Thin content is one of those things that nobody wants, but nearly everybody has on their website.
Whether it’s on a products or services page, a short blog post, or your about us page, thin is definitely not in!
So what exactly can you do with thin content on your website?
You have three choices available to you.
You can no index, redirect or update.
Today, we are going to look at each of the three ways to deal with thin content so you can stay away from that delete button.
What is Thin Content?
Whenever you create content for your website, it should be juicy and loaded with keywords, LSI keywords, links, and all those other useful SEO techniques. (But not filler content)
Thin content is the opposite of this! Typically, thin content is any of the below.
- Articles or posts containing less than 600 words.
- Outdated content or material.
- Not SEO optimized.
- Contains a keyword ratio of more than 2.5%
- Has links to spammy sites
- Offers no real value to the reader
- Contains duplicate content
But is thin content always bad news for your website? Well… not always.
Sometimes thin content that has been up for many years can be a great source of backlinks.
And if it’s featured on the first page of Google, it can be a real source of traffic.
But… as with everything in the modern era of the internet, your content is going to need to be regularly updated.
So let’s take a look at when and when not to update or modify thin content that is performing well.
To Edit or to Leave it?
This one can be a bit tricky to work out. But once you know what you are looking for, you know what to touch and what to leave alone.
The first thing you want to look at is how long ago you wrote an uploaded the content to your website.
See, depending on the topic, what was relevant it then maybe completely obsolete now.
For example, let’s say that you wrote a blogpost about SEO techniques back in 2010. Chances are that all of the techniques you wrote about are long gone and buried in the ever-evolving SEO graveyard.
Sure, the content might be driving traffic to your website. But it’s what that traffic does once it opens to page that really counts.
If people open the page only to leave just as fast, that sends Google poor user signals.
And over time, these can relegate your website to those hardly ever visited search engine pages… 2,3 & 4.
So what should you do about content like this?
Should you update it or just remove it?
Before making any rash decisions, first ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the web page have a high bounce rate?
- Is the content still relevant to the topic?
- Does it play a role in the buyer’s journey?
Not all content needs to be updated. For example, if you have a gardening website covering plants characteristics and scientific names, these are pretty much set in stone. There may be one or two new species or cross breeds that you can add into the mix. Otherwise, it is best left alone.
However, if you write about digital marketing. Chances are that you are going to need to update your content on an almost monthly basis.
Remove or Redirect Content
Choosing whether to remove or redirect content can be a tricky decision.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to completely remove thin content from your website.
Be it user-generated content or duplicated content, if it’s got to go, it’s got to go.
Here are a few situations that removal of content is preferable to redirection:
- Content is no longer current or is outdated.
- Evergreen content that no longer reflects industry trends.
- Incorrect location pages or outdated business address information.
- Content that no longer matches your current niche.
- Content created using black hat SEO techniques.
If removing content from your website it’s something you are not prepared to do, you can look at redirecting.
For any web page that ranks well in the search engines for any given keyword, use a 301 redirect to a similar page or similar content. This helps your website retain it’s value.
For a web page like this, avoid using a 404 gateway.
If you’re pages content is outdated or contains duplicate content, you can use a ‘noindex’ tag. This prevents the search engine crawlers from indexing your page and removing it from the search results without interfering with your sites internal navigation.
Ultimately, inserting a 301 redirect taking the user to a relevant page can add value to the user journey.
Updating Thin Content
Updating thin content is definitely preferable to deleting it. If your page content still adds value to your website, it makes complete sense to update it to reflect more modern and up-to-date info.
Typically, updating thin content involves focusing on improving its SEO.
But why should you update content instead of producing brand new content instead?
- Requires less time to optimise compared to writing fresh content.
- Increases your indexation rate by maintaining website size.
- SEO can increase keyword ranking possibilities.
- Content most likely already has backlinks that you don’t want to lose.
So what should you do to update outdated thin content? There are a few main things to fix first.
- Update all of your meta descriptions
- Add appropriate structured markups
- Use LSI keywords in your content
- Update your headlines and H2 Headers.
- Use fresh images with optimised alt text.
A great to turn old content into new content is to create a social video from it.
Pull some of the text and add it to a video editing tool, such as Lumen5.
You could also create an infographic on Canva to encourage interaction with your content.
The main thing is to ensure that everything on your page is completely up to date and relevant.
Ultimately, it makes savvy business sense to update content you already have than have to delete it and have to rewrite it again.
Take a look at your site analytics, run through user interaction, and if it is harming your website… don’t be afraid to pull it down.
Site Audits are Important
Site audits and UX audits are things that many people would rather not do.
However, if you want to identify thin content that is damaging your website’s authority or ruining the user experience, it needs to be done.
One of the best tools to use for performing a site audit is Screaming Frog.
It analyses every page on your website and shows you where under-performing and thin content exist.
This makes it much easier to tackle problematic web pages before they start to create problems.
You should also aim to perform a Content Gap analysis at least once every 6 months.
SEMrush is an amazing way to discover content you can target that your competitors have overlooked.
You can also perform a keyword Gap analysis to find out which keywords your competitors are ranking for with similar content.
Sprinkling these keywords in any content that you update can give you a real boost in the SERPs.
Final Thoughts on Thin Content
sometimes, you just have to rip the bandage off and delete any content that has a negative impact on your website.
Once you have performed a site audit, bring any posts with less than 600 words up to around 800 words as a minimum.
any content that can’t be updated should use the ‘noindex’ tag or a 301 redirect.
And if you feel it needs to be deleted, all is not lost.
You can take that deleted content and re-purpose it as an infographic or social video to go onto social media to generate leads.
Unfortunately, the internet is not a catwalk… and thin is definitely not in!
Head on over to the blog for more useful content posts.