When Google rolled out the Panda Update in 2011, the sites that were hit hardest by Panda were the low-quality websites. Those sites had a lot of meager content.
It’s 2019 and Google “Fat” Panda still hates fluffy content.
If you have already taken a hit from the thin content penalty or you want to keep your site safe from this penalty, you are in the right place.
Here I am going to share a detailed guide on Poor SEO Content. Here’s what you’ll learn:
What is thin content?
Thin content is low-quality content that has little or no value to users. Most of the time, low quality or shallow pages that do not offer any benefit to users are considered poor content.
A common misconception about lean content is that content with fewer words is poor content. But it’s not just the number of words per page that makes them poor content.
To understand the subtle content, let’s watch a video of Matt Cutts (Very old video, but still relevant)
Lean Content Examples
So, if we visualize examples of thin content from Matt’s video, it would look something like this:
Now let’s take a deep look at examples of thin content.
1. Entrance pages
Portal pages are web pages that are designed specifically for search engines, not humans. Most of the time, these pages redirect users to the same destination.
These pages are also known as intermediate pages, jump pages, portal pages, etc.
2. Different pages target almost the same keywords
You can think of it as a smarter version of portal pages. The idea is to create multiple pages with good content while targeting roughly similar types of keywords.
Below is an example of these types of pages.
- The best fat burning foods
- The best fat burning foods
The main keywords for these two topics are almost the same. Creating different pages with the same types of content no longer works. This is considered weak content.
3. Thin affiliate pages
Thin affiliate pages are pages that have no original content or added value to users. Most of these pages contain copied product descriptions and reviews from the merchant page.
These sites are for affiliate marketers only. These pages are also known as cookie cutter pages.
To get rid of this, you need to understand why the visitor is visiting your page instead of going to the merchant page.
4. Auto-generated content
As the name implies, this type of content is generated programmatically. Pages can be compiled together from RSS, translated by an automated tool without human review, or aggregated from different sources without adding any value, etc.
5. Quoted or Duplicate Content
Quoted or duplicate content is content taken from other websites and posted on your own website. Although it can be high quality content, it does not provide any added value to your users. It may also result in copyright infringement.
Let’s see some examples of quoted or duplicate content.
- Copy content from other websites without adding any original value.
- Content taken from other sites has been modified or rotated slightly.
- Content reproduced from other websites without any original regulation.
- Embedded content (eg video, image, etc.) without adding any significant value.
6. Low quality content
These are the original contents but not up to the mark. Most of the low quality content is filled with stuffed keywords, ads, affiliate links, etc. In short, they provide little value to users.
Most of the time, blog posts with low word count fall into this category.
How to identify thin content
By now, you should have a good idea of thin content. And if you have a blog with fewer pages, it will not be difficult for you to identify this content.
But if you’ve been running a blog for a while, you probably have a massive number of pages indexed in Google. In this case, it will be difficult for you to determine the delicate content.
To make things easier, I am going to share some methods that will help you find them
1. Find pages without free traffic (using Search Console)
If some of your pages are not getting any organic traffic (for 3-6 months), then there is an error in these pages.
Although we cannot rank all of these pages as poor content, a significant number of these pages fall into the “lean content” category.
So the first thing you need to do is find the pages that don’t have organic traffic. All you have to do is sign in to Google Search Console. Then go to the “Performance” tab (1) and click on Pages (2). And be sure to check your data for at least the last 3 months (3).
Then select a number of rows per page 500 and scroll down to check which pages have “0” clicks.
Here you can see that we have two posts on Media Temple that are not getting any traffic from Google.
So what did we do wrong?
The mistake is that we published two different posts targeting almost the same keywords. After searching, we found more kind content.
Now let’s move on to our second method.
2. Search pages/posts with less than 300 words
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, you may have noticed that it suggests having at least 300 words per page or post.
Again, I think all content less than 300 words is not poor content. But most of the time, these contents are weak and do not add much value to the users.
That is why it is recommended to check posts/pages with less than 300 words.
To check the word count of your WordPress posts/pages, you can use the WP Word Count plugin. You can consider it a thin content checker.
After installing the plugin, just go to the All Content tab and scroll down to see posts with less than 300 words.
Now check those posts/pages and make a list of those posts that seem weak to you.
3. Find posts/pages with duplicate content
Since Google considers duplicate content to be thin, you have to find and fix duplicate content.
