26 Aug Thin Content Removal Case Study – Celebrity News Publisher
This online publisher targets the extremely competitive celebrity news market. The first content was published in March 2009. Organic traffic typically accounts for over 60% of the monthly traffic. Well over 50,000 posts have been published and reside in the WordPress CMS.
Organic Traffic and Thin Content Remediation
Over a four month period from March 2018 through June 2018 organic traffic dropped 69%. This was mostly due to a significant Google Algorithm change. The SEO Tech Thin Content plugin was installed in July 2018 and configured to redirect all posts published before January 2017 that had 400 words or less. This was a very aggressive word cutoff, but appropriate because nearly all of the older content lacked relevancy.
Nearly 45,000 (89%) of the total posts were redirected. The total number of indexed pages dropped from just over 56,000 to approx. 9,000. It is important to note that Google indexes several other types of pages (not just posts). Those pages include home, older posts (page 2, 3, etc.), tags, older tags (page 2, 3, etc.).
In the first 6 months, 50% of the organic traffic was restored. At 12 months over 80% was restored. The traffic should be completely restored at 15 months. Significant traffic growth can be expected after that point as the domain rank/authority is now spread over a much smaller number of pages with considerably better quality.
Inbound Links (Backlinks)
The thin content plugin works by redirecting thin posts to the primary tag for the post. This ensures that the value of any inbound link is not lost, and instead is transferred to the tag page. This increases the emphasis on having an effective tag page. To learn more about tag page enhancement, see this plugin.
Crawled, but Not Indexed
When dealing with thin content, the critical statistic from the Google Search Console is “Crawled, but Not Indexed”. That number is zero. This shows that Google is indexed all the content that it crawls. However, this does not mean there are no more thin or low quality posts. There could still be content that is indexed that provides no traffic and just serves to dilute rank/authority.
It is important that the cutoff date continues to roll forward through time to maintain the approximately the same number of indexed posts. This is strongly recommended for publishers that continue to focus on the same topics. If the number of topics is reduced, so should the index. If the number of topics increases, an increase in the index is expected and acceptable.