Clean niche website penalized for "thin" content

by Eoon
24 replies
  • SEO
  • |
So, just received a manual penalty for an amazon affiliate website for "thin content, blah, blah..."

The thing is, we have none of the things they list as "thin content". The website was built slowly over time through outreach, getting links slowly from sites in our niche, articles are anywhere from 1k-3k in length, manually and well written.

So, what I am wondering is if they are trying to weed out anything that "looks" like the niche websites that used PBNs. To be more specific, should I redesign it and let's say remove the tables with products and their quality scores.

That comes to mind because it makes the website kind of look like those sites slapped because of PBNs.

Any thought are appreciated...

Thanks
#clean #content #niche #penalized #thin #website
  • Profile picture of the author jinx1221
    I can't speak too much for whatever Google considered "thin" content from your site. All I can say is that it's not logical to assume that you got hit because of some sort of 'similarity' between yours and ones that use Pbn's. There really is no such thing as a site that 'looks' like it 'might' use Pbn's.. either they do, or they don't, and if caught you would get hit for that, not "thin" content.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eoon
      Since this whole thing started, most people didn't really buy it that it's thin content all these websites got penalized for.

      We've seen left and right websites that based their link building on PBNs getting penalized for "thin content" instead of unnatural link building.

      I firmly believe that this thin stuff is just a way for them to swipe websites without getting into the nitty-gritty and leaving you with little to do.

      I also see no way of making my site articles of 2 or 3k words with real substance "thicker" when all of them go into detail about each product we review, materials, opinions of authority people in the field...basically a similar concept the Wirecutter uses.

      Bottom line - I have no idea what to do before I submit for a review...
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  • Profile picture of the author jezter6
    Length of articles and "manually written" don't necessarily mean it's not thin affiliate content.

    Even $5 Fiverr "articles" can be manually written even though they're absolute garbage.

    Sounds though like your site is basically one of the Spencer Haws "BestSurvivalKnifeGuide" copies that everyone copied once he posted is case study.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eoon
      Originally Posted by jezter6 View Post

      Length of articles and "manually written" don't necessarily mean it's not thin affiliate content.

      Even $5 Fiverr "articles" can be manually written even though they're absolute garbage.

      Sounds though like your site is basically one of the Spencer Haws "BestSurvivalKnifeGuide" copies that everyone copied once he posted is case study.
      This is kind of my point...

      Is now the whole concept doomed even if:

      * the ratings of the website are based among other factors on opinions of people that are authority in the field (how in the world is this not value??)
      * of course I wouldn't say that it's a "high quality" content if I bought it on fiver...I have experts interviews and roundups there and I pay top buck or write the articles myself

      But I didn't start this thread because of this, my question was about whether the formatting of the pages can make a difference, I was just seeking opinions on that. Because if it's not, I can't think of other things to do...

      It would be great if somebody could give me the benefit of the doubt and assume for a second that what I'm saying is the truth and take it from there...

      And yes, the best part...I still didn't have ANY affiliate links because I was waiting this thing out to see if Google is out to get all the websites of the kind.
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      • Profile picture of the author jezter6
        Originally Posted by Eoon View Post

        This is kind of my point...

        Is now the whole concept doomed even if:

        * the ratings of the website are based among other factors on opinions of people that are authority in the field (how in the world is this not value??)
        * of course I wouldn't say that it's a "high quality" content if I bought it on fiver...I have experts interviews and roundups there and I pay top buck or write the articles myself

        But I didn't start this thread because of this, my question was about whether the formatting of the pages can make a difference, I was just seeking opinions on that. Because if it's not, I can't think of other things to do...

        It would be great if somebody could give me the benefit of the doubt and assume for a second that what I'm saying is the truth and take it from there...

        And yes, the best part...I still didn't have ANY affiliate links because I was waiting this thing out to see if Google is out to get all the websites of the kind.
        Do you really think manual reviewers know who is an authority in a niche? Do you think they waste any time trying to research all the people you name drop? No. Their authority will be found in their websites, and if they link to YOU will pass on that authority. You saying that you talked to Steve from SteveTheAuthority.com and linking to him doesn't make any sort of connection. I could sign my response here "Prez Obama" and link to whitehouse.gov -- doesn't make me an authority.

