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Aaron Schinke

Aaron Schinke Vice President of Product Development and Marketing

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Is It Still Duplicate Content If You Change The City And State?

YES. ABSOLUTELY. DEFINITELY. FOR SURE. WITHOUT A DOUBT. OF COURSE. 

TOTALLY. ALWAYS. YEP. INDEED. YOU BET YA. UNDOUBTEDLY. FO SHO. SI. OUI. THAT'S RIGHT. TRUE. WITHOUT FAIL. INDUBITABLY. CERTAINLY. AFFIRMATIVE. BEYOND A DOUBT. BY ALL MEANS. SURELY. UNQUESTIONABLY.

Tim Martell recently wrote a blog detailing the use of duplicate content on dealer's sites – mostly surrounding the text that is used on the standard pages of a dealers' site upon launch. While this was a big eye-opener for many, there is a bigger issue at hand. With content marketing being all the rage as of late - and rightfully so - dealers are shelling out thousands of dollars to have content created on their sites and in their dealership's name. Certainly since you are paying specifically for content creation, it is being written specifically for your dealership, right? …right? Not usually so.

Not only are agencies and providers lying and stealing content and posting it for multiple clients – they are the maliciously lying to dealers when calledout on it, telling them it is okay. IT IS NOT.

When Google released the herd (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) of updates to its algorithm, the policy did not read: "Duplicate content is bad, unless you change the city… then it’s cool." Just swapping out the city and state information is an old tactic that these updates were made to catch. It’s spammy, it’s not useful to your communities and it’s going to do your site and business harm. Don’t believe it? Here is the opinion of a few SEO experts that know that it's true:

Moz:

“Upload unique content to the page designated for each city.”

“Big No-No: Duplicate content anywhere on your site, but especially on city landing pages. Yes this includes recycling a few keywords here and there to make it look different.”

Search Engine Journal

“Sites that are trying to rank high for locations or themes will get penalized here because often what they will do for content is generate an article on a topic and then change it slightly based upon a few strategic keywords and headers.”

Small Business SEM

“In this situation, the worst thing you can do is to create a series of web pages (or blog posts, etc.) that are all the same, with only the city/town names changed.”

Hopefully these few non-vested third-party sources have helpedconvince you that this is a bad practice that has to stop. If you do some searching you'll find a ton of others saying the same thing. You'll also find the first results you see don't have the same content with a city and state swapped out.

All opinion, technicalities and SEO aside... as a dealer how could you be OK with having the same content as other dealers? Doesn't you brand deserve better that the sloppy seconds of others? 

FAQ

Is it ok if the pages/blogs are being dynamically created out of my CRM or DMS?
No.

Is it ok if the pages/blogs are being done by hand with misspellings on purpose?
No.

What if the owner of the company selling me the service says it’s ok and works for other clients?

No.

What if I’m currently doing it and have decent rankings in a few places?

It’s only a matter of time until you reach the tipping point and do what could be irreparable damage to your site. 

 

ADDED: 

From Google themselves: 

 

Minimize similar content: If you have many pages that are similar, consider expanding each page or consolidating the pages into one. For instance, if you have a travel site with separate pages for two cities, but the same information on both pages, you could either merge the pages into one page about both cities or you could expand each page to contain unique content about each city.

 

 

Matt Lowery
Yes, this is the exact issue we had. Tims article was specifically talking about my store. I was down almost 60% because of these bad practices. Anyone using big name website providers or SEO companies that service hundreds of dealerships or more should carefully look into this.
Aaron Schinke
Got ya! I thought your issue was more the standard web content and not that they had been adding duplicate content to the site as a service. It's amazing how many times we have someone who understands duplicate is bad but is then swayed that it's ok because of minor changes! Are you getting things turned around?
Matt Lowery
Yes, we are going with another provider. We chose DealerInspire after talking to several providers and really sitting down with Tim and my SEO guys (Wikimotive). Vinsolutions knows of this issue, and they are partnering with Haystack to have a new platform in the next few months. Hopefully they will fix this, but we couldn't wait to see. I liked that DealerInspire was built on WordPress so its very easy to customize and change almost anything you can think of, and the level of support and access they are giving to Tim and his SEO team is top notch. Anyone looking for a new provider I really suggest having your SEO team in the discussion. I had Tims team on the phone with me as I interviewed providers, and made sure they were happy with the ability for them to do their job. So my new site should be up within a month or so and hopefully ill not only capture my 60% back, but actually grow from there... that or Ill fire Tim. :P
Aaron Schinke
Awesome! I know Tim and the DealerInspire team pretty well and you are in capable hands! Best of luck!
Matt Lowery
Ya, You guys at DealerFire were a close second. I would definitely tell anyone looking for a new provider to check both of you guys out. Your company is one of the good guys out there. Also and I cant stress this enough... Vet your SEO guys out! So many dealers pay people $1000 to just check off a box that says they do SEO without making sure they are doing SEO right. I took over a year of looking before I decided on my SEO guys. SEO costs money to do right, but you are just wasting money and usually even hurting yourself by paying a few hundred bucks and getting a company that is using outdated or Blackhat SEO. Also make sure any provider you go with is willing and can make the changes your SEO teams needs. We were close between Dealerfire and DealerInspire, both good companies.

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