A prospective customer does a search for a product your company carries, and your brand appears in the number one, three, five and seven spots. Terrific, right?

Not necessarily.

As Shari Thurow, author of the forthcoming book When Search Meets Web Usability, wrote in a recent blog, finding the same content delivered multiple times by a search engine frustrates searchers, and can turn them off of your brand. “As a Web site usability professional, I constantly see how easily searchers remember "bad" sites, and don’t click on those links again, even if those links appear in top search engine positions," says Thurow.

So to be successful, Web site owners and search professionals should focus on relevant, not repetitive, copy, she advises. “Every Web page should contain unique, useful, and credible content independent of a site’s primary and secondary navigational elements,” Thurow says. “If a page does not provide enough unique information, then it is best to exclude that content from search engine crawling to make room for other, more valuable pages.”

Marketers also need to understand how commercial Web search engines filter out and display duplicate content, she notes. For example, many SEO practitioners are not aware that search engines use various duplicate content filters at all three points (crawler, indexer, query processor) of the search engine process.

The Point: You can have too much of a good thing. Duplicate content not only can sour potential customers’ search experiences, it can even turn them against you.

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