How to Avoid a Thin Content Manual Penalty

SUSO 21 February 2022

Making sure that the content on your website adds value to the user is crucial. Find out how to avoid getting a thin content manual penalty from Google.

Author: Paulina Dolatowska, Content Writer









It is of the highest importance for Google to show only valuable content that provides reliable answers to the questions users ask. For this reason, it is important that your website contains high-quality content that addresses the user’s search intent. Websites with thin content can lead to a manual action penalty from Google for thin content. In this article, I’ll show you 5 tips on how to avoid just that!

What Is Thin Content?

Thin content is defined by Google as content that is of low quality, and that adds little to no value for users.

It should not be confused with pages having a low volume of textual content because it isn’t about amount only. In other words, shorter content of higher quality is more valuable than a longer content of poor quality, It all depends on the user’s search intent. After all, Google’s main goal is to provide the best and most relevant answer to what the users are looking for.

What Is a Google Manual Action Penalty?

A Google manual action penalty is when an actual human reviewer evaluates a page as violating Google’s guidelines.

Such an action has a significant impact on your SEO – usually, pages or entire sites with a Google manual penalty will lose their organic search rankings.

Types of Thin Content According to Google

Here are the most common types of thin content pages:

  • No usefulness and depth. If you cover a particular topic very vaguely, without going into important details, Google may perceive your content as thin because it has no value to the reader.
  • Automatically generated content. Articles generated by AI writing assistants tend to be overstuffed with keywords, sound unnatural, provide false or outdated information, or even don’t make any sense at all, so they can easily be perceived as thin content.
  • Too many ads. Having too many ads on your website provides a poor user experience as they impede the main content. They can be especially problematic if they cover the article or require the user to dismiss them manually.
  • Duplicate content. Google values uniqueness, so duplicate articles or even identical pages can be easily classified as thin content. Scraped content in particular, is against Google’s guidelines.
  • Unnecessary URLs. If you have different URLs leading to the same page (www vs. non-www, HTTP vs. HTTPS, and so on), they can be perceived as two separate entities by Google, so basically duplicate content again.

Why Is Thin Content Bad for SEO?

Thin content is harmful to your SEO performance because it is viewed as invaluable by Google. It can make your website look unprofessional, unreliable, or even irrelevant. In SEO, there is no “the more, the better” rule – if you publish a lot of low-quality content, it can affect your ranking negatively. For this reason, if you suspect your content may be perceived as thin by Google, it’s best to fix it as soon as possible.

How to Avoid a Thin Content Manual Penalty?

To avoid getting punished by Google, it’s worth taking a few crucial steps. Better to be safe than sorry!

1. Adding More Valuable Content

Write comprehensive articles associated with your niche, and enrich them with pictures, tables, lists, videos, etc. In this way, the search engine will again perceive your website as worth visiting and helpful to the user. To find ideas for new content, you can look at pages that rank high for keywords associated with your niche and get inspired by them. 

Keep in mind to:

  • Satisfy the user’s intent
  • Get rid of too many ads and CTAs
  • Add relevant headings
  • Optimise the URL
  • Enrich the content with images, video, tables, lists, etc.
  • Add content that your competitors have included

2. Consolidate Duplicate Content

Copying content is one of the most common mistakes, especially on eCommerce sites. While it may seem ok to use the product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website (as they should be reliable), it’s better to write your own descriptions to avoid duplicating the content.

Duplicate Content

3. Deindex Unnecessary Pages

Deindexing low quality pages is a great way to reduce the amount of thin content on your website. You can do it with robots.txt and noindex tag, making it clear to the search engine it shouldn’t crawl/index those pages. Another solution is to apply canonical tags to combine similar pages. You can also just delete the content manually if you’re sure that it’s of no value and you don’t have time or resources to deal with this problem another way. Find out more about managing your index here.

4. Making Sure Your Website Seems Legit

If your website looks spammy and unreliable at first glance, you can easily get a manual penalty from a Google reviewer. To make your site appear more professional, customise the original template, add original branding, post your contact data and an about page, etc. It will be good not only as a help in avoiding a manual penalty, but it will also make a good impression on your visitors.

million dollar homepage

5. Avoid Doorway Pages

Pages titles are one of the first things Google sees when crawling a page – this is because the page title appears in the <head> of the source code. Having multiple similar titles can raise a flag of thin content issues as it suggests the presence of doorway pages. These are pages that are “created to rank for specific, similar search queries”.


Overall, Google appreciates websites that truly aim at satisfying their visitors’ needs and providing useful information instead of just artificially trying to get as much traffic as possible without making any significant effort. Keep your content original, reliable and comprehensive, and don’t add pages with little to no value for the user to avoid manual penalty and improve your website’s SEO performance.

If your website has been impacted by a thin content penalty (or any other manual action), don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team of SEO specialists will help get your site back on track.

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