Learn how to battle thin content issues that adversely affect your rankings and traffic!
What do you do if you have pages on your website that just don’t cut it; they’re lackluster, not very well-written, and really add little value – should you edit existing content like that? Or can such content be fixed? Maybe it would be better to start over from scratch.
Your traffic may have nosedived due to poor content; you might have even seen a ‘Manual Action’ penalty in Google Search Console due to subpar content. If you’ve put off dealing with this, now’s the time to take control of the situation, before you suffer even more lost traffic.
If you’re looking for a definition of thin content, it can be identified by one or more of these characteristics:
- Copy is inaccurate or lacking details – The page was basically created to rank for a search term, but offers nonsensical phrasing or other constructions that don’t provide useful information.
- Short word count of less than 400-500 words (although that can be very subjective).
- Doorway or spam pages – These are created for the purpose of keyword stuffing and otherwise tricking the search engines, and have no real value for human users.
- Duplicate content that dilutes a website’s overall authority by its unoriginality, i.e., verbatim repeating of wording, images, etc. found elsewhere on the site. Where this problem can become serious is when site owners purposefully duplicate content on multiple domains to trick search engines. Google and other engines deem this practice as highly unethical and will penalize a website that uses these tactics. Get a complete discussion from Google on this topic.
Google has very definite opinions on thin content and it will let you know when it finds such pages. Google will warn you with specific messages, such as this one. As we mentioned previously, these may crop up on the Manual Actions page in Search Console. The good news is, if you follow Google’s guidelines and rectify these issues, you can submit a reconsideration request, and the penalty can be then lifted by Google, after it has reviewed your website.
Be Proactive With Your Content Updating
But why wait until you get a Manual Action penalty? Here’s how to turn your content around so it offers an engaging experience and the richness and authority that search engines like Google require:
Step 1: Perform a Content Audit
Any website owner can do this, even if you have thousands of pages on your site. The way to approach a content audit is to prioritize your analysis. So even if your site has 10,000 pages, you can focus on the top 50, or 100, and make some real headway with building out these important pages.
Take a look first at the pages that are most important to you. Be truthful – does the content on these pages accurately portray your products and services, your culture, and your story? Or does it fall flat, and leave an uninspiring message to visitors?
When going through your pages, decide if you want to update a page, or remove it (you could redirect the URL to a more appropriate page, or newer page, if you wish). The interesting point here is you don’t have to look at the content remediation process in the same way, for each page. Some pages lend themselves well to editing and updating. Others should be taken down. Be ready to embrace both approaches as you analyze your site.
As you review the thin content on your site, take into account more than text. Look at images, videos, audio (or the lack of these – you may decide you need to add these assets to your site) with a critical eye. It’s okay to add assets that are not created professionally; as long as they are easy to view and provide value (a clear explanation of a topic with rich details). This is also an appropriate time to review your budget to see if there is room for some professionally made assets which can help tell your brand story.
Step 2: Track the URLs You Are Updating
Create a list of the pages you want to fix (a spreadsheet is a good tool for tracking these). Then you’ll want to create a copy deck of the actual page copy residing on these URLs. If you’ll be collaborating with others, you may wish to upload the copy to your collaboration tool of choice so you can work seamlessly on the updating.
Step 3: Allocate Time And Resources To Getting The Job Done!
Often content updating gets stuck in the Step 2 phase, as the work usually falls to busy people who already have many other responsibilities. One way to get the ball rolling is to form a group with a few colleagues, and set aside days and times to work on site copy. Everyone’s schedule is different; so to make progress, it’s important to attach a date to your request. A date for completion helps people focus on what needs to be done. For example:
Team: Let’s have our edits in for pages 1-5 by Wednesday, August 1.
Step 4: You Don’t Have To Do It All Yourself!
As you work your way down your prioritized list of URLs, you’ll find that you’ll want to expand some content, jettison other pages, and create all-new assets that can help you compete online. Remember, you don’t have to do all of this yourself. You can research experts (some may work with you at your own company) who can shoot video, create podcasts, images, copy and more content to provide a serious upgrade to your website. Get a contact list together of these individuals and agencies, then get ready for Step 5!
Step 5: Repurpose Content to Reach a Wider Audience
Ensure you get the maximum return for all the hard work you’re putting in! Brainstorm ways to repurpose the content you are updating and creating. Reuse it in email blasts, on social media, at tradeshows, and everywhere you have a touchpoint with customers.
Bonus Tip! Here’s a tried and true tip:
Create content for human beings. Keep this in mind and you’ll develop high quality content that people and search engines will love!
Wow – all of this sounds like a great plan to deal with thin content problems!
Here’s an even greater plan: Get Engine-ius Marketing to help you! We have nearly two decades of experience creating and updating content that delivers enthusiastic visitors to our clients’ websites. We can create that type of content for you! Contact us today to get started – more shares, positive reviews and sales await!