What is thin content and how can it be avoided?

What is thin content and how can it be avoided?

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In layman’s terms, the definition of thin content is as simple as it seems. Content that is shallow or lacking originality is regarded within the industry as being ‘thin’ – suggesting there simply isn’t enough of it to offer any genuine value.Blog Express





Some issues with thin content are obvious from the outset. These pages have the potential to negatively impact user experience, with a recent survey revealing that 79% of us will go back and search for another site if the page they’re reading is lacking in quality.

The implications of thin content from an SEO perspective are slightly less obvious, however. With leading search engines prioritising sites that are regularly updated with quality, unique content, thin content also has the potential to undermine page ranking efforts and have a negative impact on organic traffic.

## Thin content and SEO: a brief history

Over recent years, Google’s algorithm updates have placed an increasing amount of emphasis on the exclusion of thin content. Launched in 2011, Google Panda was first to stamp out content of a generally low value. Known within the industry as the ‘farmer update’, Panda specifically targeted shallow, poorly written content that served little or no use – drastically reducing SERP rankings for associated sites in the process.

One Google algorithm change might seem like a drop in the ocean, but it’s impossible to overestimate how much of an impact Panda had on a wider scale. Google currently occupies over 80% of the worldwide search engine market, and with an estimated 4.46 billion searches performed every day, it makes sense that businesses make it a priority to comply with their guidelines.

Google’s status also means that, more often than not, other search engines follow suit. Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines explicitly state that websites with thin content tend not to rank well, for instance.

## How to avoid thin content

  • Review existing content

Identifying thin or duplicate pages and refreshing them with high-quality content is the first step to tackling thin content issues. And by existing content, we really do mean all of it. While it makes sense to tackle high traffic pages first, search engines will typically introduce penalties on a site-by-site, rather than a page-by-page basis. This means that thin content buried in the depths of your site archive could still affect the ranking potential of high-quality landing pages.

  • Refine the writing process

Whether refreshing old content or creating something from scratch, your writing process should actively discourage the production of thin content. We recommend making competitor analysis a key part of your strategy. While duplicating content is strongly discouraged, checking out what your competitors are doing can help identify knowledge gaps that your own brand can fill.

  • Prioritise user experience

No matter your industry, putting UX at the heart of every piece of content is crucial. Prioritising user value will naturally encourage you to write with depth and meaning, while optimising content for the purpose of SEO should be next on the list. In other words, write for humans first and machines second.

  • Do your research

It might sound obvious, but researching your topic in depth prior to writing is going to stand you in the best stead possible. Not only will your knowledge on the topic enable you write content that’s rich in detail, but this deeper level of understanding can also go far in establishing your brand as a leading voice within its industry. As such, users are more likely to return to you with similar queries in the future.

## Key questions

Before you publish any kind of content, it’s wise to ask yourself a few key questions:

• What is the purpose of this content?

• How will users benefit from this content?

• Does this content leave the user with any unanswered questions? If so, how can these be resolved before it’s published?

There’s no doubt that anything deemed as thin content can and should be avoided at all costs – and doing so is easy when you have a content strategy in place. When one single issue has so much potential to negatively impact both user experience and SEO, it means sense to tackle it head on and aim for a quick resolution.

For expert advice on combating thin content on your website get in touch with content marketing agency, Ad-Rank Media.

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