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When Listing Services Create Duplicate Websites, They Hurt Your SEO

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Your website is a key aspect of your brand and your lead generation. It signals to your audience who you are, your professionalism, and the experience they can expect from living at your apartment. Consistency in how you tell your story visually and textually helps to create brand trust and increases engagement and conversion.

So what happens if one of your listing services comes along and creates a duplicate website with duplicate copy? By making a close copy of your business website with a completely separate URL, it does two things. First, it hurts your SEO because it creates confusion of who the “real” company is and signals Google and other search engines to beware. Second, it hurts your brand by taking people to a digital medium you don’t fully own.

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We’ve come across a large number of websites where Internet Listing Services (ILSs) have created a stand-alone website that somewhat duplicates the brand’s original website. These duplicate websites are confusing to consumers because it isn’t clear which website should be trusted. In most cases, the logo is even missing and in its place is a plain-text listing of the apartment name which, again, reduces your brand.

Does it really hurt my SEO?

Google is certainly a complex beast, with an array of algorithms that aim to provide the best answers to people’s questions. Google essentially evaluates all websites for their ability to display relevance, authority, and trust. When your brand sends signals that degrade this, it can result in lower rankings and loss of traffic to your website. This hurts your business, so you need to protect your brand.

Duplicate content and websites hurt your SEO in a couple of important ways. Remember, Google is trying to serve up the best answers (aka, websites) to answer the question that the searcher typed into the search engine. When Google, and other search engines, come across two websites with the same business listing (name, address, phone number) and even the same content on the pages, Google isn’t sure which version to include or exclude from its index, so it could choose to serve neither. Also, Google doesn’t know whether to score just one website high, or divide it between both. This confusion can result in your primary website getting a reduced SEO profile and hurting your business.

And let’s not forget about citations. A citation is essentially your online business card reflecting your business name, address, phone number, and URL. When this business card is different across websites, it sends a confusing signal to Google, which tries to programatically understand what is a unique authoritative voice. When listing services create duplicate websites, the citation often has discrepancies, creating a signal to search engines that can reduce confidence in the business.

What should I do next?

Take back control of your digital marketing by ensuring that your vendors or listing sites aren’t doing things to hurt your brand and performance. Read the fine print and beware of “free listing” websites. Contact these companies and get their websites removed so they no longer impact your business.

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