If it has been a while since you were in English class, you probably haven’t thought about plagiarism in quite some time. Thankfully, Melania Trump brought this issue back to the forefront with her speech at the Republican National Convention. Whether you love or hate Trump, there is no denying that parts of her speech were directly lifted from Michelle Obama’s own speech. So why does it matter and why should you be concerned about plagiarism and duplicate content when it comes to your business website?
In general, plagiarism instantly ruins credibility. Whether you are trying to help your husband win the presidential election or you are trying to convince potential customers to give you their money, borrowing content is the perfect way to undermine any trustworthiness. As a business owner, the chances that a reader will visit your website and recognize that your content sounds familiar are slim to none, but search engines are a lot more savvy and are sure to catch any duplicate content and penalize your website.
How Does Duplicate Content Occur?
- Sloppy Content Creation. If you are trying to cut corners by hiring the cheapest content writer you can find, you run the risk of ending up with plagiarized text. You can protect yourself by running your content through Copyscape, which is a service that identifies duplicate content. However, this means an extra step and more work for you.
- Creating Duplicate City Pages. Often times, businesses with locations around the country will create region specific websites to help drive local search traffic. While it may be tempting to simply copy and paste website content and only change the location information, this approach is quite problematic. Search engines will detect the duplicate content and your rankings won’t budge.
- Technical and URL Problems. Something as simple as capitalization differences in your URLs can confuse search engines and cause them to send link juice to various pages when it should all be directed to one page.
Search engines will recognize all three URLs as different pages and index the pages as duplicate content.
Improve Your Search Engine Results
First and foremost, avoiding duplicate content starts with quality writing. Your website should reflect your brand and provide informative and engaging content. If you have city pages for different locations across the country, you MUST create original content for each site. Finally, be sure to run periodic analyses of your website to make sure that it isn’t plagued with redirects, duplicate URLs and other domain related errors.
Bottom line: it all comes down to quality content. Investing the time in developing a content strategy and creating content that is timely, relevant and worth reading will pay off. It isn’t flashy, but is has staying power and is the single most important thing you can do to promote your website and build your authority.