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SEO Consultant: Dodging a Bullet on Tuesday evening

On Tuesday 11th September evening, I was on SEO Consultant duties.  I met a potential new client to discuss his business start up. I had a brief indication of the niche he was going into through a dialogue of emails leading up to it. The meeting itself was very productive, he’s a very motivated guy, switched on and desperate to succeed.  The reason I want to blog about it today is to firstly highlight a process that is needed at the inception stage of a start up business, but also a huge warning to other potential business of problems that can arise through web development.

8:00pm: Drink ordered, laptop out, discussion started on his background and how his vision for his online company would progress over a 5 year period. Contingencies explained for risk management in changing over to do this full time and where he saw his budget best being utilised.

8:30pm: Website review. This is where it got interesting. The platform he was using and paying around £30/month (packages where available for £100/month also) was with a company called Trade Only. If you digest their marketing, it looks like a great deal. Free catalogues, you’re own custom website, enquiry system in place, and a shed load of ‘generic’ products already listed on the website with pretty good html code for SEO purposes. I thought this was a pretty good deal for the direction he was going in.

9:00pm: We discussed how the website was going to be used as part of a sustainable business. SEO would help out was his thought. Through a combination of cold calling, maintaining relationships with clients the business would be stable, but for linear growth, the enquiry form on the website would bring in new business leads. Ok, now we went into the admin area to see what was customisable for his business. Nothing, considering there were 800 indexed pages on his website, there were all created by trade only and protected. Alarm bells were going off. What if trade only’s other customers had exactly the same website? Could this be the worst case of duplicate content the world has ever known? Yes! See the screen shot of a specific Google search ‘401001 Trafford Conference Folder’ which is one of the products, and check out the listing information on all rival websites!

duplicate content listing

Google search showing duplicate content



















So how far does the duplication go? Well I was still getting the same content results after 250 listings. Even though the graphic design or template used on various sites might be different, the content from an SEO viewpoint is identical.

duplicate content listing 248

duplicate content listings over 250







So to the untrained eye, what does this mean?

  1. Google will penalise duplicate content in the search engine rankings. All of these websites are having a respective bad effect on each other.
  2. Despite all the code being decent to rank for the products and the market, they will not compete in the search rankings against unique websites.
  3. From a business point of view, this can still work, but paid advertising is the only way to generate business which opens up a whole different strategy.

10:00pm I drafted a letter with substantiation for the prospective client to Trade Only with the duplicate content questions clearly defined. We haven’t heard back from them yet. (I will update this blog with any answer).

10:30pm A little keyword research into the products on the website that can’t be changed.

[Trafford conference folder]: no one searches for this product. Would consider revising to [conference folders, conference folder, promotional conference folders] which have between 590 and 72 searches a month.

11:00 We mapped out short term goals to determine whether or not the website he has is going to be a solid foundation to build his business on.

My initial thoughts after the meeting is that he has dodged a bullet by meeting up with me, and that if he continued to use the platform he was paying for, the website would have no positive impact on his business to become sustainable, and would completely rely on cold calling for business leads.

Author: Brendan Smith

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