Duplicate content is an issue for many websites when it comes to SEO. Search engines cannot tell who copied content from whom; they can only detect that it’s the same text on more than one website. It also makes no difference whether you’re innocently re-using your own content in multiple places, or a competitor deliberately copied and pasted your original content.
The result varies in each case, but it’s common for both website to be penalised in Google’s rankings if this is detected. Google favours originality, so if it’s not sure whether you wrote the text on your website, it can’t justify ranking you highly. In more serious cases, you could become involved in legal disputes, which is a costly and time consuming exercise that nobody wants to resort to.
How do I prevent this ever happening?
A great place to start is right at the beginning. Prevention really is better than the cure with duplicate content issues. If your website makes it clear that you are aware of copyright issues and likely to put up a fight, it will almost always discourage them. The most important steps to take are as follows:
- Register with the DMCA. This allows you to add a badge on your page confirming your content is protected, and in the event that it is duplicated, the DMCA can issue takedown notices.
- Include a notice on your website to make people aware of the dangers of copying your content. Many users will be unaware that reusing your content without permission is illegal, but this way you can easily inform them.
- Keep drafts of your writing, the sources you used to write your content and so on. This can serve as proof that you were the original creator, should you need to present it later.
- Make sure you don’t accidentally lift too much from sources you’re using for your writing. You can use plagiarism checking tools (see below) on your own writing to ensure you don’t do this by accident.
How do I know if someone has copied me?
There are plenty of tools online that you can use to check your content hasn’t been stolen. Some of the best ones to make use of are as follows:
- Run a simple Google search for chunks of your text. Try both with and without quotation marks, in case someone has made tiny changes but copied the majority of your text. Usually this will flag it up if they have.
- Set up Google Alerts so you are notified whenever your exact phrase pops up online.
- Use websites designed to detect plagiarism and duplicate content, such as Copyscape or Plagium.
Someone copied my content! What do I do?
Often the easiest solution is to simply change your own content, because it can be done in minutes and doesn’t require any cooperation from other parties. However, you shouldn’t be forced to do this when you went to the trouble of creating quality content! If you want to take action against the website using your content, follow these steps:
- Compile your evidence proving you wrote the text. Take screenshots of your own site as well as the site copying you.
- Contact the webmaster by email, explaining that you own the content and requesting that they remove it immediately. This works more often than you might think. Failing this, you can get in touch with the web hosting provider of the offending website.
- The next step is to communicate more formally. You can send your own “cease and desist” letter (online templates may help) to threaten legal action, or if you are protected by the DMCA as we recommended above, they will take care of this step.
- Contacting Google with your evidence may lead them to penalise the other website and not yours. They may in fact choose to de-index the offending page, although this is rare. Again the DMCA will help with this – you may have seen a notice at the bottom of your search results stating that results have been omitted due to DMCA claims.
We’ve already established that online reviews are highly relevant for potential customers looking to make a decision about whether to choose your brand or one of your competitors. In fact, research has shown that online feedback from other users has three times as much impact on an individual’s choice than the brand’s own marketing efforts. Since Google+ reviews can appear directly alongside your local business details on Google’s first page of results, including negative ones, it should be a vital part of your SEO strategy to keep these under control.
We’re already looked at different ways of dealing with negative reviews, but how do you encourage more people to leave positive feedback to balance out the bad ones and boost your average rating? Well, it’s not just about bugging your favourite customers over and over again until they give in and agree to leave you feedback on Google+ or Facebook. In fact, you might not want to ask at all – people may appreciate it if you give them some space and avoid asking them for favours. However, if you’re smart with your website design and plan your customer journey correctly, you can make it very easy for someone to choose to leave you feedback without having to persuade them at all. People are usually most keen to do this after completing a successful purchase smoothly, so you might want to consider having the option to write a review presented to them at that exact point.
If you want to improve the rate at which you’ve getting these reviews, the first thing to focus on is fixing any issues that you have already identified. Negative reviews can actually be valuable because they provide an indication of what your customers feel strongly about. Any problems that have been brought to your attention should be addressed as soon as possible, whether it’s an issue with your products themselves or a customer service problem. Once you’ve fixed the problem, you have a chance to go back to that review and tell people that it’s all sorted, which really shows you take your customers’ feedback seriously and will encourage people to air their positive comments, knowing that someone will read them. If you truly offer an amazing service to people, they’re probably going to be willing to do you a favour and leave a review.
Once you have some good reviews, it’s easier to get them to multiply. You should reply publicly to every review you receive, good or bad, and thank everyone for their feedback. Consider adding a section on your website to display some of your best reviews, or even include more detailed testimonials to provide more background information about success stories. If possible, use social media to share any good feedback you get so you’re showing your appreciation and spreading the word simultaneously. The most important thing to remember is there are no shortcuts to getting great reviews – you need to back it up with great products and outstanding service. If you get this right, however, there are plenty of benefits for you to enjoy later.
