Tag Archives: keyword intent

How Thin Content Can Harm Your Google Ranking

by Chris Horton

Website structureI see this anomaly more often than not and it goes hand in hand with some of the keyword research posts we’ve done here recently. You want your website to rank well, but you can’t get on that front page of Google to save your life. “It doesn’t make sense! Why doesn’t Google rank me!? I have hundreds of pages of content!”  More often than not when a site has a lot of pages of content, it becomes too thinly spread out and disorganized. We’re going to briefly discuss what you can do about it once you’ve reached that point and more importantly, how to avoid getting caught in that trap in the first place.

Let’s say that you’ve got a nice wedding cake bakery that makes wedding cakes. The site has never really ranked well, but you don’t know why.  So you start doing keyword research to find out what people are searching for related to weddings. You find wedding favors, wedding songs, wedding planning tips, wedding consultants, and the list goes on.  You decide to make a page that contains a list of the the most popular wedding songs on your site. Your thought process is that a bride will click through to see what the most popular wedding songs are and then see your services and buy a cake.

The trend continues as you then open a little side store attached to your website to start selling wedding favors. Again with the same thought process in mind that you’ll get that residual business or worse case scenario get affiliate sales from selling wedding favors.  The next thing you know, you’re ranking worse than you were before.  “How can this be?! I added more relevant content!” Unfortunately, you just muddied up your website and made things worse for yourself.

And if you have a website that has already done something similar, you now have to figure out how to dig your way out and get back in Google’s good graces. Whenever you consider adding more content to your website, you should always first consider what type of impact this will have on your site’s relevance. Weddings are a very broad topic in general and in a saturated market, you end up being your own worst enemy.

In the above example, adding wedding favors to a wedding cake website makes your website becomes less relevant for wedding cakes. To make the matter worse, you not only will continue to fail to rank for wedding cakes, but now you’ll fail for wedding favors as well.  And while you might think that adding more wedding related items will make you more relevant for weddings such as wedding invitations or wedding dresses, you thin out your site’s focus instead of excelling at wedding cakes.  It’s the only thing you do and you should focus on your expertise on that.

If you want to add more content, make sure that it’s directly relevant to wedding cakes.  For instance, maybe you consider a section of available wedding cake toppers, so that even if they don’t buy a cake from you because they’re across the country, you may still sell them a wedding cake topper and still be able to maintain your wedding cake relevance. Everything you add to the site should be directly related to cakes.

If you’re already stuck in the mud with a website that has thousands of pages that are all thinly related in the same type of scenario, there are ways out.  You either have to restructure your website and properly silo it or totally kill it and reuse the information in a logical relevant manner.  If it’s not relevant with cakes, it has to go.  The only way that a convolution of thinly-related topics works is if you’re in a non-competitive industry that isn’t represented on the web.

So it may be time to pull a sitemap (you can get those free you know) and take inventory of what you have out there. Keyword research plays an integral part of deciding what direction may be best for your site based on keyword intent and what terms people are using to find you.