Bad Plan and a Bad CMS Implementation
One of the biggest mistakes really large publishers make today is doing SEO like it’s 1999. They throw up hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of pages, with the belief that more is better. This has grown exponentially with web 2.0 and blogging apps and cross-tagging, listing and publishing content in multiple spots. Here’s an example that’s pretty typical of a problem I see with alarming frequency.
Here’s a link to page entitled Parents Report: Vaccine Update 2007 on healthykids.com. The original article comes from Parents.com but the content is featured on HealthyKids.com. Here’s the exact same article on Parents.com . Here’s the same article on LHJ.com (Ladies Home Journal) AmericanBaby.com, Child.com, Fitnessmagazine.com, More.com, midwestliving.com heck this article may be on hundreds of sites for all I know.
All of these publications are owned by the Meredith Corporation (ack sound link). Is the Meredith Corp a bunch of low down rotten black hat spammers? I don’t know if I’d go that far but if I had to guess I’d say they thought they were being “helpful” (to their users and themselves) publishing the content in multiple spots. However if they were my clients my advice would be “umm no, you guys should really stop doing that, sooner rather than later, and next week sounds like a really good time to start”.
Now looking at the SERP’s for [Report: Vaccine Update 2007] Google seems to have done a good job eliminating the duplicate listings. However I don’t know if HealtyKids.com is the best domain, it looks like they wanted it on Parents.com since that’s what the banners on all of the pages above indicate (that’s why I say you don’t want Google guessing the best spot, you want to tell Google where you want it).
What’s the takeaway here:
1) Put your content on only one page. It doesn’t matter if it’s your site, another site you own, a site you syndicate to, or your aunt’s sally’s macramé hobby website. Content should only be on one URL period.
2) if you are going to pull that web 2.0 mashup line on me and how it’s better for the users and Google should just figure it out, then you need a double mocha frappe espresso Grande with soy milk, cause it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Google may get it right they may get it wrong, why take the chance and cast your fate to the wind. Block the web 2.0 double tagging/publishing nonsense with robots AND meta tags … mkay (yes I said and remember people deep link).
3) Spend the time to make sure your CMS isn’t wackadoodle and letting you do stuff like this by design on purpose or by accident. I’m sure wordpress thought they were being helpful doing a lot of things that aren’t SEO-friendly.