Generating content for domains with thousands of pages means massive investments in copywriting or auto-generated content. Companies with large product catalogs or dynamically-generated content face unique problems small sites will never face.
As a result, many large Web sites are pretty thin on content on many of their pages. A catalog site may have a page for every single product list in the catalog, but very little descriptive text by the product images. Affiliate sites may have descriptive text, but most likely it's mirrored content from the affiliate partner.
SEO Content Management Problems
Two major problems result:
Duplicate Content. It's a common misperception that duplicate content is defined as two pages with identical content. However, pages do not need to have 100 percent identical content to be considered duplicates. A classic example of this: sites with a large number of geographic pages.
Let's say a site offers blue widgets on the city level. Perhaps they have a page for "Boston Blue Widgets" and one for "Seattle Blue Widgets." It used to be a popular technique to spew out these sorts of geographic pages, while varying only the city name in the title and description text on the page.
It's a trivial task for a search engine algorithm (define) to detect. Search engines immediately diagnose these pages as duplicate content.
Another form of this problem: a copy of an article from another Web site with the inclusion of a limited amount of unique commentary. A few additional words on the page don't qualify as unique content. It may still be judged as duplicate content by the search engines.
Low Quality Pages. Even if you avoid the duplicate content problem, the pages may simply be seen as low quality if you don't have a lot of stuff for the search engine to chew on. Talk about a fast track to the supplemental index.
The solution is simple: make sure you have a couple of paragraphs of unique text on every page you care about. More is better, but a couple of unique paragraphs should do it.
Even though I said the solution is simple, it isn't for sites with thousands of pages. That's a lot of two paragraph blurbs to write.
SEO Content Development Solutions
User-Generated Content. Amazon demonstrates beautifully how to incorporate user-generated content. Here's an example on their page for "A Bridge Too Far."
What you see above is part of one review. There are three lengthy reviews shown in full on this page. That's a ton of content Amazon has gotten for free.
If your site has the traffic and the right topic matter to obtain user-generated content in reasonable volume, this is a great solution.
Hire Writers. Of course, you can go ahead and hire team of writers, and simply get then started on cranking stuff out. While it sounds tedious and manual -- and it is -- it works quite well when you do it this way.
We've explored ways to lower the cost of this type of effort. For example, we've outsourced the writing to people in India. The problem? The vendors we chose didn't live in our environment. It's a lot harder than you'd think to get good stuff, so this isn't a path I'd recommend.
Getting people here in the U.S. can be done fairly inexpensively anyway. For example, put signs up at a local college or university offering to pay students for their writing. You can do this inexpensively, and you usually get good stuff.
I recommend you work on one section of the site at a time if you pursue this approach.
Automated Content Generation. There are several ways to generate content automatically. Many of these simply generate spam and not what is of interest to me.
However, you can take databases of relevant information and express information on your site in sentence form. Doing this properly requires a lot of time and effort. You need to make sure you're generating valuable content for your Web site visitors, or else you'll have trouble building up your site traffic.
Even though this method requires a lot of time and effort to set up, it can be a lot easier than hiring a writing team. Of course, you can pursue the best of both worlds, and hire writers to edit auto-generated content.
The key for this approach is having the relevant data so you can make the effort meaningful.
Large site owners have serious content development challenges. The motivation for addressing these challenges goes beyond duplicate content and poor quality pages. Sites rich in content draw a wealth of inbound links. Great content will draw the links with little or no additional effort on your part to seek them out.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!