Search engines use many factors to determine what makes a website a "good" website, including the quality of its content. This includes your images, videos, and most importantly, text on your website.
When a search engine scans your site, it is looking for keywords that tell it what the subject of the site is, and specifically, the subject of that page. We can add alternative text to images, media, applets or other non-text web content. And that alt text can read by a robot, or a person can enjoy the images on your site. But the purpose of content is to give information and explain the subject of that page. With SEO efforts, we always suggest keyword-rich content on every page of a website.
Sadly, the best intentions of creating strong, well-written content can be lost, and even hurtful, especially when publishing duplicate content.
What is Duplicate Content?
To SEO analysts and developers, "duplicate content" means creating a second, sometimes third or fourth page, that all say exactly the same thing. Part of your content's purpose is to explain to the search engines the subject of that page in order to help people find relevant information. These search engines like to show a variety when they serve results for a keyword. So, if you have two pages on your website that say exactly the same thing, ex. your "Things to Do" page in your main navigation and your "Group Things to Do" page in your industry navigation, they end up competing with each other. This lowers your chances of either of your "Things to Do" pages ranking. And generally speaking, lower rankings translate to fewer visitors to your website. If you need a little help see if two pages have duplicate content try out this tool at WebConfs.
Here are some tips on avoiding duplicate content issues on your site:
1. Copy and Paste:
As fun as copying and pasting can be, it is one of the biggest mistakes I see users make. They've spent the time creating content for one page, and think, "Well, this will work just fine on this other page", so, they copy and paste the same exact text over to the other page. Solution, don't do it, if you are creating a new page, create new content that is specific to it.
2. Landing URLs:
This is one of the most unintentional creations of duplicate content, and it has the easiest fix. Just remember "link", not "page". A good example is if you are running a billboard campaign for your Bed and Breakfasts page. You don't want to put www.mysite.com/hotels/bed-and-breakfasts on the billboard because it is too long to print and we want to make sure it is short enough for people to remember. In this situation, I'd suggest creating a landing URL - www.mysite.com/bb. When the page already exists, and you are using the Simpleview CMS to do your site maintenance, it is important to use the link option and not the page option. If you use the page option, you now have two pages with the same exact content, www.mysite.com/hotels/bed-and-breakfasts and www.mysite.com/bb. It is ok to use the page option in other situations, but only if that page has been specifically created for that Landing URL and is nowhere else on the navigation of your website.
3. Menu Items:
This mistake is very similar to the landing URLs. Again, "link", not "page". Sometimes you may have a page that fits under two or more areas of your navigation. Example, a page about "wine tasting" may fit well under your "Restaurants" and "Things to Do" pages. However, use the link option and not the page option - unless you are going to create completely different pages with new content.
I think widgets are really cool. I love how I can throw one on a page, and suddenly, all my listings under that category are on that page. Yet, it is important to remember if the same member/partner/stakeholder listings are used for multiple categories, then a different listing for each category needs to be created. In addition, it's important to create unique content for each of those listings.
This situation may apply when managing your hotel listings. You may want to create a listing on a "Hotels" page that is specific to visitors, but the hotel may also be great for meetings and you want to have it on your "Meeting Facilities" page too. Therefore, you should create a listing for them that specifically talks about their meeting facilities. If I throw the same listing on a different page, I just created duplicated content. So, just remember that every new category needs a fresh listing.
While these are four easy ways to avoid creating duplicate content, there are plenty of other tactics to avoid making missteps when managing your site. If you have a good tip, feel free to share. Who knows? Maybe your advice will pop up in a future blog post!
And always... keep writing, keep being creative, and keep ranking.