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Content Farms: Worst. Idea. Ever.
As part of a website redesign, I was recently going through the archived blog posts on a client’s site. I noticed that dozens of them had a link at the bottom pointing to the “Article Source.” Of course, I clicked every one of these links (we are very thorough here at Blue Corona) and found that whoever had created this client’s original website had copied dozens of “articles” from other websites and plugged them into the client’s blog. Sigh.
There’s No Lazy Way to Quality SEO
It’s never good practice to copy content. But that’s not even the worst part. This was a website for a remodeler. Most of the “articles” were copied from a “content farm” site that has hundreds of articles that anyone can use for free. Several of these posts were written by the vice president of marketing at a national remodeling company. So in essence, our client, through their last web marketing company, was linking to a competitor. If you owned a local bookstore, you wouldn’t link to Amazon, would you? Some of the posts linked to articles on do-it-yourself home project sites, and some linked to a website that acts as a directory for local remodelers—also not places you want to send visitors to your site who you’re hoping to convert into your customers.
I guess I have to give them some points for crediting their sources. They could have done what a lot of sites do, which is to scrape content without attributing it. But really, I have to wonder what they were thinking. Were they too lazy to create original content? Did they not have enough remodeling industry knowledge to write authoritative blog posts?
What’s Wrong with Using Duplicate Content?
When we get a new client, part of our initial audit involves calculating the authority of their site. Using scraped content, even if you “credit” the original source, causes you to lose out on any authority you may have earned with original copy.
Moz puts it this way:
“When there are multiple pieces of identical content on the Internet, it is difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query. To provide the best search experience, search engines will rarely show multiple duplicate pieces of content and thus, are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the original—or best.”
When you publish duplicate content—like full articles that also appear on other sites—on your website, you have to just hope that Google will pick your version to put higher in search results. At Blue Corona, we don’t like to rely on luck. For our clients, we write completely original content, building up authority with every page.
Other Risks of Using Duplicate Content
Companies use content farms because they offer an easy fix. It’s a quick way to fill your website with content that is (hopefully) relevant to your business. But like most quick fixes, this one can backfire. Using duplicate content makes it harder for your site to rank. And with a content farm, you have no idea how many other companies are using those same articles. Without original content, your site has little chance of being seen as an authority.
- It may not reflect your company’s offerings or values.
- It may be written poorly, or in a voice that doesn’t match your company’s style.
- It may have factual errors.
SEO Copywriting Is Worth the Effort
When you hire an SEO company to optimize your website, make sure they are providing original content. Don’t risk losing authority, or worse, sending your visitors away from your site to the original source. Duplicate content won’t make your site better; it will make you look lazy and can make your company appear less trustworthy. Original content shows your site’s visitors that you are an expert in your industry, you care about user experience, and that you are worthy of their attention–and their business!
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