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Commentary & Analysis

Organic Search Success and Duplicate Content

The internet search engines do not like duplicate content; in fact they rank your site lower if you are duplicating content from a site that clearly has the authority to that content.

By Jennifer Matt & Valerie DiCarlo
Published: May 7, 2015

As marketing moves from primarily outbound messaging to inbound internet marketing with the creation of compelling content that attracts customers to you – there is a temptation to duplicate content.

We see it all too often. Printers find interesting content and instead of linking to it on their site, they duplicate the content on their site. Another place we see it is with franchise organizations who publish the same online content across all their franchisees sites. We realize it’s easier to create content once and then propagate out to all the sites but that will not create the organic search results you desire for your franchisees.

Sometimes we see duplicate content on a single web domain. Technology platforms like WordPress are notorious for creating duplicate content if not setup correctly. The default settings can result in your blog posts showing up in multiple places, for example, on the post page, the blog category pages, and on the tag pages. Duplicate content can have a serious impact on your search performance.

In addition to actual content duplication, there are other types of duplicate content that often get overlooked. For instance, your HTML meta tags can also duplicate if you are not optimizing and/or configuring your platform correctly.

So, why does it matter and what effect will duplicate content have on your own site? And what can you do to avoid it?

The current reality of getting found online is playing by the rules. Who’s making the rules? Google. And Google continues to emphasize relevant and fresh content as a primary factor in getting found online. But keep in mind that search engines are just that: mechanical engines. If these ‘bots see duplicating content, we can’t give them the power to choose who ‘owns’ the authority of that content. When you duplicate content, you’re giving away the power and losing authority. Don’t make the ‘bots’ choose.

Ongoing, original, unique, optimized content will always win. Why? Because your site will own and establish the authority needed to enjoy ‘buoyancy’ in the search engines. Duplicate content can be the ‘ball and chain’ that keeps you from experiencing that ‘buoyancy’. So take care to have ongoing, unique content development as part of your overall online marketing strategy.

When we create compelling content and it spreads, our original posting develops the “authority” for that content, and then wherever it’s shared, embedded, or engaged with feeds back to us as the original authority. Many people use social media simply as a place to share content with their followers that they find interesting or relevant. This is an excellent use of social media, we would suggest you don’t simply share the content but engage, comment, and add to it. Social media is a conversation – don’t simply be a repeater, add to the content, translate how the content applies to your specific challenges or better yet your customer’s challenges.

Another way to avoid duplicating content is to optimize your ongoing fresh content for your most targeted site visitor. The more targeted, the better. It’s an opportunity to not only create content around semantic search, or ‘long-tail’ terms, but to be found for that target specific search. For example, in the case of franchisees’ sites, most franchisees are focused on a very local market. Localizing your content for search engines are vital so local companies don’t have to compete with national brands. If you’re a franchisee in Cupertino, California you want your content to be filled with long tail keywords that include geographical indicators, e.g. “printers in Cupertino”.

Basically, the equation goes like this:

Unique, Ongoing, Original Content + SEO + Social Amplification = Organic Search Success

Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.

Valerie DiCarlo is an SEO consultant for Web22Print Experts, Inc. that helps clients with the primary objective of optimizing website design to maximize business exposure and targeted website results. 


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