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How to Unleash The Power of Unique Content



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How to Unleash The Power of Unique Content



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Join Eleni as she takes you through her radical approach to unique content placement. This talk will give you the tools to take control of your in-house strategy, as well as harnessing and optimising the power of your unique content to drive organic traffic growth.

Join Eleni as she takes you through her radical approach to unique content placement. This talk will give you the tools to take control of your in-house strategy, as well as harnessing and optimising the power of your unique content to drive organic traffic growth.

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How to Unleash The Power of Unique Content

  1. 1. Eleni Cashell Hotcourses Group UK Editor Logo here @elenicashell
  2. 2. Anyone can do this Anyone can do this
  3. 3. What on earth is duplicated content?
  4. 4. 29% of the internet is duplicated content
  5. 5. Blocks of content within or across domains that completely match or are similar
  6. 6. “The lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the main content on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users.” Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines March 2017
  7. 7. “Such pages should be rated lowest, even if the page assigns credit for the content to another source.” Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines March 2017
  8. 8. It’s confusing It’s confusing
  9. 9. Which version to include/exclude from indices?
  10. 10. Should they direct the link metrics?
  11. 11. Which version to rank?
  12. 12. Unique content is king
  13. 13. John Mueller, Google Adding synonyms and related words is…. “probably more counter productive”
  14. 14. Your Clients
  15. 15. Press Releases
  16. 16. Product Descriptions
  17. 17. Freelancers
  18. 18. Google Search Console
  19. 19.
  20. 20. Search Operators
  21. 21. Don’t create it in the first place
  22. 22. Redirect to the canonical URL
  23. 23. Add canonical link to duplicate page
  24. 24. Pick the primary canonical url and use cross-domain canonical link elements problems/#duplicate-content-seo-best-practice
  25. 25. Cleaning up your content
  26. 26. Find the troublemakers
  27. 27. Assemble your team
  28. 28. Who does it affect?
  29. 29. Who does it affect?
  30. 30. It won’t work unless you tell them
  31. 31. “We are outraged that we need to change it at all”
  32. 32. “The client is unhappy with the changes being made and the lack of control they now have”
  33. 33. “Just copy and paste our text, what’s so hard about that?”
  34. 34. “We won’t advertise with you ever again”
  35. 35. Write clear guidelines and circulate them
  36. 36. Provide a deadline for the writers to submit alternative content Explain what happens after this date
  37. 37. Set clear rules about what they can and can’t do and why Make it clear that it will benefit them
  38. 38. List the content
  39. 39. What step you’re on
  40. 40. It’s live!
  41. 41. qX8u6AyJVlvxpK2pc1SQYMhnd0M/edit#gid=0
  42. 42. Have a template For this
  43. 43. It’s a good USP
  44. 44. Keep an eye on traffic
  45. 45. Failure can (initially)be an option
  46. 46. 51% increase on entrances
  47. 47. 107% increase on entrances
  48. 48. Have regular team chats
  49. 49. Maintain conistency when linking internally Maintain consistency when linking internally
  50. 50. Find duplicated content
  51. 51. Assemble the team
  52. 52. Form your game plan
  53. 53. Create guidelines
  54. 54. Tell clients / agencies
  55. 55. Create a shared doc
  56. 56. Promote it
  57. 57. Keep an eye on traffic
  58. 58. Evolve it
  59. 59. www.hobo- content-problems/
  60. 60. duplicate-content
  61. 61. “Just to say we thought the copy was spectacular, with rich content and it gives a real credibility. We love it… “We thought the copy was spectacular. It gives a real credibility. We love it…”
  62. 62. “Just to say we thought the copy was spectacular, with rich content and it gives a real credibility. We love it… Can we just add one thing to it though?....

Editor's Notes

  • So I’m Leni, and I’m about to share with you the worst year of my life, and how it can basically benefit you. And it’s all about the power of unique content, how to implement it into a strategy and how to successfully remove duplicated content from your sites completely.
  • First off, whether you’re the junior writer or the CEO, you can implement a unique content strategy. This isn’t something that you need a lot of power for, just the confidence to suggest it in the first place, and the nerve to insist you lead it because you saw my talk and therefore can definitely smash this. This is not something that requires huge amounts of budget, or is dependant on so many people in a team, in fact it’s completely adaptable.
    The only thing to know is it’s not easy, it’s not an overnight thing, you’ll realise how stupid some of your clients are and it’ll make you angry, it’s really hard work. But stick with me, it’s worth it.

