SEO basics: What is thin content?

At Yoast, we like to say: “Content is king”. But what does that mean? In short, it means you need content to rank. But not just any content. It needs to be meaningful and original. In this SEO basics post, we’ll explain why you need content to make your site attractive for visitors. We’ll also explain why Google dislikes low quality or thin content, and what you can do about it.

What is thin content?

Thin content is content that has little or no value to the user. Google considers low-quality affiliate pages, doorway pages (pages optimized for a keyword that redirect the user to another page), or simply pages with very little to no content as thin content pages.

But don’t fall into the trap of just producing loads of very similar content! Non-original pages, pages with scraped and duplicate content are considered thin content pages too. And Google doesn’t like pages that are stuffed with keywords either, because it has learned to distinguish between valuable and low-quality content, especially since Google Panda. That’s why Google has also launched the Helpful Content update, to further differentiate between helpful and original content, and low-quality content.

What does Google want?

Google tries to provide the best results for their users. The best result is usually the one that matches the search intent of the user. So, if you want to rank high, you have to convince Google that you’re answering the question of the user.

When we look at it this way, it makes sense why thin content rarely qualifies as the best result. If there’s not enough information, people will likely not find their answer. So try to write enjoyable and informative copy. Not just to make Google happy, but (even more importantly) to make your users happy.

Read more: SEO basics: What does Google do? »

Be the best result

Now that you understand what Google wants, it’s time to write meaningful copy about the keywords you’d like to rank for. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you blog about something you’re passionate about. After all, if you write about a topic you love (and probably know everything about), it’ll be easy to show Google that your content contains an expert’s point of view!

I don’t know how to write longer content

Every situation is different. We understand that it’s not always possible to write an elaborate text about everything. For instance, if you own an online shop that sells hundreds of different computer parts, it can be a challenge to write an extensive text about everything.

Our advice: make sure that every page has some original introductory content, instead of just an image and a buy button next to the price. If you sell lots of products that are very alike, you could also choose to optimize the category page instead of the product page or use canonicals to prevent duplicate content issues.

How do we help you?

Have you heard of our content analysis checks? It’s part of the Yoast SEO plugin, and it helps you write awesome copy. For example, one of the checks is to write at least 300 words per page or posts. This ensures that you won’t publish thin content. We also check if you haven’t used the same keyword before, which helps prevent you from creating similar content. 

And what about keyword stuffing? Yep, we check for that too! Our keyword density check shows you if you’ve used your keyword too many or too little, so you get a nicely optimized and natural-sounding text. That’s why you should make sure at least these lights are green!

content checks thin content

If you want to take it one step further, you can use our readability check. This allows you to make sure that the quality of your text is good, and that readers can easily understand your content.

Next steps

Really want to learn how to create content that ranks? Then you may want to give our SEO copywriting training a try! It guides you through the entire process of keyword research and content creation. This training will help you to develop skills to write awesome content for your website!

Keep reading: Content SEO: the ultimate guide »

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