Thin content: How to find and fix low quality pages

It's almost impossible to discuss SEO and not to mention the term ‘thin content’, and there's a pretty good reason for that.

Search engines constantly crawl the web to find and index new content, to keep their users happy. Webmasters are always trying to create new content to outrun competitors, give search engines more reasons to revisit their websites and keep their users engaged. .

The reality is, good content is hard to create and so many webmasters are looking for keyboard shortcuts.

What is the end result? Publish low quality content for publishing purposes and don't take into account what users really want.

This in turn makes users unhappy and search engines are frustrated because their users don't get what they want.

When we say ‘search engine is disappointed’, that means they change the ranking algorithm to remove low quality sites from their search results.

When they do so, some websites lose rankings and traffic because their content is not good enough. And this is where the 'thin content' discussion begins.

Webmasters and SEO experts are trying to understand what content is considered thin, how to determine which page is considered a "thin page" and most importantly how to fix it.

What is thin content?

So what is really thin content? Does it have to do with word counts or more?

Thin content is content that is published for the sole purpose of manipulating page rank and not adding real value to users. It is short and not authentic and no special care is taken to make it meaningful and readable.

Typical examples of low quality content are automatically generated pages, doorway pages, discarded content, keyword stuffed pages or pages with text that are thrown on a page without meaning. meaning or purpose.

Why is thin content so bad for SEO?

Why are all fuzz about thin content? Aren't search engines smart enough to identify thin content and simply remove it?

It is not as simple as that.

Reduce the overall quality of a website

For starters, when Google is evaluating the quality of a website, one of the things they take into account is how many good quality pages are included in their index from the same site. So having a website with many thin content pages, reduces your page rank and Google trust.

Content is still king, with or without SEO

Second, to get high rankings in Google, you need great content to satisfy the search purpose. Anything less than that will not take you anywhere close to the first page of Google, regardless of whether you are trying to fool their algorithms.

I have said that many times in the past, 'Content is king.' Great content sites have many chances of ranking high in Google search with or without SEO, while low quality content sites have no chance at all.

Users do not like thin content pages

Third, even if you manage to get high rankings with thin content, it will not be used. Users won't trust or stay on a site that doesn't give them what they want and a few lines of duplicate content on a page, not what they want.

In other words, if you intentionally publish thin content for the sole purpose of improving your rankings, you're just wasting your time.

It will not work. Even if it works now, it is only temporary. In one of the hundreds of algorithmic changes Google is making every year, you'll get caught, lost in rankings, fined and possibly banned from Google.

Your risk of receiving Google Penalty

Changes to the Google algorithm related to the identification and dumping of low quality pages are now part of the algorithm Google is implementing. This means that as part of the normal process, the algorithm will check and identify low quality pages and remove them from the index.

Sites with lots of low quality pages may be subject to manual or algorithmic penalties.

Hint: Read this article to find out if your site is penalized by Google and how to get rid of Google penalties.

In the past, this was not done on an ongoing basis, but it was done every few months. The algorithm responsible for combating low quality pages is known in the SEO community as Google Panda.

What does Google want?

Clearly thin content is not the direction, what does Google want to be happy?

In short, Google is searching for content to satisfy searchers' intent so that they continue to come to Google for all their search needs.

High quality content has the following characteristics:

  • It is published on a high quality website
  • It is unique and unique
  • It tells both sides to a story and it's unbiased
  • It is thorough and comprehensive
  • It is well formatted and structured

Watch this video from Google where they discuss thin content.

Watch videos from Google explaining what thin content is and how to fix it.

How to identify thin content?

I mentioned above that if you intentionally create thin content, you shouldn't have any expectations for rankings.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. You can have thin content pages published on your site not because you want to, but because Google believes they are low quality pages.

How does Google identify low quality pages?

Google's algorithms use a number of rules to determine the value of a page. Some things they check are:

  • Original content - is the original content or exact (duplicate) copy found in other pages on your site or on the web
  • Content format - is the page structured with proper titles?
  • Number of ads and pop-ups - is a page filled with annoying popups or popups
  • Speed ​​- slow pages do not provide a good user experience.

If your pages successfully pass the above tests, Google will check to see how well that page is able to meet user intent.

This is probably one of the most important steps because even if you have a great content site but this is not what users want, this page is not good for Google and for you this means It is a site that needs improvement.

If this sounds strange, don't worry, it will happen to all websites, especially as they grow in content. What can you do in those cases to protect or restore your Google rankings and traffic?

The answer is simple (but not easy to do): You need to identify which pages are considered "thin pages" by Google and fix them by making their content better, delete them or redirect them to. Other pages on your site.

How can you find thin content pages?

This process is called content auditing and should be done even if you don't have any issues with thin content.

If you have just a few pages published, it's easy to do content auditing, but when you have multiple pages, it takes time and effort.

The first step is to go through each of your websites one after another and try to find out:

  • Pages have little or no text content
  • Pages with content created automatically
  • Pages published a few months ago but without rankings or traffic
  • Pages with duplicate content (including category pages and tags)
  • Landing pages with duplicate content (including those used for PPC or other non-SEO related campaigns)
  • Pages with high bounce rates

I am using SEMRUSH for this task and especially the features Content analysis and Organic content analysis .

The Organic Insights traffic To show you which pages generate organic traffic, you can use it to find pages with high bounce rates.

Organic traffic report - SEMRUSH

Organic traffic report - SEMRUSH

The analytical content The report provides you with details about the pages including the number of words, the date of publication, the number of visits, the keyword a page is ranked for, etc. You can use it to find out which pages have few or not. have good text and pages with content but no traffic.

