Avoid Publishing Thin Content To Save Your Website From Panda 4 Penalty
20 October 2014

Avoid Publishing Thin Content To Save Your Website From Panda 4 Penalty


Have you been hit by the Panda 4 Update or you are just agonized about its implications? If so, then you must have heard about “thin” content. What does this “thin” content mean and why it has topped the priority list of Webmasters ever since the release of the Panda 4.0 algorithm update? In 2014, we have completely shifted our focus from the “Old SEO” to the “New SEO” techniques. Even after employing the latest SEO techniques like molding an insightful, helpful experience for the site user, some websites still suffer from their ranking downfall after the launch of the Panda 4 update.

Why is it so? The Panda 4.0 algorithm update encapsulates the concept of quality unique content vs. syndicated or thin content. But what is this “thin content” means, and how does it affect the ranking of the websites after the Panda 4.0 update?

Understanding The Concept of Thin Content

Google wants that all the websites must follow their Webmaster guidelines, however it is pretty common for the webmasters to follow these guidelines, but this again does not give us a clear understanding of what thin content actually is.

Here is the example showing the tweet of Google’s Matt Cutt About Thin Content


According to the tweet of Matt Cutt, it is clear that Google will penalize the sites having lesser or thin content that adds no value to both the site and the users.

According to its definition, “thin content is that content, which has low value to you and to your user as well. It is the content, which sets in the way of goal funnels, impeding crawl budget, informing others, increased counts of internal links that altogether causes noise to the search engine”.

Measuring the Content Thinness

If you want to know how to assess the content thinness, you must be aware of the tools that helps you in the assessment. As we have learned, thin content is just the opposite of strong content, as it has low value, and ‘Google Analytics’ (GA) is one such tool that can let you evaluate the content thinness with convenience. Besides, GA, the ‘Open Site Explorer’ can also be used for assessing the thinness of your website content.

1. Google Analytics- An Effective Tool for Comprehending Content Thinness

Using Google Analytics, you can review All Pages section and can sort by exit rate. The pages that are not exclusively supposed to usher an exit, instead you have expected for enhanced user acceptance are those pages that have a higher bounce rate? It means these are the pages, which have thin content.

This data shows us users are not getting from these pages as per your expectations. You might think that this might be due to opening of too many links in the same window, or other SEO mistakes, but this is actually occurring due to the presence of thin content on your web pages. You have to adjust your focus by taking your analytical study a step further by reviewing your site pages by older via Content grouping or Content Drilldown. It sheds light on the content thinness issues at a folder level instead of the page level.

You can interpret how the Google Analytics presents a clear understanding of the content thinness along with the point of focus that needs to be concentrated for driving better traffic for your web pages.

2.Open Site Explorer- Another Tool for Assessing the Thinness of Your Content

You can also assess the thinness of your website by using the Open Site Explorer tool. You can easily review the backlinks of your domain using this tool and can step into the Top Pages tab for getting a clear perception of what type of content is receiving links on your website. You can also check what links you officially hold to your high level pages or your home page.

This information presented by the Open Site Explorer let to know what content of your website need authority from a buzz or social perspective as Google is also considering these factors while gauging the potential of thin content.

Defining Thin Content From Google’s Prospective with Solutions

 1.Internal Duplicates

These are the copies of your own web pages that is always a result of multiple URLs leading to the same content. In the eye of Google, every URL is unique and hence, multiple URLs make your content thinner.

Here is an example depicting the true internal duplicates, or duplicate internal links leading to the same content:


2.Cross Site Duplicates

Cross site duplication is one of the important concerns of Google these days, especially after the launch of the Panda 4 update. In this post Panda 4 era, Google has become increasingly concerned about the cross site duplicates that might differ from each other by their wrapper, but they contain same pieces of content across more than one domain.

Here is an example of cross site duplicates, having different wrappers, but same pieces of content:


The  Panda 4 Update really don’t care for legality of cross site duplicates, but it treats the same content across different sites as SERP noise, which Google always tries to filter out. However, if you own the control of the syndication of the cross site duplicates, then a cross domain canonical tag is a good choice, but if you are a scrapper and Panda 4 update has knocked your website off the SERPs, then go along with the guidelines of Panda.

3.Low Uniqueness Ratio

Instead of reiterating the body content, websites that have low ratios of unique content end up with lots of structure and too little copy. This could be the outcome of unnecessary navigation, repeated pictures or dynamic content, mega footers, or anything which is being used on all pages but it is not a part of the body copy.


For saving your website from the after effects of low unique ratio, you must have to boost the quantity of unique content on your website or you might cut down some of the web pages.

4.High Advertisement Ratio

If your website is jam-packed with banner advertisements, and Adsense is floating up and down on both sides of your website, you might end up with a major hit from the Panda 4 update. According to the reports of an Adwords representative, Google considers a web page as a quality page only if it has given the same space to both unique content and advertisement banner on it.


Moreover, the representative also said that Google can check algorithmically both the ad ratio and content ratio. Therefore, you must have to develop unique content for your website, which you can create by collecting information and data from reliable sources because cutting down the Ad ratio will not only enhance your SEO, but it will also enhance the CTR on your current CTR.

Any alteration that would extremely lessen your search index is something that has to be measured and employed cautiously. These problems do reveal venerable Google biases and may worsen Panda-related issues. Unluckily, we have observed very few triumph stories of Panda recovery at this stage, but if you are able to address thin content issues from your website by improving uniqueness, and eliminating your lowest value pages from the index can have a very optimistic impact on SEO.

It should also be noted that while the Panda algorithm modifications may be adjusted and polished up, but Google’s approach towards thin content will remain the same. Hence, it is better to solve the thin content issues now from your website to save it from getting affected by the imminent algorithm updates of Google.

By Amit Kothiyal

Google Analytics & E-Commerce Analytics certified, Amit Kothiyal has 9+ years of experience in digital marketing. Currently, he is working in a stellar digital marketing company TIS India Business Consultants Pvt. Ltd. He has helped numerous brands establish their online niche with his out-of-the-box internet marketing strategies and lead generation capabilities. He is proactive on LinkedIn and Twitter to share his experiences with similar kind of professionals across the globe.

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