Duplicate Content Penalties on PPC Landing Pages SEO No-No

by Mike Valentine on October 29, 2005

Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty on PPC Landing Pages!

Copyright © October 30, 2005 by Mike Banks Valentine

There are recent posts in marketing forums worrying over “duplicate content” penalties concerns when creating pages intended as Pay-Per-Click landing pages. First a couple of definitions:

1. PPC landing page: A page created to perfectly match the content of a pay-per-click ad so that PPC ad is created for “IBM Selectric typewriter repair” then the visitor is directed to a “PPC Landing page” created to exactly reflect only that brand repair, rather than sending clickthroughs to the home page which discusses generic typewriter repair.

PPC landing pages should have photos of that brand, maybe an IBM logo and a link for shipping instructions. You’d then create a different page for each brand you repair, switching out the photo and the logo for each brand. This leads to higher sales conversion and it works very well. But it has a drawback related to search engine ranking …

2. Duplicate Content Penalty: Repeated pages with keyword focused phrases created to rank well in organic search results are seen as a spamming technique. A paragraph with generic reference to typewriter repair is written so that the brand name is swapped in and used multiple times on a single page. Those are seen as duplicate content and are penalized in ranking algorithms because it has been widely abused by sites attempting to rank well for each brand by repeating text on dozens of pages with only the brand and model different on each page – thus labeled as duplicate content and seen as bad by search engines.

What do you do to avoid the duplicate content penalty while creating effective PPC landing pages for higher conversion?

Duplicate content on a single site is a BIG problem if done in the way a PPC landing page would be – just swapping out the brand name in a paragraph or two of text and repeating that same text dozens of times on different pages.

But you are creating those landing pages for PPC and NOT for organic listings and don’t want them ranked organically. So make the PPC landing pages all off limits to the spiders with a simple tag in the < head> of each separate brand page:

< META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW">

That will keep custom tailored PPC landing pages out of search engine indexes when you only have a few pages. But if you run an extremely large PPC campaign with hundreds of custom landing pages, then solve the problem by putting those PPC landing pages within a single directory like:

http://typewriter-repair.com/PPC/olivetti-repair.html

http://typewriter-repair.com/PPC/smith-corona-repair.html

http://typewriter-repair.com/PPC/ibm-selectric-repair.html

Then create and post a robots.txt file that tells spiders to stay out of that directory

User-agent: *

Disallow: /PPC/

For organic SEO you would always make brand focused pages with UNIQUE content about each of the brands by discussing peculiarities of each brand and specific known problems with those brands that often require repairs and optimize for organic SEO and encouraging spiders crawl and index them.

The key is to tell spiders to stay away from the repetitive PPC focused pages. That way, you have PPC clickthrough pages that reflect EXACTLY the ad visitors clicked on but won’t suffer the duplicate content penalty. Because you WILL be penalized in organic rankings if you put up dozens of pages with only brand name differences in the text – even if you didn’t intend it as phony spider food done just for organic ranking purposes.

Keeping the spiders out of PPC focused pages is wise for another reason – You may want to create PPC landing pages for short term sales, close-outs, one of a kind items that will sell out or if you stop repairing a particular brand. You don’t want those pages indexed and then later delete them from your server because when spiders return to find that page deleted later, you suffer in rankings because you have missing pages without redirects.

Best to keep the spiders out of PPC landing pages entirely if they are only there for PPC purposes. If you are using the multiple page technique for organic ranking purposes, then you WILL be penalized. Best mark PPC pages with the < META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW"> tag or…

Create a PPC section on your site within a PPC directory and then post robots.txt file telling spiders to stay out of a directory like:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /PPC/

The search engine ranking game gets more complex as your site grows and PPC marketing campaigns can conflict with organic search engine ranking strategies. Avoid duplicate content penalties by restricting PPC landing pages from spiders and prevent them ever being indexed.

Mike Banks Valentine blogs on Search Engines developments from http://RealitySEO.com and operates a small business ecommerce tutorial from http://WebSite101.com and content distribution site at: http://Publish101.com

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