Thin Pages

Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

7 min read

Search engines aim to populate their indices with high quality results that satisfy user intent. As we’ve already established, there is no “correct” amount of content to include on a webpage for it to rank well in organic search. However, pages with a relatively low amount of content, known as thin pages, may not be indexed and can devalue the quality of your site as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at the problem of thin content and how you can combat it.

What is thin content?

Thin content can be defined as low quality pages that have little to no value for visitors.

Thin pages can’t simply be described as pages with a low volume of textual content because sometimes a small amount of content from a high authority site is all that is needed to satisfy user intent. Other forms of content like images and videos can also be engaging for visitors. However, instances of pages with thin content ranking well are the exception, not the rule.

What are search engines looking for when analysing content?

Search engines will typically look for some textual signals that indicate the subject of page content, such as H1s, titles, alt text, transcriptions, etc. Pages with relatively little content run the risk of being classed as doorway pages by search engines.

Back in 2011, Google released the Panda algorithm update which aimed to surface high quality web pages in its index and reduce the presence of pages deemed to be of lower quality. The Panda algorithm has been updated many times over the years and it is now updated in real time, but thin content is still seen as a signal of low quality.

The bottom line is that thin content should be avoided, as search engines want to populate their index with high quality results which, in most cases, means providing in-depth and valuable content that users will find useful.


Which types of pages typically include thin content?

Sites with a lot of thin content may receive a message in the Manual Actions page of Google Search Console, stating that low quality content has been detected. Google lists a number of different types of pages which typically include thin content:

Pages, like the ones listed above, are considered webspam and go against Google’s webmaster guidelines, meaning that they may receive a manual action that removes part or the whole of a site from the index.

How to detect pages with thin content

If Google doesn’t perceive that your site is using thin content in a way that is intended to deceptively influence organic rankings, you probably don’t need to worry about receiving a manual action. However, thin content is still an issue that you need to be aware of and keep on top of.

Thin content can be identified in a number of ways:


How to improve thin content pages

It should be clear by now that thin content is an issue you want to avoid, so let’s look at some of the steps you can take to avoid it:

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Rachel Costello
Rachel Costello

Rachel Costello is a Former Technical SEO & Content Manager at Deepcrawl. You'll most often find her writing and speaking about all things SEO.

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