How to Overcome Thin Content on 15k+ Pages. SEO Variables to Implement FAQs on Thousands of Pages

How to Overcome Thin Content on 15k+ Pages. SEO Variables to Implement FAQs on Thousands of Pagesd-tags
10 August 2022
Does your website have hundreds of pages with poor quality, duplicated or automatically generated content? What to do if your positions are constantly decreasing and performed SEO activities aren't bringing the desired results? How to overcome thin content on your website and improve your performance in the SERPs? Keep reading to discover how variables can help you use resources more efficiently while changing your SEO process for the better!



Table of contents:

What will you learn?

  • How to do SEO for big websites
  • How to find out why your website visibility and traffic is decreasing
  • What SEO variables are
  • How to use SEO variables to improve your content quality on numerous pages, even if you have limited resources
  • What effects you can achieve thanks to implementing FAQs.

Big Website Big Problems – The Story of a Google Algorithm Crush

The SEO process is complex, we all know it. However, the bigger the website, the trickier the activities get.

Tasks that are easy to implement on one-page websites or websites with a few categories can be extremely challenging if you have a sizable site with numerous pages.

The same applies when talking about the potential problems the website might have. It’s natural that if the site is huge, the number of potential causes of drops or elements that can hinder the SEO process increases.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s hard to optimize each of those thousands of pages separately. Moreover, my clients frequently won’t give me full website access. Why? A sizable website typically equals complex know-how and extensive content. Consequently, website owners are more cautious.

As a result, the range of activities I can perform is limited. This is particularly problematic if there are sudden decreases in traffic and visibility.

seo services support

In addition to the above, the content creation process is also challenging and demanding when it comes to big websites. Physically, most companies don’t have sufficient resources to write top-quality, unique product or category descriptions and blog posts for thousands of pages.

What does the process look like at Delante when we don’t have full website access?

Well, we start with preparing recommendations and need to wait till they’re implemented, and the website is crawled. Therefore, the process is much longer and we need to wait to see the first results. This is why doing SEO on sizable websites can be challenging.

This was the case for one of my clients who suddenly lost valuable page traffic, and I had to figure out how to work on such a big website of a business operating in a specialized industry.

Want to learn more about the client? The client has an extremely extensive educational website with numerous pages. The website provides information about various universities from across the globe.

The site resembles a university ranking. If a student wants to learn which university to choose after graduating from high school, they can visit the site to access both university descriptions and reviews of former and current learners. This allows high school graduates to make informed decisions and get to know the university from the inside.

So, the website was generating great traffic and the client contacted me as they wanted to refine and streamline the entire SEO process.

Our cooperation started in April, and in May there was a big Google algorithm update that significantly decreased the organic page traffic:

initial situation traffic drop

This was an unfortunate turn of events because I usually do keyword research and perform a website audit in the first month of cooperation. This means that there aren’t many on-site activities. All the tasks were completed by the client, and I didn’t even have the FTP access.

Luckily for me, it happened during the analysis period when I was occupied conducting the website audit, and I didn’t start performing on-page activities. How is it possible? It’s good that the traffic and visibility decreased before I started implementing modifications on the site.

Thanks to it, I knew that the problems didn’t result from my activities. I started looking for solutions, but the process was challenging due to the size of the website.

Additionally, since the site was so huge and some of the changes had to be made globally, everything had to be done by the client’s dev team.

Find out how we achieved to increase the revenue of our client from the automotive industry by an incredible 808% in just 6 months!

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Searching for Answers – Competition Analysis in Case of Update Decreases

In this hard situation, I had to find the reason for the drops. If you’re dealing with unexpected traffic and position decreases on your website, try my method and see if it works for you!

With it being impossible to provide a clear-cut answer to the question about the reason for drops, I first decided to check if it was caused by the Google algorithm update in May.

I analyzed competitors of my clients to realize that some of them had also lost valuable traffic as a consequence of the update. However, it wasn’t the case for all the competitors, so I had to keep looking.

Together with the team, we thoroughly analyzed the website, its technical aspects, and various elements on competitors’ pages. And finally! There was a breakthrough!

What enabled me to discover the cause of the problem? You’ll be surprised! My client’s honesty!

