You might have noticed several websites when browsing the internet that are exact duplicates of one another. The websites’ similarities extend beyond just their user interface and include their content as well. These circumstances cause audiences to become confused, and they wind up visiting a different website instead of the one they were looking for. A natural concern regarding the penalty Google applies on these pages arises in light of Google’s most recent change.
Recently, John Mueller, Search Advocate for Google answered a series of questions out of which this one’s worth noting down:
“How big is the risk of penalization if we use the same HTML structure, same components, layout and same look and feel between the different brands? What would be different are the logos, fonts and colours. Or would you suggest migrating to the same front end but keeping the different experience between the two brands?”
While John mentioned no two websites can be penalised for having the same structure or offering the same user experience, what determines if a website deserves to be penalised is the content within it.
According to Josh, if the URLs and the website content are the same across two websites then Google’s systems may pick one of the pages as a canonical page. For example, if there is the same document used on both websites, Google would pick just one and show that in the search results. For both pages to rank, the content needs to be significantly different and not just modified with a new colour scheme or logo.
Is This A Good Thing?
Google encourages content marketers to publish authentic content that is original and adds value to the readers. If pages are stuffed with keywords, robbed from other high-performing pages and written with a purpose and intention to simply rank, the pages will most likely not rank.
Keeping Google’s expectations in mind, websites that look similar and offer the same user experience need not be penalised for website layouts, plug-ins and other add-ons that may be used by more than one website.
However, what makes the website truly unique is the content within it and one needs to invest time, energy and money into publishing high-quality website content that is not duplicated. That’s what should always be the criteria for high-ranking pages that are not penalised.