What is “thin content”?
The ” thin content“, or “thin content”, is a term used to refer to pages that bring little added value to Internet users who land on them.
The pages affected by thin content are not necessarily pages with a low number of words, they are above all pages that do not provide an adequate (or sufficiently qualitative and detailed) response to the Internet user.
Of course, as a general rule, the lower the page has a total word volume, the greater the chances that the content will be incomplete, or deceptive, will be great (except for queries linked to search intentions of the “instant answer” type: ex: translation, definition, weather, …).
Thus, it happens relatively often that Google highlights pages with a very low number of words, but which perfectly meet the search intent of the Internet user. Here is an example with this query which, at the time of this writing, places a page with less than 80 words in the first position (Wiktionary.org) of a query with a relatively large average monthly search volume (> 3000).
Google’s definition of Thin Content
“One of the most important steps to improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains lots of rich information, including relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the topic of your content. However, some site owners try to improve their page rankings and attract visitors by creating pages with lots of words but little or no genuine content. Google will take action against domains that attempt to rank higher by displaying scraped pages or other pages that do not add substantial value to users. »
5 examples of thin content according to Google
Thus, for Google, a site or page meeting the definition of “thin content” will be a site that:
- Display non-original content fetched from third-party sites (via data scrapping);
- Publish automatically generated content (by an AI, via content spinning and automatic translation for example);
- Has the sole purpose of redirecting Internet users to affiliate links, without providing quality information to readers;
- Displays duplicate content from another site on its website;
- Uses the technique of “doorway pages” which consists of creating a multitude of very similar pages with each other in order to redirect the Internet user to a main page at a later stage.
What are Google’s official recommendations for word count (and thin content)?
If the search engine historically recommended a minimum of 80 words per news article, Google no longer recommends a minimum number of words per article (the dedicated section has been removed from the quality guidelines for webmasters).
At the same time, following the Helpful Content Update, Danny Sullivan and John Mueller also answered certain questions from webmasters (including ours) by providing some clarifications on this subject:
- Danny Sullivan, an official representative of Google also said on Twitter that he was not not recommended to add content just to hit a theoretical target word count. In other words, Google simply recommends creating the number of words necessary to add value to the reader.
- John Mueller has for his part indicated that word count is not a sign of thin content. According to him, the content should just be useful, no matter how many words it takes to make it useful.
- John Mueller also indicated that articles, even old and with few words, could still be relevant today and that it was therefore not necessarily relevant to delete / redirect them in 301 to the parent category.
Thereby, useful content for Google can thus count 100 words as 5000 words depending on the targeted query and the search intent of the Internet user.
For example, we can easily define a term in 100 words for a request of the type “thin content definition”, conversely, it will be difficult to respond qualitatively to “how to be well referenced on Google” with a content of 100 words because the number of concepts to be explained is important.
How many words should you ideally write per type of page?
You understood it, if there is not an official volume of words recommended in SEO, according to the type of page, the search intention of the Internet user and the level of detail at which an Internet user can wait depending on his request, the volume of text to be written to satisfy both the user and the search engine will vary.
In this section, we offer some keys to help you define the number of words to write ideally according to the type of page concerned.
These volumes, which are intended to be indicative, will be adapted according to the competition, the SERP and the level of difficulty of positioning on the request.
Here’s a summary of what’s recommended in this section by page type:
- Feature article: between 800 and 4000 words;
- News article (Google News / Google Discover): between 100 and 800 words;
- Product sheet: between 200 and 2000 words;
- E-commerce category: between 100 and 3000 words.
How many words should ideally be written per feature article?
For a feature articlewhich targets a rather detailed search intention, on a rather competitive theme, with many elements to be processed, a consistent target word volume will often be between 800 and 4000 words.
How many words should you ideally write for a news article (or Google Discover)?
For a news article or Google Discover, which targets topical search intent, there is no minimum recommended word volume (although it was initially 80). You can therefore position yourself very well, according to the news treated, with articles between 100 and 800 words.
Articles with more words will of course also be able to position themselves very well on Google News and Google Discover.
How many words should you ideally write for a product sheet?
For a product sheet, the ideal number of words will depend above all on the complexity of the product concerned. The more complex the product, the more possible explanations it will require about its use or composition, the more the ideal word count should increase accordingly. Thereby, a consistent target word volume can very well be 200 or 2000 words from one product sheet to another.
How many words should you ideally write for a category?
In SEO, it is often recommended to add “SEO text” on product categories. But in reality, this content very rarely adds value to category pages, and Google knows it.
For it to bring real added value, we advise you to prefer short marketing content (reassuring, optimized for conversion) above the fold line (ex: less than 100 words) and longer contents below the product listing to answer any questions a potential buyer may have regarding this product listing. This kind of FAQ content can thus be between 500 and 3000 words depending on the number of questions addressed.
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