At 123 Ranking we offer we can help you more with online reviews by providing our specialist business help guides. These are included in our Rank 3 SEO package for free, along with a range of other services to help improve your online marketing efforts. Just let us know if you’re considering some of our services and we’ll be able to discuss your options in more detail.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Facebook has been established for some time now as a great platform to promote your local business as part of your local SEO marketing. Pages allow you to add plenty of relevant details so your customers can see how close you are, when you’re open for business and how to get in touch, among other things. Facebook generally likes to point out all its fancy features to you as you set up your page, and pops up with frequent messages to make sure you’re not missing anything.
This makes it rather strange that it’s keeping a significant recent development fairly quiet. With no announcement at all, Facebook Professional Services was launched a few months ago for desktop users only, although we expect a mobile version is in the works. A Facebook representative recently confirmed the features in “the early stages” of development, so it may well change soon before it becomes a major selling point.
It is effectively a local business directory with a basic built-in search engine which returns results in your local area when you’re looking for a particular service. Your search query is limited to a pre-defined list of business categories, which correspond to the categories you must select from when you set up a business page. When you choose a service to search for you’ll see a summary of each business in your area, plus snippets of reviews and other key information.
Interestingly, the way Facebook has chosen to rank different business in the results is highly personalised and takes multiple factors into account – even SEO within Facebook is getting complicated! Your average star rating from your reviews is a major factor, but it also looks at your personal connections and is more likely to show you places your friends have visited or reviewed. Although we can’t be sure, it’s safe to say your personal interests and any history of your own interaction with the page are taken into account too.
So what’s the big deal if this feature isn’t widely known about? Well, it serves as another indication that Facebook wants to assert itself as a major player for local business listings, taking on competitors such as Yell and Thomson Local. Once they figure out a way to streamline the delivery of this service across different devices, and coordinate it properly with their local map features, we anticipate Facebook business pages are going to become an even better way of getting yourself seen by new local customers.
Google is always springing changes on us when it comes to the SERPs (search engines results pages) and they rarely go to plan, even when we got hints of what was coming months in advance. At the start of this year we saw a classic example, as Google had been dropping clues about an update to its Penguin algorithm until suddenly things appeared to change in early 2016. It turns out the Penguin update was almost undetectable, if it even happened at all, but a more significant core algorithm update has had a major impact on the rankings of some high profile websites.
Many different independent services that monitor major shifts on Google’s SERPs reported noticeable changes as January drew to a close this year. Google employees responded on Twitter to confirm that it was actually the core algorithm that received another makeover and not just one of its smaller constituent parts like Penguin. The top 100 ranking websites in the world are commonly used as a benchmark to judge the significance of algorithm changes, and in this case there was quite a visible shake-up. The changes were rolled out on desktop and mobile SERPs indiscriminately, and it’s taken until now for the dust to settle and patterns to emerge.
Even now as we enter April, nobody has worked out exactly what happened in the latest core update, because many high ranking sites dropped while others were suddenly boosted. In fact, 50% of the biggest winners and losers from the last update are different now to the ones we would have seen at the end of last year. Here’s what we do know for sure…
1) Content Determines A Lot
Another update focused on rewarding good content!? This isn’t shocking if you have any recent SEO experience, but certain types of content are now being judged as better quality than others. Publisher sites that tend to mention various brands in their articles have seen many of their indexed pages fall on the SERPs, while brands’ own websites have seen their content-rich pages gain positions. This was first spotted in the USA but has later been proven in other territories, so presumably the same new rules are universal.
So what does this actually mean? Well, it seems Google wants to reward brands who own their high quality content and are in control of their brand mentions. If your brand-related keywords are mainly featured on other websites rather than your own, those results might start dropping off. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want people to find you.
2) New Content Is Favoured
Another related point here, but the core update was very much focused on content. Not only is the type important on the SERPs now, but also the age of it. We already knew that fresh content is useful, but this sudden shake-up saw older content tumbling down the rankings fast while fresh pages climbed. Talking about current topics that are widely mentioned in the news and social media also leads to better rankings.
3) Mixed Content Does Better
Do proper keyword analysis! It’s not a good idea to have a page of basic text with multiple mentions of the same phrase if you want to take advantage of the latest Google update. Images and video seem to be helping pages climb, plus having a range of related keywords helps to strengthen the perceived relevance of your text. All these things will usually make your content more engaging for a reader, which explains why Google is starting to prefer them.
4) Answering A Query Helps
For perhaps the first time, keyword-rich content isn’t really essential for certain types of pages to rank at the top of the SERPs. If you answer a question that someone put into Google, your bounce rate will be lower and people will spend more time engaging with your website even if you have no written text that matches the query. You might be able to achieve this by featuring videos or interactive games on your website – Google can’t understand the content of these but it’s learning to recognise the signs of a suitable answer being given in an unusual way. A few sites that only featured educational games on their pages saw their rankings improve based on the new update.
If you’re confused or concerned about how these changes might affect the approach you need to take with your SEO, get in touch with us and find out how we can help. We stay on top of the latest trends so we can keep you informed and make sure all our techniques are helping our clients reach the highest positions as fast as possible. Learn more about our affordable SEO packages for different sized businesses here or drop us a line to see if we can answer your questions.