There is one thing that your home staging website may have right now that Google and other search engines don’t like. Having it on your website will get it penalized, damaging your website’s SEO. Some people don’t even realize they have it!
What is it that could be so detrimental to your website’s SEO?
Two words: duplicate content.
Duplicate content occurs when the same, or very close to the same, wording is on more than one websites. If your website has content that is duplicated from another website, Google* is smart enough to figure this out. Google knows that your content isn’t original. Google will penalize your website, hurting your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) and making it harder for you to rank high on the SERP (search engine rankings page).
*We will just use “Google” to refer to all search engines in this article.
How to Avoid Having Duplicate Content
There are three primary ways duplicate content usually happens on home stagers’ websites. Knowing these sources will help you avoid making the mistake of using duplicate content.
- Plagiarism. Plagiarizing someone else’s website is wrong, and in many cases it can be illegal (disclosure: we’re not lawyers, so verify with your lawyer if you actually think plagiarism is ok). Someone went through the effort of creating that content, so you can’t copy it and pass it off as your own. Imagine if you found out that someone passed off your work as their own. You wouldn’t like it.
- Duplicate Template. Many home stagers have a website that someone or a company made for them. Some companies make all of their clients’ websites from a template. These templates sometimes use the same exact content on each of their clients’ home page, about us page, and several other pages (I don’t want to list the other pages specifically, because that would expose one of the companies that does this practice, which is not the intent of this article). This practice harms the SEO of every home stager’s website purchased from those companies.
- Purchasing Blog Posts. There are many good copywriters out there who home stagers can pay to write blog posts for their website. Purchasing blog posts is becoming more common, and home stagers can absolutely use a blogging service if they use the right company or person. It is important that every blog post they provide you is original work. Unfortunately, there are companies that will write blog articles and sell the same content to all of their customers. Fortunately, this isn’t as common for home stagers as it is for Realtors. If you purchase blog posts, ensure that you are getting original content.
Those three examples of duplicate content are easy to avoid. So you shouldn’t let duplicate content worry you. But if you feel that you may fall into any of the categories above, then you need to resolve the situation sooner rather than later.
How to Use Someone Else’s Content Properly
There are times when it is ok, and actually encouraged, to use duplicate content on your website. It may seem that we are contradicting ourselves, but you will see that we’re not. Here are two cases where duplicate content can be used.
- Permission. You may use someone else’s blog post, but only when you have their permission. You would do this when you find some really great content that you want to share with your website visitors, but don’t need SEO credit for it. If you have permission to use someone’s blog post on your website then you need to state where the blog post first appeared, and include a link to the original article. Additionally, you should tell Google to not index that post on your website.
- Quotes. You may use a quote from another article or published study. Did Barbara Cochran write something insightful that you want to tell your readers? Did RESA publish a great study with some valuable statistics that you want to show, but you can’t put it into your own words? You can copy the exact words you want to use right into your website. When you do this, you just need to make it clear that it is a quote, and give a simple attribution with a link to the original article. People do this all the time, and you’ll see an actual example in just a second. Additionally, this type of duplicate content actually helps your website’s SEO, because a quote from someone else adds authority, and outbound links to the original website show Google the context of your content.
Don’t Take Our Word About Duplicate Content, Take Google’s
Google explains how they treat duplicate content (emphasis below is made by me):
In the rare cases in which Google perceives that duplicate content may be shown with intent to manipulate our rankings and deceive our users, we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.
Did you notice how I used duplicate content? That quote from Google was an example of the proper way to use content from another website on the Stager Sidekick website. It was clear that the statement is a quote, gave credit to the original source, and linked to the content. Anyone reading that statement will know that Google wrote it, and I didn’t.
Does Your Website Have Duplicate Content?
What if you’re not sure if you have duplicate content on your website?
Did you write everything on your website, or are there sections of your website that came pre-written? The most common way you will unknowingly have duplicate content on your website is if something on your website was pre-written by the person or company you purchased it from.
To check, simply go to a section that you are unsure about, and copy one of the first sentences and paste it into the Google search bar. If it’s duplicated content, Google will show many of the websites that use that same content. And chances are that all of those websites were purchased from the same company that provided your website.
Final Thoughts on Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is almost always detrimental to the SEO of a home stager’s website. However, there are some cases where it is acceptable, and even beneficial, to use duplicate content.
If you know of any duplicate content on your website, ensure that it follows the two rules above, or remove it immediately.