More threads by Daniel L

Daniel L

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Hi all,

Has anyone had any experience with "Thin content with little or no added value" manual penalty?

We've a large UK home service site that's been flagged albeit all of the content is 100% unique and the business has spent hundreds of thousands on content.

My questions are -

Is the site recoverable? or are we at a total loss?
Can anyone help recover the site at speed?
Will it ever recover 100%?

The website supports 30 young families and there's massive pressure on me to sort this!

Thank you all,

Daniel
 
Solution
Hi Daniel,

Thin content penalties are my least favorite because they are hard to recover from. I agree with Barry that all manual actions can be removed. However, from my experience it can be very difficult to recover traffic that's lost after a thin content penalty.

Please know I'm speaking in hypotheticals because every case is different and for some sites it takes a fair bit of digging in to really understand why Google gave this manual action.

Google only gives manual actions when their algorithms are not doing the job they want. It usually means that a site is having an unfair advantage because they're exploiting an SEO tactic, or sometimes several, that involves creating large amounts of content that only exist to try and...
Have you reached out to Marie Haynes? She is probably who knows most about penalties. I have never run into a thin content one before.
 
Yes, but for some reason it won't let me tag her so I'll tweet this to her.
 
Hi all,

Has anyone had any experience with "Thin content with little or no added value" manual penalty?

We've a large UK home service site that's been flagged albeit all of the content is 100% unique and the business has spent hundreds of thousands on content.

My questions are -

Is the site recoverable? or are we at a total loss?
Can anyone help recover the site at speed?
Will it ever recover 100%?

The website supports 30 young families and there's massive pressure on me to sort this!

Thank you all,

Daniel

If you share the url I'd be happy to take a look
 
@rustybrick - thank you for your message. It's very relieving to hear a fully recovery is possible.

From a Thin Content penalty, how long does it typically take to recover?

We have spent so much money on unique content to be written but the site was still flagged.
 
It depends. If Google thinks your content is thin and you don't and then you don't take steps to make changes, then it can last for a very long time. You need to make changes and then submit a reconsideration request through Google Search Console.
 
It depends. If Google thinks your content is thin and you don't and then you don't take steps to make changes, then it can last for a very long time. You need to make changes and then submit a reconsideration request through Google Search Console.

Sure, the trouble we have is it's a Home Service business that serves 3,000 locations. So it's hard to ensure every location page is 100% unique.

Is there anyone you could suggest to help recover the site?
 
No one said it was easy but if you publish 3,000 landing pages on your site, for Google to index each individual one, they really need to be more unique than just replacing the city name.
 
Hi Daniel,

Thin content penalties are my least favorite because they are hard to recover from. I agree with Barry that all manual actions can be removed. However, from my experience it can be very difficult to recover traffic that's lost after a thin content penalty.

Please know I'm speaking in hypotheticals because every case is different and for some sites it takes a fair bit of digging in to really understand why Google gave this manual action.

Google only gives manual actions when their algorithms are not doing the job they want. It usually means that a site is having an unfair advantage because they're exploiting an SEO tactic, or sometimes several, that involves creating large amounts of content that only exist to try and capture search traffic.

It's certainly possible that having 3000 location pages is the culprit. However, I feel like Google's algorithms have evolved enough to take care of that kind of thing. Otherwise we would be seeing thin content penalties all over the place because lots of sites have doorway like content... content that really could just be one page or perhaps a small handful that has been made into thousands of pages for SEO reasons.

It also concerns me that you have spent hundreds of thousands on content. Now, There are many legitimate ways to spend money creating content that truly helps people. But if you got a thin content penalty it may be the Google has determined that all of your content is created just to rank on search engines as opposed to truly helping an audience. The manual action is a way of Google saying, "We don't want content from this site to rank but our algorithms are not doing a good enough job at suppressing it like we want."

It is difficult for content that is written by content writers to be considered high quality by Google these days. Here are Google's guidelines for creating high quality content:

We don't see a lot of thin content penalties but today when we see them they're usually for really tricky manipulative things that site owners have been doing. Several sites that came to us with thin content penalties were running schemes where they had multiple sites all targeting the same thing. We could not get penalties lifted until we convinced Google that they would focus on just one site.

I'm happy to take a quick look if you want to reach out to me. I don't personally do manual actions anymore but if you need to hire someone to help you sort this out I can recommend someone whom I've trained.

There are some sites that fully recover from thin content penalties, so don't lose all hope. Personally, I feel we are about to see a huge shift in how people search on online as AI improves and gets more adopted. If I'm right, a lot of businesses that thrived on creating large amounts of content are about to go through some rocky times.
 
Solution
I am surprised that you were hit with a thin content penalty. I have seen a lot of examples of websites being deindexed in the past few weeks. It seems that Google is going after AI and low-quality content.
 