    So, let’s start.
  • So I’m the editor of two education websites, and our main goal is to get students into the right uni and studying the right course for them. We do this through advice pages, functions like the ability to book open days and order prospectuses, and crucially, host information about universities. And if they give us money, we’ll create a swanky looking profile page for them.
  • Now before I started, universities provided their own information for these pages, and, you guessed it, it was the same content they provided to every other site. And it’s not surprising, most of our clients have small marketing teams, they don’t have time to write something different for every page they feature on, and so think nothing of just sending us what’s in the prospectus, their main site and everywhere else on the internet.

    We soon discovered we had over 200 universities on our site doing this very thing, creating a very big problem. Duplicated content EVERYWHERE.

  • So my manager, Tyler, who asked for a shout-out in this presentation and who is partly responsible for this year of hell, said, “we have to get rid of it”

    265 profiles rewritten from scratch, more than 250,000 words
  • (Lord of the Rings, by comparison, was only 92,000).
  • And guess who’s responsible for removing and rewriting this content?


  • But

    Before I go any further , to explain why we did what we did, and to explain the power of unique content, and in order to successfully convince you all to email your bosses the minute this session is over to let them know you have to do a unique content strategy from now on, I first need to explain how detrimental duplicated content can be to both you and your clients.

    But the question some of you may be scared to ask at this point, is, what counts as duplicated content? Or you may even be sceptical and think “we don’t have that problem”. Well sorry to tell you this, but you probably do somewhere on your site.

  • Because

    It’s estimated that….

  • The definition of duplicated content is:

    Duplicate content is content that appears on the Internet in more than one place. That “one place” is defined as a location with a unique website address (URL) - so, if the same content appears at more than one web address, you’ve got duplicate content.

  • And how do Google view it?

    “The lowest rating is appropriate if all or almost all of the main content on the page is copied with little or no time, effort, expertise, manual curation, or added value for users.

  • Think referencing will save you? Think again…

    . While not technically a penalty, duplicate content can still sometimes impact search engine rankings. Basically if you’re not adding value or indeed anything for the reader, google will slap you back down the rankings
  • Why is duplication so bad and why do search engines hate it so much? Duplicate content can present three main issues for search engines:

    Well for one, it really confuses them

  • They don't know which version(s) to include/exclude from their indices.
  • They don't know whether to direct the link metrics (trust, authority, anchor text, link equity, etc.) to one page, or keep it separated between multiple versions.
  • And crucially, they don't know which version(s) to rank for query results.

    To provide the best search experience, search engines will rarely show multiple versions of the same content, and thus are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the best result. This dilutes the visibility of each of the duplicates.

    Essentially what I’m trying to say is, for search engines, and therefore your business…
  • Unique (and ideally long form) content is king

    Your best bet is to have one single (canonical) version of content on your site with rich, unique text content that is written specifically for that page.

    Google wants (and rewards) original content – it’s a great way to push up the cost of SEO and create a better user experience at the same time.
  • Think you can get away with just readjusting the odd word? Think again!

    Google says that using low-quality techniques like adding synonyms and related words is:

    QUOTE: “probably more counter productive”

    So where is the duplication coming from in the first place? Where can you find it?
  • Duplicated content can come in many forms, and you may not even realise that your site is crammed with the stuff unless you really look for it. Some of the culprits for duplicated content tend to be your own clients/agencies, especially if they’re paying to be featured on your site, press releases, and even the odd freelancer.
  • Press releases, where the same content has been sent out to thousands of other sites in the hope of coverage
  • If many different websites sell the same items, and they all use the manufacturer's descriptions of those items, identical content winds up in multiple locations across the web.
  • Freelancers will generally give you unique content, but if some pieces, especially if it’s on a unique/timely topic or has had lots of work put into it, could be being treated the same way as a press release, where they send it to as many places as possible in the hope of being featured.
  • How to spot duplicated content?

    Well there’s the obvious way of simply typing in the first sentence into google, that usually brings it up, but to be 100% sure I’d recommend using sites like Google Search Console

    Explain how here:

  • Or copyscape, (which is what we use) where you can type in huge amounts of text or the URL and it’ll bring up every site that includes it
  • There are also several search operators that are very helpful

    So now I’ve convinced you that you’ve probably got duplicated somewhere and how to spot it, how do you get rid of it? And how can you “unleash the power of unique content effectively”?