        I know you said you'd man up and own bad content - but very few people around here can actually do that. Most of their "good content" is pure crap. Not saying yours is, but people tend to overvalue their own stuff.

        Personally, I think thin content can be all about structure, though not sure about layout.

        If you're doing the standard "best survival knife" niche site from the dude I mentioned above, it would look something like:

        Homepage is a static page/sticky with a comparison table.

        The only way to get to any "articles" is through a recent posts widget

        Post titles are exact match product name/model + " review "

        Only basic pages are home, privacy, contact, about, etc.

        Keyword stuffed header instead of a logo



        Your wirecutter example is interesting. I've never seen them rank for anything and in fact never heard of them until I googled it from your post.

        But man - if you look at the home page, that's some very spammy keyword dropping crap.

        Of course, you look at an article, and it's just a very obvious advert written in article format. If anything is an OBVIOUS Amazon funnel, it's Wirecutter stuff.


        So while you may not have put your affiliate links in yet, you can probably begin to tell it's a made-for-Amazon site.

        Long winded articles about a specific product with a rating system.
        Text likely to include most of the same technical details that one could find at either the manufacturer's website and/or Amazon page.

        I wouldn't out your niche here, but if you're truly looking to give up your site, you should PM a respected member here and see if they'll give you an honest opinion based on looking at it instead of us speculating around it.
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  • Profile picture of the author online only
    That's odd. Are you sure you haven't hit by a negative seo? Some people send crappy PBN links to get competitor sites penalized. Are you 100% sure your links are legit? Double check your ahrefs just in case.

    If it's really true, submit your site to google support forum and see what people have to say about it. I'm sure 90% will tell you that your site is crap (even if it's not), but the other 10% might actually give some thoughtful opinons. I think you got nothing to lose.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eoon
      Originally Posted by online only View Post

      That's odd. Are you sure you haven't hit by a negative seo? Some people send crappy PBN links to get competitor sites penalized. Are you 100% sure your links are legit? Double check your ahrefs just in case.

      If it's really true, submit your site to google support forum and see what people have to say about it. I'm sure 90% will tell you that your site is crap (even if it's not), but the other 10% might actually give some thoughtful opinons. I think you got nothing to lose.
      That was my first thought, negative SEO, but no new links no insane shares or likes...nothing of the sort...

      thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author AK86
    I would guess it's considered "thin content" since it is, as described, an Amazon affiliate site, who's sole purpose, regardless of length of articles and descriptions, is to drive leads for Amazon.

    I manage a few eCommerce stores for local clients and a lot of their inventory is the same as what is listed on Amazon, Best Buy, Overstock etc. however have never been penalized, I believe, since the products are actually being sold there, and not linking out fishing for Amazon sales.

    *Edit*
    Perhaps, to avoid this or fix your penalty, would be to instead of directly linking out to Amazon, create a "Buy Now" button, with prices listed on the website (same amount as listed on Amazon, so youll be pretty competitive) and mask the outbound Amazon affiliate link with a out.php script. That way it will appear as though you actually sell those products, and aren't just driving Amazon affiliate leads.

    Along with doing this, you could get your Amazon affiliate site listed with an address on Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local to add to its legitimacy as a actual store which sells.
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      It's probably not thin content. I have no working definition of thin content.

      But I have been saying this for years. If you are making a site that's function
      is nothing but to funnel people to amazon.com and buy some product, then
      why on earth does your site need to exist?

      Rhetorical question, but why would google need your site when they can
      just send people to amazon.com?

      Plenty of sites have little content, so thin cannot mean little.

      Perhaps thin content is code for content that is just not needed in
      the google index.

      I don't know what a clean website is either.

      You people take some guru's buzzwords, or even google's, and
      turn them upside down.

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author Eoon
        Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

        It's probably not thin content. I have no working definition of thin content.

        But I have been saying this for years. If you are making a site that's function
        is nothing but to funnel people to amazon.com and buy some product, then
        why on earth does your site need to exist?

