Google has caused quite a lot of stir in the last year with the Penguin and Panda updates of their search algorithm. Webmasters worldwide scrambled and had to fix their websites now on a constant basis. One way that really took everyone with a website by surprise is something Google calls the thin content rule. If you only have a couple of words on a webpage, then Google may not index that page or they could choose to bury it far down the search engine rankings.

Matt Cutts explained in a recent interview that websites with thin content (usually chain stores operating in multiple locations) will not always be penalized and he also explained how you can get around the thin content rule. In the interview Matt Cutts explains that you should use content that is common to all of the locations you are using on your home page and then only add content that is unique to that specific location on the location pages, even if the content goes by the “thin rule”. That way you won’t get penalized.

The thin content rule

To give you an example; if you own a bottle store chain that has a location in 3 cities (Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban). Each location has a bottle store, but each one caters for a different local market. That will be very good information that you can include on those specific site locations.

Or, if you own a chain of retail stores all over the country and you decide to use discount coupons, you can split the discount coupons for each location, and then use the coupons set out for that specific location on their location page. Chain stores and small businesses with multitude location can easily get around the thin content rule with little effort. The bottom line is that you should use unique information and content on each of your location specific pages.