Duplicate Content and Similar Content
Duplicate content is a serious issue for most SEO, with Google taking such a tough line, the message has gotten across very effectively -- duplicate content doesn't rank.
Not only is duplicate content an issue between sites, but also internally to sites, called similar content. Pages that are too similar to each other are penalized. This is an vexing problem with hotel sites, real estate sites, even books, where the essential product is the same, only the specifications are slightly different. Say you are selling or re-selling repair guides or study guides. Each guide will be about a different engine, or test, but the essential description will be the same, prepared by experts, everything you need to know etc. etc.
Google's algorithm for checking duplicate content is very sophisticated and will pick this up. According to Google SpamCop Matt Cutts, Google’s algorithm doesn’t just check the pages once, but has a whole series of checks where pages are tested right up until milliseconds before the results are shown. According to Cutts, the pages have to be quote VERY DIFFERENT unquote.
Without getting into all the technical details, which others do very well for a different audience than here, I would like to present a few tips and pointers for fixing similar content.
Thie first is to realize that the content has to be completely different. Google isn't working on a strict percentage basis, but a much much complex analysis. Nevertheless, dup content checkers do give an indication. Further, the sophistication of the algorithm works in your favor. Menu items on pages can be a substantial percentage of text (10% - 30%), but if these are on every page, then obviously Google is factoring this into their check. Don't worry about menu items or footers with text in your analysis.
Test all your pages with the dup content checker and make a list. Probably the pages say the same thing or use the same way of speaking about the product. Things like, “all of our materials are prepared by… ” Or, do an “Extended find” for the text using an HTML editor. Likely the phrase that is repeated is part of a paragraph that you used over and over when building the site. Count the number of pages.
Depending on how long the list is, there are 2 ways to go — adding new unique content or rewriting the existing content, or both.
First, look at the paraphragh and write 20 versions of the paragraph that all say the same thing, but are totally different. If you really set your mind to it, it isn’t that difficult.
Next, research and write new unique content for each page or small group of pages. Depending on how long the text is, you may only have to add 100 or 200 words to dilute the existing text enough to squeak by.
Next mix and match the 20 unique descriptions with the new text.
That should squeak by the similar content penalty, which will make a huge difference in your traffic.
About the Author: Brian Stocker is an Internet Marketing specialist. Visit his blog for articles and info on marketing your website and SEO Internet Marketing