        Rhetorical question, but why would google need your site when they can
        just send people to amazon.com?

        Plenty of sites have little content, so thin cannot mean little.

        Perhaps thin content is code for content that is just not needed in
        the google index.

        I don't know what a clean website is either.

        You people take some guru's buzzwords, or even google's, and
        turn them upside down.

        Paul
        "Clean" as in no fishy linking stuff, PBNs, keyword stuffing, doorways, cloaking...

        As about "not needed" if you or Google think that an opinion of a man who spent 20 years hiking and camping on what sleeping bag to choose if you plan to hike in the Rockies, then I guess I am missing something...I'd also guess that a website like the Wire Cutter in not needed...
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    • Profile picture of the author Eoon
      Originally Posted by AK86 View Post

      I would guess it's considered "thin content" since it is, as described, an Amazon affiliate site, who's sole purpose, regardless of length of articles and descriptions, is to drive leads for Amazon.

      I manage a few eCommerce stores for local clients and a lot of their inventory is the same as what is listed on Amazon, Best Buy, Overstock etc. however have never been penalized, I believe, since the products are actually being sold there, and not linking out fishing for Amazon sales.
      Yes, I described it an Amazon affiliate because that was the intended purpose when I started it.

      The weirdest part is, for me, that I still haven't put any affiliate links on the website...

      anyway, with all said, going further down this road seems like a waste of time...I guess for me this means going back to what I know best - email marketing, where you actually have some control, you actually have assets...

      in fact, this happened at a good moment, because I was just about to heavily invest in what I initially imagined as a big authority site featuring the best known people in the area as authors and contributors, had a lot of that lined up ...who is to say that in a year or two somebody will not decide it's "thin"...

      the "lines" have become too vague between providing value to your reader and trying to make some money. It is like it's a crime if you want to earn a buck out of the time invested.

      The website that I started this thread about has over 50% of guides and How To's packed with advice and solutions to problems, articles not even mentioning specific products...and btw. it's HTTPS...

      One funny trivia about this story is that my "main competitor" is a PBN guy with 20 800-word articles. Sure, he has lost a lot of long tail, but still holding strong for all the main keywords...how about that for a "better internet"
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    You said it was a manual penalty so the site most likely is indeed a doorway page/site, especially considering it's an Amazon affiliate site.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eoon
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      You said it was a manual penalty so the site most likely is indeed a doorway page/site, especially considering it's an Amazon affiliate site.
      yukon, why in the world would I ask what I'm asking if that was true?...I would just admit that I'm busted and move on...
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      • Profile picture of the author yukon
        Banned
        Originally Posted by Eoon View Post

        yukon, why in the world would I ask what I'm asking if that was true?...I would just admit that I'm busted and move on...
        Amazon affiliate sites are doorway pages.

        You said in OP it's an Amazon site. So... the site wouldn't exist without Amazon affiliate links, right?

        Originally Posted by Eoon View Post

        So, just received a manual penalty for an amazon affiliate website for "thin content, blah, blah..."
        Don't take the forum advice so personal, especially considering none of us have seen the problem domain. All we can do is guess based on what we're reading here.
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        • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
          marketers have been duped.

          Thin content means a lot more than not enough letters on the page.
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          • Profile picture of the author jezter6
            Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

            marketers have been duped.

            Thin content means a lot more than not enough letters on the page.
            That's part of the key here. People anymore are marketers. They're more concerned with things like size of content, keyword mentions, and creating funnels than they are with making a site that people will want to visit.

            Screw things like usability, visual appeal, value.

            It's all about getting clicks in and figuring out how to quickly move them from page open to either signing up for a list or clicking out to an affiliate.

            Nobody wants to create engaging content that brings users back 2-3 times a week to read new posts and interact. They just want someone to click the hell out of their page to go buy something.

            Those "how to" guides aren't there to give users information. (I'm talking in general, since I have not seen the OPs site) They're stuffed to make sure sites aren't 100% review to Amazon funnels and maybe pull in some long tails.

            You can see it with threads here and in the main forum. It's all about garbage. Cheap outsourced articles, cloaked links to keep Google from seeing your outbound links, themes created specifically to drive AdSense clicks.

