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I have seen this question, but I believe the situation has changed a lot with the recent Panda updates.

I have created a set of category pages to facilitate navigation on my site. It is a proper hierarchy with no duplicates. However, these pages contain mostly navigation links.

Could these be considered thin content by Google? Or, is there a good reason I should mark them as noindex? Or should let Google index them?

Update:

After running some tests, I can confirm for sure that letting Google index my category pages triggered a silent penalty where all my indexed pages where not matched to user queries anymore. I had a high rate of those pages on my site.

First, I marked them a 'noindex,follow', but it had no impact, since these pages where still in the index. I decided to use the 'remove URL' feature of GWT aggressively to blast those pages away from the index. It worked. Within a day, Google was starting to match remaining pages with user queries again.

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From my own experience, categories are even necessary, but if have more than 1 level of categories, index them depending on your site magnitude. For my site we only index the two first levels, as Google won't index the rest of them, even though we are using a sitemaps and all... –  I.G. Pascual Sep 26 '13 at 11:02
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You can check our category indexation status for our site in this pic i.imgur.com/VPbxwi5.png –  I.G. Pascual Sep 26 '13 at 11:22
    
Two sitemaps, never thought of it.. Thanks! –  JVerstry Sep 26 '13 at 12:43
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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I myself prefer to noindex, follow all my wordpress category, date, tag archives as all they do is duplicate content, however your page doesn't appears to duplicate any large portions of text, so I would't in this case.

I might add some content to the top of the page to explain what the page is about (if a user lands on it, its not that clear what its about), this will also help out in search engines as the page currently has no real content.

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For my ecommerce clients, category pages are important. I suggest adding relevant content upto top 2-level category pages for them but in your website structure, the 'category page' is more like HTML SiteMap. For HTML SiteMap and similar pages, indexing and no-indexing is a matter of personal choice; just make sure if you go for indexing your OBLs are 'nofollow'

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Why "nofollow" outbound links from category pages? –  w3d Sep 26 '13 at 14:09
    
nofollow outbound links to preserve your website's link juice. to be specific there are many reasons to use nofollow. like, 1) you are putting a link of a example spammy website, but don't want to vouch for it 2) you are putting advertisement, paid link that google/search engines should not crawl. also for internal links that you don't want search engines to list publicly e.g. admin area –  Arijit Dutta Sep 26 '13 at 20:35
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I was kinda wondering if that was what you were getting at. However, using nofollow to "preserve link juice" is outdated and not recommended. Besides, whether you use nofollow or not, you still lose the link juice - you just don't pass it on. Otherwise I agree, the only times you must use nofollow is on untrusted or paid-for links. –  w3d Sep 26 '13 at 21:36
    
@w3d I'm partly agree with you, actually all our answers are simplified, we can't explain everything in 600 characters limit. Regarding nofollow, its mentioned by google here https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569 that they don't follow 'nofollow' links so they don't pass link juice. But that's not all. In past it was simple, if you had 4 unit link juice and had 4 OBL, each to pass 1 unit. With 2 follow OBL and 2 nofollow OBL, follow OBL used to pass 2 unit and nofollow 0 unit. But with recent changes follow OBL will pass 1 unit each and no follow 0 unit. Again its oversimplified –  Arijit Dutta Sep 27 '13 at 5:41
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The Panda update targeted thinn content.

Actually, if it is really an improvement to you visitors, it is a good thing because it is helpful.

But, must be rerlevant content on each of that inner pages - text+ images+videos+rersources+presentations/sliders + infographics +etc!

The user will appreciate and the Google too, because of the re-visiting higher rate - if there are periodicaly updated - and lower bounce rate.

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