Get rid of thin content

1. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and identify all indexed content.

The free version of Screaming Frog analyzes up to 500 URLs for duplicate content, indexability, broken links, word count, last modified date, and more. The paid version removes that URL limit for larger websites.

2. Create a content audit spreadsheet with columns for Page title, URL, Content duplication, Word count, Last modified date, Impressions, Goals or conversions, and Bounce rate.

Add data from your site crawl and website analytics.

3. Analyze your audit sheet and identify pages with low word count, content duplication, old last modified date, and low KPI performance.

Content can be thin because it:  Lacks usefulness or depth. Is similar to other content on your site that is optimized for the same keyword. Duplicates or closely matches content on other sites. Doesn’t match search intent. Google de-prioritizes these content types, causing your KPIs on the pages to drop.

4. Read each piece of thin content you've identified. Decide whether to remove, combine, or improve the page, and enter your decision in a new Verdict column.

5. Remove content targeting irrelevant topics and keywords. Create a 301 redirect to avoid broken links from internal or backlinks.

For example, an underperforming blog post might focus on educating readers about print marketing tactics. If you have since moved to focus your business around digital marketing, the keyword is no longer relevant and the content can be removed. This also includes underperforming content on topics that no longer matters to your audience. A report specific to 2015 marketing trends is no longer relevant today and can be removed.

6. Consolidate duplicate or similar content targeting the same keywords. Create a single larger post that covers the topic in more detail.

Duplicate content can cannibalize each other and actively harm your SEO. For example, short blog posts on the average price, dealerships, and how to buy luxury vehicles can all combine into a larger buying guide on the same topic. Transfer the high-value points from each shorter duplicate or similar piece into the larger guide. Delete any duplicate posts that don’t add unique value.

7. Improve thin content by adding more information and updating quotes, facts, and statistics. Add visual content and interactive features to better engage your readers.

Thin content can have improvement potential because it’s: Short, but still performs well. Underperforming, but unique and focusing on a core keyword. Relevant, former high-performing content that has begun to drop with age, Comprehensive content updates also update your last modified date in the HTTP header, signaling new crawling opportunities to search engines.

8. Tag all consolidated or improved thin content pages to track changes in performance after the edits.

Measure the same KPIs you included in your audit sheet one month, three months, and six months after the updates. Content that hasn’t improved after taking these steps can be marked for deletion. Benchmarking performance increases also provides insights into future actions on thin content. For example, you might find that specific types of content updates, like adding visual content, leads to the highest performance increases.