Avoiding or Correcting Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is any substantial portion of content that appears anywhere on the Internet more than once. Content is considered duplicate when it appears on your website AND someone else’s website. It’s also duplicate when it appears more than once on the same website URL.

Sometimes duplicate content is deceptive, meaning it is deliberately duplicated on different URLs to manipulate the search engines. One of the main reasons Google does not favor this is because it can result in a poor user experience, and Google updates it’s algorithms regularly mostly because of its dedication to enhanced user experience. If Google thinks duplicate content is malicious, ranking will drop for all URLs with this content or a website could be removed entirely from the Google index.

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How does duplicate content happen?

Many times duplicate content is not intended to deceive the search engines. Here are some examples of non-malicious duplicate content:

Printer-friendly website pages: These pages are often a duplicate of an already existing page. It’s also common to use an alternative version of a URL in these instances. For instance, http://www.exampleurl.com/product and http://www.exampleurl.com/print/product. URL variations, like this, cause duplicate content issues.

HTTP vs HTTPS: If your site maintains versions at both http:// and https:// they are both live, visible and indexable to the search engines.

Copied Content: Some people will copy blog posts from other websites. Other times it’s less obvious… like duplicating large portions of content for each service page on your website, or for eCommerce websites it can exist in product information.

These few examples are among the most common causes of duplicate content.

Why should you care?

Duplicate content really cannot provide you any benefit. The only thing it can provide is decreased rankings and traffic loss. Consider that Google will rarely show duplicate content in it’s search results, reducing the chances that a page will be served. And if whether you are competing for local or national SEO success, duplicate content will not benefit you.

Duplicate content will only be acted upon (punished) by Google if a review indicates that you engaged in deceptive practices. But, if your website does suffer from duplicate content issues than Google will select a version of the content itself to show in the results.

How can you address duplicate content?

While Google can do a decent job of addressing and ranking pages with non-malicious duplicate content itself, there are a few steps you can take for best SEO practice to ensure your website is indexed and ranked appropriately and fairly, despite having the same content in more than one place.

Nonindex meta tag: This is particularly useful for those printer-friendly webpages. You can block the printer-friendly version of the page using the nonindex meta tag and Google will not index it.

301 redirects: We’ve discussed this previously, but if you’ve restructured your website or launched a new one with a new page structure, use 301 redirects to redirect users and Googlebot.

Consolidate Duplicate URLs: A page accessible by multiple URLs or different pages with similar content can be considered duplicate content/duplicate pages. Google will choose one as the canonical version, but you can tell Google which URL is the canonical version. Consider doing this if you have a mobile and a desktop version of your website.

Use Google Search Console: Here you can indicate how you wish Google to index your site and select a preferred domain. An example of this is HTTP vs HTTPS or WWW vs no WWW

Minimize your duplicate content: Review your website content and see where it’s repetitive. Take action yourself to reduce the words being duplicated on multiple pages. You can provide unique and valuable content on every page and then link to another with the content you need to be repeated. If you have an eCommerce website, take care to rewrite your product descriptions so they’re different than the manufacturer, or create ONE product with variations instead of 6 of the same product – the size being the only difference.

Need help?

If you have repetitive content across your website, but aren’t how to rewrite it, we can help. If you switched to https:// recently and are questioning if you have duplicate content issues as a result, we can help. If you need assistance implementing redirects after a website restructure, we can help. If you copied website content from your competitor and put it on your website… and now you’re a bit worried, we can help with that, too.

 

 

 

Benefits of Google My Business

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Google My Business offers businesses an incredible opportunity to be found in local search engine results. As Google’s algorithms undergo constant change to provide a better user experience, Google My Business becomes increasingly important for ALL businesses as they seek to have an online presence and seek to be found easily in a local search.

Google My Business lists your business location on Google Maps and local search results. The listing is free and is a necessity for both store fronts and eCommerce businesses, and lists important information about your business, hours, location, services, contact information and website link.

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This is a simple and effective way to be found in local searches on Google. As Google accounts more and more for a user’s location in its algorithm, this local listing will help your business appear when users type in “[keyword] near me.” So, for JM, our listing will appear for a user in Omaha searching for “web designer near me,” because of our Google My Business listing. You’ll notice also in a query like this, Google returns three locations based on your current location.

Gaining access to or setting up a Google My Business page is SO EASY. Here’s a step-by-step guide from our web marketing and SEO team:

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Set up Google My Business

Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and select “Start Now”. Sign up for a Google account or enter your current account information. You’ll then be able to search for your business. If you cannot find your business, simply “add your business.”

Create /Claim My Business Page

Once you’ve found your business location you can follow steps to confirm you’re authorized to manage the page. This part CAN be a little tricky, depending on the history of your page. We run into problems when:

  • A page has been created for your business, but you no longer have access to it
  • Someone else has access to your page, and you cannot retain ownership of the page directly from them

Sometimes, these circumstances require a direct phone call to a Google support tech.

Verify location(s)

Verifying your business with Google takes a few simple steps, but it important for appearing in Maps and Search. Google will provide you with a verification code through one of the following ways:

  • Phone
  • Postcard mailed to your business address
  • Email

JM Google My Business Listing

Optimize and Manage

Manage and respond to reviews

Reviews can be powerful. And whether a Google review is positive or negative, responding to these reviews show you value your customers. Positive reviews will increase your visibility, so encourage customers to leave reviews.

Include services

Listing services with brief descriptions (maybe even pricing) can help Google return your business to a viable customer and can give users a general idea of your business.

