When Google rolled out the Panda update in 2011 it was aimed at websites with low quality content and designed to prevent thin websites from ranking high in the SERPs. The Google Panda update was meant to be a huge wake up call; a glaring reminder that content should be written for the users and not for the search engines.
Since then, Google has been increasing clear about the fact that if you want to improve your site’s ranking in the Google search results, one of the most important steps is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information. But still some webmasters attempt to improve their rankings in the SERPs and ergo attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little substantial value.
Thin content and shallow pages with little value will kill your website rankings. Maybe you’ve been lucky so far in escaping penalizations but each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times.
Examples of content with little value include:
- Auto-generated content
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content (and low-quality guest posts)
- Thin affiliate sites
Automatically Generated Content
“Auto-generated” content is by definition content that’s been generated programmatically. It will most often consist of paragraphs of random text that contain the right keywords sprinkled at the right intervals but overall, the content will make little or no sense whatsoever to a human reader. Examples of auto-generated content include:
- Text translated by an automated tool
- Text generated through Markov chains and other automated processes
- Text generated using automated synonymizing
- Text generated from scraping RSS feeds
- Content from different web pages combined without human review
Thin Affiliate Sites
Often times, affiliate websites feature content such as product reviews that appear, verbatim, on sites across that affiliate network and do not have enough unique content to differentiate them from other sites on the web. Such “thin” affiliate websites do not provide value for web users and create a frustrating user experience. It therefore makes sense that pages with product descriptions and reviews copied directly from the original merchant can suffer in Google’s search rankings.
Content taken or scraped from other sites on the assumption that a large volume of content on a website is a good long-term strategy regardless of factors such as relevance and uniqueness provide no real value to users. Additionally, this practice also constitutes copyright infringement.
Sites that republish content from other sources or modify it slightly, for example, by substituting synonyms, are obviously shallow.