  • There are four methods of solving the problem, in order of preference:

    Not creating duplicate content…although not very useful advice unless you’re literally about to start a company, like tomorrow…
  • There are four methods of solving the problem, in order of preference:

    Redirecting duplicate content to the canonical URL
  • Adding a canonical link element to the duplicate page
  • If you have content spread amongst multiple domains

    Pick one canonical url on one website (the primary website) and use cross-domain canonical link elements to tell Google which is the primary URL. This way you meet Google’s guidelines, site quality scores should not be impacted and you consolidate all ranking signals in one of these URLs so it can rank as best it can against competing pages.
  • If you do get rid of some of the duplicate content issues, make sure that you redirect all the old duplicate content URLs to the proper canonical URLs.
  • But there’s another way to do it that isn’t about messing around with URLs and gets really stuck into the nuts and bolts of a content strategy, and that’s what I really want to focus on in for you.

    This what we did, and it worked for us…
  • First of all, it’s the word that everyone hates unless they’re an auditor.


    Go through your content and find your duplicated content. Like us you might have tons of client content that’s clearly duplicated in which case you’ve got an easy job, or you might have lots of press releases which were never reworded (and you can usually spot them a mile off), or you may have to go through your entire content archive. But I promise, it’s worth the work to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
  • Then, take a good, hard look at your team and decide who you need/want working on this. Ideally you need someone in content, someone who knows their SEO, someone in sales, and if there’s anyone who deals with your clients directly, definetly get them in the room, because they’ve got to not only be aware of what’s going on, but have a say in it, as they’ll be the ones on the front line if clients aren’t happy.

    Just like any project, you need one owner of the project, and this should ideally be the content person as they’ll have the most work to do here. Sounds like it sucks to be the content person right, well that’s partly true, but when it the strategy is a huge success, it’ll be worth it and you can get some serious credit…or at least a nice email from your boss.

  • Have a clear plan for what you want to achieve, the content you want to change, the cost you need, the extra resources, and crucially who it affects., both internally and externally because you’ll need a communication plan for them.

  • Have a comms plan.

    How are you going to communicate all these new changes, both internally and externally
  • What content are you going to change, what content are you going to rewrite, what are you deleting, where is it hosted now and where will it eventually be hosted?
  • Who is it going to affect the most? Will your team be writing all this new content? Will freelancer work be rewritten or removed? Will clients have to follow new guidelines now?
  • How much is this going to cost (and be prepared to go over this). Do you need to hire temps or can everything be done in house?
  • Who do you need on your team and do you need anyone else from other teams? What resources and skills do you need and when?
  • You might notice that who does it affect is right in the middle and there’s a good reason for that;….
  • Why is factoring in who it affects so important? Because this will play a key part in whether your unique project is a success.

    Tell clients, agencies, freelancers, your team and everyone else it affects nice and early and offer to involve them and you’ll have their attention and support, they’ll feel a part of the decision and more likely to get on board with the changes.

    Leave it too late or don’t involve them till the last minute, and face their wrath. How do I know?
  • Because I only gave clients two weeks’ notice that their content was going to change from them providing the copy to us writing everything on their behalf, and didn’t ask for their input, and it didn’t go well….
  • Yep. It was a dumb mistake.

    Luckily I made it so you don’t have to.
  • And while others were mad about the changes, others, like this one, just didn’t get it, which was even worse because it meant they hadn’t understood why duplicated content was so bad, despite giving them a two page document explaining why it was. They just wanted input, whatever the cost.

    We even had to explain to one client that the search bar on our site wasn’t google.
  • And then of course there was several of these….

    So why am I providing you with tips on how to implement a unique content strategy? Because we didn’t lose a single client.

    So, you’ve got your team, an understanding of why you’re doing this and the content that needs work…what next?
  • So this is actually from the presentation I gave our sales team, and I also gave them a document to pass onto clients.

    You’ll know what’s going wrong, so lay down the law and make it clear that you’re not accepting duplicated content anymore, and why, and making it clear what you’re doing with any current duplicated content, whether you’re rewriting it and want their input, or you’re completely removing it and just dropping them a line to let them know incase they’d like to submit new content to take its place instead.

    Don’t just give this to your content team!
  • A word of warning before you continue, you will have to lay down the law from time to time, and it won’t always be easy, but stand your ground and remain confident that this is not only better for your audience, but for your traffic too.
  • So when we actually got our shit together and sent our comms out, this the guidelines we gave clients….

