We are all guilty of loving our content too much. We love it so much that we want to absolutely ensure our website visitors see it. Innocently enough, we duplicate the content and co-locate it in multiple locations on our company website.
This is not a best practice.
To improve your website’s user experience, every piece of content should have a dedicated home. Products reside on the Products page. Events live on the Events page. It’s that simple.
But yet, it can be so complicated.
Many corporate websites have permanent homes for content but yet they place the exact same content on their home pages. And a bunch of other places.
When the well-intentioned HR director wants Events co-located on the Recruiting page, just say no! HR can link to the Events page (where events belong) from the Recruiting page. Motivated prospective employees won’t mind the extra click.
What happens when there’s a new HR director? The content gets moved again, likely over your objections.
What Google says
If your organization cares at all about search engine optimization (SEO), you should pay attention to how Google deals with duplicate content.
During one of his famous Google hangout sessions, John Mueller explained how Google handles co-located content. John is Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, so he’s more than a credible source.
“What generally happens in a case like that is we find the same text snippet on multiple pages on your website and that’s perfectly fine… What will however happen is when someone is searching for something just in that text snippet then all of these different pages are kind of competing against each other in the search results and will try to pick one of these pages to show and try to figure out which one is their most relevant…
“So that could be that maybe your category pages see more traffic but that would kind of come at the cost of your product detail pages seeing less traffic.
“So that’s something which you essentially can decide on and think about for your website… to see does it make sense to bring more information at a higher level within the website at the cost of those higher-level pages ranking more when people are actually searching for detailed information. Or does it make sense to kind of separate that out and clearly say well this is detailed information and this is kind of more general higher-level information.”
If you pay attention, you’ll notice many corporate and even e-commerce sites co-locate content on their home pages.
Again, this is not a best practice.
Your home page is like your store front. Do not clutter it up. Think of your home page as an upscale boutique. Not Walmart.
Do not post as much content as possible on your home page. Keep it tidy.
Place only unique, high-quality content on your home page. Explain who you are, what you do, and why visitors should care. Entice users to read more. But be aware that many users will bypass your home page altogether.
Put a “home” link on every content page. Or place a “home” link in your footer. This type of landmark improves usability, especially for new visitors to your company website. If a user feels lost or somehow disoriented on your site, they will leave in a few seconds.
Today’s users often find content using search or social media. Their search may lead them directly to your blog or another content page. The key is providing intuitive, informed navigation and information architecture. If users can always find their way home, they can never get lost.
- Do not co-locate content. It’s not good for users or SEO.
- Every content type – whether it’s your corporate blog or product offerings – should have a dedicated location.
- Ensure users can always find their way home.
Author Tracey Birkenhauer is the founder of Aristeen, a digital content agency in Livonia, Mich. She has 20+ years of experience developing and managing digital content for companies of all sizes.