How Duplicate Website Content Can Hurt Your Practice


Is your website content “something borrowed” or “something new”?

As an Internet Marketing Consultant, I often encounter practice websites with editorial content that mirrors other websites. This can occur for a number of reasons:

  • The website owner purchased a template-based website, and never bothered to customize the copy
  • The website owner copied content from another site, not realizing the dangers
  • A designer copied content from another website and did not rewrite it for the client
  • Other more complicated reasons I don’t want to bore you with…

Why is duplicate content a bad thing for your website?

Should search engines like Google discover duplicate copy (your fault or no), this is a bad thing. Google associates duplicate copy with “plagiarism” and can significantly downgrade your rank for important keyword phrases should their spiders discover it. One of my dental clients was baffled that her website was not ranking in the search engines, until I brought it to her attention that most of her content was from a template and contained copy that was literally present on 800 or so other sites! Once she hired my company, we rewrote the copy, and her traffic increased significantly.

How can you tell if your website contains duplicate copy?

One simple way is to copy and paste small chunks of text from your website pages into the Google search bar. If you see search results for other websites with the same or similar content (it will be highlighted in “bold), you will know you have a problem. Web-based services such as CopyScape can detect duplicate copy. However, CopyScape only works well with a paid subscription. I highly recommend it. (Read on to get a free CopyScape scan.)

What can you do when you discover duplicate copy on your website?

The best thing is, immediately rewrite any duplicate copy that you discover, or hire an experienced writer (like myself) to edit the offending material until the CopyScape score improves.

If you own a website that you are certain contains original material, and then discover other websites that copied from your site, you have the right to go after them. However, this might only result in a protracted argument with a colleague, and waste your precious time. I would advise contacting that website owner, but also, bite the bullet and rewrite your pages, thus avoiding the headaches. The primary goal should be to have “clean copy” the next time Google spiders your site, not to wage war.

In any event, it is a very good idea to watch out for duplicate copy, and then do something about it quickly, to avoid unnecessary loss of traffic, and loss of business. Write to us if you suspect there is duplicate copy on your site.

Author: Clifford Yurman

Clifford Yurman is the principal behind Cliff is a creative and business professional skilled across a broad spectrum of communications disciplines including marketing, web design, producing and directing, podcasting, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing and Strategy. He is president of Media Consulting Services. Through MCS, Cliff has provided SEO services to professional practices and small businesses, and written and produced major video and interactive projects for such clients as Pfizer, BASF-Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AIG, KPMG, American Express, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and other global enterprises. Cliff completed an MBA in Finance and Marketing at Columbia Business School in New York where he received the Distinguished Service Award upon graduation. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In his last staff position before starting his own agency, Cliff served as Director, Corporate Development for News America Publishing, Inc. (Rupert Murdoch’s holding company). Reporting to the Vice Chairman, he managed communications and business functions including mergers and acquisitions analysis, industry analysis, and corporate communications. At CBS Corporation, Cliff was Financial Manager for the CBS Television Stations Division and CBS Records Division (now Sony Music); Editor, Standards and Practices for the CBS Television Network; and Writer/Story Editor for WCBS-TV/New York. Cliff began his career in advertising, first as Senior Media Planner at Lintas Advertising for such clients as Citigroup, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Tropicana and Mennen. He later moved to Bates Advertising, serving as Account Executive on the Panasonic Consumer Electronics business. Cliff is a member of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau

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