How Thin Content Kills Rankings and How to Deal With It


Any digital marketer who knows what they’re doing will tell you that “content is king”. Unfortunately, there are a lot of marketers who could not identify good content, let alone develop it.

This can be especially tragic when these less-knowledgable marketers work on your website’s content. If your content is not developed and presented to a sufficient standard, your website will have a much tougher time ranking in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is the case when your site has what SEO professionals refer to as “thin content”.

What is “Thin Content”?

Thin content refers to low-value content that is unlikely to be pushed by Google’s algorithms or satisfy a site’s visitors. Generally speaking, this is content that is considered useless or unentertaining by most people.

Contrary to popular belief, how thin a site’s content is has nothing to do with word count. Landing pages on dictionary and calculator websites, for example, have extremely low word counts yet their content is considered “thin” because they can easily satisfy the needs of most of their visitors.

Common Types of Thin Content

Thin content tends to fall into the following categories:

1.) Scraped Content.

This is content stolen from other websites either by manual copy-pasting or with some kind of automated content scraping tool.

Scraped content is fundamentally problematic because the original content is probably already indexed by Google. This means that the lifted content will likely be tagged as duplicate, which will make it difficult if not impossible for it to show up on Google SERPs.

Another more serious issue with scraped content is that in many instances, using it may be considered plagiarism. Site owners may be held criminally liable for using such content, potentially making it the most expensive content strategy they’ve ever tried.

How to Deal With It:

The first thing is to admit your mistake. It’s not uncommon for site owners to be in denial as redoing all their landing pages will require them to invest in unique, quality content. When you’re ready to move forward, take down all the scraped content and develop new, unique content that site visitors will find valuable.

What you shouldn’t do is use article spinners. Google and other serious search engines can now easily detect content that’s been run through these programs. Even in cases where they aren’t detected by web crawlers, human site visitors will easily spot spun content as this tends to look unnatural. This may reduce trust in your site and damage your brand.

2.) Autogenerated Content.

This is content that’s automatically generated by algorithms. As with the article spinners we just discussed, the programs that create autogenerated content are mostly used to manipulate Google’s search results.

While autogenerated content programs get more and more impressive year after year, they’re still not good enough to consistently fool any human or search engine. Google probably assumes that this type of content is not what human site users want, which is why sites with autogenerated content tend to get pushed down in the SERPs.

How to Deal With It:

If you’re serious about your site, you have to invest in a competent writer or a full writing team. Whether you choose in-house, freelance, or agency writers does not matter as much as their ability to consistently deliver quality content that matches your brand and your visitor’s expectations.

3.) Copy-pasted Affiliate Marketing Content.

Many affiliate marketers have a bad habit of simply copy-pasting content from other ecommerce pages. However, Google will almost certainly detect this and tag the content as duplicate.

As far as Google is concerned, original sources are probably more trustworthy. This can be a problem for lazy affiliate marketers, as Google will always prioritize the original source over any newer ones that appear to have copy-pasted content.

How to Deal With It:

Again, invest in writers and editors. If you have the funds, prioritize content developers who can create original content and fresh perspectives that are not present in the original source.

Do this well and your site might even outrank the original ecommerce site you copied from on Google’s SERPs. What’s more, having good content also adds value to your role as an affiliate marketer, which is great for business.

4.) Non-Unique Manufacturer Descriptions and Technical Sheets

Online sellers who have a lot of products will often copy-paste tech sheets and descriptions from the manufacturer to save time. Unfortunately, this type of content will be flagged by Google as duplicate, reducing their search visibility.

How to Deal With It:

If you’re selling so many products that you no longer have the time to create unique product descriptions for each one, it may be time to hire a professional writer to write them for you, using your supplier or manufacturer’s content as a basis.

To reduce the effort needed to create unique content, consider adding comment and review sections to your site. Comments and customer reviews still count as unique content and can serve to increase the value and credibility of your site.

5.) Fluff Articles

These are useless articles that provide no value to readers. They generally contain no important facts, figures, or unique insights. These articles are typically made by writers who are not actual subject matter experts, usually freelancers or from low-quality agencies.

When a business insists that its blogs are updated regularly by non-expert writers who may not have a direct stake in its success, thin content is bound to be created. This is especially true if the site owner or managing editor does not know how to properly develop their content.

How to Deal With It:

If you want your site’s blog to make a positive impact on your brand and search engine visibility, you’ll have to hire an in-house writer or an agency that can deliver genuine value to the readers you want to attract. They should be able to write with authority and they have to be able to support your brand’s arguments convincingly.

Most importantly, the content has to be noticeably different from the content offered by your competitors. Facts, figures, fresh perspectives, and even humor are just some of the ways you can set your content apart.

Lastly, you should also consider deleting or rewriting pointless articles and other content that doesn’t perform well. This will help strengthen your branding and it will also help reduce your site’s hosting requirements, speeding up load times and improving overall site performance.

Final Thoughts

Low-effort content strategies that rely on automated content scrapers, article spinners, and fluff articles will almost certainly result in thin content. When your site has this kind of low-quality content on it, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for it to gain any meaningful visibility on Google’s SERPs.

If you want your website to successfully dominate the SERPs, you can’t rely on shortcuts. Investing in knowledgeable writers, editors, and digital marketing professionals is the only way to ensure that your site delivers meaningful content that both customers and search engines trust.

Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal
Glen Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of SearchWorks.Ph. He has been doing SEO since 2008 and is consistently featured in mainstream media and industry conferences. His core skills include SEO, SEM, data analytics and business development.