That Darn Duplicate Data Dilemma

I have been following a post on the PAII forum this week entitled: What to do about website plagiarism?

It was this forum discussion that led me to take the time to put together this Blog Post.

Duplicate Data” or “Duplicate Content” in layman’s terms basically means copying data from one site to another to create additional pages in hopes of better placement. In this particular case, as you will see from the snapshots below, the wording was pretty much copied, taken, dare I say stolen, verbatim.

If you type Duplicate Content into the Google Search Box you’ll find warning after warning about duplicate content being something neither you nor your Webmaster should participate in.

Here are some short snippets from those articles…

“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” From Google.

“Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. This is a problem because when there are more than one piece 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).” From SEOMOZ.

“One of the mantras recited by SEO experts is, “Avoid duplicate content.” Duplicate content can harm your search engine rankings, they will tell you, and they are right … The SEO negativity related to duplicate content is mainly that Google may not crawl all of your site if it finds duplicate content on the site. If your site is so full of duplication that Google’s spider feels like you are wasting its time, your site may lose ranking authority generally.” From Business2Community.com

Now that we have re-affirmed that Duplicate Content is NOT A GOOD THING, let’s move on to the example from the PAII forum.

I spoke with a member of the Group Site that had it’s content copied and placed on an individual Bed and Breakfast Inn’s Web site.  (This was the premise of the Forum Post).

The individual Bed and Breakfast Innkeeper hired a new company in our industry, trusted them to SEO (Search Engine Optimize) their new Web site properly, and ended up with new Web site pages containing content that was literally copied verbatim from the Group Site’s home page and Wikipedia regarding information about the local area.

Notice that the snapshots show the content on the new, individual Bed and Breakfast Web site, and where that content came from.

You may click on the images to enlarge the contents so you may read them clearly.

This first snapshot shows the content copied from the Group site (see the bottom section of the image), to the Individual Inn Web site (see the top section of the image).  The Pink Arrows show you the navigation path for each page.

The second and third snapshots show the content that has been directly copied verbatim from Wikipedia to create these new pages on the new individual Bed and Breakfast Inn’s Web site.  Right down to the point of picking up the caption on the image reading “I brake for Shoofly Pie“, which I’ve highlighted separately.

I’ve seen a lot of SEO blunders in the last decade plus, but a blatant copy from Wikipedia is a new one on me.  And on two pages of the site, none-the-less!

I’ll simply wrap up this post with THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…

DO NOT hire any Web / SEO Company that you have not taken the time to thoroughly check out. Do your Due Diligence! Check references, get proof that the SEO they do…

a) helps your business
b) does no harm to your business or other businesses
c) is not illegal, such as violating copyright laws
d) is ethical in their business model
e) has experience in our industry

If you need help knowing what to ask, print out our free RFP Starter Kits and use them as a guide.

RFP 1: Website Design
RFP 2: Website SEO
RFP 3: Ongoing Marketing Plans

There are many companies in our industry that are both ethical and very good at what they do. They have the references and proof to back it up. Choose wisely.

The Success of your Business depends on it.

And please, feel free to pass this article on to your Innkeeping friends who are not Acorn IS Followers!

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.
“Educating our Industry One Innkeeper at a Time!”

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