    Give set deadlines, and explain what happens after this deadline. The project must go on, even if the people you’re dealing with don’t.
  • As well as explaining what’s expected and what you’re no longer accepting, make sure they understand how much this could benefit them…there should be more traffic going to their pages, this can only be a good thing to hear.
  • Ensure there’s a single point of contact for the writers of the original content to go to. Not only will it make the new rules easier to implement but it makes the process itself easier and clients/writers will appreciate it.
  • So once you’ve got your team together and assigned roles, and know what content you’re working on, it’s time for hard work to begin.

    To make this process work effectively, create a shared doc and monitor every step

    You’ll need a list of every piece of content, where it sits and who’s written it
  • Monitoring of each step. So who’s currently working on it, is it in draft stage, has the writer seen yet? Is it live?

    and finally, that’s been published and live. In theory it should look like this…

  • and finally, that’s been published and live.
  • In theory it should look like this…

    I’ve included a link to this template within my slide for you to download and take home for free….you’re welcome….

    We chose to use google doc as we have teams in other countries working on this…because it’s not stressful or difficult enough so we decided to throw different time zones in along for the ride.
  • From experience it’ll look more like this… but after trial and error you will get there
  • One thing we experienced, as noted before was client feedback, so have a plan in place for that too.

    What are you going to say to disgruntled writers who don’t want you to change their work? What are you going to do if they come back with changes that don’t fit the brief?

    Personally we had strict guidelines and if it doesn’t follow it, it doesn’t go live, but what worked for us won’t necessarily work for you. We also created a system where clients could give feedback and we could either change it and send it back, or publish it live immediately. It saved tons of time, when we eventually created it…a year into the project…
  • Once you’ve written your new content…and yes I am probably skipping ahead a few months….or 4 months in our case… (seriously 200 clients…) you need to create a promotion strategy

    Don’t be ashamed of the fact you had duplicated content on the site, instead promote your new-look unique content, spread the word and tell both clients and your audience about your brand-new strategy and new-look content.

    It’s hard to find new stuff to promote on social media, and you’ve got something, so be proud of it!
  • So talk to your team about how you’re going to use your most successful social channels to spread the word. Could you run a competition? Do you want to do a standard advert? Do you want to poke fun of yourself on Instagram? How are you going to communicate in b2b and b2c contexts? All this should drive your social media promotion.

    We recently updated our university pages and made the unique content a selling point. It’s b2b and it works for us.
  • One of the most important things to keep an eye on is the traffic stats. If the unique content strategy has been implemented correctly, the traffic should increase as you’ll be rewarded for getting rid of duplication and rewarded with what our seo team calls “link juice” from search engines, making the hard work worth it.

    So check GA and ensure you’re using UTM links so you can track success
  • You may remember at the start of this I said it’s not an overnight success, and I sadly wasn’t kidding, so prep your manager, their manager and their manager’s manager that you won’t see results immediately, but patience is a virtue, and if you’ve taken the time to do this and so give yourself some time to reap the benefits.

    Initially our unique content project was deemed to be a failure. Within a week not much had changed and it was something you just didn’t talk about in meetings. Kinda like Voldemort or a romantic work relationship that everyone knows is going on but can’t talk about in public yet.

    However, a few months on, traffic grew, and then it grew some more. After a year..
  • So, how are we getting on now?

    51% increase on Whatuni YOY profile pages
  • So, how are we getting on now?

    And over 100% doubled on entrances to our sister site postgraduatesearch yearonyear
  • Which led to a very happy manager, manager’s manager, and manager’s manager manager, and eventually, happy clients
  • But it’s not over yet…
  • To keep a unique strategy going you need to have regular chats with your team, your writers and regularly evaluate the project. Ultimately when we first did this project it was a shambles, and it’s only through continued communication does it become successful and sustainable.

  • Maintain consistency when linking internally throughout a website.
  • So to recap…
  • And assign roles
  • And assign roles
  • Including examples/templates for clients to follow
  • And involve them as much and as early as possible
  • That works for everyone
  • Don’t be scared to promote it either when it’s done
  • And involve them as much and as early as possible
  • I would definitely recommend this site and their tips for duplicate content, I came across it while researching and it’s much more indepth than I could possibly go into…
  • I would definitely recommend this site and their tips for duplicate content, I came across it while researching and it’s much more indepth than I could possibly go into…
  • And before you know it, you’ll have star quality content, a solid strategy to keep it going, and…..
  • Really happy clients….
  • Well, happier clients anyway….
  • Fin
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