Thin content or low-quality content is one of the reasons most websites fail.
If your website has lots of pages with thin content or low-quality content or pages which does not offer substantial value to users, these pages may affect the rankings of other “Good” pages on your website. After the introduction of Panda, Penguin and several other algorithmic updates on Google search which emphasizes on the “Quality” and “Value” aspect of web pages, it has become all the more necessary to eliminate thin content from your website.
Bear in mind that thin content does not necessarily mean pages with low word count. Pages with low word count may not necessarily contribute to thin content. It is possible that some pages on your website have very less number of words but the user experience, engagement, and other interaction signals are not that bad as it provides all the necessary information to the user, has good backlinks from other authority websites and attracts traffic over a sustained period of time. On the contrary, it is possible that there are pages on your website with more than 1000 words in them but they fail to attract traffic, backlinks and the user engagement on those pages are not up to the mark.
Hence, pages with low word count do not necessarily mean they are “Thin” in nature. Pages with low engagement and bad user experience are generally a signal of “Thin content”.
What are the Attributes of Pages with Thin Content?
Now before we discuss how to find thin content on your website, let’s look at some of the common attributes of pages with thin content.
- Low Average time spent on page
- High Bounce Rate
- Low word count
- No Backlinks from Authority Websites
- High Exit Rate
If a page on your website has low average time spent on page, high bounce rate, low word count (less than 500 words), no backlinks from authority websites and high exit rate, it can be classified as a page with “Thin content” in it. In general, it is observed that pages with low word count have the highest probability of becoming “Thin” in nature. This is a general observation, there could be exceptions to this rule but in 95% of the occasions, pages which have been written poorly and in a hurry are the main causes of thin content.
So how do you find thin content on your website? Here is a technique we follow on our sites and this has worked out pretty well.
- If you are using WordPress to manage the content of your website, install the Export Post Info WordPress Plugin. This Plugin allows you to export critical information about all the published posts on your website into a CSV file.
- Once you have exported all the information, you can import the same in an Excel spreadsheet and later on add other information from Google Analytics – Average time spent on page, bounce rate and other metrics.
To add metrics from Google Analytics, login to your Google Analytics account. and go to “Behaviour > All Pages” and you will be able to see important metrics of all the pages
It takes a while to update information on all these posts in that spreadsheet but the effort is well worth it. For a page with 2000 pages, it took me close to three weeks to complete the spreadsheet with all the data.
- You will observe that pages with lowest word count and average time spent on page metric will be the pages which looks the worst when you inspect the content quality and overall value provided to the users. Either the page is poorly written, is outdated, has broken images.
You can sort the spreadsheet by individual metrics and also sort the entire spreadsheet by combining multiple metrics. It is possible to download a CSV file from Google Analytics and measure the quality of pages based on Google Analytics metrics alone ignore the word count of posts but I would strongly recommend you to include word count as a signal since pages with less words often turns out to be low quality “thin” pages which do not provide substantial value.
Once you have sorted all the information in the spreadsheet, you will be able to find out the pages with the least words and also least value for all other metrics e.g average time spent on page, the highest value of bounce rate and exit rate and lowest value for pageviews/sessions. Based on this data, you can classify specific pages on your website as low-quality content and then later decide whether you want to improve the content of these pages or simply get rid of the low-quality content which may be hurting other pages of your site due to the Panda algorithmic update.
Google Adsense Revenue is also a Strong Signal
Another thing worth noting – If you monetize your blog or website with Google Adsense, it is indeed a good idea to also include “Adsense revenue” as a metric. While Adsense revenue is not an indicator of whether the page is low quality in nature, it has often been observed that pages which do not provide substantial value to users do not convert well with Google Adsense, if you are monetizing the content on your website with Google Adsense.
You can see the total Google Adsense revenue made by a page on your website from Google Analytics > Behavior > Publisher pages.
To wrap up, if you combine multiple metrics and user experience signals into a spreadsheet and sort the sheet to show pages with the weakest signals, you should be able to find out low quality content on your website. Typically, low quality content or thin content pages have very short average time spent on page, high bounce rate, makes no revenue, has no backlinks and are very short in word count. This is a general observation and may vary from one website to another but in most cases, this is the case with most of the blog and content sites with large number of pages in it.