When developing, adding to, or updating your website copy, the content on your site should be primarily unique. The information on your site should not be replicated on or replicated from other sites. Why?
1. Unique website content helps you develop your own personal voice, brand, and messaging for your clients, and
2. Ensures that search engines are not confused when it gives credit to original content creators through rankings and keyword context that helps them serve relevant results to web searchers.
According to Google Webmaster Tools, "Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information." Furthermore, if it appears you have replicated text from other pages, sites, or sources in an attempt to increase your search rankings, your site by default may not be favored in search results (again due to a search engine's confusion), your site's ranking may suffer when detected by Google, or even worse, your site may be removed from search results.
Here are a few tips to consider about duplicate website content while you're upping the ante on your website content:
1. Quotes are definitely acceptable as long as proper credit is provided to the original source and it doesn't account for a major percentage of your site content. If you're quoting a reputable source (as I did with Google Webmaster Tools above), use it to prove a point and add your commentary on it or share why it inspires you.
2. Photos you snap yourself, stories you tell about how you started your business, and even showcasing your clients and what you offer them can give you a leg up against competitors - not to mention, it makes your site more interesting!
3. Creating website content that is specific to your company on an ongoing basis makes it more difficult for other companies to claim as their own.
4. Many companies supply products to their customers that they purchase from manufacturers, who may offer their product specs or related information to be used by any of their customers. Resist the urge to save time by using their content on your site. If the information cannot be described otherwise (dimensions, materials, etc.), add your own description of the products and the value it provides to your customers. Take your own photos or ask your customers to provide photos of your products in use.
5. If you develop a specialized blog post with your bio for another site or another site features your company on their blog, instead of copying the post on your website blog, reference the story, possibly with a quote or two (appropriately credited), then add your response to the story or a unique take on their perspective as we did here when we were featured by Associated Press.
Instead of getting wrapped up in the "rules" and the "duplicate content" buzz-words, focus on making your website a personal representation of your story, team, and what makes you different, or even irresistible, in the marketplace. Then, visitors - instead of search engines - may take a double-take and keep coming back because they wouldn't think of working with anyone else.
Check out George's advice on duplicate content from within, and external to, your website from way back when. The ideas still apply - and Lao Tzu may have said it best in Tao Te Ching, “When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” (goodreads)