Duplicate content is one of the most common issues we see at websites that aren’t performing as well as they should. Duplicate content at doctor’s websites is particularly common, because so many practice websites are bought as a product rather than custom built.
Why do doctor’s websites have this problem?
These doctor’s websites are usually offered with a choice of a few different themes, with content already built in or provided as a library of articles. Homepage content might start off with “Here at NAME we care about CITY families, and we aim to be the best CITY pediatrician of all!” The doctor is expected to fill in the name of the practice and the city, but all of the sites sold for a particular specialty will have essentially the same words.
This can let you get your practice website up fast. The idea is that your practice is competing only with other practices in your town, so it doesn’t matter if a practice in another town has identical content. The screenshot below shows a typical example. From Boca Raton to Beverly Hills, these dermatologists have identical content about Juvederm.
Some of these practices may be doing well with local search. Local search is not the same as overall SEO, so there is an element of truth to the theory that duplicate content at doctor’s websites is not as big a problem as duplicate content at other types of sites. But we see over and over that duplicate content keeps professional websites from ranking where they should.
Do you have a problem?
An attractive, functional website that doesn’t rank where its owner can reasonably expect it to rank is a red flag for duplicate content.
Where can you reasonably expect to rank? If you have just opened a physical therapy practice in a town with fifteen PT practices, you shouldn’t expect to be on page 1 of the SERPs yet. But if you have an established practice and you see newer outfits ranking ahead of you, then you are not showing up as well as you should. Since duplicate content is one of the most common reasons for this, you should eliminate that problem first.
Find duplicate content.
Check your web content and make sure that it is original. There are online tools for this. We tried out SEO Review Tools online duplicate content checker with a number of URLs, some of which we knew had duplicate content issues and some of which we knew did not. By the time we reached the allowed limit of URLs for the day, we had received just one set of accurate results. Most URLs returned a message saying there were no results.
Siteliner was cooler to watch, but it identified our sidebar and author names as duplicate content within our website and did not identify sites with known duplicate content issues.
If you have a favorite duplicate content checker, please let us know in the comments. Based on our tryouts, though, we think it’s just as fast and more accurate to use Google.
Pick a phase from your website, copy it, and paste it in at Google.com. Don’t choose a common phrase like, “We accept most insurance plans.” Pick a sentence with a bit of character. In the example below, we chose the sentence, “Our practice is committed to providing you and your family with safe, gentle, and high-quality dental care.” Google showed us 239 results, and you can see in the screenshot below that they span the nation.
The idea is that a California practice’s results won’t be seen by prospective patients in Maine. However, duplicate content makes your website less valuable overall in the view of the search engines. A website with original content will be ranked higher than a website that shares content with other websites. Google prefers to show websites with original content.
So if you have a website like the ones shown here, you do have a problem. Your competitors’ websites will be ranked higher than yours if they have strong original content. Rankings aren’t the only thing that affects whether you’re shown to searchers, but it is certainly important.
How to correct duplicate content
Remove the duplicate content. Replace it with original, high quality content. Easy, right?
First you have to test each page and post at your website, identify those with duplicate content, and delete or replace that content. This could be part of an overall content audit.
Then you must rebuild your content so that your website contains all the information your visitors need. Some of the pages you might want to include:
You should probably plan to hire a web content firm to take care of this for you. You’ll want to make sure that your content is well optimized for search, and it’s hard to fit this kind of work into a busy practice schedule.
Once you’ve cleaned up the problem, resubmit your site to Google through the Search Console to make sure Google crawls your website and sees that you’ve taken care of the issues.
Your practice may be better off with a custom website rather than a cookie-cutter website. Download our guide to effective medical websites to learn the basics.