Episode Overview: Encountering duplicate content across brands is common and it’s easy to have your content get lost in the sea of similarity. Implementing a few key changes to your content strategy can help you create duplicate content while still differentiating your brand enough to establish your presence online. Join host Ben as he speaks with Searchmetrics’ Strategic Advisor Jordan Koene about the flaws behind many duplication content strategies and how to overcome them.
- A better way to add value to content strategy is to focus on the content experience for users instead of where you’re going to acquire content from.
- When duplicating the content competitors use it’s best to add utility and differentiate by offering branded services or deals that none of your competitors use.
- A fundamental flaw behind many duplication strategies is when ambitions for scale outweigh actual consumer demand.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
- Jordan Koene: Website // LinkedIn
- The Voices of Search Podcast: Email // LinkedIn // Twitter
- Benjamin Shapiro: Website // LinkedIn // Twitter
Ben: Welcome to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and today we’re going to be doing some SEO problem-solving related to how to create content that might be considered duplicate content without actually duplicating content. Joining us today is Jordan Koene, who is an SEO strategist and an advisor for Searchmetrics. Okay, on with the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist and advisor to Searchmetrics. Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.
Jordan: Hey Ben, how are you doing?
Ben: I’m doing okay. I’ve got some SEO problems though. Can you help me out?
Jordan: Well, let’s hope that I don’t create more problems for you, but let’s try.
Ben: Well, we’ll see. Let’s see how this goes. New type of episode for us. Look, I have this other podcast called the MarTech podcast. It’s a digital marketing podcast, doesn’t just focus on SEO and content marketing, but all the ways that marketers use technology to grow their business. I recently moved the site from being hosted on one domain, my consulting services domain. I moved it from BenJShap.com to its own domain, MarTechPod.com. Everyone go to MarTechPod.com right now. That said, I want to expand the site. We’ve published like 400 different episodes of MarTech podcast content, and I want to rank in the MarTech community and I’m having trouble building domain authority because I just can’t create the podcast content fast enough. I rank first for MarTech podcast, but I want to rank first for MarTech. Here’s what I’m thinking.
Jordan: Yeah, go ahead and tell me. Tell me.
Ben: I’m thinking that there are 7,000 companies that are classified as MarTech companies and I want to create not a MarTechPod.com/episode page where all of our podcast episode content goes, but create MarTechPod.com/company, where we can have a profile for every company and then the companies that have been on our show, we can link to their episode pages. The problem is it’s 7,000 different profile pages and I don’t want to have to pay someone to go produce what essentially are product descriptions because Crunchbase and MarTech World and MarTech whatever, there’s a bunch of other places, LinkedIn, all of these companies have profiles that have already been written. How do I take advantage the content that’s describing all of these companies and put it on my website so I have a description and have some content without it actually getting flagged as duplicate content?
Jordan: Yeah Ben, this is a topic that comes up often, right? It’s the content strategy to scale, right? How do I get all these pages for all these companies, or how do I get all these product pages to have useful content or text on them, or better yet, how do I make my marketplace or my evergreen site multiply in massive magnitudes by incorporating other data sources, other content pieces, and kind of mashing this together? This is a very challenging topic for a lot of SEOs because SEOs always believe in like the … They’re either in two camps, one which is fake it till you make it, so just keep pumping stuff out there and then eventually Google will catch you, or the other camp, which is the hard line conservatives, which is like “Don’t take anything from anybody. You have to go the slow and steady approach of building this great unique pieces of content.”
Jordan: What really happens in both of those camps, no matter what, is that folks spend a lot of time thinking about content strategy and where you’re going to get the content, and not enough time thinking about the experience for users. That’s really where the value-add is generated. For you Ben, it’s how our users kind of benefit from this business page. Why is it better for them to go there than anywhere else? I think that’s the hardest question for a lot of people to answer.
Ben: I imagine that this is a problem that happens in ecommerce a bunch as well, where the description of the iPhone is the same on BestBuy.com and Amazon.com, and there isn’t anything that you could say about the iPhone that hasn’t been said somewhere, but everybody has a page where they’re selling iPhones. How do you differentiate and add additional utility?
Jordan: That’s where it gets really challenging. In 99.9% of the cases, it’s always about what is it that you do best, what is it that you as a company can provide that is significantly different than everybody else? This is a great example of the iPhone, because what does Best Buy do that other companies don’t do? Well, I can give you a Geek Squad service add on. I can put that on my page as a default set of content that’s unique to that iPhone page that you can’t get with Apple, that you can’t get with any other store that sells the iPhone. Thinking about the elements that make your business unique and add value to your audience is really one of the key building blocks to making your pages better.
Ben: Help me think about this, right? I can take a product description that’s already been written. I don’t want to copy anybody’s content. I’m not trying to steal it, but the companies are writing descriptions of themselves. I could take their rankings, like their G2 Crowd rankings, and merge some of those things together and then try to put their content and all the interviews that they have or what we know about them on my pages. I think that that’s really the differentiator is, “Hey, here’s 7,000 pages and 400 of them right now have MarTech podcast content that I can then link to, to provide extra utility.” Is there anything else that you could think that I could do to make these pages really hum?
Jordan: Absolutely. If you have episodes that are relevant or mention these companies, they should be featured on that page. If you have ways in which these brands are already promoting themselves through audio, maybe they have audio streams, maybe they have videos about themselves, embed that into that experience to make this relevant to the rich podcasting and audio audience that you’re attracting to your site. The ultimate key here is what are elements, experiences and elements that connect your audience, your brand, and then this new driving force of traffic?
