Thin Content: Why You Need To Fix or Remove Low-Quality Web Pages
Modernizing from the Bygone era of SEO
If you ever perform a website audit of a site that is older than 5 years, you’ll get an easy chance to see the bygone era of SEO. The topics of blogpost overlapped, 200-300 word articles in the resource section, the once-rushed landing page having just100 words, but now all dead.
These ‘thin pages’ now sit forgotten, and attract zero attention.
Whenever you encounter a scenario like this, it’s quite tempting to adopt a no-harm, no-foul policy and simply focus on new content. But I strongly discourage this approach, and we’ll soon discuss why.
1. Thin Content and SEO, Relative?
“Thin content” is a jargon term that describes any kind of useless content. This useless content classification includes pages with a sparse word count, doorway pages, ad-riddled pages, duplicate content, and content that lacks depth and readability.
Previously, blindly creating content fell into the “can’t-hurt, might-help” category. Except for the fact, it can hurt. Every followed page on your site pulls crawl bandwidth and link equity, both of which are known to be finite resources. When these resources are diluted across useless pages instead of given to content that matters, site authority and organic rankings drop majorly.
If you have enough content that performs poorly, it can easily diminish Google’s trust in the site as a whole
There’s also the SEO impact of poor usability to consider. If users repeatedly bounce after five seconds, Google decides the page isn’t delivering the experience the user desires or needs.
The verdict, thin content is bad news for your site, never fall for it.
2. Evaluating Your Content
In order to fix thin content issues, you should first run a crawl and look at Google Analytics and Search Console metrics. From there, pull the data into a spreadsheet to perform a more subjective analysis.
Each URL would be labeled “improve,” “consolidate,” “remove,” or “leave.”
Then, analyze page title, content, and queries bringing traffic to the page and identify each page’s list of target keyword(s). By this, you could measure the page content against the content currently ranking well for the keywords on Google.
3. To Remove or Not to Remove?
Thin content is often repetitive on your site. You can take the initial charge by replacing this repetitive content with new content on your site.
When you decide to remove content, it usually means:
- Targets irrelevant topics or set of keywords
- Didn’t target a keyword and provides little to no value to the reader
- Is outdated, like trend coverage and old company news
- Is extremely short or redundant information that doesn’t deliver any meaning
- Has category pages with little to no content addition
You could group pages by keywords (or by topics) to get a feel for when the content repeats itself. Then consolidate the information on a single high-authority page for that topic.
Note: If a page’s content doesn’t pass the checklist, but receives significant backlinks and/or traffic, keep the page and improve its content.
When you remove a page with some SEO value but isn’t worth keeping, be sure to use a 301 redirect to its closest topical neighbor so visitors don’t end up at a 404 page.
Whenever you remove pages with no traffic or backlinks, you usually don’t require a redirect. Given that they have no authority to pass on, there’s almost zero chance of a user ever ending up on those pages ever again.
4. Improve Remaining Old Pages
Now being low-value content removed, focus on the topics you kept. Make sure each page targets a unique set of keyword(s), then optimize the on-page elements. To achieve this, set a schedule for the time-intensive task of improvement.
Some actionable ways to improve page content include:
- Optimize content to satisfy the search intent for your list of keywords. Always focus on the mindset.
- Remove unnecessary ads and CTAs.
- Add interesting statistics to supporting content.
- Add helpful graphics (or visuals) but stay away from the visual clutter.
- Add videos, images, and interactive content in order to increase engagements.
- Fix broken links, if you find any.
The Verdict: Don’t Stop Now
In a nutshell, here’s the advice you need to hear,
By removing 85% of your site’s thin content, continually monitoring your site activity would help you ensure that there’s no unexpected damage.
Your ‘revamp’ is an ideal time to evaluate your SEO strategy. Conduct research, for example, if search intent for high-value keywords has shifted. If so, try to publish new content that reflects these shifts.
Think of it this way: When you drastically improve your site’s content, Google begins to reward you with better rankings, even for the long-tail keywords.
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