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Don’t Be an Accidental Copycat

by Jenny Henderson | Sep 10, 2019, 13:00 PM

If you were to establish a new business location with a new website in another state, would you duplicate your existing content on that new site? That would save you some time. It would also undermine your search engine relevance.

Google’s crawler bots – the software that scours websites to learn what they’re all about – make a judgment call when they encounter content that is identical or “appreciably similar” (Google’s term) on two or more domains. Google then decides which website deserves credit for the content, and they prevent the copycat websites from appearing in search results. So if you reuse your existing content on a new domain, you run the risk of Google labeling you a copycat.

How to Help the Bots

Bots, being emotionless bits of software, aren’t trying to punish webmasters for duplicate content. They’re simply working with the information they have. You can help them make different decisions by providing some context.

Rather than, say, completely rewriting your privacy policy for your new website, you can avoid the pitfalls of duplicate content in one of two ways:

No-indexing: This behind-the-scenes rule tells Google to not scan certain pages on your website. So you can no-index your corporate boilerplate language – your “About Us” page, mission statement, and privacy policy, and bots will ignore that content.

Canonical links: This type of link tells Google, “This is intentionally duplicate content, and here is the source.” You could use this method as an alternative to no-indexing your privacy policy, but you wouldn’t want to use this for most types of content (because you’d be watering-down the relevance of your new site).



How Similar Can Content Be? 

Two websites can sell identical products without triggering duplicate content woes, but it takes some effort. Product details such as size, weight, ingredients, and applications are essential bits of information, and Google’s bots do not expect those details to be unique. The accompanying product description that provides more information should be original on each website, even if it’s for an identical product.

The same thought process is true for service-oriented organizations. If you have services across multiple location-specific websites, and some of the locations offer overlapping services, don’t copy/paste from one site to another. Identical service descriptions and look like plagiarism to a bot.

As you rewrite your existing website content, use a free plagiarism detection tool – copy the new text, paste it into the appropriate window, and see if the software flags your content for plagiarism. If that happens, continue rewriting your content until it’s truly unique.

Get Some Expert Help

A marketing company may advise you to set up a website for each of your brands. An SEO expert may say that a single site for the company with brand pages is better for your search results. BoxCrush can consider both brand and SEO, helping you navigate these tough decisions. We can build your website and create keyword-rich content that helps Google bots understand the relevance and authority of your domain. Gain an edge on your competitors – contact us today.

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