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How Promoting Thin Content Can Deliver a Devastating Blow to Your SEO

Author: JLB

Published On: December 30, 2018

You’ve undoubtedly heard that content is king and getting any sort of traction out of SEO without quality content is next to impossible. What isn’t always delivered in this message is what’s meant by the term “quality content”. Too many times, a business will go all in on blasting out keyword infused content and then find themselves at a loss when it fails to deliver results.

Chances are it’s thin content that’s the culprit. What do we mean by thin content? It’s basically content that holds little to no value to the person reading it, and it can result in a devastating blow to SEO, and ultimately your ability to succeed online. Here’s what you need to know about thin content, why it’s so damaging and what you can do to keep it away from your brand.

The Evolution of Thin Content

Back in the early days of SEO, businesses attempted to gain visibility on search engines by creating content that was oversaturated with keywords. The problem here was that keyword stuffing and high-quality content don’t exactly go hand in hand. It’s difficult to try to include a real message or valuable advice when you’re primarily focused on making sure you stuff content with as many high ranking keywords as possible.

Since Google and other search engines cared about the quality of the results they were placing in front of their users, they decided that businesses that continued with these practices would be penalized – a move that became official in the early 2011 with Google’s Panda update. The goal was to keep low-quality websites and those that weren’t putting effort into creating valuable content, off of page one and out of sight of search engine users.

This solved the problem – to a degree. The issue that remained was that businesses were still hearing that they needed to push content but weren’t all that clear on what was involved in creating the type of quality content that search engines, and their audiences, were looking for. This included what they should be doing as well as what they needed to avoid.

Fast forward to the edge of 2019 and quality in content has become more important than ever. If you’re not seeing the results you expected with SEO, here are a few ways that thin content could be contributing to the problem.

The Anatomy of Thin Content

The million dollar question is “what makes content thin?”. There are plenty of ways to remove value from content, but often the most complete answer to this question is a combination of elements that add up and cause content to flatline rather than perform.

To understand the answer to this question, we need to start by knowing what the modern consumer is looking for out of their interactions with businesses online. We know that the internet is oversaturated with content of all types. With so much to chose from, and so much of it making it to your audience’s social media feeds and inboxes, they’ve had no choice but to become more discerning in the content they choose to consume.

This means that they’re not going to waste any time reading a blog that offers them nothing in return for their time. This can come in the form of content that is too short to get the job done or nothing more than a slightly different version of an article that they’ve already read a handful of times before. Here are just a few examples of underperforming, thin content.

  • Content that is more focused on keywords than structure or value
  • Content that’s too short to convey a meaningful message
  • Content that lacks any real message and is uninformative
  • Content that has been spun or plagiarized
  • Content that only covers the topic on a surface level
  • Content that is poorly written

How Thin Content Hurts SEO

If you take a look at the above list of the various types of thin content, you’ll see that they all have one thing in common – they are in direct opposition to standard SEO best practices. Google’s Panda update all those years ago was only a first step to solving the problem of businesses trying to rank with weak content. Since then, we’ve seen additional algorithm updates that have driven the point home.

Taking this into consideration, it isn’t difficult to see how thin content weakens your SEO strategy. If you’re constantly being penalized for poor practices, of course, the result is that you’ll be unable to gain traction and earn the type of online visibility that’s so important for businesses today.

Solving the Thin Content Problem

Now that you’ve identified why thin content might be holding you down, what can be done to solve the problem? Do you go through, scrap everything and leave a site that’s bare bones from a content standpoint while you rebuild or do you invest the time in taking each piece of content and transforming into something meatier and of greater value to your audience?

Why not try a bit of each? If there’s weak content on your site that serves absolutely no purpose, then it can be axed, but you also want to use caution because completely stripping your content in one swoop can leave you with nothing for SEO to work from.

In most cases, thin content can be fixed so that it breathes new life into your search engine optimization strategy. For instance, short and watery content can be built on and expanded to go deeper into important topics, and content that’s oversaturated with keywords can be easily remedied with a little copy editing. The message here is that the situation isn’t hopeless and turning it around and being rewarded for your SEO efforts is within your reach.

If this feels like an overwhelming process, we’d like to help. Our SEO experts can help identify thin content, show you how it’s holding you back and strategize a remedy to get you back on track. Contact JLB today and let us help you jumpstart your digital performance.


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