            All of these are signs you don't want someone to actually stay on your page.

            Just as someone mentioned stop putting crappy articles on PBN sites because it makes them look thin and obvious - the same can be applied to money sites.
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            • Profile picture of the author yukon
              Banned
              Originally Posted by jezter6 View Post

              That's part of the key here. People anymore are marketers. They're more concerned with things like size of content, keyword mentions, and creating funnels than they are with making a site that people will want to visit.

              Screw things like usability, visual appeal, value.

              It's all about getting clicks in and figuring out how to quickly move them from page open to either signing up for a list or clicking out to an affiliate.

              Nobody wants to create engaging content that brings users back 2-3 times a week to read new posts and interact. They just want someone to click the hell out of their page to go buy something.

              Those "how to" guides aren't there to give users information. (I'm talking in general, since I have not seen the OPs site) They're stuffed to make sure sites aren't 100% review to Amazon funnels and maybe pull in some long tails.

              You can see it with threads here and in the main forum. It's all about garbage. Cheap outsourced articles, cloaked links to keep Google from seeing your outbound links, themes created specifically to drive AdSense clicks.

              All of these are signs you don't want someone to actually stay on your page.

              Just as someone mentioned stop putting crappy articles on PBN sites because it makes them look thin and obvious - the same can be applied to money sites.
              For me simplicity of a webpage is more appealing than over complicated theme images. That's an end user POV not just an IM/SEO POV.

              Example, I'm fine with how Craigslist webpages are simple but most people around here think it's an outdated look (I don't agree with that).

              Simplicity also increases CTR/conversions which is the ultimate goal. Even before I monetized my first site years ago, my goal was increasing repeat traffic & optins to keep that traffic updated with new content.

              I've averaged 7 page views per unique traffic for years with very simple webpages, have email optins, have returning traffic, have traffic building organic links. I don't write articles, I've done a few tutorials but never articles. IMO writing is like watching paint dry (boring).
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              • Profile picture of the author jezter6
                Originally Posted by yukon View Post

                For me simplicity of a webpage is more appealing than over complicated theme images. That's an end user POV not just an IM/SEO POV.

                Example, I'm fine with how Craigslist webpages are simple but most people around here think it's an outdated look (I don't agree with that).

                Simplicity also increases CTR/conversions which is the ultimate goal. Even before I monetized my first site years ago, my goal was increasing repeat traffic & optins to keep that traffic updated with new content.

                I've averaged 7 page views per unique traffic for years with very simple webpages, have email optins, have returning traffic, have traffic building organic links. I don't write articles, I've done a few tutorials but never articles. IMO writing is like watching paint dry (boring).
                There's a fine line between workable simplicity and overthemed junk.

                That said, basic things like a non-text logo add very little complication but can make bigger differences in visual appeal and adding trust. Much in the same way people are advised not to use hosted Wordpress or Blogger because having a subdomain on a free site is less professional than having your on domain.

                Craigslist is an odd example in that it doesn't need visual appeal. Craigslist doesn't create content, nor does it need to have that sales/review pre-sell process. It's a database that connects buyers (who already generally know what exactly they're looking for) with someone that happens to be selling it.

                If I need a replacement part for my F-150, I don't need a fancy comparison table of 20 parts, 19 of which don't fit my truck. I can't choose, nor can I be swayed in my buying decision. Either someone has my part or they don't.

                That said - a review site needs to build authority (in the user's eye) - and doing that requires a minimal level of fluff that adds a bit of professionalism to a site.

                If it were that easy - we'd all go back to 1993 and very flat HTML based sites where the best navigation interface was a basic unordered list at the bottom of the page. Remember when 90% of web page backgrounds were gray?

                That said - are your page views return customers or just a 7 page funnel taking them from home to a "buy" and they're never to be seen again?

                I see no point in these micro review sites where it's very painfully obvious they're shilling a short list of products where a person reviews, buys, and never comes back again. Why would they? Once they bought that juicer, how many more reviews do they need to look at once they're happily using the product? Likely never to buy a juicer again, unless the one they bought is crap at which point you've lost any trust they might have had when they search again.

