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What Is Thin Content And How Does It Affect Law Firm Websites?

by | Apr 13, 2017 | SEO

At LawLytics, we know that a quality content-based approach to online legal marketing works.

Content marketing works better than any other kind of search engine optimization with both search engines and potential clients. When done right, it’s sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient. It keeps attorneys from wasting time or money on strategies that don’t attract new clients and that don’t generate revenue for law firms.

But, there can be some confusion about what “good” content is — that is, content that keeps search engines happy, attracts potential clients, and drives business. The value and the quality of your law firm website content is critical to the success of your online legal marketing.

Sometimes  we get questions from attorneys who have heard of “thin content,” and they’re curious about what it is and how it can affect their law firm’s website.

What is thin content?

Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and provide search engine users with the best possible content to answer the questions they have. To do so, Google has to be able to stop sites with poor quality content from ranking in top search engine results.

In 2011, Google started doing just that with the release of their Panda algorithm. The Panda algorithm was designed to spot thin content on websites and relegate those sites in search engine results rankings.

Thin content is of poor quality — it’s shallow, and provides little or no value to the person who finds it. In the case of a law firm website, it could be that the content isn’t enough to adequately describe an aspect of the law or to answer a potential client’s question. It may not be unique enough to differentiate your firm’s content from another firm’s content on the same subject. (And, if you’ve copied content from another firm’s site, there’s a good chance that content will be considered “thin.”)

Doorway pages are one kind of thin content. Doorway pages tend to be lots of different pages for slightly different phrases or keywords. Or, a more subtle example of this might be one page devoted to each city in a state that you practice in, where the content is the same for each page.

As Google’s Matt Cutts notes, “If you were to land on that page, it might look relatively reasonable. But if you were to look at four or five or those pages, you’d quickly see the only difference between them is the city, and that’s something we’d consider a doorway, and not as useful.”

Another kind of thin content is what’s described as “thin syndication.” This is what happens when someone takes content from elsewhere, usually a low-quality site, and then adds that content to their site. Thin, low-quality article bank pieces don’t provide any real value to your potential clients. Cookie-cutter sites or sites that feature content that you didn’t write yourself may violate Google’s guidelines and can cause your site or pages within your site to rank poorly in search engine results.

Cutts even makes a reference to law firm websites in this video on thin content:

“If you’re a lawyer and you have part of a directory on your site that’s nothing but low-quality article marketing — articles that you pulled down and you’re pasting — so that it’s a keyword net to attract users, we might take action on just that directory.”

Above all, we recommend that attorneys familiarize themselves with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to make sure that they understand what practices Google considers unsafe. As I have heard it put, inclusion in search engine results is a privilege, not a right. To learn more about other aspects of SEO, watch our two-part webinar series, “What Attorneys Need To Know About Law Firm SEO.”

What to do if your law firm website content is “thin”…

The best way to avoid thin content is to start your web presence with a unique, content-based approach that provides major value to your potential clients and thoroughly answers the questions they have about their case or matter.

But if you have thin content on your site that doesn’t add much value, ask yourself how you can make the content on your site unique and meaningful for your potential clients. Start by removing any content that you’ve taken from other sites. Original content is an important part of how Google judges quality. Provide original research and insights. Consider creating a frequently asked questions page that answers common questions that you or your staff receive from clients.

If you’re wondering how to best organize the content on your website as you start your web presence and grow your firm, our VP of Content Operations, Rachel Chalot, explains this topic nicely in our Start-Grow-Dominate practice area-specific webinar series.

How LawLytics can help you with law firm website content

At LawLytics, we provide attorneys with an outstanding platform that gives attorneys all the tools they need to effectively market their practices online without wasting time or money.

We also provide several levels of content creation for attorneys. These include services ranging from start-up content for brand new law firm websites, to creating attorney bios, practice areas pages, à la carte content, recurring monthly blogging, and more. LawLytics also provides extensive build outs of over a million words for attorneys who want to build a dominating website for their practice area or geographic area, including mass torts content.

If you’re interested to learn more about the LawLytics attorney marketing system, our content services, or how to market your practice online, call us at 800-713-0161 or schedule our call.


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