There’s a lot of confusion regarding Google’s content penalties and many people still don’t know what would be deemed as ‘problematic’ content by Google and what is considered acceptable. The three main content types that could harm your site’s ranking in Google’s search results are duplicate content, thin content and template/automated content.
Duplicate content is when you can find multiple URLs featuring the same content. The reason why this is problematic is because Google wants its search results to be as unique as possible, so what it will do is look for the page that is the most relevant and the strongest in terms of authority. Instead of showing multiple URLs of the same content, it will only show the most relevant one, so if you have duplicated content on your site it could lead to your content getting knocked down in rankings. While you might not technically be penalized for duplicate content, there is a strong possibility of your content not being able to get the visibility that you would expect if the content on your website is duplicated.
Thin content refers to websites that don’t have a lot of unique content. Generally speaking, this could be a website that has fewer than 200 words. One of the reasons why Google penalizes these sites is due to black hat SEO practices, where websites are created for the sole purpose of ranking well in Google.
Template and automated content is also known as ‘doorway’ content and this is where the content on different pages is very similar to one another. In this case, the majority of the content is the same and the only difference would be a heading or a keyword, for example.