There is so much poor-quality content on the internet today, and I’m saddened by how much of it I see from internet marketing companies that appear to sell duplicate content to their clients.
As a digital agency, we’re regularly approached by companies in a quandary about why their content marketing strategy isn’t working. Many of these companies boast about having hundreds of pieces of content on their blogs but are dumbfounded when their organic traffic is not increasing but declining. “What’s the problem?” they ask.
Here’s how many of these companies get into this predicament: Imagine you’re a podiatrist (or any kind of business professional), and you go to a conference. You can bet there will be a sales representative from some sort of online ad agency there to fill you in about how to “get tons of patients.” They’ll likely tell you that the best way to do it is by producing online content. “But,” they may say, “we know you’re really busy, so for $199 a month, we’re going to take care of all of that for you.”
Sounds like a great idea, right? If you spend just $200 a month and get hundreds of pieces of content for your website, then you’re golden.
Not so fast. There may be something they’re not telling you, and honestly, the person they sent to sell you on content creation probably doesn’t even understand it themselves.
All of this is fresh in my mind because it just happened to my brother-in-law, a newly minted podiatrist, who came over to my house after his conference, excitedly waving a marketing proposal about how a company is going to take care of everything for him.
But here’s the dark little secret that my brother-in-law and his podiatrist friends didn’t know: Some marketing companies buy or create a few pieces of content at a time and then sell them over and over again to their hundreds or sometimes thousands of clients.
Here’s the rub: Those duplicate pieces of content are not just useless; they’re also counterproductive — and possibly even destructive. People are literally paying for content that can hurt them in the search engines.
The way Google treats duplicate content is by looking for the original or most authoritative source. So if you’re paying a monthly fee for content but you’re the 500th person to publish the same piece of content, guess what happens. The value of that content is diminished down to almost nothing, and Google may see your website as a place where nothing original is being shared.
Google sees that the content you have on your site has been published elsewhere, and it therefore ranks the original or most authoritative piece of content and disregards all of the duplicates. The chances of anyone finding your duplicated content from a Google search is next to zero, and Google may begin to devalue your entire website.
How To Find Out Whether You’re Being Sold Duplicate Content
I’m not suggesting that you don’t use a marketing agency. But what I am suggesting is that you ask your sales representative how they create your content and deliver it to you. Ask them specifically, “Do you sell the same pieces of content to other clients in any variation whatsoever?”
Then, ask them for three to five websites of other clients they’re serving. Open each of those websites in a different tab in your browser. Then, head over to Copyscape.com.
Now, go find a blog post on one of the sites that they give you as a reference. Copy the entire URL from the address bar of your browser. Then paste that URL into Copyscape. If nothing comes up, you’ll know that the company is producing unique content and you’ve likely found a great marketing partner. But if Copyscape shows that other sites have the same content, then run for your life.
Completing this small exercise might save your website from being devalued by Google. It might save your business. And it might just save your sanity when you’re able to save thousands of dollars that you might have otherwise spent on worthless content.
Producing Original Content
Content marketing is by far the most effective method of internet marketing I’ve ever seen as an online marketer. But it also can be time-consuming and very tedious for some people. There’s no shortcut for producing good content.
Your two options for creating good content are for you to either do it yourself or have someone do it for you. You can save a lot of money by doing it yourself, and if you enjoy writing and are good at it, there’s not likely to be anyone else who will do it better for your brand. Your voice is usually the best voice for your brand.
But if you’re tight on time and you have some money to spend, then consider hiring a good agency or content creator to help you out. You can hire a full-time employee, a part-time employee, a freelancer or an agency to help you with content.
But before you hire anyone, always research their previous work, and test their skills. Ask them for writing samples, and run them through Copyscape. Keep running the work they do through Copyscape periodically in order to verify that it’s good, authentic content.
This will put you on the path to publishing original and relevant content that’s useful to the people you’re creating it for.