                I don't care how many page views I get per unique visitor, or per sale. What I like to see is analytics showing repeat visitors who comment, answer polls, interact, and occasionally buy something. Hopefully they buy something again next month when they see something interesting on my page.

                Too many marketers don't care about that, and it shows. Good for them. The more people that get tossed from the SERPs with crappy little sites about 3 products, the less competition I have to worry about.
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                • Profile picture of the author yukon
                  Banned
                  Originally Posted by jezter6 View Post

                  There's a fine line between workable simplicity and overthemed junk.

                  That said, basic things like a non-text logo add very little complication but can make bigger differences in visual appeal and adding trust. Much in the same way people are advised not to use hosted Wordpress or Blogger because having a subdomain on a free site is less professional than having your on domain.

                  Craigslist is an odd example in that it doesn't need visual appeal. Craigslist doesn't create content, nor does it need to have that sales/review pre-sell process. It's a database that connects buyers (who already generally know what exactly they're looking for) with someone that happens to be selling it.

                  If I need a replacement part for my F-150, I don't need a fancy comparison table of 20 parts, 19 of which don't fit my truck. I can't choose, nor can I be swayed in my buying decision. Either someone has my part or they don't.

                  That said - a review site needs to build authority (in the user's eye) - and doing that requires a minimal level of fluff that adds a bit of professionalism to a site.

                  If it were that easy - we'd all go back to 1993 and very flat HTML based sites where the best navigation interface was a basic unordered list at the bottom of the page. Remember when 90% of web page backgrounds were gray?

                  That said - are your page views return customers or just a 7 page funnel taking them from home to a "buy" and they're never to be seen again?

                  I see no point in these micro review sites where it's very painfully obvious they're shilling a short list of products where a person reviews, buys, and never comes back again. Why would they? Once they bought that juicer, how many more reviews do they need to look at once they're happily using the product? Likely never to buy a juicer again, unless the one they bought is crap at which point you've lost any trust they might have had when they search again.

                  I don't care how many page views I get per unique visitor, or per sale. What I like to see is analytics showing repeat visitors who comment, answer polls, interact, and occasionally buy something. Hopefully they buy something again next month when they see something interesting on my page.

                  Too many marketers don't care about that, and it shows. Good for them. The more people that get tossed from the SERPs with crappy little sites about 3 products, the less competition I have to worry about.
                  I don't see Craigslist as an odd example, I see it as no BS, here's the ads, take it or leave it (my kind of site). My own sites are download sites so I guess I relate to CL in that fluff isn't needed to keep traffic on the domain.

                  I also don't use logos, don't need them, the domain/s is the brand. I do other types of marketing for repeat traffic, one example, I stuff all my download files with internet shortcuts back to the domain. So... 7 page views per unique times multiple site visits gets me 10's of advertising links on each end user PC to help boost domain brand awareness & drive traffic back to the site.
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                  • Profile picture of the author jezter6
                    Originally Posted by yukon View Post

                    I don't see Craigslist as an odd example, I see it as no BS, here's the ads, take it or leave it (my kind of site). My own sites are download sites so I guess I relate to CL in that fluff isn't needed to keep traffic on the domain.

                    I also don't use logos, don't need them, the domain/s is the brand. I do other types of marketing for repeat traffic, one example, I stuff all my download files with internet shortcuts back to the domain. So... 7 page views per unique times multiple site visits gets me 10's of advertising links on each end user PC to help boost domain brand awareness & drive traffic back to the site.
                    Sounds like people are already coming to your site warmed up on what they need to download, and you're giving it to them. Depending on what type of files you're offering and the user type, any sort of style or even sales copy aren't needed. If I was hosting a *nix tool download site, I wouldn't need it either.

                    But if you're looking for a review on the right kind of sleeping bag to carry on your hike (I think that's what was said earlier) - at the very least one would think that you need to have a site that looks like the writer is into hiking and the outdoors.

                    Tech download traffic compares well to CL traffic, but isn't likely to be the same as physical Azon product type traffic.
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  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    Originally Posted by Eoon View Post

    So, just received a manual penalty for an amazon affiliate website for "thin content, blah, blah..."

