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In my previous post about building great landing pages, I shared strategies for identifying content gaps on your site and developing a list of topics to create pages. At this point, you naturally might want to begin filling them in. Be careful.

Building great landing pages series

Part One of BloomReach’s series

  • “Building great landing pages” takes a look at ways you can identify content gaps on your website.

You know the gaps on your site, but what should you do with this information? Create a landing page for every idea you have? Be selective and create only a handful of new pages? The answer lies somewhere in the middle, because of the importance of developing unique content. In this post, I’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is unique content?
  • Why does unique content matter?
  • How do you ensure your content is unique?

What is “unique content?”

Unique content is content that exists exclusively on your site and adds distinct value for your customers. This content helps distinguish your site from others by providing additional information that other sites don’t have.

Tees illustraing unique content

Why does unique content matter?

Unique content matters for your customers and search engines. Let’s start with customers.

Unique content guides customers to great experiences

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: when you’re shopping for something specific, you want to find it quickly and easily.

Too often, customers are left frustrated when searching. For instance, let’s say you are a customer who is online shopping for “boho chic earrings.” You browse a website’s categories and click through to accessories. You wind up on a page filled with everything from wallets to earrings. After sifting through dozens of unrelated products, you become annoyed by how long this simple search is taking and you end up leaving without purchasing anything.

As a retailer, you could have avoided this scenario by creating a “boho chic” landing page that helps create a more seamless experience for your customers. While this means you are creating a page that may be considered duplicative, adding descriptive content, images, and other elements to the landing page will create a new experience that uniquely helps your customers explore the boho chic style they are looking for.

Let’s step back into the shoes of your customer and envision a new experience with the “boho chic” landing page. You land on the boho chic landing page. You’re able to quickly find and buy those “boho chic earrings” with no problem. You later realize you also wants a “boho chic dress.” Guess where you are most likely to go? The same site!

As a retailer, your brand reputation continues to grow as customers continue to have these easy experiences. They might even go so far as to tell their friends about you or post about your brand on social media.

Unique content supports search engines

Search engines also care about unique content. They want to make sure that as customers make queries, the search results they are shown are (at a minimum):

  1. Relevant to the query.
  2. Unique vs. the other results.
  3. Going to lead customers to high-quality content.
  4. Shown as quickly as possible.

Search engines like unique content because it helps differentiate sites with similar content from one another. This allows search engines to demonstrate their value by offering diverse, high-quality results almost instantly. What search engines don’t want to do is have you waste time sifting through five different websites that have similar content before you find the information you were looking for.

The opposite of unique content is duplicate content, or pages that heavily overlap in the value they provide a customer. The scale below breaks out how search engines will handle duplicate content based on duplication severity.

duplicate content penalty

oth outcomes result in a bad customer experience and diminish your ability to drive traffic from search engines.

How do you ensure your content is unique?

Now that we’ve established why unique content matters to customers and search engines, let’s discuss tips on how to make sure your content is as unique as possible.

Avoid duplicate content

As you begin to add new content, look at your site to make sure what you’re adding is truly unique. You can do this by first retrieving a list of your existing headers and titles, and then comparing those against the pages you want to create. That will eliminate your first set of duplication. The next, and more thorough step, is to compare the body content (ie. the words on the page) between all the pages on your site. In instances where 90 percent of your content overlaps from page to page, you can either remove or noindex the duplicate pages.

Check out your competition

See what results search engines are showing for your top five competitors on your high-level category pages to determine how you can differentiate yourself from them. Consider what lessons you might learn from their approach.

Get creative with content

There is more to content than product descriptions. Adding unique videos, images, customer reviews and written text to your site will also help search engines and customers distinguish you from your competitors. Maybe those “boho chic earrings” are paired best with a bracelet. Why not let your customer know this by providing fashion tips?

Manually review your site

Once you’ve ensured the content on your site is unique, continue to make sure that the product mix, particularly above the fold, remains different between new and existing pages on your site.  

Here are a few tips on what to do if your new and existing pages look similar:

  • Consider implementing rel canonicals in order to collapse similar pages so search engines don’t perceive them to be the same.
  • For pages with pagination, include rel next and rel previous to indicate to search engines that these pages are tied to one another.
  • You may want to consider adding a noindex/nofollow tag after a certain number of facets to avoid over-indexing your site, thus wasting valuable search engine crawl budget. (More on this in the next post!)
  • For duplicate content that you want to remove from your site entirely but preserve the link authority that already exists in a search engine’s index, use 301s to redirect customers and search engines to the desired landing page.

Understand your website

After making sure that your content is unique and that duplicate content is at a minimum, you can use tools, such as Google Webmaster Tools, to help you understand which keywords appear most frequently on your site, what other sites are linking to your site, and your own internal in-linking structure.

Summary

As your site continues to develop, be proactive about keeping your content unique. It will not only help your customer experience, but it will differentiate your site from those with which you compete in search engine indexes. Lastly, as you add new content, be sure to implement checks, like the ones listed above, to help ensure you continue to have fresh content.

Next Steps

Now that you understand where your content gaps are and how to ensure the content you add is unique to your site, you have to figure out where these pages fit into your site hierarchy. Stay tuned for a coming blog post in which we discuss your site’s linking and hierarchy structure.

Golf tee photo by Steven Depolo published under Creative Commons license. Duplication scale graphic by Gerard Bao, BloomReach.

Vache Moroyan is Director of Product Management at BloomReach.