Yes, Duplicate Content Does Hurt a Dealership’s Ranking
There’s two motives behind duplicate content: there’s the malicious kind that attempts to manipulate rankings; there’s the benign kind that comes stock from corporate sites for your dealership. When search engines (e.g. Google) recognize that a person is attempting to exploit query results, his or her site can be penalized, such as being removed from search results.
Fortunately, your duplicate content doesn’t have underhanded designs. It’s just stock content given to you from the brand’s corporate site. But there’s still a significant issue here: Google will choose the version (source) of the content to show in the search results. That means you might not even fall within the first two pages for a local consumer’s query for your dealership’s specific brand and model.
Now, just a quick refresher. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” It’s important to note the last two words. Appreciably. Similar. You need to do more than just change a few words. You need content that is unique.
So, I don’t ascribe to the idea that duplicate content cannot hurt your ranking. Again, it might be indirect—but the result is still the same.
While digital content can come in many forms, including text, audio, video, and graphics, we want to specifically target textual content. More specifically, this type of content refers to:
- Landing pages
- Titles tags
- Meta descriptions
Here’s why this is important. Raven Tools recently conducted a study that consisted of 200 million page crawls. Of those crawls, 29% of pages had duplicate content. That means there’s a significant opportunity to differentiate your dealership’s website from the hundreds of others using the same stock corporate-delivered content.
In my time at Reunion, I’ve come to notice that dealership websites are full of duplicate content—word for word from the title to the close / call-to-action (if there even is one). I chose a random Mazda dealership and visited two pages: the homepage and an About Us page. On the homepage, I found on-page content about the Mazda3 and copied it into a search bar. The results it yielded are as follows:
The first result is the Mazda U.S.A. corporate site. The two that follow it are Mazda of Stoney Creek and Grand Prix Motors. Naturally, we know why the corporate site ranks first: most authoritative source for anything related to Mazda in the U.S. But why Stoney Creek and Grand Prix?
- They might’ve posted the content first.
- Google might’ve just chosen them … just because.
Remember, Google tells us that they do a “good job” choosing for us. We just don’t know how.
Now, the About Us page is even more interesting. Using the same Mazda dealership’s website, I copied the content on this page and “Googled” it.
Notice anything interesting? We’re on page 15. The content is still nearly identical. And we also see results for an Infiniti dealership and Chevrolet dealership—so it’s not even just other Mazda dealers!
Keeping with the Mazda3 theme, we recently began working with a client who has a Mazda dealership. They recognized the need for help, and one of the first things we noticed was the abundance of duplicate content. This dealership has the same About Us and Mazda3 homepage content as shown above from my random sampling.
And, using Moz keyword rankings to understand how they’re performing, we see the following results …
They don’t even rank in the top 51 search results for the exact brand or model name in cities within a quick drive from the dealership. As further evidence, Google Analytics shows that this dealership has only 7 visits (5 unique) to their Mazda3 page over the past 20 days.
Get Lost Among the Choices. Or Be the First Choice.
A final example before we delve into how you should approach content for your dealership.
We did a Google search for a “new mazda 3 for sale greensboro nc.” After completing some due diligence, we discovered a dealership with duplicate content. And here’s how they rank in a search that names their brand, a specific model, and the city in which they operate.
Fifth. They ranked fifth. Behind CarGurus, Cars.com, AutoTrader, and TrueCar.
So, we conducted a second Google search for our Mazda dealer. And we chose a search for which we had written unique content (both for the model and for the website). Thus, we searched for “new mazda 3 for sale asheboro nc.”
Our client not only ranked first, but this dealership also landed second due to a combination of good content and smart SEO. Their group site even ranked fifth.
So, our client earned the first and second ranks, as well as the fifth rank.
Replace Duplicate Content with Smart Content Marketing Strategies
You can’t build authority overnight. And you’re not likely going to skyrocket to the first spot in search results in days or even weeks (sometimes it takes months). But with these three strategies, you’ll have a much better chance at winning in your market.
- Unique Content
- Robust links
- Smart social
This is the most important (and most relevant to this blog). It’s the act of creating your own content in place of the duplicates that land you on page fifteen.
Without producing unique content, you’ll have an incredibly difficult time establishing yourself as an authority. Content utilizing the right keywords and synonymous terms in the right places without sacrificing the relevance and value for consumers will earn Google’s recognition as a place with reliable information. The most important factor is that your content is high-quality.
- Start a weekly blog with substantive content.
- Optimize, revise, and repurpose both older website and blog content.
- Curate content from other authoritative sources.
For dealerships, specifically, you’ll want to create your own voice. Discover who you are within the brand that you represent. Start filling your website landing pages with unique content that delivers the voice you’ve developed. Write informative MRP pages and comparison pages. Think about about adding white papers with tips for consumers. There’s so much you can do to rank.
Links are a vital part of writing content and building authority. Both internal links and external links are important to your blogging strategy; and internal links within your landing pages is beneficial as well.
Internal links accomplish three objectives:
- Refine website navigation
- Clarify website architecture and hierarchy
- Distribute authority and ranking power across site pages
External links has its own reasons for importance:
- Makes your site a more valuable resource
- Search engines reward this behavior
- Linking out encourages linking in
- Linking out earns important, relevant trackable traffic
- Linking out encourages engagement
Build a list of authorities within your industry. Link to them in your blogs when there’s a lot of relevance. Use their research and information to help you build a robust piece of content (ahem).
Authority is gained through your voice. When you don’t have a strong social following to support you and spread your information, you’re not properly leveraging social media platforms. A best practice here is to share your blogs, news and updates regarding your business, respond to questions or complaints—don’t try to sell people. Have a genuine conversation. When you work at an agency, this can be particularly difficult because some clients want to use social to sell products and services. So you’ll need a good marketing manager to help them understand the proper use of these tools.
- Build your audience with people who are engaged.
- Consistently post on social media platforms.
- Use paid advertising to extend your influence and reach.
- Place social and CTA buttons in smart places throughout your site.
- Communicate with and engage industry thought leaders and influencers.
Don’t rely on content delivered by a corporate site. Start employing smart content marketing strategies with a foundation in quality, uniquely written content for your site. And if you do not have the resources or team in place to do this, you can turn to a digital marketing partner who’ll help you rank and win.