Does Thin Content and Poor Internal Linking Damage Your Sales?
In the hectic world of e-commerce, on-site content can sometimes be a bit of an afterthought. Not the fancy, creative blogs and features that help to build your brand awareness, but the SEO-driven content that should be found across all of your site’s key pages.
You should think of this content as the real ‘nuts and bolts’ of your efforts to improve your organic search visibility. A well-written piece of category page copy can have a major impact on your brand awareness, while also aiding the user journey and boosting conversions.
In this article, we explain the detrimental impact of thin content, examine how internal linking can increase visibility, and show you some of the results we’ve seen from improving both of these important on-site factors.
How Thin Content Can Harm Your Organic Visibility
First of all, it’s important to understand what we mean by “thin content”. In this video, currently-on-leave Googler Matt Cutts gives some context around “thin content with little or no added value”, which you may have noticed in Manual Actions on Google Search Console:
Google has also generously listed a few common examples of pages that will fall foul of this penalty, such as:
- Automatically generated content
- Content from other sources (e.g. low-quality guest blogs and content scraped from other sites)
- Doorway pages
In essence, what we’re talking about here isn’t just down to word count. You could have hundreds of words on a page, but if it’s scraped from another site or Google considers it to add no value, it could still be classed as thin content.
Essentially, this means the most sure-fire way to avoid a thin content penalty is to create unique content that actually adds value to the user.
How Internal Linking Helps Your SEO
In a nutshell, internal links are those that lead to another page on the same website. But how can this have an impact on SEO, and also on conversions?
Not only are internal links useful for building up your site’s architecture, but they also spread authority (sometimes called link juice) around your site. High-ranking and authoritative e-commerce sites (such as Amazon) employ a system of categories and sub-categories connected by internal links, which helps to pass around relevancy for your targeted keywods and give each page the best possible chance of appearing higher in the rankings.
Internal links also play an important part in the user journey. Ideally, an e-commerce site’s internal links will take users on the shortest possible journey down the buyer funnel toward the product pages, thereby increasing the likelihood that your target consumer will actually buy something. If it’s not immediately obvious how to reach the money pages of your site, you can expect the vast majority of users to leave without making a purchase. Internal links are a great way to reduce those barriers to purchase.
How Improving Internal Links and Thin Content Delivers Results
Of course, this is all good in theory, but implementing new internal links and building out content across – potentially – dozens of pages on an e-commerce site is a pretty substantial job. Is it really worth the effort?
The simple answer to that question is “yes”, but we can appreciate that you might want some actual evidence to back it up. Let us try to convince you.
One of our e-commerce clients had issues with thin content and a split in relevancy between pages. We noticed that the navigation and links were sending visitors in an endless loop through pages, rather than pushing them further down the funnel and onto actual product pages. Understandably, this was a pretty significant barrier to conversion.
There were also examples of thin content, whereby pages contained genuinely useful video content, but no readable copy from a search point of view. While this may well be self-explanatory for users who click through to these pages, better optimisation would help to make them more visible.
We recommended a change of internal links, coupled with some spanking new CTAs. As you can see from the graph below, the client’s organic ecommerce conversion rate increased after implementing these changes (for your viewing pleasure, we’ve also illustrated the point when these changes were made):
Improving thin content and internal links can be boiled down to a couple of key solutions:
- It’s not about word count. Instead, make sure you offer users quality content that provides something useful (like a description of the sort of products in a category)
- Use internal links to pass relevance to key pages and shorten the buyer journey
- If you lack the resource or expertise to tackle this in-house, help is at hand! We’re an award-winning digital agency, and we know a thing or two about helping e-commerce clients, so get in touch today