Search engines, such as Google, make their money from advertising. They provide internet users with powerful yet simple tools to locate the most relevant data about their search criteria. Then allocate advertisements associated with the results displayed. It’s a system that works well, and they are very good at it.
The competitive nature of business requires being in front of the next woman when it comes to the self-promotion of their businesses and brands. Not only is an easy-to-use website, which can adapt to the devices viewing it, a key requirement. But it must be optimized for search engines to categorize it correctly.
Those who understood that the internet is one huge collection of programs struggling to work together didn’t take long to figure out ways to manipulate the system to gain search result preference. They were ahead of the pack, and everything in the garden appeared rosy. It didn’t last long.
Slowly the search engines grew wise to the shenanigans, and the criteria were tightened. Single-page or ‘thin’ content websites were swept aside in preference for more content-rich offerings, which gave genuine value to those searching for quality information and services. The use of keywords took a back seat, and social interaction, frequency of use, and search patterns became the indicators of a website’s actual worth. No longer could lazy site owners cut and paste content from others sites to save time whilst bulking up their own virtual properties. This diluted the user’s search experience. Besides, nobody wants to use a system that is littered with useless garbage. It threatened advertising revenue, and offenders were severely punished. The website’s ranking dropped off the grid. Quality had to be increased and maintained if you were to survive.
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One of the indicators of a site’s quality and commitment was the inclusion of policies relating to the website. Email, disclaimers, testimonials, affiliations, DMCA notices, and copyright policies became mandatory if you wanted any form of love from the mighty search engines.
But how can the average small business owner be expected to keep up with all these changes, let alone create a slew of policies to satisfy the search engines and give positive reassurance to customers? Enter the plugin.
Popular website frameworks, such as WordPress utilize plugins. These are additional sections of computer code that perform a task not included with the out-of-the-box installation. Need to add the current weather information to the sidebar of your site? Add a plugin, and hey-presto!
So it didn’t take long for plugins to take off in a BIG way. At the time of writing, I see that WordPress.org has over 27,000 available. One of these, WP Policies by offline tools, I have used myself. It provides a convenient way of adding in the aforementioned website policies in an easy-to-use way.
There are a set of pre-written policies merged by the plugin with your own user data. Adding your company name, address, telephone, and email details produce a professionally presented set of policies that can be easily displayed on your website with the inclusion of a single line of PHP code. This solution appeared ideal to the other 46,000 people who downloaded it and me.
However, it occurred to me: isn’t this actually duplicate content, as far as the search engines are concerned? If so, are we, the users, unwittingly handicapping our own search result efforts through the use of such plugins?
I, of course, having nothing against this particular plugin or its author(s), and there may well be other plugins providing a similar function. But this thought raised some serious doubts in my mind. Doubts which I decided to test in a rudimentary way.
I took a section of one of the pre-written email policies:
Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from our partners and us by reading the unsubscribe instructions located at the bottom of any e-mail they receive from us at any time. Users who no longer wish to receive our newsletter or promotional materials may opt-out of receiving these communications by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail or e-mail us at”
and put it into Google’s search engine to see how many other sites it was aware of, apart from mine. I received 72,400 results! Goodness!
If my assumption is correct, and I am working on its premise, I now need to rewrite the policies and place each into its own page within WordPress before manually adding links to each policy. Dispensing with the line of PHP code previously used to connect to them.
If you are using similar plugins to the one mentioned to create your own site’s policies or provide content for your site in other ways, you may wish to consider duplicating my re-writing solution to help improve your own relationship with the all-powerful search engines.