    The thing is, we have none of the things they list as "thin content". The website was built slowly over time through outreach, getting links slowly from sites in our niche, articles are anywhere from 1k-3k in length, manually and well written.

    So, what I am wondering is if they are trying to weed out anything that "looks" like the niche websites that used PBNs. To be more specific, should I redesign it and let's say remove the tables with products and their quality scores.

    That comes to mind because it makes the website kind of look like those sites slapped because of PBNs.

    Any thought are appreciated...

    Thanks
    To confirm you received a message via Google Webmaster Tools your site has a manual penalty?

    Without seeing the site it's hard to know for sure, you say you've wrote unique content etc... what have you wrote and how much of the content is the same as Amazon supplies and all the other Amazon affiliates use?

    Is the site only Amazon products?
    If not, what percentage is not Amazon or other affiliate products?
    How many products have you listed?

    Biggest question is what added value does your site have that Amazon doesn't already have?

    If all you are doing is listing Amazon products, using some of their content like specifications and adding your own product descriptions, though the manual review is harsh they are looking for added value and that reviewer might not consider what you've done enough (they are human, maybe they were having a bad day).

    For example if you compared various products, reviewed features etc... you've added value and a manual reviewer shouldn't have a problem.

    I tested Amazon thin affiliate content without linking to the affiliate product few years back, so thin content minus the sales link and it was still downgraded.

    Also tested generating language translations of the products, so English and French for example and still downgraded. Tested dozens of permutations.

    Trying to beat Google with thin affiliate content was one of my hobbies for a few years (SEO challenge), didn't find an automated way. Only way I've found to consistently avoid downgrading is add value to the content or write unique reviews mixed in with other non-affiliate content.

    David
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  • Profile picture of the author Eoon
    Thanks for all the comments, guys, I'll try to work through this and see what I can add that would make some sort of a difference.

    If I do manage to do it, it will mainly be because of the advice in this thread....got a few very insightful tips that I would never think of...

    Thanks again
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  • Profile picture of the author smsabuj007
    You will never got a penalty if you follow manually SEO for your niche site. I start myself Juicer Moz 1.5 months ago and already sell $4K+. Hope this will help you.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Thin content:

    Remortgaging is the British way of saying refinancing. Refinancing a house is a complex process. You need to find a loan officer that works for a lender that you like. To find a loan officer you need to apply with several outfits. You can apply online, over the phone or in person.

    Whether you apply online, over the phone or in person, the important thing to keep in mind is that you must like the loan officer and trust them to guide you through the complexity that is a mortgage loan application.

    The most important thing you must consider is the interest rate. Because the lower the interest rate, the less the loan is going to cost you over the life of the loan.

    To get the best interest rate, your financial profile must be perfect. That means you must make a lot of money in relation to your expenses, you must have high credit scores and there must be nothing bad on your credit report, and you must have a solid job.

    (Notice how I did not say anything but that you gotta shop around? I could write 2000 more words and add not one bit of useful info. But you get the point, right?)

    Not thin content:
    Refinance your home at attractive rates even if you have bad credit. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx for a free consultation.

    Not thin content:
    Whether you're buying or refinancing a property, lenders look not only at your income and your credit but at the property you are buying. They like detached single family houses the most, condos a bit less (the common elements part and your neighbors being extra risk), 3 and 4 unit buildings the least (what if you're a good home owner but a lousy landlord, can't keep your units rented?).

    Thin content, in other words, has nothing to do with word count, length of content, but with the information the content contains.

    Let me put it differently:

    Not thin content: The party is going to take place on Sunday, August the 27th, 2017 at 123 Main Street in Chicago. You need to dress up and bring a bottle of wine. There'll be about 30 people.

    Thin content: There's going to be a party in Illinois this year. It's going to take place in the party-giver's house and there is going to be food and drinks and you must wear some clothes to attend. It is going to take place either during the day or at night on one of the 7 days of the week. If it's sunny that day, dress for a sunny day. If it's not, dress accordingly. Whatever you do, be sure to leave your home early so that you can arrive while it is in full swing.

    Think content:
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