Duplicate content is the name given to content that appears in a search engine’s index, or possible result pages, more than once. Content can be duplicated for a number of reasons, both intentional and unintentional. Sometimes, in the rush to put a new website up or to get relevant content on a topic, boilerplate content is used. However, you should be aware that having duplicated content on your website sends a signal of poor user experience to search engines and can result in your website being penalized in search rankings.
When duplicate content exists on the web, search engines typically have to determine what instance of the content, on a particular website, is the original. The first site to have its content indexed is usually the winner, and it is generally a fair method because search engines like Google have become sophisticated enough to crawl active websites on the Internet multiple times a week. In fact, larger, more active websites get crawled several times a day.
Does this mean you can’t quote or otherwise utilize content elsewhere on the web? Not at all, but it is definitely a procedure that requires some care. If you copy an entire article over, you won’t get any credit for it, and you might possibly take a penalty. Alternatively, if you weave quotes and excerpts into your own original content, you can improve your content while contributing to the authority of the original website. Contributing authority is something you may or may not want to do, depending on whether or not the site is a competitor’s website.
There are numerous tools online that can be used to determine if your site contains duplicate content. Tools like Copyscape are useful for this. If you do not find that duplicate content exists on your website, put together a plan to write two or three new pages a week. You’re an expert on your business, so you can even include your own opinions about various products or services.
Try not to fall into the trap of simply rephrasing or rearranging what is already there. The best approach is to outline what you want to say and work from there. Include your own success stories, like how you saved the day when a client needed something on very short notice and you were able to deliver. You want people who land on your site to get a sense that there is a real person who cares at your location. Unique content is a great way to communicate that as well as have a big impact on the SEO of your website.