The latest Google algorithm update, “Fred”, is intended to punish sites with lots of “thin” content. In SEO, we have a phrase, “Content is King”, and you should have great content about each service or topic your business is trying to sell. However, I have seen a number of small businesses get hit by Fred, not because they were trying to cheat the system or create a lot of low quality content, but just because the way their WordPress or other CMS is organized. These business owners are completely unaware that this accidentally “thin content” is even out there or hurting them.
If Google indexes your site and you don’t have a high number of pages, but a very high percentage of them are thin content, it is going to put a black eye on your site. Not just because Google doesn’t like thin content and will algorithmically push that down in the rankings, but also because your site only gets so much “bandwidth” or share of the Google resources, so if Google sees that a large percentage of it is “garbaage content” to them, they are going to give you less of it.One line of demarcation for “thin content” is 300 words on a page. To be
One line of demarcation for “thin content” is 300 words on a page. To be safe, I would aim for 350 to 400 words at least. Now Google itself acknowledges that there are certain topics that don’t need that much content to answer a query, but it is fairly rare, so it should not be a large percentage of your site pages.
The problem is with many business owners, they don’t realize pages that only hold logos, or basic product descriptions are getting indexed and counting against them as thin content. I had two companies recently get hit with Fred. One had a number of very similar basic product pages that had one to two sentence descriptions and were fairly similar. There were over a hundred of these very basic pages compared to less than that many core pages of the site trying to rank for search. They didn’t realize these pages were getting indexed, but the search traffic dropped significantly. We went in with a tool and found all of these pages and put “noindex” code on them, saving those resources for their important pages and not wasting Google’s resources, and they recovered right away.
A second company was a WordPress site that happened to add a number of logos of different brand names they provided. These logo’s showed up as posts on their site and even ended up as separate categories and the person that posted them ended up having an author section created with all of these images as well. Basically this created over 100 “thin pages” that cut their traffic down significantly. We are going in right now to “noindex” all of these logos. Now these logos may be helpful to users and good to have on the site, but they don’t need to be indexed as pages for Google. This wastes their resources and raises significantly, the number of pages on your site that are “thin” to Google.
If you suddenly saw a significant drop in search traffic in March and April, it may have been caused by this issue. Please reach out to us. For $100, we can run a deep audit and determine if you have a high percentage of thin or empty pages, so that you can immediately take action and get yourself back in Google’s good graces.