One of the best ways to totally ruin any chance of ranking your business website is to use duplicate content.
What is duplicate content? Duplicate content is an practically any form of a webpage containing words that’s been copied, verbatim, and distributed to many other websites.
Here’s the wikipedia.com definition:
“Duplicate content is a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one web page. The duplicate content can be substantial parts of the content within or across domains and can be either exactly duplicate or closely similar. When multiple pages within a web site contain essentially the same content, search engines such as Google can penalise or cease displaying that site in any relevant search results.” Click HERE to read it yourself.
Knowing full well that Google can (and will) penalize or cease displaying your website if you use duplicate content (that’s called being in the sandbox or worse – being completely delisted for all time – for good), why would anyone in their right mind use duplicate content?
The answer is simple – it’s because many business owners are shopping for the lowest price only in a web designer. Quality and integrity of design are often beaten out by a really low price. And most often those web designers who can offer a business website for a fraction of what a legitimate website designer can cuts a lot of corners by recycling content – the words used to describe a business and its services and products.
For example, many web designers specialize in a certain business niche – lawyers, dentists, etc. To get economies of scale (and cut development costs) the website designer uses identical words to describe similar pages that will most likely apply to every lawyer or dentist regardless of specialties or other minor details. And, the immediate benefits look great – a nice looking website with lots of pages that detail exactly what you do. All for a really cheap price.
But what the business owner doesn’t know is that 90% of all that great content is duplicate – sometimes shared with thousands of other similar businesses.
See the image below. There’s a quick and dirty way to determine if content is used on multiple websites. Simply copy a sentence and paste it into a google browser – in quotations. That tells Google to look for that exact sentence. See how many websites use that exact sentence? Well over 7,000 dental websites! Ouch!
The VAST majority of those websites are often penalized for using the duplicate content and will not rank anywhere near the first page for their local keywords (dentist los angeles). Of course there always exceptions to any rule, and it is probable that some websites with duplicate content will rank well. But the vast majority simply will never achieve a page #1 ranking.
And furthermore, the damage may not be related to poor website ranking. There’s always a possibility that the company’s Google Places page (the page with all the great reviews) can’t rank on the first page because Google has associated the entire business with the duplicate content. I’ve seen it happen and once the content was corrected, the website started ranking for the right keywords – although it took about 6 months for the improvements to be seen.
Check a few pages on your website if you even remotely think you have duplicate content. Also, find out where you appear on the search engines for your keywords. If your website is nowhere near the first page, than you may have some type of Google penalty preventing you from doing well in the searches.
Fixing the problem is relatively easy – remove the duplicate content and replace it with relevant & unique content that’s appropriate for your business – for each problem page. You don’t have to delete the page unless the page title is duplicate content as well. Then it may work to your advantage to start over for that particular topic.
And don’t forget to add a 301 permanent redirect link if you do delete a page or replace a duplicate page with a unique page. This will ensure that Google and people searching for that page will find your new page.
If you’d like me to take a look at your current website to determine if you’re being penalized by duplicate content, please give me a call at 719-761-4862 or click HERE to contact me and I’d be happy to let you know what i see, and what can be done to help you rank higher in the search engines.
By Dan Morton