Google Answers If Splitting A Long Article Could Result In Thin Content

In a Google Search Office Hours video, Googler Lizzi Sassman answered a question about thin content, clarifying a common misperception about what thin content really is.

Thin Content

The word thin means lacking thickness or width.

So when we hear the term “thin content” it’s not uncommon to think of thin content as a webpage with not much content on it.

The actual definition of thin content is more along the lines of content that lacks any added value.

Examples are a cookie cutter page that barely differs from other pages, and even a webpage that is copied from a retailer or manufacturer with nothing additional added to it.

Google’s Product Review Update weeds out, among other things, thin pages consisting of review pages that are only product summaries.

The hallmark qualities of thin pages is that they lack originality, are barely different from other pages and/or do not offer any particular added value.

Doorway pages are a form of thin content. These are webpages designed to rank for specific keywords. An example can be pages created to rank for a keyword phrase and different city names, where all the pages are virtually the same except for the names of the cities.

Are Short Articles Thin Content?

The person asking the question wanted to know if splitting up a long article into shorter articles would result in thin content.

This is the question asked:

“Would it be considered thin content if an article covering a lengthy topic was broken down into smaller articles and interlinked?”

Lizzi Sassman 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.”

Splitting a Long Article Into Multiple Pages

What the person asking the question may have been asking is if was okay to split one lengthy topic across multiple pages that are interlinked, which is called pagination.

With pagination, a site visitor clicks to the next page to keep reading the content.

The Googler assumed that the person asking the question was splitting a long article into shorter articles devoted to the multiple topics that the lengthy article covered.

The non-live nature of Google’s new version of SEO office-hours didn’t allow the Googler to ask a follow-up question to verify if she was understanding the question correctly.

In any case, pagination is a fine way to break up a lengthy article.

Google Search Central has a page about pagination best practices.


Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero

Listen to the Google SEO Office Hours video at the 12:05 minute mark