Does cookie cutter (plagiarized/duplicate) content affect local Seo Rankings?

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Hey Warriors!

My first post here...

I have seen many niche based local websites that are being catered by the same marketing firm. All of them have the exact same product/service descriptions and some of them seem to be ranking high as well. For instance a lawyer in town a has the same services description pages with a lawyer in town b. The only thing different about them is that they operate under the clients domain name and they are spread out across different regions.

My question is: when it comes to local Seo; does duplicate content affect local search engine rankings?
#affect #content #cookie #cutter #local #plagiarized or duplicate #rankings #seo
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Originally Posted by waleedk View Post

    Hey Warriors!

    My first post here...

    I have seen many niche based local websites that are being catered by the same marketing firm. All of them have the exact same product/service descriptions and some of them seem to be ranking high as well. For instance a lawyer in town a has the same services description pages with a lawyer in town b. The only thing different about them is that they operate under the clients domain name and they are spread out across different regions.

    My question is: when it comes to local Seo; does duplicate content affect local search engine rankings?

    First, having the same content on different websites is not what Google considers to be duplicate content.

    Second, you found a real life example. You answered your own question.
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    • Profile picture of the author Naksh Kaloo
      How can same content on different sites not considered by Google as duplicate content? How will you define Plagiarised content then?
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        Plagiarism is about using someone else's content/ideas and saying they're yours. If you use someone else's ideas/content with their permission, you have duplicate content but no plagiarism. How does Google know if someone whose content you use has or has not sent you an email message saying they're fine with you using their content?

        Originally Posted by Naksh Kaloo View Post

        How can same content on different sites not considered by Google as duplicate content? How will you define Plagiarised content then?
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  • Profile picture of the author waleedk
    Thanks for the quick reply!

    Yes; I did indeed answer my own question...

    But is it congruent with google's guidelines. What if those websites haven't been caught by google as yet and just await to be penalized?

    I've searched around for a definitive answer but there isn't anything concrete about this topic.
    When it comes to national or enterprise level seo then ofcourse this can hurt the rankings of a site; but there isn't much about this on the local SEO level?
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by waleedk View Post

      Thanks for the quick reply!

      Yes; I did indeed answer my own question...

      But is it congruent with google's guidelines. What if those websites haven't been caught by google as yet and just await to be penalized?

      I've searched around for a definitive answer but there isn't anything concrete about this topic.
      When it comes to national or enterprise level seo then ofcourse this can hurt the rankings of a site; but there isn't much about this on the local SEO level?

      If you need more proof, check the pages in web.archive.org and see how long they have been that way.
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  • Profile picture of the author waleedk
    Looking back to a post on a different thread:

    Google Matt Cutts said twice that you should not stress about it, in the worse non-spammy case, Google may just ignore the duplicate content. Matt said in the video, " I wouldn't stress about this unless the content that you have duplicated is spammy or keyword stuffing."

    So it's more like Google deciding what to show rather than penalizing.

    MOZ says the following:
    "When there are multiple pieces 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. When duplicate content is present, site owners suffer rankings and traffic losses, and search engines provide less relevant results.".

    So duplicate content won't hurt your SEO directly, but the are some unpleasant consequences.
    Again there is a lot of grey here and nothing is addressed on the local SEO level. As most searches are becoming more and more localized, where does google stand on such a case?
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  • Profile picture of the author waleedk
    Thanks

    It's not really proof if it works that I'm interested in...as it is clearly working in some cases.

    I guess what I was really trying to understand was the workings of the "possum" update and the implications of duplicate/plagiarized content in local terms.

    Are those sites in question; just waiting to be reported on or does google permit such a practice when it comes to local seo?
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Why are you confused.

    "I sell red shoes in Town A" targets buyers in Town A.

    "I sell red shoes in Town B" targets buyers in Town B.

    There is no logical reason why the site A should not be shown to buyers in Town A or site B to buyers in Town B. The one that's better optimized for 'red shoes' will be shown for searches 'red shoes' by itself. When someone searches for 'red shoes in town A', a page from the site for town A can be shown (if better optimized than other sites' pages); 'red shows in town B' would get a page from the site targeting town B.

    Why are you confused?

    Not far from where I live, there's a pizzeria that sells deep dish spinach pizzas. Should they stop doing it because in the next town there's a pizzeria that also sells deep dish spinach pizzas? Should Domino's Pizza exist only in Las Vegas, for instance?
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    • Profile picture of the author waleedk
      Originally Posted by DABK View Post

      Why are you confused.

      "I sell red shoes in Town A" targets buyers in Town A.

      "I sell red shoes in Town B" targets buyers in Town B.

      There is no logical reason why the site A should not be shown to buyers in Town A or site B to buyers in Town B. The one that's better optimized for 'red shoes' will be shown for searches 'red shoes.' When someone searches for red shoes in town A, a page from the site for town A can be shown (if better optimized than other sites' pages); 'red shows in town B' would get a page from the site targeting town B.

      Why are you confused?

      Not far from where I live, there's a pizzeria that sells deep dish spinach pizzas. Should they stop doing it because in the next town there's a pizzeria that also sells deep dish spinach pizzas? Should Domino's Pizza exist only in Las Vegas, for instance?
      Thanks for the explanation... and the logic makes 100% sense and searches should be localized in that respect...but as to why I am confused?