Well, clients frequently forget to inform the SEO agency they cooperate with about different modifications and changes implemented on the website. Why do they do it? They don’t try to lie or hide the truth. Usually, they simply don’t realize that seemingly insignificant tweaks can have a tremendous impact on their visibility and Google positions.

This is what happened with my client. I was finally informed that at the end of April (just after we started cooperation), the client added a few thousand pages to the site. As you can guess, they didn’t tell me about it.

Remember to always inform the SEO agency you cooperate with about all on-site modifications and elements you plan to implement on the site in the future. Even if this information seems trivial and unimportant to you. Share your thoughts and plans with the SEO specialists. They’ll help you get the most out of the process!

Thin Content on the Website

The mere fact that the client suddenly decided to add a few thousand pages to the site may not have been well received by the robots.

But when I took a closer look at these pages, I realized that wasn’t the end of the challenges.

thin content example

The page doesn’t contain too much content, does it?

So, the pages introduced by the client were filled with thin content.

What is thin content? In simple words, thin content is low-quality content that is short and contains numerous factual and syntactic errors. It provides no value to the user, and is duplicated, or automatically generated.

The pages included almost no text and only fixed elements. The client wanted the information to be automatically loaded from the reviews.

This is when another challenge arose. The pages started causing internal duplication. Just think about it, the reviews appeared on each of the pages, but they were also originally published on another page. That’s a simple recipe for duplication.

Additionally, each review had a separate page, which caused extreme internal duplication.

thin content example review pages

Note: Although it may seem unusual, I encounter similar errors on many websites. Clients frequently don’t realize that being the owner of the content doesn’t mean that publishing this content on numerous websites or pages within one website leads to duplication.

Large Domains SEO – A Real-Life Example of a Struggle

As you can see, there were a few challenges I had to overcome during this cooperation. Apart from the abovementioned issues:

  • The big number of pages makes the SEO process more demanding as it’s not possible to optimize every page manually.
  • The website was chaotic – there were numerous categories (including cities, and countries), and the text users were supposed to see was hardly accessible. Although the information about cities and countries was important, it was necessary to optimize it and make it the cornerstone of future activities.
  • The most important problem and challenge were to consider what changes could be made globally. While technical elements like title tags can be automated, the situation gets more complex content-wise. How to update and enrich such poor-quality content present on thousands of pages quickly and efficiently? This is when activities based on SEO variables came to my rescue.

You’re already familiar with the problems and challenges on my client’s website. How to solve them? Let’s find out!

How to Deal with Global Changes – Variables in the SEO Process

So, what do I mean by variables and how to overcome thin content?

My idea was to find such solutions that could be applied to the entire website globally. At the same time, individual elements characteristic of a given page, meaning the variable, would be substituted. All this can then be included in the code, which will extract information from a  relevant page. Pure magic!

Variables in SEO – Easy Global Changes

So, at first, I started with an activity that is a piece of cake for every developer – I prepared a template with title tags and headers. It included a specific structure of what the title and header should look like on each page.

I searched for keywords with high volume (such as study in X country, universities in X country, etc.), and based on that I prepared the title tag pattern.

So, the name of the city or country was the variable in this case.

This was a great solution, as the developer was able to implement it globally.

What did it mean for the process? Thanks to this modification I could improve H1 headers for the main pages that were ranked high. Even if these pages weren’t the main focus of users, they were b, so optimizing them had a beneficial impact on the entire SEO process.

overcome thin content

While in the case of technical changes it was enough to implement modifications in the code, the issue with thin content was much more complex.

How to refine poor-quality content on thousands of pages without having to rewrite each piece manually?

It was simply infeasible. Both physically and budget-wise. So, what did I do?

FAQ Based on Variables – A Solution to Make the Content-Rich

The First Step – Checking the FAQ Efficiency

Let’s recall what one of my client’s problematic pages looked like:

thin content example

As I’ve already mentioned, there were thousands of such pages. So, I didn’t have enough time and resources to create a unique piece of content for each of them.

Moreover, it would be hard to write thousands of texts with unique content, since the topic was the same except that the university name or location was different.

Do you fight similar issues on your website? If so, try implementing a FAQ section. It complements the content, brings value to users, and helps to increase the quality of the entire website.

Note: If you have a sizable website, don’t implement global modifications right away. Check the results of individual activities on a few pages before that.

