The Legitimate and Unfounded Worries About Thin Content
Every time that Google makes a change to its Panda algorithms, a collective sigh and groan can be heard throughout the world, as webmasters fret over whether their content is now on the chopping block with respect to rankings. While the first changes brought by Panda were pretty harsh on all forms of thin content, present-day algorithms are a bit more selective and sophisticated at determining which forms of thin content are truly useful and which forms are pure filler. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that some of the hardest-hit sites by Panda in recent memories are websites that have followed a strict rule with respect to the minimum number of words per piece of content. In other words, thin content is no longer defined as being below a certain word count. Below, we’ll talk about which concerns are justified and which are no longer a worry in order to straighten out the scepticism behind thin content.
What Thin Content Really Means
In the past, thin content had a straightforward definition: content that barely qualified as such due to low word counts and minimal information. At first, this was one of a handful of ways that Google could quickly penalize websites that were trying to game the system without offering much value. If you were pinging servers with a bunch of pages that only had 100 or 200 words, then you were certainly under scrutiny by Panda.
As time has passed, however, thin content now relates more to content that does not provide a value or answers the question that a searcher has asked. How can this be measured on your end? There are still two basic metrics through which you can see how each page is doing and whether or not it may classify as thin content. The first is the amount of time spent on the page in question. The second is the bounce rate for the page. If you are noticing high bounce rates and low rates of time being spent on the page in question, then it may be time to scrape it. Even with these metrics, however, there may not be as much of a concern as you would think.
Bounce Rates and Time Spent on Page
Google chronically monitors how searchers are interacting with your page and various SERPs. If an individual searches for a specific keyword, comes across your site and only spends ten seconds on it, then this may seem like a bad indicator to you. To Google, however, someone who has briefly arrived at your website and who doesn’t execute an additional related search or who doesn’t view additional pages within the SERPs has found what they were looking for. This is a good indicator in Google’s eyes, as the searcher found what they needed.
Likewise, a high bounce rate may be acceptable if the page is a straightforward explanation and the user does not have to continue pinging servers for any additional information from other sources. Searching for a basic statistic and arriving on a page with 100 words – followed by a bounce – is not necessarily viewed as thin content in Google’s eyes any more, depending on how the searcher acts next.