Q. I recall from your class at Academy X a discussion about creating pages with duplicate content where a certain percentage of the text needs to be different in order for google’s search engine crawlers not to consider it duplicate content. What percentage is that? My recall is 1/4 to 1/3. What is your opinion? I am doing this for a law firm I am working with to target cities in their area with specific landing pages that duplicate a certain portion of the content and then at the end of the page write about their engage with clients and community in that area.
Thanks for your input!
There are several layers here, in terms of duplicate content. First, crude duplicate content on your own site – this is bad, and can cause a lot of problems. Commonly, people create a bunch of ‘doorway’ pages for geographics – roofing company Dallas, Roofing Company Plano, Roofing Company Irvington… etc., etc. This is to target local searches, and the fact of the matter is that they all end up being duplicate. So –
1) Vary the text as much as possible. Make each page unique and copy / paste some historical information or other content. If at all possible, make the pages ‘real’ and informative. The problem is that it is just really hard to churn out 10 or 20 localized pages that are truly different!
2) These pages may be perceived by Google as ‘doorway pages‘ and garner a ‘manual penalty,’ removing your site from the Google index. So you have to be careful. In my experience, this happens generally if and only if a competitor ‘rats you out’ to Google. The reality is that there are zillions of these pages all over the Internet, and Google has its head in the sand about the need to create them. Roofing companies serve more than one town, Google! (Guess what their solution is: AdWords).
3) So, be careful, but you can definitely create some of this content within reason and be just fine.
As you write the pages, strive for a keyword density in the 3-5% range, and using natural syntax. It’s all about getting not just the right numeric quantity but the right quality. So, again, strive to make natural, real (truly useful) content rather than just cookie-cutter doorway pages. Here’s an example of a company that has churned out doorway pages in a big way, and seems to be doing just fine for searches like ‘Omaha SEO Training’:
All of these pages are nearly identical, and yet they do pretty well on search! But they are vulnerable to being ratted out to Google and thereby getting a huge manual penalty! So be careful!
Better solutions might be to ‘offload’ the doorway pages to multiple domains and different websites, so that if a competitor does complain you won’t have a ‘single point of failure’ and get taken down entirely. After the recent Penguin and Panda updates, this is increasingly dangerous even if necessary for companies targeting a lot of small cities!
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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