Thin Content – Short Conceptual Explanation

Thin content includes all Internet content that doesn’t provide value to readers. Pages with this type of content may include duplicate content, automatically generated content, or scraped content. It can also include certain pages, like search results pages, as well as thin category pages, nearly identical URL pages, and mobile pages that are set up incorrectly. Thin content can be a problem for websites because it can affect the site’s ranking on search engines, like Google.

Types of thin content

There are many different types of thin content, and some are more obvious than others. For example, it is fairly obvious that copied and pasted content from an interior or exterior page of a website would be considered thin. Automatically generated content is also considered thin, as it’s usually generated by a program to manipulate search rankings without providing valuable information to users.

However, there are also types of thin content that aren’t as obvious. A few other examples include:

  • Search results pages that are indexed
  • Photo and video gallery pages that are indexed
  • Review pages that are indexed
  • Having several variations of the same URL
  • Session IDs that are used in URLs as parameters
  • Category pages with just one or two items of information
  • Insignificant product variation pages, like separate pages for different colors
  • Site copies used during development that aren’t properly blocked
  • Mobile sites that are set up improperly
  • Incorrect use of geo-targeting for sites targeting different locations

Length is an important consideration when creating content, but it is not necessarily an indication of poor content. However, longer is better. A 1,000-word blog article has a much smaller chance of being considered thin by search engines than a 300-word blog article.

Why thin content is bad

Avoiding thin content is important because Google punishes content on websites that don’t offer value to users. Rankings can plummet and websites can be punished by not showing up on search engine results pages.

There are multiple ways Google can determine if the content on a website is thin. It is fairly easy to determine if the content on a site has been duplicated or scraped, but they can also determine how much time visitors spend on a particular site before clicking back to the search results page to try a different result.

Google sometimes sends messages regarding low-quality pages on a site. However, they don’t always, so it’s important to watch the performance of the website and its SEO ranking closely.


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Addressing thin content

When creating content for a web page, it’s important that the content is unique and provides real value to users. That includes answering questions as well as providing information. It should also match the other information that Google uses to determine the content on a page. The content on the page should be relevant to its URL, meta information, and page title.

It is also important to track analytic information regarding the website to see how well it is performing. Catching duplicate URLs and improperly indexed pages can be difficult, but keeping an eye on analytics can catch a thin content problem that otherwise may not be obvious.