Whether you’re writing a paper for school or a blog post to drive traffic from search to your real estate website, it’s never a good idea to plagiarize. While you most likely won’t be expelled from search engines for duplicate content, it’s certainly not doing you any favors. This guide outlines what search engines consider duplicate content, duplicate content penalties, and how to ensure your content is providing you the most value in search. 

What is Duplicate Content?

According to Google, duplicate content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content in the same language or are appreciably similar.” More simply, when a significant portion of text can be found elsewhere on the web (including your own website), has been copied word-for-word, or if the content has had only superficial changes such as changing a handful of words for their synonyms or minor changes to sentence structure search engines consider that to be duplicate content. 

Example of Exact and Near Duplicate Content for Real Estate

  • Original: Houses in this area tend to be single-family dwellings on plots averaging 1.5 acres.
  • Exact Duplicate: Houses in this area tend to be single-family dwellings on plots averaging 1.5 acres.
  • Near Duplicate: Most homes in this area are single-family homes on 1.5-acre lots. 

Why is Duplicate Content Bad?

Outside of the moral implications of stealing content from other creators, duplicate content essentially forces search engines to determine which version of the content is the original source and which page should receive a better ranking in search results, which isn’t always the original publisher of the content. The biggest concern with duplicate content is that it is not adding any value to your website and, therefore, won’t receive any boosts to search result rankings. 

While the biggest concern with duplicate content is its lack of value, there are instances when search engines may choose to explicitly penalize a website through a warning message about future penalties, de-ranking in search results, or in extreme cases, deindexation of content. Search engines determine if something is duplicated maliciously or not by looking at the domain authority for the other instances of content and the quantity of the duplicate content on your website. Below we’ve included the most common instances of malicious and non-malicious content on real estate websites. 

Maliciously Duplicated Content

Content is considered maliciously duplicated when a significant amount of the content (such as an entire landing page or blog post) has been stolen intentionally in an attempt to out-perform the original publisher of the content with the explicit intent to better the performance of the offending source in search results. Maliciously duplicated content may incur serious penalizations and is always something to avoid. Examples of malicious duplication commonly found in real estate:

  • Copying content that originated on a competitor’s site
    • Ex: Zillow, Redfin, the brokerage across the street
  • Copying content from an Industry’s educational sources 
    • Ex: The National Association of Realtors, your franchise’s website
  • Copying content from local resources
    • Ex: Wikipedia, town websites, Chamber of Commerce websites

Non-Malicious Duplicate Content

SEO is complicated, and sometimes duplicate content happens unintentionally. Typically, non-malicious duplicate content occurs when technical SEO best practices are not being followed, such as when:

  • A site is accessible under multiple subdomains 
    • Ex: not redirecting the www. version of a website to the non-www. version
  • A separate mobile version or printer-friendly version exists for a website
  • A website isn’t utilizing proper canonicalization
    • Ex: Resharing a blog post with permission from a different website but not including schema that indicates syndication
    • Ex: Paginated lists (such as map search results or blog pages) are not properly tagged, so search engines view each page of results as a new page instead of part of a group of pages

How to Avoid Duplicate Content

The easiest way to avoid the most severe instances of duplicate content is to avoid copying and pasting content from other websites altogether and include proper citations via outbound links when creating content such as blogs. That also means refraining from posting blogs that were published on another site first, even if it’s from your franchise’s website. 

To avoid non-malicious duplicate content, incorporate current SEO best practices, including implementing canonical URLs, so that search engines better understand the website’s structure and can quickly identify the original source of content, especially when it’s your own website. 

Writing original content and implementing backend SEO such as canonical tags can be time-consuming and requires technical knowledge from both an optimization and coding standpoint. Brokerages need to focus on attracting qualified buyers and sellers, providing exceptional service during the transaction, and recruiting top-performing agents — which is why working with a digital marketing agency (like us!) is the best, most efficient way to ensure you’re avoiding duplicate content. 

Contact our experts to start a technical audit that can identify exact and near duplicate content appearing on your website and customize a digital marketing solution to fit your brokerage’s unique goals and needs.

At Union Street Media, we pride ourselves on providing every Digital Marketing client with a personalized solution that goes beyond high-level strategy to every piece of content published on a site. From landing pages and recommended searches to blog posts, anything written by the Content Team has been written on a client-by-client basis and is 100% original. Additionally, our industry-leading websites have technical SEO baked in, ensuring proper implementation of schema tagging from day one. 

I’m Ready to Take my Business to the Next Level