Over the past year we’ve heard a lot of phrases like “thin content” and no “added value” and “low quality” content. Google is looking to ensure that websites offer quality content and if your site doesn’t have content that Google considers high quality, you’ve probably taken a hit.
On almost a daily basis people ask me to review their content and explain why it’s “thin” or low quality. I think there are 2 reasons for this:
1) People have a hard time reviewing their own content. They can’t get detached enough to really look at it closely and they think their site is great and it’s easy to just its Google being Google.
2) They aren’t trained in writing and just honestly don’t know what makes good content.
Regardless of the reason, you need a solution and to the best of my knowledge, there are 2 solutions:
1) Hire a copywriter to clean up your site.
2) Learn to do it yourself.
Myself and the other contributors on Level343 have already shared various copywriting tips and suggestions and blueprints etc., so definitely browse our Blog and find all that rich, meaty content. Today, I want to add to our content about content! I want to specifically cover this concept of “thin” content in more detail.
The best way I know how to illustrate this concept is by giving examples. So, allow me to dive in by setting the stage…
Let’s say our site sells blue widgets and red widgets. Here is the offending content:
Blue Widgets (on its own page)
We sell the best Blue Widgets at the best price. We are your online source for Blue Widgets. Our Blue Widgets come in 3 different sizes and are available for overnight shipping. Check out our Blue Widgets today and don’t forget to check back often, we have monthly specials on Blue Widgets.
Red Widgets (on its own page)
We sell the best Red Widgets at the best price. We are your online source for Red Widgets. Our Red Widgets come in 3 different sizes and are available for overnight shipping. Check out our Red Widgets today and don’t forget to check back often, we have monthly specials on Red Widgets.
That example allows me to demonstrate three specific problems:
1) Duplicate content (because both products are widgets, it’s easiest to just use the same text on both pages)
2) Content that is thin (not enough meat on the bones)
3) Keyword abuse (also known as spamming and keyword stuffing)
So, let’s tackle each of those problems. Here is my proposed new text:
Please note: to address problem number 1, ideally I would have one page for both red and blue widgets and they would use a dropdown box on the order form to select the color. So this example illustrates me combining both into one page. (If that wasn’t possible in your cart, you’ll just have to write unique content for each page).
Blue and Red Widgets: Three Sizes To Choose From & Savings Up To 30%
Our Blue and Red Widgets were designed for novice users and come with clear and easy to follow instructions. Our packaging is environmentally friendly and our widgets come in three different sizes (small, medium and large), as well as two different colors (blue and red). They are sturdy, reliable and typically last about two years. Made in the U.S. with care and exacting standards.
- If you are looking to replace existing widgets, you can check the size of your current widgets and then look at our pictures to determine the sizing you need. If you are ordering for the first time and aren’t sure of the sizing you need, refer to the pictures below and make your best guess! Our return policy is friendly and so is our customer service staff.
- If you buy two widgets now, you’ll get a discount and you’ll have a back-up on hand and ready to go when it’s replacement time.
- Be sure to select the right color from the dropdown box. So we know whether to get red or blue shipped out to you.
- Save up to 30% off the manufacturer’s suggested pricing and choose from standard shipping, which is free to expedited shipping (which is calculated during checkout based on where you live).
- Save time. With our instructions, you don’t have to waste time trying to figure anything out, it’s all spelled out (with pictures too).
- No headaches! Our products are guaranteed and if there are any defects or problems, simply call our 800 number and receive a hassle-free replacement.
So you can see I bulked up the content but I didn’t just use filler words to make Google happy. I focused on sharing the information I thought site visitors would want. The end result was more content that actually added value. Now you may say I have it easy here, since I made up a product and can therefore make up any features and benefits I want. So now let me use a real life example:
I randomly googled “picture frames” and selected this page to pick on. I have no connection to the site and I am not going to publish their name or URL. I just wanted to take a real life example.
This one doesn’t have duplicate content and it isn’t abusing keywords. The text they do have is not bland. But it is “thin” – so this is a perfect example of how you can bulk up content and add value at the same time.
3PGA Plein Air Gallery
Espresso Gold. This handcrafted plein air frame is both elegant and distinctive, featuring substantial raised edges, exquisite details, antiqued touches and polished, closed corners. A stunning wood picture frame in an espresso finish with subtle gold highlights and a contrasting gold inner lip.
Note the wide profile of this frame, perfect for canvas art.
My Proposed Text:
3PGA Plein Air Gallery Picture Frame
Espresso Gold is the name of the finish and we feel it accurately conveys the richness in color and texture on this exquisite piece. It is a stunning wood picture frame with subtle gold highlights and a contrasting gold inner lip. This handcrafted piece is both elegant and distinctive, featuring substantial raised edges, exquisite details, antiqued touches and polished and closed corners.
If you aren’t familiar with the term “plein air frame” it refers to frames that are designed to frame plein air art, which is typically small, bold and is painted outdoors. Typically the frame is wide in relation to the small painting and relates well to the simple yet bold painting.
This particular piece would work well in a den, or a larger room. If you are going to place it in a smaller room, consider making it a focal point and don’t place many large items all competing for attention. The antique and aged look of the frame would work well with bold, rich colored paintings of any style. Tip: Contrasting modern art with aged frames is popular.
Made of durable wood and the highest quality materials, this frame will hold up well. Be sure you stock up on properly hanging supplies to ensure the safety of your artwork long term – especially if it is being displayed in a highly trafficked room in your home.
Note the wide profile of this frame which makes it perfect for canvas art.
I’m not saying I cured any diseases or solved any major world problems here, but I did take what felt like abbreviated content that Google would likely consider too thin and bulk it up a little bit. I tried to focus on educating the reader and sharing tips – which should help them better understand the product and envision how to use it in their home. They had already used strong, descriptive words to evoke a certain feeling and I just went with the existing tone and style and expanded on it.
Take a look at your content and look for areas that you can breathe some more information and life into it. Try to really paint a picture with your words and offer insights, tips and information to site visitors. While you may be doing this because lost rankings forced you to revisit your content, that should be the last thing on your mind as you write your content. Think about your readers and not the engines, and you’ll do great.
I obtained many good points once i read this article. Many thanks for sharing this useful and insightful post.
In general most of the people use the Internet to get information about products, services, places etc…
Make sure that these persons are attracted towards the content of your website only. Remember that content is the single most important thing on your site. Most of the search engines are concentrating on the key phrases, titles and descriptions where to decide the correct part of ranking.
Hopefully, someday the search engines will learn to recognize quality content. When that happens, the game-playing folks who work on everything but content creation will be out of luck. No longer will trickery count more than value added. In the meantime, though, we must provide our readers with the best content possible. Solid content and clean code will eventually win the day. Thanks for the tips!
Doug, thanks for the comment. I anxiously await that day! I also hope site owners realize the value of content. I hear so often that people don’t want to clutter their site content and that is a valid point but there is a middle ground between too much content and too little. As with most things in life, it’s all about balance.