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Black Hat SEO: Thin Content Jewelry Catalogs Kill Rankings

We're continuing our topic of Black Hat SEO techniques that will cause your website to be banned or seriously penalized by search engines. Today's topic is about "Thin Content".

The highest ranked websites usually have the best original content, and a lot of it. Typical well ranked websites have a lot of interesting information on every page. The exact amount of interesting information is unknown because Google won't tell us. Many SEO experts say you need at least 250 words of unique content, but we feel you need at least 400 words.

"Thin Content" is the phrase given to a website, or a web page, that has very few words on it, say less than 250 words per page. We're going to review the common thin pages that so many jewelry stores have created without even realizing.

As we work with jewelry stores, we find many have to fix the following two thin content page types...

1. Thin content on product catalog pages.

If we had to make a bet, it would be to wager that 9 out of 10 random online jewelry website catalogs would have thin content product pages.

There are two ways this can happen:

First is by calling your vendor and asking for a product photo and description. This is the same description that all other jewelry stores are putting on their websites. Most vendors do not provide more than a few words or maybe even a sentence of a description for their products. It's surely less than 250 words and even though you may think "oh, that's all I need," you are actually shooting your own foot off. Not only is this simple strategy doomed by "Black Hat Thin Content" but also by general "Black Hat Duplicate/Copied Content" from other websites.

Second is by listing a jewelry photo next to a table of simple information. Usually the table shows your diamond clarity, color and carat information, and it might have details about the metal type, etc. The search engines view this as just a bunch of random words. There's no way you can effectively cram more than 250 words into a table and still have an attractive page.

The solution to both of these problems is to write your own two part description and place part one above the vendor supplied details and part two below the details. According to our previous research and experience, it is always better to put original content at the top of your page. This strategy of top and bottom will separate your site from other websites with thin jewelry product pages.

2. Thin content on content pages.

A content page is any page on your site that is not part of your product catalog. Consider your content pages to be your home page, blog pages, directions page, contact us page, about us, a page that introduces a jewelry designer, and even an event introduction page.

We just listed 7 pages very quickly, and obviously you could have dozens of non-product pages on your site. In recent years, with the growing popularity of WordPress and simple template website setups, many jewelry stores have fallen prey to "Black Hat Thin Content" pages without even realizing it. It happens when the page header, side navigation, and page footer collectively have more words than the body content on that page.

A typical jewelry website built with a template might look attractive, but the pitfall of these templates is that each individual page provides very little information in the main body content. One of the popular WordPress layouts has a large header, a list of page links on the side, and a table format of additional links at the bottom. Many of these layouts use larger text to hide the fact that that there's no real content.

Any web page is considered thin content when the total word count of your page navigation/structure is more than the word count of what you want to tell the reader.

To sum up today's Daily Golden Nugget, it's okay to have 1, 2, or a few thin pages on your site; in fact, most Contact Us and Directions pages are thin, which makes sense for their consumer usability. But the overwhelming majority of your pages cannot be thin otherwise your website will not carry any weight in Google.

To be more specific, when we say "overwhelming majority of your pages" we really do mean all your pages including your jewelry product catalog. You might have 20 content pages and 200 jewelry styles, which means you have 220 pages. If your product pages are thin, you've unknowingly thrown yourself into the dark abyss of Black Hat Thin Content. The tactic to achieve a highly ranked website is to start with your 20 content pages and add products with full descriptions 1 at a time.

By the way, as a reminder, the term "Black Hat" refers to any short cut technique to build website visibility. Thin product pages are surely a short cut technique that countless jewelry stores unknowingly created.
AT: 09/23/2011 11:19:38 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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