      Well, I guess it raises some ethical questions here... Like about originality, adding a personalized touch to product descriptions etc? The example of of the pizzeria from town A and town B even though they might be selling the same type of pizza; they probably must have a distinct taste of some sort that sets them apart unless it is a franchise like Domino's which gives it franchisee's the license to use any material for a royalty.

      In a world that you are describing (which clearly is the reality); anyone can put up a website; piggyback on somebody else's copy, optimize it and get ranked in local terms... Is that right in an ideal world though? but more so as google's algos evolve further could this practice get these sites penalized.

      But then who really knows what google is going to do next? We can just speculate...
      Thanks for taking the time out to give me that explanation though. It helped!

      Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    Originally Posted by waleedk View Post

    Hey Warriors!

    My first post here...

    I have seen many niche based local websites that are being catered by the same marketing firm. All of them have the exact same product/service descriptions and some of them seem to be ranking high as well. For instance a lawyer in town a has the same services description pages with a lawyer in town b. The only thing different about them is that they operate under the clients domain name and they are spread out across different regions.

    My question is: when it comes to local Seo; does duplicate content affect local search engine rankings?

    Since you are still not believing what you are seeing with your own eyes, let's break this down a little bit.

    Someone does a search in Town A. It doesn't matter if the page for Town B has duplicated the content of the page for Town A or not. Either way, it likely was not showing up in the top 50 results, maybe not even top 100 or top 1000 depending on how big of towns we are talking about and the industry in question.

    If someone else performs a search in Town B, the opposite would be true.

    Now if the business had 4 pages of duplicate content all targeting Town A, then there might be a concern. Even then, likely would not be anything to really get overly concerned with. You just likely would only see 1 of the 4 pages showing up in the SERP and the other 3 would be relegated to the supplemental SERPs.

    Does that help make it more clear to you?
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    • Profile picture of the author waleedk
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      Since you are still not believing what you are seeing with your own eyes, let's break this down a little bit.

      Someone does a search in Town A. It doesn't matter if the page for Town B has duplicated the content of the page for Town A or not. Either way, it likely was not showing up in the top 50 results, maybe not even top 100 or top 1000 depending on how big of towns we are talking about and the industry in question.

      If someone else performs a search in Town B, the opposite would be true.

      Now if the business had 4 pages of duplicate content all targeting Town A, then there might be a concern. Even then, likely would not be anything to really get overly concerned with. You just likely would only see 1 of the 4 pages showing up in the SERP and the other 3 would be relegated to the supplemental SERPs.

      Does that help make it more clear to you?
      Yes it makes complete sense; thanks for expanding upon DABK example there.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Google is not concerned with originality. Google is concerned with matching search and content.

    As to pizza... let's say they're selling Nike's in Town A. Should nobody in any other town be selling Nike shoes?

    Yes, anyone can and does put up content created by other people. When done right, it's called syndicated content. Did you ever have a problem seeing an WallStreet Journal in your local paper? (Yes, they give credit. But it is the same article.)

    You seem to think that, just because SomeOne creates content, SomeOne is entitled to rank for that content. Google thinks SomeOne is entitled to rank for his/her own content if, and only if, it is better optimized (better onpage and more or better backlinks).

    By the way, if I set up a website for Las Vegas Mortgage Broker and copied the content of a Milwaukee Mortgage Broker (changing only the location items), the Las Vegas Mortgage Broker does not lose anything, unless they are also licensed in Wisconsin and competing for Milwaukee.

    A baker from Orlando is in no way threatened by a baker in Madison Wisconsin, even if the latter copied all the text and images from the Orlando baker.

    Yes, it is unethical to copy without permission. Your clients, should they become aware, might dislike it (or, who know, like you extra more) for it. But, when the same text appears for businesses competing in different cities, there is no practical difference.

    Originally Posted by waleedk View Post

    Thanks for the explanation... and the logic makes 100% sense and searches should be localized in that respect...but as to why I am confused?

    Well, I guess it raises some ethical questions here... Like about originality, adding a personalized touch to product descriptions etc? The example of of the pizzeria from town A and town B even though they might be selling the same type of pizza; they probably must have a distinct taste of some sort that sets them apart unless it is a franchise like Domino's which gives it franchisee's the license to use any material for a royalty.

    In a world that you are describing (which clearly is the reality); anyone can put up a website; piggyback on somebody else's copy, optimize it and get ranked in local terms... Is that right in an ideal world though? but more so as google's algos evolve further could this practice get these sites penalized.

    But then who really knows what google is going to do next? We can just speculate...
    Thanks for taking the time out to give me that explanation though. It helped!

    Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author dave_hermansen
    Your original question was about ranking, not ethics. I think DABK and Mike Friedman have clarified why it doesn't affect local SEO about as well as can be done. If the copy had been copied from another site in that same local search area, however, the results may be different. Likely, the site with the higher authority would rank for the content, although that might not seem fair.

    There is always the chance that the publisher of the original content may discover that you plagiarized their content and initiate a DMCA takedown notice, or worse. This likely would not happen unless the two sites were competing for the same audience but you never know - especially with lawyers.

    Personally, I would feel more ethically (and legally) comfortable rewriting the copied content so that it was not exactly the same.
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