How Google’s Thin Content Penalty Helped My Website Become More Profitable
by Sandy Getzky
Webmasters and site owners all over the world, can you tell a horror story in 8 words? I’m sure you can, and the number one story would probably be this: I received a ‘thin content penalty’ from Google!
What is the thin content penalty and why is it scary?
Web pages classified as having thin content are those that offer little or no value. According to Google’s support page, here are the examples of such content:
- Automatically generated content
- Thin affiliate pages
- Content from other sources. For example: Scraped content or low-quality guest blog posts
- Doorway pages
As a consequence, your website will be removed from Google search results- which is basically synonymous to being invisible in the online world. Yes, it is a very big deal.
But don’t give up and hide in the closet, because you can do something to fix the problem. I know, because our very own website, Global Nail Fungus Organization, received the thin content penalty several years ago and now, we are still here: we survived to tell the tale- stronger and better than ever before.
How It Started
From Google’s support page:
One of the most important steps in improving your site’s ranking in Google search results is to ensure that it contains plenty of rich information that includes relevant keywords, used appropriately, that indicate the subject matter of your content.
However, some webmasters attempt to improve their pages’ ranking and attract visitors by creating pages with many words but little or no authentic content.
Google will take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.
So before Google introduced the thin content penalty, a lot of websites would fill their pages with low-quality keywords-packed content, in order to rank higher on Google’s search results.
This is an ‘easy and convenient’ way to get more traffic to your site, so why waste time, right? We were also guilty of this practice.
That is, until Google adapted changes to their search algorithms to give priority to sites with high quality content, and penalize those with low quality content.
Then we received this message:
It hurt reading that note. Initially, it made us feel defensive- should we contest this? Should we voice our complaint over this ‘unfair’ ruling?
But then, after the initial shock factor, we sat together and discussed the implications of the thin content penalty that we received. The main goal of the website is to help the millions of people suffering from nail fungus infection by providing honest and useful information about the condition.
With all these individuals counting on our help, how could we just give up on our vision? And if Google said that our content offered shallow information to our readers, maybe it was about time that we review everything.
So we took action and focused on the following:
Credibility and quality of information. To be a reliable health-based website, we needed to provide extensively-researched and proven facts. So we sought the help of medical practitioners who are well-educated and and experienced in treating the nail fungus infection.
We overhauled the entire website and majority of our current content is now written by healthcare professionals who have deep experience with the topic they’re writing about.
Part of quality assurance also involved making sure that we did not copy content from other publications and online pages, and avoiding the overuse of keywords just so we could rank higher on future Google searches.
Original and unique content. To provide added value, we knew we needed to get more creative. We checked what else we can give- information that was not available anywhere else on the web.
That was when we came up with a detailed product comparison table featuring the top over-the-counter topical nail fungus treatments available in the market. It was not an easy feat- we purchased each item on the list, thoroughly tested and reviewed each one of them, took and included detailed images of the products.
Reader support. At the end of the day, getting penalized was a wake-up call for us that we were failing to help our readers solve their nail fungus infection problems in the best way possible. Were we providing real value to them? Google didn’t think so, and maybe, they had a point.
We were reminded that we created the website to be an online support for those suffering from the condition, and it renewed our determination to press on towards our mission- by offering more meaningful engagement with our readers through good quality and practical content.
Now, before we published anything, we ask ourselves these question: Will the reader learn anything from this? How will this benefit them?
We Have Survived
After months of tears and headaches in overhauling the entire website, we were ready to file a reconsideration request with Google. I think all of us in the team waited with bated breath as we nervously anticipated Google’s verdict.
Well, of course you know that we were able to get the penalty revoked and now, we are stronger and better. From the horror genre, our story became an inspirational one.
Google’s thin content penalty initially scared us but eventually inspired us to focus on providing the best value to our community of readers.
Many articles out there give technical advice on how to get the penalty lifted- by hiring an SEO expert content creator who would know how to adhere to Google’s guidelines, by rewriting content but making sure that all keywords are still there, by including numerous statistics, graphs and charts, etc. and those tips may also work.
But our advice is very simple…
Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and focus on creating a great and valuable user experience in your website. Do not keep your eyes on the numbers too much- your desired ranking will follow when you stay true to your vision and aim to make your readers happy.
March 22, 2017
November 3, 2016