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For example I own a website with thousands of pages, mainly categories and detailed information of products belonging to those categories. My website is a multi-country site, so each category exists per each different country, but there are countries where some categories are empty, so what I show in the cases where the category is empty, is a form where the user can send a request.

As I have thousands of categories, there are around half of them empty, just showing a form. My question is, do those empty category pages affect my ranking? do the empty pages affect the ranking of categories with actual content? ... what is the best approach here to handle empty pages without affecting SEO? or do empty pages do not affect at all SEO?

Would adding a noindex tag to those empty categories help to improve ranking for categories with actual content?

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  • What kind of website is it? Is it an e-commerce? Aug 5 '21 at 3:48
  • It is not exatly an e-commerce, it is more like an IT companies catalog. Aug 5 '21 at 22:36
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Google calls empty or nearly empty pages "thin content." In 2011 they wrote the Panda algorithm to detect thin content. Since then, thin content itself doesn't usually rank well and having lots of pages of thin content can hurt your site's rankings overall.

It is usually best to remove empty pages from your site altogether. However, in this case it sounds like your content might be user generated and you need empty pages to collect content from users.

The next best option is to prevent empty pages from getting indexed:

  • Use noindex tags in them
  • Remove them from your XML sitemap
  • Limit the number of times your site links to them, and don't link to them from prominent places such as the home page.
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In my opinion, as it is a catalog or list of companies, Google recognizes this kind of websites. Understandably, some sections are full, some sections are empty. This will not ruin your performance as long as it is not that the empty pages will be the most of the website. I have noted this in various e-commerce websites, where some categories are full of articles, and some are empty or with a single item. The website has anyway a good result in ranking.

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