All you’re looking for is a one stop-shop site to get all the answers to your search. Is that so hard to ask?
But what do you keep getting?
A slew of websites that send you on a wild goose chase, making you frantically click and open new tabs just to get the same insignificant answer over and over again.
We’ve all been there. We just want an easy search!
When They Ask for a Burger, Give Them a Steak!
You don’t want to be a site that overpromises and underdelivers. Consumers want searches to be easy and straightforward, and they hate getting the runaround.
When you provide mediocre, irrelevant or scarce information on your site, you run the risk of losing credibility with your audience, therefore handing over any potential profit to the site that actually delivers.
So, What’s It to You?
The first principle to understand is that search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) have the right to check for quality and the power to set standards for your website to follow.
Google is, by far, the most-used search engine around the world, so it is important to understand that yes, it is your business, but your webpage and its quality and content also represent Google in a way.
The same way a restaurant sets uniform, grooming and tardiness guidelines for employees to follow, Google does the same for any website belonging to a business or individual. It’s not a stretch to think of yourself as a Google brand ambassador. After all, it’s trying to serve up high-quality, relevant content to its search users.
What Is Thin Content, You Ask?
Well, let’s talk about it! In a nutshell, thin content is not giving your drop-in visitors exactly what they’re looking for in search. Additionally, it lacks substantial content or interest. This can manifest in several different ways, so let’s discuss what thin content is and how to detect and prevent it.
Do you remember when you were a child going on a scavenger hunt? One clue led you to the next destination, only to produce another riddle to figure out. Luckily, as a child, part of the fun is there’s nothing at stake other than a handsome reward at the end. Well, in the SEO world, doorway pages are very much like leading visitors on a scavenger hunt, except their time and energy are more precious. And for you, time is money.
A doorway page is one that provides minimal content and instead tries to lead the user to a secondary page rather than providing the direct result or answer, aka the handsome reward. This can be extremely frustrating for consumers looking to gather information on a particular subject, product or service. With attention spans decreasing at an alarming rate, it is imperative that you shoot straight and provide a page with “meaty” and meaningful answers that hit the mark every single time.
The best thing to do with doorway pages is to kick ‘em to the curb! They are not necessary and only serve as fillers on your site. They also give the impression to users that you do not have any relevant, informative or original information to share with them, so they might as well go someplace else. You lose credibility, which means your traffic will go nowhere but down.
At some point, everyone has had that one friend who hears you tell a joke that gets a good laugh, and then they later deliver that joke to someone else in attempt to get the same laugh. You just sit back and give them the “horse eye” knowing that you were the originator and wait to get the credit that’s due – but then you don’t. A great comedian is an original comedian, and although imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is only so when credit is given.
Spun pages are a lot like a bad comedian: They are a watered-down version of the original. These pages are a compilation of information from other sites, reworded (maybe) and renamed as their own. There is no new or interesting insight that makes it stand out, and no relevant contribution to the conversation. In all likelihood, the goal of your site is to build traffic and give your audience a reason to return. If there isn’t original information, you can kiss another opportunity goodbye.
The trick to improving spun pages is to generate content from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Finding writers with experience and a certain expertise in that particular area can increase your rankings and can help you avoid being penalized for having a generic page, while also giving your readers something to look forward to. So, even when the topic isn’t all that original, the key is to write it in your own words and add value.
Low-Word Count Pages
The concept of “thin” is somewhat intuitive, so you can imagine that “low-word count page” means just that: The page is lacking content. Once a standard has been set, usually 300 words, if you have a page that dips below that line, it communicates to your audience that you do not have enough relevant information to provide them or that the content lacks depth. Once again, this encourages them to go elsewhere, taking potential dollars out of your pocket.
A very simple, yet often missed, solution for low word count is to simply increase it – not with “fluff” or “filler” words, but with fresh, engaging information that adds layers to the foundation you’ve already laid.
Granted, not every single page on your site needs to be deluged with paragraph after paragraph (such as “Contact Us” pages), but for everything else, take the time to make it interesting and helpful to the reader. Perhaps bring some statistics and research into the fold, and use your content to answer all relevant questions the average reader would have about the topic that brought them to your website in the first place.
Do You Need to Fatten Up?
So, we’ve jumped in and discussed just a few basic examples of what “thin” content looks like – although there are plenty more scenarios – and touched on how to fix them. Now, let’s rewind for a moment and discuss how you can detect whether your website is “thin” or not.
It’s Time to Get with the Program
The most thorough way to go about detecting thin content is to take a multifaceted approach and tackle it from many angles. Luckily, there are desktop applications like Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl that start with the basics. These applications can do a word count scan and report pages that may need to be “beefed up.” The caveat is that they do not check for quality within the page, and instead focus strictly on word count, so don’t just stop with one of these tools.
Where Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl may leave off, Google Analytics seems to cover the rest of the ground. Google’s tool has the ability to see exactly how much time a user spends on the entire site, and can even break down how much time is spent on each page within a website, in addition to letting you know your “bounce rates.” Google Analytics can also do a general quality check of content within the website to decipher what appears to be relevant and what needs improvement.
However, relying solely on applications can still leave holes in your website that can only be addressed by doing a manual scan and audit of each and every page. Although potentially time-consuming and tedious, a manual audit is a sure-fire way to cover all your bases and ensure your website adheres to Google’s standards, so long as you know what you’re looking for. Hopefully, all you’ve been reading here has given you a clearer idea on how to identify and rectify your own thin content.
Just having any ol’ website isn’t good enough if you have any hope of building a business and reaching consumers. You must stay in compliance with search engines’ guidelines and stay on top of not only your competition, but SEO standards as well.
Thin content can severely impact your website and ROI if not monitored and quickly modified. First impressions are everything, and with the right attention to detail regarding your website – and a little extra “meat” – you’ll be sure to leave a lasting one.
Need help spotting thin content on your site and with producing high-quality information and media to replace or enhance it? Eminent SEO can help. Learn more about our Website Content Services here, or call 800.871.4130 today!