Here’s an idea: Copy content for your Web site from the Web sites of the manufacturers whose products you sell. It’s generally well-written, compelling and…free. So, what’s the rub?
Can duplicate content really destroy your Web site? Is it hurting your Web site right now? What in the world IS duplicate content, anyway?
Content is textual material that you put on your Web site. It’s also the material that Google and the other search engines scan as their first step in determining how to rank your Web site on their search results.
Duplicate content is content that appears on two or more Web sites. It occurs when the owner of Web Site A copies the text of Web Site B and uploads it to Web Site A.
So, that’s a copyright violation, and should never occur, right? Wrong. In the home improvement world, this actually happens all the time.
Here’s an example. A home improvement dealer in Orlando takes on a new replacement window line. The dealer naturally adds a Web page to his Web site to present the features of this new line. To save time and expense, the dealer simply copies text from the brand’s own Web site, and uploads it to his own.
Having looked at hundreds of home improvement Web sites over the past couple of years, I’ve seen this happen a lot. And I understand why. Copying and pasting text is simple. It’s easy. And it doesn’t cost dealers a nickel.
It’s also not a copyright violation, as the brand is delighted to help this new dealer do anything that will help sell product. But Google has a different view of this shortcut.
Why? Because Google and the other search engines value Web sites that contain content that is original and unique. Google believes that unique content is more valuable to searchers than content that has been copied from another source. And therefore, with few exceptions, Google ranks Web sites containing original content higher than Web sites with large amounts of duplicate content.
How does Google know if you have duplicate content?
Simply put, Google and other search engines use software applications known as “crawlers”. Crawlers scan the Web 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking for new pages to add to their massive databases. The search engines constantly compare what their crawlers retrieve against the material they already have stored in their gigantic Web site index. If Google determines that the text of your Web site too closely resembles text that Google already has in its index, then your Web site will be flagged for duplicate content.
So, what are the penalties for duplicate content? The good news is that Google won’t immediately move your Web site to the bottom of its rankings. However, Google and the other search engines will certainly tend to rank your Web site higher if your material is unique.
So it’s good Web site practice to not add new pages to your Web site containing content you take from the brands that you sell…or any other source for that matter. It’s always better to arrange for someone on your marketing team or a contract writer to create your Web content from scratch. It’s your best long term strategy.