Mountain View, California–Google recently issued a warning to affiliate sites, particularly adult content properties, through Chris Nelson, a member of the Search Quality Team. In a blog post, and through Twitter, Nelson and Matt Cutts state that sites with thin content might be in violation of the search engine’s quality guidelines; and, therefore, subject to being penalized.
Thin content is considered text which has been copied from another source or is original content but of poor quality, not providing any added value to the internet as a whole. Google and Bing consistently advise site owners to only publish content that is informative and useful, and entices people to share it across blogs and social media.
Thin Content an Ongoing Problem
Search engines thrive on fresh content, increasing their indexes and ranking pages according to hundreds of algorithmic signals. Black hat and gray hat sites attempt to manipulate organic rankings through various tricks, among them is publishing thin content in an attempt to make a site appear legitimate. However, such techniques are forbidden by search quality guidelines.
“Our quality guidelines warn against running a site with thin or scraped content without adding substantial added value to the user. Recently, we’ve seen this behavior on many video sites, particularly in the adult industry, but also elsewhere. These sites display content provided by an affiliate program—the same content that is available across hundreds or even thousands of other sites,” Nelson wrote in a blog post.
Stitching and Duplicate Meta Descriptions Also Bad SEO
Recently, Cutts answered a question sent to Google Webmaster Help on YouTube which asked if it’s acceptable to take small bits of content from several sites and lump that content together to produce a webpage. Cutts stated that “stitching content” was a bad SEO practice and that doing so might invite a manual action. The distinguished software engineer also cautioned against duplicating meta descriptions across pages, explaining on his personal blog, leaves this area blank and allow the search engines to produce automatic snippets.