No! This is a huge problem with attorney websites—and with the greater Internet at large!
There are several big reasons that you should never, ever put duplicate content on your website—either content you find on other websites or content you’re recycling from your own pages.
We’ll get into both issues below, but let’s start with why you should leave other sources’ content right where you found it.
NEVER Cut Content From Other Websites and Paste It Into Yours
Consistently producing engaging, original website content—for months and years on end—can be a little overwhelming at times. It’s tempting to find a shortcut, and there’s no lack of legal content on the Web. So, you might think that all that content out there is ripe for the picking.
However, before you click “cut” and paste someone else’s content to your law firm’s website, here are some reasons to stop RIGHT NOW before you mess up big time:
- You’re probably stealing. Taking content from other pages is not an ethical move—that content was researched and written by someone else. Plagiarizing isn’t good for business or, we would argue, in general. If you’re found out, you can get in trouble with the people you took it from. You can wreck your reputation with potential clients really fast. It looks TERRIBLE for a lawyer to use another lawyer’s content—or a doctor to use another doctor’s content. It’s just not worth the risk of doing that much damage to your brand and reputation!
- You are gravely harming your SEO. Google and other search engines can spot duplicate copy from a mile away—and they do not like finding it. Search engines want original content. If you steal someone else’s content to post on your own website, the search engine crawlers will notice that there is more than one copy of the same (or very similar) content out there. It’s usually not an official penalty because search engines can’t determine who owns the content. However, it can still severely impact your search rankings and water down the visibility for both your website and the website you swiped it from. It can also wreak havoc on your backlinks and other authority indicators, creating a “ripple effect” that drags the rest of your site down with it.
- You could be passing on bad information. Blindly using content means losing control over what you’re posting. If you create content yourself or hire others, you can be sure that you are providing accurate information to potential clients. You have control over the “voice” of your brand. You have control over what topics you cover. Ultimately, you wouldn’t let a stranger on the Internet run your business, so don’t let them write your content, either. You, your team, and your hired writers should be the only source of YOUR content.
- You want to give your readers unique content. The success of your website depends on your ability to stand out from the crowd. If you are using other people’s tired, generic material, then you’re not giving your visitors anything new. People come to your website because they’re looking for information they can trust—and, ultimately, for an attorney they can trust with their sensitive legal issues. Every time you try to pass off the same, boring stuff everyone else is doing, you’ve missed an opportunity to create a buzz and be the trusted authority.
Having trouble coming up with your own ideas for unique content? Check out these resources to brush up on your skills:
- How to write “viral” content
- How to choose topics for online content
- How to develop a digital content strategy
Of course, if you really run into something unique that you want to share with your visitors, there’s nothing wrong with quoting that content with appropriate attributions, or even sharing the link on social media. Just be sure you’re linking to the original site and author, not claiming it as your own!
NEVER Put Multiple Copies of Your Own Content on Your Website
The content on your website is yours, so you can do what you want with it! Right? This is the other issue we see with cut-and-paste content on websites.
Although you and your team created the original content, you still need to be careful about how you use and copy it. You can’t really “steal” from yourself, and hopefully, you’ve long ago checked the original content for accuracy. However, the other two issues we talked about above still apply in this case:
- Your SEO. Everything we said above about this applies here, only it’s even worse because you’ll be diluting the power of both the copy of the content and your own original. It’s even obvious that you did it to yourself. It’s kind of like shooting yourself in the foot—twice.
- Your readers. Your visitors will notice if all your blog posts seem to sound the same or cover the same information. It’s a waste of your time and theirs! A better alternative is to combine all that similar content into a big, comprehensive article—or maybe even a series of shorter articles that really hone in on different sub-topics and details. Remember, you always want to aim for content that is helpful to your “perfect clients” and original enough to hold their attention. Writing fewer, higher-quality pieces is always going to be better for your business than stealing content to keep up an unrealistic pace.
Keep in mind that the content doesn’t even have to be an “exact” match to trigger these issues! So, if you have multiple copies of the same or similar content on your website, it’s time to clean it up.
Are you feeling so overwhelmed by content production for your website that you’re thinking about stooping low? Don’t make that mistake. FWM’s incredible team of content writers and strategists has you covered. Learn more about our content writing services, or give us a call at 888.886.0939.