In the recently concluded Google’s Office-hours Hangout for November 2022, one of the viewers asked if splitting a long article into multiple interlinked pages could be considered thin content by Google’s algorithms. Google’s Lizzi Sassman clarified that it is not that straightforward, and that because a piece of content is not as lengthy as some of the others doesn’t mean that it is thin content. Similarly, just because a piece of content has a higher word count, doesn’t mean it qualifies as content of high value. There are many others factors at play that lead to content being thin or lacking any real value. The second of half of the previous sentence sums it up quite nicely, actually. Before we move on to the actual question and its response by Lizzi, let’s take a better look at what thin content actually means.
What is Thin Content, really?
If you go by the dictionary meaning of the word ‘thin’ and use it in terms of judging a piece of content, it is quite natural to assume that ‘thin content’ is a webpage with not too much content in it. However, that is not the case. When experts and SEO use that term, it really means that it is a piece of content that doesn’t offer any real value to the readers. And that means that even well-written content is long in length but doesn’t offer a unique perspective or a detailed analysis of the topic at hand can still be considered thin by Google. And then there are doorway pages that are created purely to rank specific keyword phrases. These pages almost always have the same content expect a few details (for example city names) changed. These pages automatically disqualify themselves from the rank race and ever visitors are wary of staying on such pages for than a few seconds, if they happen to land on them by any chance.
To sum it up, you can consider a piece of content as thin if it lacks originality, and is barely distinguishable from pages serving content on the same topic.
So, do short articles count as thin content?
Here’s what the viewer asked.
“Would it be considered thin content if an article covering a lengthy topic was broken down into smaller articles and interlinked?”
To which Lizzi answered.
“Well, it’s hard to know without looking at that content. But word count alone is not indicative of thin content.
These are two perfectly legitimate approaches: it can be good to have a thorough article that deeply explores a topic, and it can be equally just as good to break it up into easier to understand topics.
It really depends on the topic and the content on that page, and you know your audience best. So I would focus on what’s most helpful to your users and that you’re providing sufficient value on each page for whatever the topic might be.”
Given the static nature of Google’s Office-hours Hangout, which takes follow-up questions completely out of the equation, there is a slight possibility that viewer may have actually been talking about pagination and not breaking up a topic into different articles of shorter length. In which case, the above explanation about thin content remains the same anyway. You can listen to Lizzi’s full response to question at the 12:05 minute mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.
Source: Search Engine Journal