Duplicate content can be a drag on your SEO performance and can prevent your search strategy from reaching specific goals.
It is also not useful to searchers, which leads to search engines like Google identifying other content as the best answer.
Search engines can filter out pages from the top search results and include certain pages that may not be the desired page to rank prominently for your site as well.
Duplicate content doesn’t necessarily mean someone has stolen or copied your content without permission (although that can happen).
At the enterprise level, you may have merchants, affiliates, or others selling your products using your content.
Sites that are part of the same corporate model, or that feature products or services from the same creator or manufacturer, may contain content that is completely identical to the content of your site.
Even if you’re not doing anything spam or malicious, you need a strategy to deal with duplicate content within your site and linked to other sites.
With an enterprise site, you don’t have the luxury of just updating a page or two or writing some custom problem-solving tags.
Enterprise sites with a potential complexity of thousands of pages, products, services, sites, or structured content face many challenges.
The good news is that there are specific ways to handle duplicate content enterprise-wide.
1. Guidelines for using the content
If you own or create content and you have others selling, offering or licensing your products or services, you need to exercise as much control over the use of the content as possible.
You will likely allow merchants, suppliers, and affiliates to use descriptions and details to maintain brand integrity.
However, for your site to retain the most authority and rankings, you need policies on what content can and cannot be used. And in some circumstances, you’ll need attribution rules or guidelines.
It’s important to do everything to reduce content that you intended to be part of the parent brand’s unique content from being “borrowed” or used.
This doesn’t mean others can’t use it, but be clear about what is free use, what requires attribution, and anything is prohibited.
Find out which content of your site is duplicated from page to page and elsewhere on the web. There are many great tools for detecting and flagging duplicate content within SEO toolkits and standalone tools like Cupiscape.
Get into a regular and routine process of internal site audits as well as web audits for duplicate content so you can find nothing new.
This allows you to identify any uses (as per the point above) that are not authorized to attempt to manage or navigate.
3. Dynamic variable tags
Enterprise-level sites often contain thousands of pages.
They are not suitable for manual title tags, meta descriptions, and title tags. Even if they did, it would take a lot of effort to write, monitor, and document the tags to make sure they don’t have redundancies.
For large e-commerce sites, leading general sites, and brand sites with products, blog posts, technical specifications, large sections, and databases of user-facing content, it is important to create a dynamic set of tags.
In the old days, this meant that the SEO works with a developer to write formulas for the tags based on the database information. Most of today’s sites have content management systems that allow tags to have dynamic variables and syntax.
Use dynamic tags and variables to your advantage to extend the content of tags and headings to ensure that they are as custom, relevant, and specific as possible to the content of the page.
4. Global template content evaluation
The more header, footer, and other global page content, including navigation and sub-navigation, are on each page, the more unique body content you’ll need.
This is important if you are working towards the best practice of having no more than 20% plus or minus duplicate content on each page.
This is especially important on pages that don’t have a lot of copy or are not long content pages.
Header copy, text in links, and footer copy that are the same on every page or within specific sections or content types are forgotten.
If you don’t have to spell out every link on every page in a huge list, don’t.
If you don’t have a huge disclaimer in every footer, don’t. Find ways to reduce global content and know that if you have too much of it, you’ll need more body content to make up for it.
5. Scalable version
This can be the most difficult enterprise duplicate content handling or prevention method. Copy scaling can be difficult and time consuming.
Get your stakeholders on board, and if you can do that, I highly recommend it.
I’ve worked with restaurant chains with about 100 locations nationwide and it took some time and effort, but we were able to get to a point where each restaurant’s page on the site had at least 80% unique content.
Moreover, we were able to expand the pages into sections with unique content.
This was a game changer and helped us achieve higher rankings in both local and traditional search across markets. We can even compete with multiple restaurants in the same market, stacking ratings on top and avoiding Google filtering.
If possible, work with content creators, franchisees, copywriters, UX designers, and developers to find creative ways to craft unique copy and content for each site.
When it comes to products and e-commerce – start with categories or product lines to prove value.
Use dynamic content blocks (similar to the dynamic tags mentioned earlier) to include more detailed versions of each page as products become more specific and technical.
6. User Generated Content
Going beyond extending content within internal resources, I’d recommend looking at ways to include user-generated content as well.
This can include pulling in reviews (if provided as on-page content), testimonials, FAQs, forums, and other content that helps offset duplicate content from page to page, as well as presenting a fresh and unique version on that specific topic. Page topic.
This can create an opportunity to scale using fewer internal resources as long as there is no critical need for moderation, legal review, and other safeguarding steps that place a burden on enterprise-wide operations.
7. Canonical tags
Sometimes the last resort and sometimes the first line, canonical tags can be a great solution for enterprise sites dealing with duplicate content.
However, they require a more advanced understanding of their use and the risks associated with inappropriate logic and implementation.
canonical tags should be standard for any situations where pagination occurs (as opposed to lazy loading, AJAX, and infinite scrolling cases – which can still involve canonical usage and have their own risks with indexing).
In any situation where you intentionally have duplicate content within your site, use canonical tags to point to the page you are most interested in for a prominent rank.
This is your way to aggregate link value and visibility for a single page by showing the status of your duplicate content.
Having one page arranged prominently against the wrong one (which you don’t want) or none is definitely an advantage.
When it comes to pages on other sites – you can also refer back to the original page across domains to ensure proper credit and attribution is given.
Even if you can’t get the basic app, at least try to get a link back to the source as a referral.
Managing content and strategy on an enterprise site faces unique challenges related to the size, scale, and scope of companies or related entities that are allowed to use the same copy or have relationships that are not always manageable.
Using dynamic, technical, and copy-based scaling strategies, you can reduce or manage the amount of duplicate content in ways that give you control over which situation and which pages receive value.
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