Content Differentiation for Global SEO

In a recent interview, Google’s Matt Cutts spoke about the importance of truly unique content to searchers and search engines alike. Simply put, Google and other major search engines reward sites that have fresh, unique content because they signal added value to users.

While many organizations we work with typically follow this advice in their domestic market, the challenge of publishing unique content that is SEO-friendly on a regular basis in different markets is often viewed as a zero-sum game. As a result, some are risking their rankings by experimenting with forms of article spinning or simply doing nothing more than tagging non-duplicate content. In order to rank well in search engines worldwide, companies need to do a lot more.

There’s a subtle but critical difference between duplicate content and differentiation. Some websites utilize duplicate content in functional ways that typically require canonical tags to help search engines discern which page is most useful to searchers. Content differentiation is less technical in practice but discerns one page from another (or site from another) with content that reflects uniqueness, originality and relevance.

There is likely plenty of competition in your industry and market. Differentiated content will not only set you apart from competitors, it will also give you a key advantage in search engine rankings. This is important because if all things are equal on technical SEO implementation, sites with fresh and unique content have more potential to rank higher on search results.

As Matt Cutts points out in Search Engine Watch, “While [sites with similar content are] not duplicates, they bring nothing new to the table. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with what these people have done, but they should not expect this type of content to rank.”

The concept of content differentiation is one that we often evangelize to global organizations who are looking to improve their international SEO rankings and drive quality traffic to their sites. The practice of creating unique, SEO-friendly content on a regular basis that is relevant to users is easier said than done in some cases, but remains a direct example of what we mean when we say we help clients execute globally consistent and locally relevant content.

When considering your own organization’s mix of technology, agencies and global markets, how easy do you find it to stay on top of content differentiation? What other challenges with international SEO do you find keep you from reaching better ranking positions?

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