How many times have you heard someone say “you just need a blog!” to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? Don’t get me wrong, there’s merit to this claim – when it’s done right. Fresh, quality, original content is king. But how do we define quality? Simply aiming to hit a certain number of blog posts in the name of SEO, rather than writing robust, meaningful content on the topics that are most relevant to your users is probably not worth your effort.
What is Thin Content?
So, what is thin content? And how do we make it thick? In 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update, which assigned quality scores to web pages, aiming to reward the high-quality websites and demote the low-quality websites in search results. In 2016, those filters became part of the algorithm. Google defined thin content as pages with little or no added value, typically those that include:
- Little or no original content
- Content that is automatically generated
- Thin affiliate pages that do not provide value and differentiates itself from other, similar sites
- Unoriginal content, such as duplicated, scraped or plagiarized content that is copied from other sources, or even low-quality guest blog posts
- Doorway or intermediate pages, which are used to rank highly for a specific term, but ultimately take the the user to a different page
How To Fix Thin Content On Your Website
In an ideal world, we’d all write more robust, quality, original content. But we get it. Supplying your website with all new quality content requires a substantial investment, and this may not always be feasible. Depending on the industry and size of your website, there are a variety of approaches to consider when improving your thin content issues.
- Expand or rewrite copy on thin content pages, which is our preferred approach (and not to mention, Google’s preferred approach)
- Create original introductory content for each category or index page, such as a blog category page, eCommerce product category page, etc.
- Use no-index code or completely remove low-quality or thin content pages
- Create unique page titles and meta tags with original content including relevant keywords
- Optimize images with original content in file names, alt attributes and captions
- Decrease the amount of ads on a thin page
- Determine if there are settings creating duplicate pages or meta data in your CMS and adjust them to prevent that from happening
— Gary “鯨理” Illyes (@methode) October 7, 2015
How Many Words Should I Write Per Web Page For SEO?
How ever many words it takes to answer the question your piece of content set out to answer.
Let’s acknowledge the fact that although our search rankings are important, it’s not all that matters. We’re talking about the bigger picture here. Our primary goal is to write amazing content that users actually want to read and engage with, right? So the question probably shouldn’t be “is my content thin?” The question should be, “does my content answer the question?” Improving thin content is more about quality. Quality, original content is an absolute must-have for SEO – and for user experience.
And, yes, I know. Some of you want a hard number (and for those of you that do, I get you. You’re my people). But there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer here. The bare minimum we recommend is about 300 words, but in some industries and types of content, upwards of 2,500 words can be the goal.
I urge you to think more about quality, than quantity. Shift your focus toward writing meaningful, original content that people actually care about. Not only will your users love it, but so will the search engines.