After receiving an email indicating one of my sites would be subjected to a manual search penalty in the Google Search Index because of “thin content”, it made me reevaluate many of my websites and compare them to the Google Webmaster’s Guidelines. Most of my online real estate focused on passive income from Google Adsense and utilized what was up until this point, a proven technique for developing profitable websites.
First, let’s dig a little deeper in what “thin content” is and why was I assessed a manual search penalty for this particular site by Google.
Google defines Thin Content as content that has little or no value to the users. It may have been content copied and pasted from other sites, articles that were “spun” or re-written to make it appear unique or just weak content designed to draw search traffic around a keyword or keyword phrase. A video posted by Matt Cutts provided a great insight into what is meant by Thin Content.
In checking the website in question, I knew that I had not copied or spun content. The articles written were unique and based around a profitable keyword phrase that I had identified. The site was up until the Thin Content Penalty a profitable site, bringing in about 8 to 10 times the revenue as it cost to run the site. Losing this revenue would not be a major hit to my online revenue but it was a shot across my bow that made me step back and evaluate all my sites.
In this case, it was quite clear that the content that I added provided little value to the visitors. The site in question used a new WordPress theme designed to increase Adsense revenue. In fact, it was a site that was purely an experiment in new SEO techniques, new themes and new approaches to developing content. The Thin Content warning was an indication that the latter wasn’t working.
Digging a little deeper in the entire “user experience” and “value” concept that Matt Cutts discussed in his video and analyzing the posts / sites that were doing great for my revenue stream, it became a little more clear that “social interaction” and “user experience” were now playing major roles in Google’s search algorithm. My websites that were updated frequently, had higher level of user interaction, had a higher social profile and had content that appeared more natural in writing were doing better both in search and in revenue.
Does this mean that I am no longer using long-tail keywords to develop profitable websites? Not at all. In fact, this is still a way to develop very profitable websites.
What it means is my sites will now include a much more richer series of posts designed to interact with visitors. There will be a higher social presence on the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Content will be more carefully designed to incorporate long tail search terms. I turned receiving the Thin Content penalty into a learning experience and used it to my advantage to redesign the site in question and to make me revisit my online real estate.
Avoiding a Thin Content penalty is a must for any blogger. Even though this is something that I have worked hard to avoid, receiving a manual search penalty from Google was a wake-up call. It meant that I had to work that much harder on my sites. I’m not concerned because I did say that blogging is hard work!
What’s your thoughts on this? Have you received a Thin Content Penalty? Have you seen your search placement be manually penalized by Google?