@keyserholiday - I am very shocked too. All of the content is human written and unique, the website has a domain authority of 71 and we've never knowingly broken the rules. Google aren't very helpful in being specific either.
 
@keyserholiday - I am very shocked too. All of the content is human written and unique, the website has a domain authority of 71 and we've never knowingly broken the rules. Google aren't very helpful in being specific either.

Domain Authority is not a thing and has zero impact on rankings or the quality of your website and content.
 
If all these service pages are unique (ish) then it may just be that Google has refreshed how they valuable they are to the user - not necessarily a penalty.

My questions would be - what is supporting these service pages, how are they structured (service/county/town) and how do they work together?

I would look at this.
 
Once upon a time Matt Cutts explained that Google uses penalties to "break the spirits" of webmasters and this case is an example of that. They penalize you and few others because you are successful. All the websites that came up in their place are using the exact same strategy but with worse execution. Everyone is doing this but you were penalized because you are good at it.

The algorithm rewards location pages and this is why webmasters keep making them. Google cannot deal with this strategy algorithmically so they get back to the old classics: targeted manual penalties and FUDs. The great AI company Google somehow cant deal with a simple seo tactic but hey...they can give you a nosebleed. This manual penalty just proves that your SEO strategy is effective, if it wasn't you would have been hit with an algo.

A few websites got penalized but that is a grain of sand in the desert - There is no issue with these pages, the algorithm is loving them and users are loving them too. What this really means is that webmasters should push the location pages even harder but be prepared to absorb some blows along the way.

These penalties wont change the big picture - they wont stop this tactic, but they will stop you. For a small company and their website this could be the end. You will have to immediately switch to Google Ads and even if you lift the penalty later, your traffic just wont be the same, your margins wont be the same. By the way - you might use those pages for your Google Ads campaigns - they will get the maximum quality score for the area specific keywords but somehow they are thin content when it comes to organic.

Rants wont help anyone but lets just tell each other the truth - the king is naked.
 
Last edited:
Sure, the trouble we have is it's a Home Service business that serves 3,000 locations. So it's hard to ensure every location page is 100% unique.

Is there anyone you could suggest to help recover the site?

@Daniel L - Sorry to hear this. A lot great advice already posted. Without knowing the site, it's hard to provide specific guidance. Based on what's posted here, I would agree with those that have suggested that it's likely due to Google concluding the location pages are "doorways." See: Spam Policies for Google Web Search | Google Search Central | Documentation | Google Developers

Unfortunately, not an easy fix.

You can kill the doorways. Of course, that might lift the action, but won't "recover" in the way you might be hoping.

You can build out the location pages. Of course, that's likely a lot of work and no guarantee that you'll get them sufficiently "useful" for Google to lift the action.

Again, take all of this with a huge grain of salt as I'm just basing this on my quick review of what's posted here.
 
Once upon a time Matt Cutts explained that Google uses penalties to "break the spirits" of webmasters and this case is an example of that. They penalize you and few others because you are successful. All the websites that came up in their place are using the exact same strategy but with worse execution. Everyone is doing this but you were penalized because you are good at it.

The algorithm rewards location pages and this is why webmasters keep making them. Google cannot deal with this strategy algorithmically so they get back to the old classics: targeted manual penalties and FUDs. The great AI company Google somehow cant deal with a simple seo tactic but hey...they can give you a nosebleed. This manual penalty just proves that your SEO strategy is effective, if it wasn't you would have been hit with an algo.

A few websites got penalized but that is a grain of sand in the desert - There is no issue with these pages, the algorithm is loving them and users are loving them too. What this really means is that webmasters should push the location pages even harder but be prepared to absorb some blows along the way.

These penalties wont change the big picture - they wont stop this tactic, but they will stop you. For a small company and their website this could be the end. You will have to immediately switch to Google Ads and even if you lift the penalty later, your traffic just wont be the same, your margins wont be the same. By the way - you might use those pages for your Google Ads campaigns - they will get the maximum quality score for the area specific keywords but somehow they are thin content when it comes to organic.

Rants wont help anyone but lets just tell each other the truth - the king is naked.

I think this statement, "Google is evil," needs to be retired. I needed to change my password on my laptop and searched for over an hour to find the answer. All of the websites and videos were rehashes of the same outdated and now incorrect advice. SEOs have ruined the internet. Every day somebody on Reddit wants to start blogging as a way to have their website make them money. They are not getting into it to bring value and see it as a way to pump out rehashed and low-quality content. Every time, they fail to rank, or their web pages get deindexed, they claim that they have high-quality content. Really? Then why is Google penalizing you? When they manage to share their URLs, they have the content constantly interrupted with AdSense ads. The content is 10 things you can learn from X or just random rehashed lists. SEOs have been pumping out low-quality content for decades, and they are still doing it. I don't know the OP's website, but if it's anything like the questions I see where an SEO wants to create city pages for hinge repair, then Google was correct in issuing the penalty.
 

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