What Is Thin Content?

Ask any SEO or the so called professional bloggers and they would say that “thin content” is bad and it hurts your website. But what exactly is this “thin content”? Most people believe that articles less than 400 words are classified as thin content.

When people say “thin content” they’re probably referring to pages that don’t have any content or the articles that contain very few words (let’s say less than 200 – 300). Some people also connect thin content with duplicate content but they’re entirely different. Duplicate content usually refers to similar content within a single domain or across multiple domains and thin content refers to low quality pages that add no value to users. Of course duplicate content can be thin content too.

Read: Google Duplicate Content Guidelines: What You Need To Know

Think about this: You’re writing a “How To” article. Now, you got 3 options. You can write the entire article for search engines in around 300 words without any relevant external links. The next option is to write the entire “How To” article as an in-depth post explaining all the aspects clearly.

Now, the third option is to write the article in around 300 words but with all the relevant external links and supporting articles. In that case it can be classified as short content but also an original content as long as you solved the problem in question.

The perfect example would be Amit Agarwal. He owns the popular tech blog labnol.org and he is good at blogging how to’s and tech tips. His blog posts are sometimes “thin” and have only 100 – 200 words. But what’s interesting is that they’re still ranking high. Why? The answer is so simple. They’re all original content and are not written by any content farms.

Well, from my analysis I realized that there’s not even a single usage of the term “thin content” in Google Webmasters Tools and Support. I guess “thin content” is a term coined by the so-called SEOs.

Thin content

Google prefers to call the so called “thin content” pages as “low quality” pages. Now what are low quality pages? Of course there’s a clear answer for that question. Low quality pages are those that don’t add any value to users or that don’t have any original content.

Post the Google Panda update most people believe that thin content can hurt your website’s ranking and you need to write articles of at least 400 words each.

Okay, I agree that we can’t write an in-depth article or a research blog post in under 400 words or even 600 words. But what you need to realize is that ranking depends upon several factors. So it’s all about are you adding value to users or are you just writing for search engines.

Read: What Is “High Quality Content” According To Google?

Quality vs. Quantity

After the Google Panda update Google gave more guidance on building high quality websites. They have mentioned few questions to ask yourself while creating web pages and they confirmed that low-quality pages on some parts of our website can impact the ranking of the whole site. So it means that removing those low quality pages, or improving its quality, or moving low quality pages to another domain name can eventually increase ranking of our high quality pages. So once again, Google likes to differentiate web pages as “low quality” or “high quality” and not as “thin content” or “duplicate content” or “long articles”.

Read: Google Webmaster Guidelines: Everything (Almost) You Need To Know

What Google Has To Say About “Thin Content”

A webmaster asked on Google Webmaster Forums that he runs a news blog and his visitors prefer short content over in-depth posts. When he started writing short content he noticed that those articles were not ranked well in Google SERPs. So he wanted to know whether Short Content = Thin Content and asked Google what he’s supposed to do now.

Here’s Google’s Response:

Rest assured, Googlebot doesn’t just count words on a page or in an article, even short articles can be very useful & compelling to users. For example, we also crawl and index tweets, which are at most 140 characters long. That said, if you have users who love your site and engage with it regularly, allowing them to share comments on your articles is also a great way to bring additional information onto the page. Sometimes a short article can trigger a longer discussion — and sometimes users are looking for discussions like that in search. That said, one recommendation that I’d like to add is to make sure that your content is really unique (not just rewritten, autogenerated, etc) and of high-quality.

Source: Google Webmaster Forums

How To Find & Avoid “Thin Content” Or “Low Quality Pages”?

  • Ask yourself: Has the article solved the question or problem? If not then improve it or remove it or merge it with another article.
  • If the number of page views of a web page < 10 for a whole year then it probably means that the information on that web page is obsolete.
  • Read the article by yourself once again and if you think that it lacks clarity or is not up to date then you can either improve it or you could merge it with another related article.

Once you have identified all the ‘thin content’ then you can do a 301 redirect to a better version of the page. If you feel that it is still required for some reason you could no – index that content so that there’s no need to remove it.

Image Credit: Free Digital Photos

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Mahesh Mohan

Agnostic, Apolitical, Bluephile, Brutally honest, Curious, Digital Creator, Finance geek, Marketing ninja, Microsoft fanatic, Multi-passionate nerd, Overthinker, Perfectionist, Workaholic.

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About Mahesh (@maheshone)

Mahesh Mohan

Agnostic, Apolitical, Bluephile, Brutally honest, Curious, Digital Creator, Finance geek, Marketing ninja, Microsoft fanatic, Multi-passionate nerd, Overthinker, Perfectionist, Workaholic.

Say hi: @maheshone

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