In order not to modify the entire website right away, I started with a few pages manually to see how the website reacted to the FAQs.

At the beginning, I published the FAQ sections on five pages. What did the process look like?

  • Together with the team, we created questions and answers related to the five first universities,
  • How did I select the pages? I chose the ones with the greatest visibility. Google will quickly check and index them. They’ll benefit the entire website.
  • The first questions were prepared manually:

faq list manual

How to select the right questions? Start with keyword research. Check what long tail phrases people search for. Use available tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. Be sure to go through the “people also ask” and “related searches” sections:

google section faq research

The screenshot above shows exemplary questions chosen based on the “people also ask” section.

I created and implemented approximately five questions for twelve pages.

Tip: I recommend you choose from three to five questions per page.

how to overcome thin content with faq section

The FAQ section implemented on one of the pages.

Now, it’s time to talk about the effects:

overcome thin content effects

how do i add faq on thousands of pages

The screenshots above compare the effects for the same page, six months apart.

So, when the client noticed that FAQ sections bring great results and look professional in the search results, they wanted to implement this solution on all pages.

The only problem was that with the available budget and time, finding and answering the questions would take ages. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it would certainly take all my time and I wouldn’t be able to perform any other SEO activities.

Therefore, I decided to optimize and automate this element as well.

FAQ Based on Variables – Implementation

How do I add FAQs on thousands of pages? When I noticed the first effects, I decided to take the bull by the horns and plan the automation of variables.

Wondering how to do it? Follow me:

  • So, the first task was to come up with question structures and templates. Similarly to titles, I checked what keywords users enter into Google and I went through the “people also ask” sections.
  • Then I tried to find a pattern, meaning recurring elements and I started writing questions,
  • The next step was to identify what elements of the answers would be adequate for each page and important for users,
  • In this particular case, I could simply replace the university name and it should work.

So, I prepared the first answers:

seo variables faq

seo variables example

Note: This content is short enough so variables can successfully prevent duplication.

This is the stage when I needed a dev’s support, as it was necessary to introduce the code on the website:

how to add faq on thousands of pages

An excerpt from an email to the client.

An exemplary code excerpt with prepared variables.

seo variables code

That’s everything! I just have to monitor the results. Currently, I’ve managed to prevent further decreases and I’m working on preparing questions for implementation on the next planned pages.

faq implementation effects

The screenshots show how website visibility and traffic started improving after the implementation of the first FAQ sections.

seo variables implementation effects

Variables in SEO – Summary

Does it mean that robots, automation, and automatically created content will leave us jobless? Of course not! Human expertise and creativity will always be at a premium.

However, automating the content creation process can simplify things a lot. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the cards for variables in SEO.

Not sure how to overcome thin content on your website? Contact us!

Kinga Ochojska Delante
Kinga Ochojska

SEO Specialist

At Delante since October 2018. Once an avid student of editing, now – a happy graduate. She knows well where to insert a comma and where to eat deliciously in Krakow (and Warsaw!). Originally from Silesia, now in exile in the capital, a lover of sleep, sage chops and Friends.

Kinga Ochojska Delante
Kinga Ochojska

SEO Specialist

At Delante since October 2018. Once an avid student of editing, now – a happy graduate. She knows well where to insert a comma and where to eat deliciously in Krakow (and Warsaw!). Originally from Silesia, now in exile in the capital, a lover of sleep, sage chops and Friends.

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What is thin content?

The term thin content is used to describe content that brings little or no value to users. Such content is frequently automatically generated, is of poor quality, or contains errors.

What are SEO variables?

In simple words, variables are elements, characteristics, words, or values that can change, depending on conditions, or information included in the website code.

In our case, city, country and university names were variables. But they can be virtually any elements, depending on your needs.

How to overcome thin content on a website?

If you’re struggling with thin content on your website, take advantage of FAQ sections. They’re a great way to saturate pages with unique content that brings value to users, and at the same time supports the SEO process.

Do keyword research. Use available tools and be sure to check “people also ask” or “related searches” sections in Google. They’re a great source of information. Then, prepare questions and answers.

What to do if your website is too big and implementing changes manually would take ages? This is when SEO variables come in handy. Want to learn more? Check out my entry!

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