchy title for your blog!

3. Reddit

Reddit is a favorite with content creators and consumers. It's an online forum with millions of contributors. You can find valuable discussions and articles about any topic on the planet.
Reddit has a simple user interface and specific channels called 'subreddits.' For example, /r/cars is a popular subreddit with discussions about cars.
To get content ideas, enter a search term and browse through the boards. You are bound to come up with useful discussions that can enrich your content. Reddit is free and only requires a sign-up to post.

4. Grammarly

Grammarly analyzes your content for any grammar issues. It looks for problems with voice, tone, sentence structure, and word usage. It is great for new writers to hone the art of good writing.
Follow the suggestions offered by the tool to create quality content. You can set a reading level, and the tool will optimize the content for readability at that level.
Grammarly comes with a plugin for Chrome and MS Word. This makes it easy to create great content in the editor of your choice.

5. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a powerful content analysis tool. It helps you check content errors in real-time. It is popular among WordPress users.
Yoast rates the quality of your content in two key areas. Readability and SEO-readiness. You also get about issues with sentences, passive voice, and more.
You can set a keyword as the focus of the post, and Yoast will offer suggestions to optimize the keyword's content. Yoast comes with a WordPress plugin to optimize videos as well.

6. Inspectlet

Inspectlet is an innovative tool to help you with content analysis. It uses a unique approach to improve your content. It records a video of user behavior when they are on your site. This is a great way to examine how long they spent on the site and what your site's elements engaged them most.
Using this data, you can steer your content creation towards elements that showed more promise. This great analytical feature sets it apart from other tools out there.

7. Slack

Slack is a collaboration platform that is popular with small and large teams. It is a fun and engaging instant messaging platform for content teams.
You can quickly review and sign-off content for your site from other writers. It allows a user to share a wide variety of information such as docs, videos, files, images, and more.
Slack can help in content authoring by tracking and monitoring all content tasks in your team. Using Slack with your content teams can save time and fasten the content creation process.

Thin Content FAQs

1. Is Thin Content Penalized Only by Google?

Thin content applies to any content that adds no value to the page. This was first defined by Google but is not limited to it. Even other search engines rank sites lower if they see poor content.
This includes search engines like Bing or Yahoo, which also have a sizeable visitor base. When dealing with thin content, don't think just about Google but others too!

2. Should I Just Delete Thin Content?

There are two ways to look at it. Some content just doesn't add any value. Example: Auto-generated pages or affiliate pages. You will do well to delete this type of content.
Work on content that you can salvage. If you have a page with thin but useful content, expand it. Doing so will help you add value for visitors and avoid any penalties.

3. How Do I Locate Thin Content On My Site?

A comprehensive site content audit is the first step. Use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl your site for content issues.
It shows all the URLs with fewer word counts, HTML issues, etc.
Generate keyword reports from Google Analytics or similar tools. This will give you a fair idea of what content needs maximum rework.
Once you identify thin content, start working on making it helpful. Remove content that has no scope for rework or borrowed from other sources.

4. What Are Some Tips to Fix Thin Content?

A few best practices to fix thin content are as follows:

  • Fatten up the content by increasing the word count with valuable information.
  • Delete content that does not show any promise for visitors.
  • Rewrite blogs or articles if the content shows promise but is poorly written.
  • Rework pieces that use some content from other sources.
  • Fix broken links and optimize URLs in the content.

5. Can I Recover from a Thin Content Penalty?

The answer to this is not always straightforward. The best step you can take is to fix the guilty content. Improved content has a better scope of reversing the damage done due to thin content.
After you have worked on reworking the offending content, you have to contact Google. File a reconsideration request with Google through the search console dashboard.
The penalty can go away when Google reviews the site and sees no thin content.
Is your site suffering from thin content penalty? Or Do you want us to do a content audit on your website? Get in touch with us to schedule a free 1-on-1 consultation with our experts.

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