Building a small business website can be challenging, especially if your business is new, or you just finally decided to go “digital.” Shortcuts are tempting, so you were delighted to find a company that promised you that:
- They know and understand your industry.
- They can make the process super simple.
- They’ll provide you with a “template” of content so you don’t have to write a thing!
Sounds terrific, right? Except you’ve now got a much bigger problem than you had when you didn’t even have a website. You’ve now got (basically) the same website as everyone else in your industry that this company has ever worked with. And that means duplicate content.
The way that Google and other search engines work is by matching up website content with what searchers are looking for. But there’s so much content on the internet that Google has to prioritize which content they’ll suggest as the result of a search. “Good quality” content might not be enough. Where there is lots of competition, what rises to the top is what has authority—which can come from how many other sites link to the content, how much it’s been shared or interacted with on social media, and (most important for this discussion) who published it first.
If you have a business website full of cookie-cutter content, you’re not the first to publish it, and you’ll suffer on Google because of it. At best, you’ll be no more relevant than your competitors. At worst, your site could be flagged and penalized by Google for plagiarism.
Why Your Website Should Have Unique Content
Avoid Search Engine Trouble
The best way to avoid a problem with duplicate content is to not have any. We’ve been taught since primary school not to copy and paste from previously published work, but sometimes we forget that the rules apply to what’s on the web. People “republish” blog posts, photos, and other content all the time from other sources—but it’s still wrong. Buying a template of business copy can actually be legal (depending on the licensing of the content), but (1) will Google see it that way? and (2) why risk it?
Stand Out from the Crowd
Even if you can get away with templatized content and achieve modest success with your site, there’s still no advantage to sounding like everyone else. Using your own company “voice” will make you stand out. If everyone is using the same verbiage and targets the same persona, you’ll be a breath of fresh air by addressing them online the same way you talk to them in person.
Tell Your Unique Story
No company just pops up out of a vacuum. You have a unique story to tell. What motivated you to start your business? What inspires you? What need are you trying to meet? How are you doing it differently from everyone else? People don’t do business with businesses. They do business with people, so speak to them in that way. This too will set you apart from all the other cookie-cutter copy on the web.
Help! I’m Not a Writer!
Business owners are tempted by these template promises because it’s easy—especially if you don’t consider yourself a writer. But there are better alternatives to sounding like everyone else even if you’re not a wordsmith. The good news is there are people like us who are! You still have a unique audience, voice, and story, and we can learn that information from you, build an outline, and put pen to paper (or pixel to screen). You can have original content without the stress of composing it, and also without sacrificing your own voice.