Content analysis report - SEMRUSH

Content analysis report - SEMRUSH

How to fix thin content?

When you perform the exercise above, you will have a list of 'thin content' pages that need to be fixed. Depending on their type, you can perform the following actions:

Pages have little or no original content

These are easy to fix. You need to decide whether to remove them, index them but keep them on your site or improve their content.

Let's look at some examples and possible solutions:

Product pages without original content - if you are operating an ecommerce site selling products from other vendors, it may be descriptive that your product is an exact copy from the home website. manufacturing.

This is a problem. Google can easily recognize templates and reduce the value of your pages because they are not new or valuable to Google's index or users.

What can you do? Obviously, you can completely delete those pages because they are essential for your site.

Instead, what you can do is try and improve the pages by adding original content. It is not easy to do but there is a way to do it. Read my previous article about product page SEO for ideas.

Pages used for navigation purposes only - There are situations when you have pages with little content because they are only used for navigation purposes. In this case, simply unindex the pages by applying ‘noindex’ title tags and removing them from your sitemap.

Old pages with little text content - If your website has many pages / posts, it's normal to have some pages whose content is no longer applicable. For example, a notification you made many years ago to release a new website product or feature.

In such cases, you can safely delete (delete) those pages from your site and also remove them from your sitemap.

If these pages have any links or information that you believe users might still be looking for, then you can do a '301 Redirect' and redirect them to the most valid and valid page on. your website.

Pages with duplicate content (e.g., Catalog pages)

Another group of pages that are most likely to have duplicate content on your site are your category pages.

Category pages ‘get their content’ from posts that belong to a category and this is nothing new to Google or users.

You should NOT delete or index them. Category pages can be very useful for SEO purposes, so the only way to track them is to improve their content by:

  • Optimize their title and meta description
  • Add unique and relevant content at the top of the page

To help you better understand this, see my category pages. They are optimized for specific terms (this example for terminology, the latest SEO article on SEO) and they rank for those terms in Google, in the top positions.

Example SEO optimization catalog

Optimize your catalog to avoid duplicate content issues.

The same thing happens with e-commerce category pages, read this: how to optimize e-commerce category pages.

Landing page

Landing pages or pages whose sole purpose is to be used for search engine marketing campaigns and nothing new to the user, can be indexed and removed from the diagram. your website.

Note: If your landing page has original content, don't index it. I am referring to landing pages with sections of content copied from parts of your site or other sites on the Internet and there is nothing ‘new’ to add to your site content.

Pages published a few months ago but without rankings or traffic

This is a difficulty. If you are familiar with the way search engines work, you should know that not all of your published pages will rank in the search engine index.

Search engines have to index, process and crawl billions of pages and it is normal that the majority of your published pages will be low or no rankings at all.

Before making a decision to fix a page, you should consider the following fact: It takes time for a page to rank high on Google.

According to Ahrefs' research, most of the top Google ranking pages are 3 years of age and older and it can take several months for a new page to appear anywhere in the top results.

Rank the age of the pages in Google's Top 10 Results

Rank the age of the pages in Google's Top 10 Results

This means that you should exclude from your content audit, pages are published in less than 6 months because their actual ranking position has not been confirmed.

For the remaining pages, i.e. pages older than 6 months but without rankings or traffic, you should try and improve their content by revisiting content SEO and the above SEO techniques. page and return to Google Reviews.

Here is an overview of this process:

Paste the URL of the page into SEMRUSH to find the keywords the page is ranking for.

The report shows for the keywords that a page is ranked for

The report shows for the keywords that a page is ranked for

If a page has any rankings (even if it is on the second or third page of Google), for any keyword you need to edit your content and optimize the page for keywords. there.

This means you may have to change the title, optimize your titles and add more content to a page containing those keywords.

If a page has no ranking at all:

  • Add 301 Redirects and redirect the page to some other relevant pages on your site
  • Or grab the content of that page, use it to make the content of another page better and change the canonical URL of that page to point to the newly updated page.

Pages with high bounce rate (Proactive measures)

This is a special category of pages, and while they're not currently considered a ‘thin content’ page, it's good to be proactive and troubleshoot before Google decides to lower their rankings.

Go to your Google Analytics account and view the report Landing page and then sort the pages by bounce rate and find pages with high bounce rates.

Google Analytics: Report bounce rate

Google Analytics: Report bounce rate

A low bounce rate is good, a high bounce rate is bad

When a page has a high bounce rate, that means users don't find what they are looking for or dislike about the page content and the left without visiting the second page from your site.

If they return to search results, this is bad because Google can understand this and if a lot of users have similar behaviors, it will gradually lead to lower rankings. This is called ‘pogo sticking’ in the SEO World.

In this case, the only solution is to try and improve the page content and make sure that it is suitable for the purpose of the user. Give users exactly what was promised in the title and description of the page.

Hint: My previous article: How to create SEO-friendly titles explains how to improve the page titles of your published pages. You can use this advice as one of the measures you can take to improve your bounce rate.

Conclusion

Thin content pages are bad for your SEO. You are responsible as an SEO or webmaster to review your content to find and fix thin content pages.

The content audit process is time-consuming (especially for multi-page sites), but is essential for the site's overall SEO health.

Start by determining which pages need to be handled and for each one to decide on the best course of action: improve them, delete them or redirect them to other related pages.

Keep track of your changes and always remember that it is better to have a website with top 100 pages than a website with 1000 pages of low quality.

Finally, don't forget that prevention is always better than cure. In this context, it means two things:

First, improving any of your pages is likely to be considered a thin content page one step ahead of Google.

Second, to be more careful in the future and only publish high quality content on your site so you don't have to go through a time-consuming process or review and improve thin content pages.