Google says that differentiating your site is important if you want better SEO results. This nugget of intel emerged a few days ago after the search engine’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller was asked via Twitter how Google views a government site with content similar to others in the same space.

The webmaster posing the question runs a site which advertises jobs, meaning that a lot of the content is the same as what’s available on other sites (job description, salary, requirements etc.). Depending on your industry, this may be a scenario that resonates with you too. Real estate firms for example will often find that their content mirrors that of other estate agents, as property details won’t change from one site to the next. Ecommerce sites aren’t immune to this issue, especially where product descriptions have been provided by the manufacturer or supplier.

So, what’s Google’s advice?

In his response, Mueller says, ““It doesn’t matter what kind of site, ultimately you need to find a way to differentiate yourself, especially when it comes to “commodity content”.

What would make your site the objective best result by far for your preferred queries? Just being the same as others doesn’t cut it.”

In essence; your content must be different. If you have a lot of commodity content (content which is very similar to content shared on rival sites), you’ll need to take stock and determine how this content can be revised. While this is undeniably a big job, especially if you have a large site, it’s also a great opportunity to evolve your offering and better meet the needs of your audience.

If you approach the task of updating and improving your commodity content as a means of delivering an even better user experience, you may find that the net result isn’t just better search engine rankings, but improved site performance too.

Differentiating your content

Differentiating your content is best approached with a mindset of adding value. In the case of property listings, you won’t be able to change the building’s core information but, could you add useful neighbourhood information and amenities which elevate your content above that provided by a competitor for example?

Additional multimedia resources, such as videos and images can also help to provide a point of difference as can the addition of user generated content such as reviews and frequently asked questions.

As with most SEO advice, you’ll also need to apply common sense and logic. Making changes for the sake of it is never a good idea and sacrificing UX for SEO rankings is never something we advice. Instead, look at commodity content as another piece of the SEO puzzle, and focus on where you can make improvements that will add value to your site and your end user.

If your site uses commodity content and you ensure that content is engaging and useful, consider that a win.

Author Rebecca

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