How to rank well without unique content?

No Unique Content

While Dan and I were presenting in Poland, we received lots of questions during the Q&A as well as while mingling around. The most difficult and to me the most interesting question was: how to rank well if I have no unique content?

The obvious answer would be create valuable unique content that your users will love and share. What if that’s not possible?

The question came from a person running a price comparison website. This is a common case out there actually. Any type of comparison / search website has a problem with uniqueness of its content.

Not only that they have the same content as their competitors (other comparison websites) but also as the original content owner and other online stores out there selling those products. Also note that when we say content, we don’t mean just text, as that is the first thing people think about when they hear content in the SEO sense. They also have the same images. Since they don’t physically have the item, they can’t even be unique in the way they present it, by taking better images of it and showing it from different angles or in better resolution.

The other cases where content uniqueness problem happens is travel agencies, booking agencies and similar. They all aggregate content from the original source.

So how do you rank well without unique content?

Provide good user experience. Better than competitors. If users choose your website over and over again in SERP rather than your competitors because they like the user experience you offer, eventually you will go up in rankings naturally.

Concentrate on giving users exactly what they want. Work on your bounce rates. Try different ways of sorting products, invent new comparison algorithms that your competitors don’t have.

Be unique in content presentation since you’re not unique in content.

An example of a search query that shows you the problems aggregators have with content uniqueness.

Using the data you have to add unique insights

Dan had a good idea and suggested you could use the data you have to add some unique value to the visitors. For example, as an aggregator you might have data on historical price change of the products you display. You could make cool graphs showing the price change trend, maybe even predict price rise and fall in different months of the year.

Do you have any other ideas of how aggregators can use the data they have to provide additional value to the users?

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

0 Points

14 thoughts on “How to rank well without unique content?”

  1. MAR SCR says:

    You make fool to post your article and this is not good. I know u r good optimizer but this line don’t affect lot – “Be unique in content presentation since you’re not unique in content”.

  2. MAR SCR says:

    Content presentation means You provide content for site.

  3. conversiongreen says:

    Some nice ideas here Toni. Doing something unique is a great idea. Also, I think there is still some opportunity to ensure you have the best structured data for ecommerce products such as the example you have shown so rich snippets with info such as price and review scores shows in results and aids click through rates.

  4. What you’re saying sounds nice, but how on earth is Google suppose to determine that such and such site is engaging.. When Matt Cutts has gone on record saying they don’t use bounce rate as a SERP factor!. Affiliate marketers have been murdered in the last 2 years. At the end of the day you’re left with links…unless there are other signals Google is using to determine site experience?

  5. Toni Anicic says:

    Matt says a lot of things, don’t take it literally. You have to read between the lines with that guy.
    I know it for a fact that good SERP CTR will get you ahead. At least I’ve seen correlations, but I’m pretty sure there’s some causation in it as well.

  6. Luke Chapman says:

    There are many options for unique content on a site such as a comparison site. Provide information that your suppliers do not. User generated content such as reviews are great. As Dan mentioned, things like historical price data/seasonality are great too. Write articles on how to get the best deal on X product – isn’t that why people are using a comparison site anyway? And of course make your site the easiest, cheapest, fastest way to purchase. That way people will link to you naturally. Works for us!

  7. Butler says:

    I appreciate the core idea behind the post, but suggesting that oCTR is anything more than a hobby for Google is a little misplaced. At best it /could/ be a minor signal; it’s hardly something to base a strategy on.

  8. Toni Anicic says:

    Rand just mentioned the SERP CTR will boost you up in latest whiteboard Friday as well

  9. Gary says:

    Thanks for the post Toni. A lot of people tend to forget to focus on user experience and just try to focus on Google. After reading this article I immediately went to my site and tried to find broken links that my site might have. With that being said, I think unique content is essential for a website. I think this would help your site stand out among all the sites without unique content, but probably wouldn’t do well against sites that do have unique content.

  10. great post – what came to mind for me were these jail aggregation sites that all basically use the same (watermarked) images on their sites, yet they all seem to rank

  11. Trey Collier says:

    I believe Matt Cutts says he doesn’t use the bounce rate of your websites info in Google Analytics, or any of the other data in your GA Data. That doesn’t preclude them from using their SERP pages data. They can/do track Impressions, Clicks, and even returns to SERP to choose another site and many other factors that they use to judge users ability to “Find” what they are looking for or for telling Google that they didn’t “Find” what they are looking for and this gives them a good way to have the SERP users a way to “vote” on the best content, by their actions and thus gives Google a way to better choose which URLs should be ranked. I could be wrong. 😛

  12. Historical price change, what a lame idea, it’s on a lot of sites.
    My strategy if I were to have an e-commerce site with no unique product : get the content from the source (not from a crappy feed), with full HQ pictures, video, and everything you can get automated. Get the product description, and add tagging to it, Hx / p / ul / ol / dl / em / etc. This can be semi automated but requires human validation.
    Live example (french) :
    User-experience is essential of course, but ranking with duplicate content requires to be smart, have semi-automated process and human validation when required.

  13. After hummingbird update content plays a very important role in ranking your websites. I don’t think you can rank well until your content is creative or modernised or else gaining quality links.

  14. William John says:

    If SERP CTR can place you ahead of the competitors then content placement would be reducing your bounce rate too. As content is King it plays a major role to beat your competitors.