We all get tired of hearing someone say the same thing over and over. It gets boring and we quickly tune it all out. Well guess what? Search engines get bored, too. When you put the same information on multiple pages of your website or copy content from other sites, this duplicate content can seriously damage your hard-earned search engine visibility.
Repeated Content Kills
Kill may be a strong choice of words, but duplicate content is one of the quickest ways to lose credibility with the search engines. This hasn’t always been the case. Duplicate content used to be a fine way to standardize branded information across websites. Companies were encouraged to add boiler plate text such as standard company descriptions containing important keywords on every page.
Using duplicate content made it possible to cheat the system by making Google think a website contained mountains of information on specific topic. In reality, these sites had the same few paragraphs of information- usually with slight variations- splattered across every page. This is against the rules and Google has taken notice.
This Is Your Site on Duplicate Content
You’ve probably innocently repeated content across your site (or sites) often. It’s ok- there are a couple solutions to fixing this problem. Let’s look at a few visual examples created by SEO expert Dr. Peter Myers of SEO Moz in a post on duplicate content fixing.
In Myer’s case study, he looks at the three main ways content might be repeated across your domains: true duplicates, near duplicates, and duplicates that exist across different web sites.
This is the most obvious form of duplication when information which is repeated on multiple pages on your website. This is common when companies have many products or sell the same products in several markets. The general company descriptions are repeated over and over on each page.
Think of true duplication looking like this (credit for diagrams – Peter Myers)
Consider moving general descriptions to the footer so it appears on every page, without being tagged as duplicate content.
Search engines are smarter than they used to be. They can read English and know when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, so copying and pasting content to different pages with only slight rewrites just won’t work.
Want to be recognized in multiple categories? Consider beefing up product descriptions and adding case studies, service stories or testimonials which establish support for each of the unique pages. Use fresh language to get yourself out of this rut.
Exact Repeats Across Different Web Sites
Have you copied information you found on another website directly into your site? Here’s how to visualize repeated content across different web sites:
This is common for companies which resell products manufactured by other firms. It is tempting to use their descriptions but Google wants to know what you do that no one else can do.
So if you are going to use descriptions from other sites, add some unique information on how you use these services.
Fixing the Problem
Now that you understand what different types of content duplication look like, let’s fix the issues.
First, if you have duplicate content rewrite the information from the bottom up. You have to make sure you’re not just rearranging the words and pictures in a new style, otherwise you’re just creating more near duplicate content.
If you have the same or very similar content repeated across many pages without any real rhyme or reason, redirecting may be your best option. Redirecting a web page simply means you set special rules so whenever someone wants to access a specific page, it will lead them instead to another page you’ve selected. So if they select Heating-Indianapolis, Heating-Carmel and HVAC-Zionsivlle all those titles actually link to the same page – “Heating Products.”
You can avoid duplicate content penalization by adding a special line of code. This code tells Google this page shouldn’t be considered in ranking. People will still be able to read the information, but Google won’t count the duplicated information against you.
If you’re currently falling into any of these categories and breaking the rules of search, Google likely views your brand as untrustworthy and is penalizing you. By clearing up these issues, you’ll see more visits to your website, more leads coming into your pipeline, and more satisfied visitors.
Need some help getting started? Give me call.