Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller says that the uniqueness of content doesn’t necessarily make a difference in rankings. As such, duplicate content is officially not a negative ranking factor.
Does that mean that it’s nonsense making an effort to create unique, quality content? As an SEO consulting services provider, we think not.
What is Unique Content & Why Does It Matter?
In the literal sense of the word unique, original content is something that has never been said or published in the exact same way anywhere online. However, in reality, this kind of originality is rare. So, at the very least, unique content means publishing material with a different view of something that is already on the web. It can talk about a well-discussed topic but in your own opinion and distinct voice.
As far as Mueller and Google are concerned, there is no aspect in the search engine’s algorithms that ranks a site based on the uniqueness of its content. But, where quality and originality matter is in providing more information and adding value to your audience. As consumers increasingly turn to the Internet to find the best answers to their questions—in as few clicks as possible—you want your message out there where your target audiences are looking.
It means whether or not unique content is a ranking factor, it remains as a key component of any SEO strategy as search engines favor content that, at a minimum:
- is relevant to the search
- answers the query in a fast and easy way; and
- delivers more value than the other results
More than originality, search engines prefer high-quality content because it allows them to return diverse yet relevant content almost instantly. What they are trying to avoid is having users skim through countless, different pages to find what they are looking for.
When done successfully, not only will unique content differentiate you from the others. It should also deliver great customer experiences—creating a lasting impression that will drive more traffic and ultimately rank you higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
In summary, you need high-quality content to rank in Google. And of the many factors that make content excellent, one of them is originality.
How Unique is Unique?
From a content marketing perspective, it’s essential that you know what unique content means and, at the same time, understand the consequences duplication can have on your SEO.
Google describes duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.” While it has long been clear that Google doesn’t penalize duplicate content, you can’t expect to rank high in its SERPs with a copycat. This much is true for content that is rehashed from other, more reliable sites.
The question now is, just how unique are we talking? In an experiment, PageOptimizer Pro found that at least 50% of the information that appears on a page should be original to be considered unique. Regardless of the number of words used, a 50/50 ratio seems to be the determining factor. This answers the question that almost every client asks a content marketing services agency.
How to Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can take many forms and may appear on two or more websites. There are also cases where a site contains multiple pages with the same content.
There are at least two types of duplicate content:
- Internal duplicate content where a site has duplicate content through multiple pages; and
- External duplicate content (also called cross-domain duplicates) which happens when two or more different sites have the same content indexed by the search engines.
Both types of duplicate content can appear as near or exact duplicates. While they don’t directly affect your rankings, there’s still the tendency where Google will rank one and not the other. As Mueller puts it, “If you have the same content on multiple pages then we won’t show all of these pages, We’ll try to pick one of them and show that.”
In most cases, there will be some amount of shared content across some of your pages, or some other sites, for this matter—and that’s normal. Given the massive amount of content online, you can accidentally plagiarize, even though you have not copied from any source. Therefore, it’s nice to check your content for plagiarism. Sites like SmallSEOTools, 1Text.com, and Grammarly have tools that let you do so for free.
Final Tips to Create Original Content
The chances of publishing something completely new are slim. But, the following tips will help you create content that’s high-quality and unique.
Avoid using the same content. Take a look at your site’s existing content and get a list of the headers and titles already in it, if you haven’t. Compare them to the new topics you have in the pipeline. In cases where there is content overlap, you can either update the information you already have or remove duplicate text/pages.
See what your competitors are doing. What are they writing? What do they have in common? There are three things you can do here: use them as a guide for the approach you take, avoid specific topics or write about them—but make it better.
Approach it from a different perspective. Some stories benefit from being told from a different point of view. To your advantage, it leaves enough room for you to publish unique content. Add your own opinion—don’t just rewrite content but make it better.
As you work on your SEO strategy, you also have to be proactive at keeping your content fresh and unique. More than improving the customer experience, it will help you stand out as you vie for the attention of both the users and search engines.
Ready to get started? Focus on your business and leave all the content marketing aspects to us. We’ll help you craft unique content that resonates with your audience.
Get in touch with one of our experts at Public today.