Ben: Sure. I could take all of their YouTube videos and put them on a page, and I could take their tweet stream and put them on a page and create the singular hub for everything that that brand is publishing. Obviously that’s going to take a lot of work as well. My big concern is, what is theft? What am I stealing? What can I repurpose, essentially take a product description and rewrite it in my own words? Where’s the line where we’re going from white hat to gray hat to black hat in terms of duplicate content?
Jordan: That is such a great question. I just answered this for a really good friend of mine. He’s in the video space and he’s been transcribing video content for a while and he’s trying to figure out like, what is the line and what is the percentage? It’s impossible. There’s no straight answer on this. I think that there’s some good judgment when you can clearly say that the experience that I’ve built is uniquely mine. That can be by including things that are unique assets to your business, or that could be by formulating these things in such a way that really nobody else is providing that experience. I mean, there’s tons of industries where this happens, right? Take recipes. I mean, for crying out loud, how many recipes are there for the most common things, like how to poach an egg. I mean, there must be thousands of articles on how to poach an egg. It’s really not all that complicated, but there’s thousands of recipes out there on this process.
Jordan: What is it though that Google can look at and users can experience that makes that poaching an egg page special and unique to that audience? I think that’s one of the very important elements. That’s one of the most important elements that webmasters, developers and the partnership with the SEO and content people need to take into account.
Ben: What’s your advice? What do I do? Can I take the LinkedIn profiles and copy them because that’s something that the brands have written for how they want to be described? Maybe I’m changing the language so it’s not written in first person, it’s written in third. Then take some rankings and some published content and then also the MarTech podcast content and just put all this together to make a company page?
Jordan: You can certainly try. I think the next piece to this puzzle here for you to answer, Ben, which is, hey, you kind of have formulated an experience there that you think is going to be useful. Great. Go and try it. The next question is, where is the demand for this, right? Why are people looking for this and are they looking for this online? That’s a very important question to ask and try to find a clear set of answers. This is where I typically tell companies when they’re going down this path, it’s always better for you to test these experiences and see if they take flight. Is there traffic for this? Is there a really people searching for this and landing on my page and saying they like it? Is that actually happening, before you scale this to 7,000 businesses? Maybe you start with 70 and see if it really is something that consumers want.
Ben: At some point here, isn’t there a bulk component to this where you’re saying, “Hey, just start with 70 pages and see if you’re ranking for those keywords?” But I’m thinking about this from a tonnage play, right? Essentially, this covers a fair amount of the long tail keywords. All the company names is really what I’m trying to optimize for, but really, the big goal here is when somebody looks for MarTech companies, now I have the ultimate page that’s a list. Am I thinking about this the right way where I’m taking all of the individual sort of product pages and then creating a category page? Because I think that the most traffic is going to be in MarTech companies, not in each individual company’s page.
Jordan: Yeah. The question of scale is where everybody wants to be, but what you want to avoid, and this is where things get really, really fun, because what you want to avoid is a scenario where your ambitions for scale are misaligned with actual consumer demand. Here’s what I mean by this. I call this the Bentley in Jesup, Iowa. There are no Bentleys for sale in Jesup, Iowa. There isn’t a Bentley dealership for over 500 miles from Jesup, Iowa. The reality is, why would a car selling website like a Cars.com or Autotrader or CarGurus build a page for Bentleys in Jesup, Iowa? The only reason that would happen is because the greed of scale has taken place. They’ve just taken every city that’s available in the United States and took every make and combined the two and built a page. That’s a fundamental flaw of a lot of these strategies is that the greed of scale outweighs the practicality of what you’re actually publishing.
Ben: Does the Bentley in Jesup, Iowa page hurt Cars.com or CarGurus or whoever it would be, or does it just get ignored?
Jordan: Ah, that’s an excellent question, Ben. It’s really dependent on the way you interpret a lot of the data that comes in Search Console. I’m really happy about a lot of the improvements Google has made in Search Console because now they will tell you when they’ve crawled and ignored a page. They’ll literally say, “Hey, we crawled but did not index this page.” In a way, you can believe to yourself that Google is crawling a page and just completely ignoring it, but I do believe that that dead weight over time, and if manifested in massive scale, it actually hurts your website. I know for a fact that Google has also publicly stated that, but the reality is that it’s just like the same question as before as, “Jordan, how unique does the content have to be before Google is going to give me rankings?” It’s also very difficult to say what percent of my pages are being ignored before Google starts to deem this as just dead weight and hurting the site.
Ben: Jordan, what do I do? Help me land the plane here. I want to create more pages. I want to start to target all of the different companies that are in the MarTech space to promote my podcast, MarTechPod.com, MarTechPod.com, MarTechPod.com, and I want to be able to reach the SEO and content marketing community and all of the other great marketers that are out there to promote my content. They all work for these companies. Should I do this strategy or not?
Jordan: You should. I definitely think you should, but I first think that don’t let the scale of greed get in the way. Start with a subset. Make those pages as phenomenal as you can, and then quickly roll out once you know you’ve found a formula that really fits the users you’re looking for.
Ben: I think it’s great advice. I’m going to give it a try. We’re going to have to come back and I’ll let you know how it goes. All right, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my therapy … My conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist and advisor to Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is JTKoene. That’s J-T-K-O-E-N-E, or you can visit his website, which is JordanKoene.com. Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to VoicesofSearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your SEO suggestions or even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.
Ben: Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the workweek. Hit that subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.