There are many tools that you can use to check for duplicate content. Here I will share two such tools:
The most popular duplicate content checker on the web. Simply enter the link, and it will tell you if there is any exact similar content on other sites.
The only problem with the free version of Copyscape is that you have to enter the URL one by one.
That is why I will not advise you to check all the contents of your blog. Just check out those posts that are not ranked. Make a list of those posts that have the problem of duplicate content.
Read also: How to report Google to remove copied content
Another great duplicate content checker tool. While Copyscape checks for external duplicate content, Siteliner checks for internal duplicate content.
Having too many internal duplicate content can make your content weak. So it is wise to find and fix it.
Simply go to Siteliner.com and enter your blog URL. It will start scanning your site and show you the duplicate content.
It shows almost accurate data because it excludes common content like menu, navigation, etc.
Now make a list of pages with more than 10% duplicate content.
4. Searching for thin pages indexed by Google
Sometimes Google will index the created pages automatically. good example of that –
Here Google is indexing some thin pages with no content instead of an image.
Since these pages are automatically generated, there is no way to find those pages from your site directly. You have to find those from Google.
Just search for the term “site: yoursite.com” in Google, and it will display all indexed pages of your site.
Browse all pages and see if there are any thin pages indexed by Google. Make a list of those pages.
How to fix thin content
Now you have all the thin pages. It’s time to fix those pages. Let’s see the step-by-step guide to fix thin content.
1. Delete the page and redirect it to a related page
If the page does not provide any value at all, it should be deleted immediately. Simply edit the post and click Move to Trash.
Once you delete the post, you need to redirect it to a relevant page (if any) or just to the home page.
If you are using Yoast SEO, go to WordPress Dashboard > SEO > Redirects and enter the deleted URL in the “Old URL” box and the URL where you want to redirect in the “URL” box.
If you are not using Yoast SEO, you can use redirection plugins like ‘Redirections by Rank Math’.
2. Merge the page(s) with another page
If you have similar types of pages targeting roughly the same keywords, you should combine them into one post.
The page that ranks higher should be the home page. Then make this page richer by adding content from other similar posts.
Once done, simply delete the other pages and redirect them to the home page.
3. Noindex page
If it’s a landing page or a page that adds value in some way but doesn’t have a lot of content, you can consider not indexing the page rather than deleting it.
This way Google can find the page, but it will keep the page out of the search results.
Here’s how to not get a page indexed.
Just edit the page where you want to add the No-index tag and scroll down to the Yoast SEO box. Then click on the “Advanced” icon and select “noindex” from the Meta robots index.
Then update the post.
Almost all major SEO plugins have this option to prevent the page from being indexed.
4. Fix duplicate content issues
If the page has duplicate content issues, fix it by adding original content.
The best way to keep your content original is to use Grammarly. It’s basically a grammar checking tool, but it can quickly detect plagiarism in your content. It contains a database of over 16 billion web pages.
Use the Grammarly extension and stay away from duplicate content issues.
5. Refresh the page with better and relevant content
This is the best advice I can give you for fixing thin content. Just make your content better and more relevant.
Glad you asked. Simply browse through all the pages that rank for your target keywords. Scan them and try to understand what they did better than you.
Then write 10x better content and make it as relevant as possible. And optimized for On Page SEO.
However, content with more words does not make it better. Try to understand the intent of your users and present your content.
6. Reduce the number of ads and affiliate links
If your pages have a lot of ads or affiliate links, Google may consider them poor content.
So try to reduce the number of ads and affiliate links.
Having too many affiliate links can get you penalized. Try to use fewer affiliate links.
How to keep your site safe from the fine content penalty
Since thin content is one of the reasons why Google penalizes a site, you need to keep your site safe from the fine content penalty.
Here are some things you can do.
1. Write useful, better and original content
It’s 2019. There is no way to write mediocre content and hope to rank well.
You need to write meaningful and better content. Content that people love to read and share.
And you have to make sure that the content you write is 100% original.
2. Update contents regularly
This is the best way to get away from the fine content penalty.
Since everything is changing so quickly, you need to make sure your content is up to date and contains the latest information.
3. Stay away from common plagiarism
Things like category pages, tags, HTTP, HTTPs, WWW & Non-WWW, mobile version of your sites, pagination, etc. can create internal duplicate content.
Try to avoid these issues.
I hope this post helped you find thin content and fix it for SEO.
If you have any questions regarding thin content, feel free to ask me via comment.
And if you find the post useful, please help me by sharing the post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.