Duplicate content is similar or identical content that appears on multiple pages on one website or on different websites.
Duplicate content isn't always intentionally deceptive. Here are a few examples of non-malicious duplicate content:
- Stripped-down and regular pages designed for mobile devices
- E-commerce items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs
- Printer- friendly versions of web pages
Your insurance agency website can have multiple pages with similar content across it too. You can have separate pages dedicated to different lines of business, but have similar content. You can also have different domains that all point to one page on your website.
If it is the latter you can tell Google which URL you prefer. There are number of ways to do this; one way is by canonicalization. Canonicalization is the practice of choosing the best URL when there are multiple available. For example, four different domains can all point to your home page. Google will only choose one of those domains as the canonical or preferred URL. You can choose which URL is the canonical one for the search engines to view as authoritative. To identify the canonical URL for the search engines, include a rel=canonical link in your preferred web page's HTML code.
There are some situations when duplicate content is done to try to manipulate organic search engine rankings or to get more traffic to a website. This intentionally deceptive practice can lead to penalties from Google, which filters results to show websites with distinct content. If Google does notice duplicate content is intentionally shown to manipulate rankings or deceive users, it can make adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the guilty website. Websites that use this bad SEO practice can lose their positions in the rankings or be removed entirely from Google's index. It's a long and costly process to have your website reinstated once it is removed from Google's index.
Duplicate content can also lead to a poor user experience. If a visitor has seen similar or the exact same content on a different website he or she may refrain from clicking around your site, filling out a form, or viewing other good information you have available. This can also result in a high bounce rate because visitors immediately leave your website.
Have you come across your content on another insurance agency website? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author
John Dessommes manages search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising campaigns for multiple independent insurance agencies nationwide. He also handles SEO for GetITC.com and ITC’s other web properties. John stays on the cutting edge of industry best practices to ensure that visibility is maximized and opportunities are not missed. He has considerable knowledge about on- and off-site optimization, AdWords, business listings and social media.More Content by John Dessommes