You’ve heard the saying: content is king. And no doubt it is but for when it’s duplicate content. Duplicate content is a problem. And yet what attorney has the time to write valuable content when there’s so much else to do? We know the latter is a problem, too.
But duplicate content can hurt your website. And if you are committed to using your law firm website as your competitive edge, duplicate content will undermine your efforts.
What Is Duplicate Content? Why Is it Detrimental to Law Firm Websites?
Duplicate content can make us think of plagiarism. Duplicate content, however, is not just about plagiarism. The kind of duplicate content we are talking about occurs under two very common situations among law firms and their websites:
- Using the same content with different keywords (e.g., different cities) on various pages of your website; and
- Copied and pasted statutory language.
Same Content, Different URL
It happens. You are in a hurry to get webpages up. Plus, you know the importance of local pages. You think: It’s my content, so if I copy and paste it but change the name of the county on each page, it’ll be okay.
However, what you may have created is a duplicate content problem.
Why this is problematic is two-fold. First, search engines may have a hard time distinguishing which of the duplicate pages it should show on the results page. Second, the goal of the search engine is providing valuable content, so it likely won’t choose duplicate pages to show on the results page. This ends up hurting you because the page you intended for a specific search:
- may not be the one that is chosen; or
- may not be the one chosen each time.
Thus, the visibility of the relevant page dissipates, and along with the visibility follows its rank.
Same Content, Same Statute
Statutory language is great for your practice area webpages. It adds value and authority, but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.
The wrong way to do it is what so many attorneys do, whether it is because of time constraints or just not knowing the duplicate content problem associated with it. Many attorneys provide complete copies and pasted language from statutes on the practice area pages and then they provide little other language. The problem here is many:
- It’s just bad practice;
- Potential clients don’t want to read a statute word for word; and
- The statute is usually identified by search engines as the first and original owner of the content, so your page will be behind the statute’s page as well as every other law firm page copying and pasting the same.
Thus, your webpage will likely or rarely rank like you want and need it to in order to get the clients you want and need.
Benefiting Yourself by Benefiting Others: Provide Original, Valuable Content in Return for New Clients
Original, valuable content is what will rank you and introduce new leads. This means:
- With regard to duplicate content on your website, for pages like local pages, you need to make sure the pages are unique and specific to the topic or jurisdiction. These pages can have the same outline setup, but the content needs to be written differently.
- With regard to statutory language, consider only quoting the most essential parts and then be sure to explain it so your potential client can easily digest it. Provide examples, too, to enrich the content.