Add photos

Photos can help you tell a story by showing your office space, employees and products, your giving users a look into your company culture. It’s a digital storefront.

Add posts

Google My Business has a posts option for each page. For each post you can upload an image, write up a little text, add a title and include a link. This area offers flexibility in promoting events, sales, new products, new services, highlight old services, blogs, etc. These posts expire after about 7 days.

Google My Business is one of the most simple and critical steps you can take to help your website be found in a local search. And it’s free! And if you don’t have the time to worry about this, we’re happy to help you in set up your My Business Page, optimize it and advise you on how to take advantage of all its benefits.

Tips for Preserving SEO Value: Monitor Post-Launch

We’ve been taking the last several weeks to discuss critical steps when designing and building a website for a successful launch – so organic search engine rankings don’t take a hit and maybe even improve! You can read about these SEO tips in our posts on 301 redirects and website content. But what happens after launch?

A website should never sit stagnant. It should always be evaluated, refined and updated to satisfy your industry as it changes, your customers and the search engines. Monitoring organic rankings, traffic and Google Search Console in the months and years after a new website launch will help develop short and long-term strategies for improvement.

Monitor Rankings and Traffic

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With a new website launch, you can expect fluctuation in both rankings and organic traffic. Ideally, within one month you should hit a baseline. By monitoring Google Analytics closely in the weeks post-launch, you should be able to identify problems and solve them quickly. Larger sites can take more time for a recrawl.

And while it’s impossible to rank and track every keyword that goes into driving traffic to your website, monitoring organic traffic will provide data on what keywords are performing best, what pages are out-performing/under-performing and what updates need to be made for improvements.

Use Google Search Console

google search console admin area

Google Search Console is a diagnostic space, provided as a free resource from Google. As with all Google products, Search Console keeps improving and providing more data for your benefit. All you need to do is know about to interpret the data. You can track your 301s and 404s here to ensure your strategies are working; and information covering clicks, impressions, CTR and average position are all critical for a long-term SEO strategy.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

As with anything, you’ll likely want to weigh the options of a DIY approach or hiring a professional Omaha web design and SEO team. From the initial stages of website design, to the content building and population, to the post-launch monitoring – do you honestly have time to do it yourself? DIY is always an option, and in some cases the only option. But considering the information we’ve reviewed in the last four posts relating to preserving SEO with a new website launch – it seems that the failure of a botched launch could cost a lot of money down the road.

If you have the time and skills to prepare your new website for a successful launch by analyzing old data, evaluating SEO strategy, implementing redirects, refining website content and monitoring data post-launch, then DIY is definitely a viable option for you. But, if you do not have the time, skills or know-how to complete all the needed tasks for a successful website launch, then hiring an experienced Omaha web design and SEO team is worth its weight in gold!

 

 

Tips for Preserving SEO Value: 301 Redirects

Rebuilding and relaunching a website brings much anticipation and excitement. And while significant effort usually goes into designing, layout and population, the critical steps of launch preparation and post-launch support are often overlooked – causing catastrophic results in lost SEO value.

As we began to discuss last week, in preparation for launching a new website our Omaha web design team implements many strategies and methods for retaining a website’s credibility in the search engines. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.

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Best-Practices

Best-practices are often overlooked, because they can be laborious. It takes preparation, thoughtful execution and continued monitoring to ensure SEO value is retained. Let’s, first, hit one major checklist item in preserving SEO rankings in a new website launch.

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301 Redirects

If possible, try to keep the URL structure and page names the same. Less can go wrong this way. When your URL’s change, search engines can still serve the old pages they’ve indexed. When this happens, redirects must be implemented to avoid to serving your users the wrong content and to prevent old URL’s from displaying errors.

The 301 redirect is for both users and search engines and indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved. For instance, www.examplesite.com/contact is now www.examplesite.com/contact-us on a new website. These will be considered two separate pages to the search engines until a redirect is in place.

Search engines take a 301 redirect to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content can be found at the new URL. It could take some time for the search engines to recognize this URL redirect and credit the new page with the ranking from the old URL.

Prior to launching you will want a spreadsheet of all URLs on the old and new sites, so you can implement and test 301 redirects. When the new site is live, you will want to crawl the old list of URLs to ensure everything 301 redirects correctly. Additionally, keeping the old website as a backup will aid in knowing how to implement unforeseen redirects.

Wait… there’s more

301 redirects are critical for ensuring success in the search engines after a new website launch. But this is just one piece in the larger picture.

A credible Omaha web design company will be able to execute these redirects, but it’s also possible for anyone – if you have the foresight and time.

Follow us in the weeks to come for more new website launch tips for preserving SEO rankings.

 

 

JM Featured in Advantages Magazine

snippet of advantages magazine article on web design and seo
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Our Omaha web design firm was recently featured in Advantages Magazine, briefly touching on web design and SEO best practices. Advantages Magazine is a publication for distributor sales people – providing tips and tactics for success.

JM’s CEO Jonathan Patton and Internet Marketing Director Megan Patton hit on website layout with a clear call to action, and properly showcasing a business’ product of services to build credibility. Additionally, a website no one can find isn’t helpful – so Jonathan and Megan provide a few tips for optimizing a website (SEO) so Google can properly index a website, and recommend businesses utilize Google Analytics for better marketing strategies.

Thank you to Advantages Magazine for this feature! We’re always excited to share our knowledge for the success of others!