Creativedge

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Mar 1, 2017
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I was hoping I could get some clarification on what kind of impact duplicate content has on search rankings for businesses.

Our agency primarily works with dental offices, trying to help them show up higher in search than their competitors whenever possible. Part of what we do involves creating new content for their website around the services they offer (recently, that's included things like explaining things like the importance of gum treatments now that we know that periodontal health can help reduce the chances of COVID-19 complications).

The more clients we take on, the more demanding this process becomes if we want to make sure the content isn't identical across the board.

We've noticed competitors who have provided their clients with much more thorough content (3 to 4 times the word count) but use the same content for dozens of dental offices.

What I'd like to have some clarification in is: what method will work best for helping improve search ranking for our clients?

I've read that Google doesn't penalize sites for duplicate content (and, indeed, I've seen some high-ranking pages with copy that's repeated on many websites for dental offices), but does it actually help?

Are we better off continuing to make smaller, individualized pieces of content for each of our clients like we have been, or are longer, more thorough ones copy-and-pasted for all of our clients more beneficial?
 

coachmarino

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Aug 6, 2020
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Google's official policy came up in the news just the other day, basically saying again that they don't want duplicate content, but that it's not a factor. Stats show it's not a factor. So I guess the advice would be try your best but if your effort is better spent elsewhere don't worry about the duplicate content.
 

Creativedge

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Well, ultimately, we want to do what will help our clients the most. The question is still: what's more beneficial for their local search rankings, 500 words of original content on a keyword, or 2,000 words of duplicate content on the topic?
 

coachmarino

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Aug 6, 2020
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not enough info, and it's a weird choice... why only 500 original? And are they competing with the duplicate content?
 

Creativedge

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Those were just random numbers off the top of my head. How about this hypothetical, instead?:

Say our agency has 20 dental clients each in different cities/states (we typically do not take on clients who would be competing with each other). They all do dental implants, so their websites each need to have content on that topic.

We could write one 10,000-word article on dental implants and post that same article on all 20 sites, or we can spend the same amount of time to write 20 different 500-word articles so that each client has something original.

If I look at what one competing agency does, I see that they a 13,000-word article for this topic. Running some of their text through this plagiarism checker (Plagiarism Checker - 100% Free Online Plagiarism Detector), I can find more than 100 websites for dental offices that use this same copy, verbatim.

Does having such a large article on the topic help them show up for dental implants in a local search, even though there are 100+ other sites with this exact same article? Would a much shorter article that doesn't have duplicates elsewhere on the Web rank better or worse than a site with such an article?

That's the question our owner wants to know. Should we be investing manhours into very long, thorough articles that are used for all of our clients, or are we better served by creating completely original copy for each client?
 

DontBiteUrNails

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If I understand this correctly, Google doesn't penalize you for duplicate content, but they could hide it.

So if you put up duplicate content that will show in the same search, it will show the original and then put the copy behind that link at the bottom of the results that you have to click in order to see the duplicates.

But if you put duplicate content on websites that will never come up in the same search, such as for a dentist website in Boston and another dentist website in Dallas, then they wont be effected by duplicate content.

BUT, that would mean that if you saw a great website for a local business in another state you can steal it and rank well. Can that be true?
 
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IMO - Original copy for unique (locations) clients. I've done both, since 2010 - most of the bigger dental website companies have identical content, no penalties. The links they buy move the needle more than the canned copy.
 

JoyHawkins

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I haven't found content to be a massive differentiator for dentists. I totally agree with @1LocalBusiness and would focus more time on links.

I don't think using similar content on different locations is a big deal at all if you're not targeting the same geographic areas. After all, there is only so much you can do to get "unique" content about dental implants for all the thousands of dentists that exist in the country.
 

Creativedge

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Mar 1, 2017
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I appreciate the feedback. I had thought that, since physical proximity appears to be the bigger ranking factor, that duplicate content shouldn't matter too much unless the two sites using them are for businesses physically close to each other, but I didn't know if original copy made a difference at all.

So, getting links would be a better use of our time, then? I assume this is beyond the normal citation-building (GMB, Yelp, Apple Maps, Neustar, etc.)? @1LocalBusiness mentions buying links; what kind of services are recommended for that sort of thing? (Or what should we be doing to get these links for our clients?)
 

JoyHawkins

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My favorite type of link building would be PR. Getting clients mentioned in online articles when journalists are looking to quote experts on a given topic. Craig Mount is actually going to be talking about this strategy and how he utilizes it for his local SEO clients at our next LocalU event in November.
 

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