In recent years, insurance marketers have fielded more questions about duplicate content on websites and blogs. To help clear up the confusion, we wanted to share how Google goes about measuring content, how their standards have changed, and what the standards are today.
Understanding the Basics
According to Moz, the definition of duplicate content is “content that appears on the internet in more than one place.” That “one place” is a singular location is defined not by web pages, but by specific URLs—meaning that, if you have two web pages with the same content on your website, your search engine value can and will be affected by their presence.
That said, it’s important to understand that “duplicate content” is not content explaining or expressing the same thing as another piece of content on your website—this is in no way considered an SEO penalty by Google. The type of duplicate content that will affect your ranking is content that is either verbatim identical to content on other website pages—content that has been copied and pasted from a previous post on your website.
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Consequences of Duplicate Content
When a URL posts duplicate content on their website, there is a very high likelihood that it will negatively affect their search engine rankings against their competitors. This can happen for a few reasons, namely:
- Search engines don’t know which version of the content to rank for search engines, which means the value of both links goes down in the SEO rankings.
- Google’s indexing algorithms don’t know which page to include or exclude from their index, which means one or both links might be excluded from search engine queries.
- The link metrics (i.e. website trust, authority, and link equity) for duplicate content pages lose accuracy and efficiency because Google’s ranking system because the system doesn’t know whether to separate the duplicate content into multiple versions.
All of this means that when duplicate content appears on your website, you are taking a gamble with Google’s ranking algorithms—either forcing search engines to show multiple versions of the same content (diluting the visibility and value of both) or diluting the value of the SEO link value within both pieces of the identical content.
At the end of the day, your website may not only be losing trust and visibility on search engines themselves—you will be decreasing the visibility and value of your content and website ranking overall. This means that, while there might not be any official penalty for it according to Google’s algorithm standards, it stil a bad decision for your overall SEO strategy.
The Important Difference Between Quality and Quantity
Some get-rich-quick SEO vendors you speak with may downplay the harm that duplicate content can cause your website—more and more often, we at Neilson are finding this an issue because many “template vendors” show up in the insurance industry claiming they can monetize and scale website development in a fraction of the time legitimate SEO development takes.
While it might seem advantageous to use duplicate content to advance your rankings at first, the truth is that there is no real marketing advantage to not creating unique pieces of content for each web page you develop. If your content marketing strategy is to create anything other than unique, quality, optimized content for each of your posts, there is no real way to build SEO value for your website—no matter how many quick-fix vendors you come across.
It’s critical to remember that Google picks its search engine offerings based on who is searching, where they are searching from, and what they are searching for—something that can make duplicate content seem appealing at first if you’re not aware of how duplicate content can affect your rankings.
According to John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, duplicate content is “probably more counterproductive than helping your website”—something to consider the next time you’re wondering whether or not duplicate content is the right path for you.
All in all, the goal is to write and offer content that not only answering the users searching, but is unique and relevant on a local basis for higher rankings—something that can be achieved by creating unique content each and every time you post, even if it’s the same information marketed in different ways via a divisible content strategy.
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