Does Duplicate Content Hurt User Experience?
I have problems with duplicate content. Who doesn't? But is it really all that bad? I'm going to share some of my thoughts with you on duplicate content and user experience.
First, as you can probably guess, it's not a good user experience to post duplicate content across your site and other web properties. Who the hell wants to read the same exact stuff on five different sites?
Nobody, not even you.
And yet, it never ceases to amaze me when SEO students say to me, "But I don't have the time and energy to write different content pieces AND do my business!" Look, I'm in the same boat as you. I need to keep my site alive in the search engine results pages (SERPs) just like everyone else if I'm going to sell SEO training and consulting services.
However, I am a huge fan of LinkedIn, and that platform is just as valuable, if not more, than my own blog because of demand for search engine optimization and marketing expertise on that platform.
Other students and clients say to me, "OK, how about I just re-write a little bit of it and post the content someplace else?" To which I say, "Go ahead and see which one gets more Google love and eyeballs. The same people aren't going to read both. You know it, and I know it, so why not try to go the extra mile and continue to create great information for the multiple platforms you need exposure on?"
Because of time. Because of effort. Because it's hard researching for topics of interest, keyword phrases and subjects that our target audience is interested in. Because it takes a lot of time to create a great piece of content, whether it's for your own site, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever.
But your site visitors will get a lot more from you if you try, try, try to publish a unique piece once a week on at least two sites. I stick to my own blog and LinkedIn. I don't have the bandwidth for any more. I wish like hell I could publish everyday on both, but if I'm teaching, where's the time to do that?
I have had e-commerce site owners come to my courses. They have multiple duplicate content issues if they essentially sell the damn product with only variations in size, colors, make, model, whatever.
In these cases, you are probably better off developing unique product pages with drop downs for sizes, colors, etc. Don't show 15 product pages that are essentially the same except for a different size or color. To me, that's a waste of website space, your time, bandwidth and server effort.
Duplicate content is the easy way out, but it won't get your site ranking better long term. It will eventually turn away some prospects who otherwise might convert.
Duplicate Content & Google Guidance
The Google Panda penalty talks about duplicate content:
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.
To me, creating multiple pages on a site with essentially same content (e-commerce sites) or copying a blog article from your blog to your LinkedIn Pulse speaks to a low value add for users.
And, here's Google's article several months after Panda rolled out that provides some guidance on writing high quality content:
Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
So think about yourself. If you don't being exposed to duplicate content, why do you think your target would mind? And it sure sounds like Google would rather you not create identical content pieces.
What are your thoughts on duplicate content and the user experience? Do you agree?
Until we meet again, stay safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,
Image courtesy of flickr.com