Copy and paste may not be your friend for Houston SEO results. Duplicate content is a serious problem that may be hurting your website’s rankings right now. You may not even realize it’s happening! Our experts are here to help you avoid duplicate content so you can be successful online.
What is Duplicate Content? How Does it Affect Houston SEO Rankings?
First off, what is duplicate content? Essentially, it’s any content on the internet in more than one place. In other words, content that appears on multiple different URLs. Duplicate content can show up on different pages of your own site or can appear on different websites.
Duplicate content can be direct copies of content on the web, or it can be content that is really similar. For instance, you can’t just take the same content and swap out a few words to avoid it being labelled as duplicate content.
Generally, duplicate content falls into two general categories: malicious and non-malicious. Most of the examples of duplicate content on the web today are non-malicious. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not affecting your website’s ranking and traffic!
Non-Malicious Duplicate Content
Non-malicious duplicate content is when you have duplicate content not meant to manipulate search results. In some cases this is completely accidental, like having different URLs for the same page on your website. This can happen when a website designer doesn’t create search engine-friendly architecture for your site. Many may not understand the SEO implications behind multiple URLs with the same content.
For instance, let’s say you sell t-shirts, and one particular shirt you sell in three colors: red, blue, and yellow. Rather than having all these options on one URL, like yoursite.com/t-shirt, an inexperienced designer might put them all on their own URL, such as yoursite.com/red-t-shirt and yoursite.com/blue-t-shirt, and yoursite.com/yellow-t-shirt yet use the same copy for all the different pages. This is a non-malicious type of duplicate content that can cause problems for your site.
Another common example is product descriptions. If you sell products you don’t personally manufacture, then you may use product descriptions provided by the manufacturer. Sometimes this is even mandatory as part of your agreement with the manufacturer. If you’re the manufacturer, even if you don’t require your representatives to use a word-for-word product description, many will anyway. Once again, this is a form of non-malicious duplicate content.
However, the word “non-malicious” does not mean “not a problem.” It just means you’re not using duplicate content in order to game the system. Non-malicious also doesn’t necessarily mean “legal,” as copyright laws may still apply if you didn’t ask for permission to use someone else’s content.
Malicious Duplicate Content
Obviously we wish all duplicate content were non-malicious, but that just isn’t the case. Maliciously duplicated content is where a website duplicates content to manipulate search engines into ranking them higher or sending them more traffic.
If Google finds evidence of this kind of deceptive practice on your website, they may make adjustments or even apply penalties so your site doesn’t rank as well, or even rank at all if it’s bad enough to get you de-indexed. While this is less common, it’s a serious issue. Don’t try to game the system by duplicating content. Search engines are just too smart to fall for this!
For instance, let’s say you’re a new business and need a new website. You look for the highest ranking website for your main keyword and copy every piece of content they have, just changing out the company name for your own. This could be considered malicious duplicate content, as you’re trying to gain Houston SEO results that you didn’t earn with your own content. It also could get your website hidden from search results and likely won’t look great to your customers when they find out you’ve plagiarized someone else’s website.
Doing this is also probably copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which could leave you dealing with a copyright lawsuit.
Duplicate Content May Impact Houston SEO Rankings
The issue for your Houston SEO rankings is that search engines don’t like duplicate content.
Think of it this way: let’s say you look something up online and click the first article you find. The article doesn’t answer your question, so you click the next search result. But that article is the exact same as the last! You do this over and over through multiple search pages to find something with different information on it. That sounds pretty frustrating, right?
Google and other search engines know this is irritating and unhelpful for searchers. That’s why they typically hide duplicate results. So, if you’re duplicating content, there’s a good chance people are not going to find your website. It harms your website’s visibility to your potential customers. You might notice lower rankings and less traffic to pages with duplicate content.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content
Now, if possible, it’s pretty much always better to have completely unique content. However, don’t sweat it if you do need to have a duplicate sentence here and there. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks” of similar content. So, if you just have to have a popular quote from Abraham Lincoln or another famous person on your site, don’t worry, that’s probably not going to put you out of the running with search engines.
Work with a Knowledgeable Houston Digital Marketing Agency to Build Your Website
Remember how we mentioned that a lot of duplicate content on the internet is done by mistake? That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced Houston digital marketing agency for your website.
See, when you hire some random web developer, they may or may not know anything about search engine optimization. This means you could be vulnerable to accidental duplicate content through your website’s architecture or URLs.
Also, when you choose our team for your website design or refresh project, we start you off on the right foot with unique content that is valuable for your website visitors (and for search engines). We’ll work with you to create unique content based on our years of knowledge and experience with search engine optimization.
Avoiding Duplicate Content for Product Descriptions for Better Houston SEO Results
What about product descriptions? If possible, it’s almost always better to use unique content for product descriptions. You can convey all the important information in a completely new way! Rather than copy and paste, you might get a leg up against your competition by using custom product descriptions on your website.
However, as we mentioned earlier, some manufacturers require you to use the same descriptions as every other company that sells their products. These product descriptions often do count as duplicate content. If you must use them and there’s no way around it, there are still options!
Generally, the best thing to do in this case is to use the product description so you don’t damage your relationship with the manufacturer. Then, our team can create tons of unique content to go on the same page. This can help limit the percentage of duplicate content on the page and give Google plenty of things to read to help push you up toward the top of search results.
How to Stop Content Scrapers from Duplicating Your Content
Now, duplicate content on your own website is within your control, but what happens when someone else copies something off your website? This practice is called content scraping.
In some cases, when someone else takes your content, it can dilute your own Houston SEO results. Google is pretty good at figuring out who posted the content first, but they’re not perfect. Sometimes, the website that took your content can even rank higher than you, so it’s important to take duplicated content seriously.
One way to go about this is to talk to the person in charge of the website. Sometimes people just don’t know that it’s wrong, illegal, or potentially harmful to other websites to take their content. You can try asking them to take down the content or add a disclaimer that they don’t own the content (with a link to your website). This is often a successful way to handle the situation for accidental duplicate content.
You can also report duplicate content to Google. If someone has stolen content from your website without your permission, they’re likely infringing copyright law. If this is the case, you can report it to Google. Now, Google can’t take the content off someone else’s website, but they can de-index it so it doesn’t show up in search results. If you want the content taken off of someone else’s website, then you’ll likely need to talk to your attorney about sending a take down letter and starting the process of a copyright claim.
Expert Digital Marketing for Your Business
Need marketing experts for your small business in Houston? Our team at Bizopia is here to help! We offer over 20 years of helping businesses just like yours succeed on the internet. Whether you need website design with an SEO-focus or are looking for Houston social media marketing to help get your brand out there, we have solutions to help you reach your goals. Get started now! Fill out our free website and digital marketing analysis or give us a call at (832) 327-3230!