Duplicate content is an issue that’s common among many sites. A question that I hear frequently is, “what makes content duplicate to Google”? Google states, “Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar”.
You may have heard of duplicate content before, however, many site owners are not aware of the ways in which duplicate content can occur. Typically we see duplicate content created unintentionally, but we’ve also seen it deliberately created. On sites where it is not created in a manipulative manner, there are rarely penalties by the search engines. Instead, there is something that is often referred to as a duplicate content filter. This is where the search engines filter out duplicated pages so that they can provide the searcher diverse search results.
When search engines filter out duplicate pages, you as the publisher of the content have little control over which url or domain is displayed in the search results. That being said, I think it’s important to identify a few ways that we often see duplicate content.
1) www and non-www versions both index-able by the search engines. This is probably the most common occurrence of duplicate content.
2) Inconsistent link references throughout the site.
3) Different navigation paths.
4) Different sort orders.
5) Printable versions of pages being accessible by the search engines.
6) Additional marketing domains that are not properly redirecting to the main website.
7) Different urls that are used to display various elements on the page.
8) Re-naming urls without deleting or properly implementing redirection rules.
Some ways to address duplicate content include redirecting multiple domains to the preferred or “canonical” version, using the canonical link tag, restricting access in your robots.txt file, etc. The best situation is of course a site that doesn’t create duplicate content in the first place. However, if you do have an existing site creating duplicate content, be sure that you utilize some of these handy work-arounds.
If you have a local business, one component of search engine marketing that shouldn’t be overlooked is local search – in particular, Google Maps. With over 70% of the market share (Hitwise, March 2009), Google is the place where many people go when looking for local businesses. Also, as you may have noticed, when you perform a search with a location specified in the search query (i.e. “Florist NY”), listings from Google Maps will often appear at the top of the search results page.
So, how do you get your business on Google Maps? Your listing may already be there, but if not, you can add a business listing through Google’s Local Business Center (LBC). Even if your listing is already there, you should claim it. This will enable you to update or add additional information that may be pertinent to searchers. Through this listing, you can inform your potential customers about things such as business hours, payment types as well as provide photos, videos, and coupons. The great news is that being listed here is free!
Additionally, Google’s LBC launched a dashboard earlier this year that provides business owners with additional data including the number of times your listing appeared on a Google.com search or Google Maps, the level of interaction viewers had with your listing (requesting directions, clicking on links within your listing, etc.), the search queries that triggered your listing to appear, and even the zip codes of where visitors to your location are coming from when they request directions.
As a local business owner, you should take advantage of the data that Google’s products can provide. This includes not only the LBC data, but also from other resources and tools such as Google Analytics and AdWords.
According to Wikipedia.org, Geo Targeting is, “the method of determining the geolocation (the physical location) of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, Internet Protocol (IP) address, ISP or other criteria”.
While it is not imperative that all websites focus attention on geo targeting, local businesses can benefit greatly, especially if your marketing budgets for more traditional marketing are limited. Simple methods such as adding the contact information for the business to the homepage content and meta data can increase your chances of showing up in local search directories or in the local results on Google.
Other good SEO techniques include adding county and city names to the page to narrow down the keyword targeting for the page. For more internationally minded geo targeting, webmasters need to keep in mind the different terminology used in other countries. In the UK, web surfers will use different terminology than their contemporaries in Africa.
Submitting to Local Search
At the very least, local businesses should start out by submitting to the oldest and most trusted of the directories (Yahoo! and DMOZ). After that, they should go for the large traditional business directories as they tend to rank well for many local terms. This increases reach in the search engines and positions the business as a local and trusted entity within its community.
Local Directories for Small Businesses to Consider:
Yahoo local — Very Important
Merchantcircle.com — ranks well
Insiderpages.com — ranks well