Do you remember when Grandma used to bake cookies?
She’d roll out the dough and use a cookie-cutter to make a hundred identical cookies in no time.
In the world of business websites we have a very similar thing… cookie-cutter websites.
But while grandma’s cookies were always a hit, especially with the little ones, cookie-cutter websites are not quite as “delicious.”
You see, not everything was meant to be duplicated at high speed!
What Are Cookie-Cutter Websites?
A cookie-cutter website is a site that has been duplicated. In other words, if you have a cookie-cutter site, much of the content on your website will be identical to the content on similar websites.
The designs of the cookie-cutter sites will probably vary. So at least they will look different (in most cases, that is).
But the content of the web pages are largely the same as that on other sites.
How Do Businesses End Up With Cookie-Cutter Websites?
It isn’t all that difficult to end up with a cookie-cutter site.
Imagine that you’re starting a new business and you need a website. Let’s say you’re an acupuncturist.
You go to Google and do a search for “acupuncture websites.”
Among the results is a company that offers quick and easy websites for acupuncturists, and you think, “Bingo! I can have a website up and running in a day, and for only a few hundred dollars!”
You sign up, and a day later your brand new website is out there, waiting for potential clients to arrive.
How do you know that you’ll be getting a cookie-cutter site?
A big clue that you might be getting a cookie-cutter website is if the provider tells you your site will be up and running in a day.
Nobody builds a complete, multi-page, unique-content website in a day!
Another option is to ask the provider for the URLs (website addresses) of three of their other clients. Then compare content on those sites. Look for identical content.
Why Are Cookie-Cutter Websites So Bad?
The duplicated content
The biggest problem lies with the duplicated content itself.
Google, who you’ll be relying on to bring some visitors to your website, does not like duplicated content. They want unique content that adds value for website visitors.
When Google finds duplicated content, they give the full credit for the content to the website that first published the content, and they ignore all the duplicates.
So, while your site visitors can certainly read the duplicated content on your website, Google will not give your site any credit for it.
Your unique voice and message
Your website needs to capture your voice and business values to give your site visitors a unique experience.
That’s how visitors remember you. That’s how your offering gets an edge over competitors.
This is impossible to achieve if your website’s content is identical to your competitors’ sites. There is nothing that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Restricted website capabilities
Some providers of cookie-cutter sites may also restrict the capabilities of your site. This is to make life easier for themselves.
For example, if the cookie-cutter provider gives you a WordPress website, you may find that you are not allowed to install new themes or plugins. They may also remove your ability to update your website software.
This means that you can’t add new functionality to your website yourself.
You will also be dependent upon the provider to keep your website software updated. If they don’t do it regularly, this could make your website vulnerable to hacker attacks.
How Do You Know If Your Business Has A Cookie-Cutter Website And What To Do About It?
How to check your website
If you signed up for a service that provided most of the content for your website, there is a good chance that you have a cookie-cutter website.
There is a quick way to find out…
Go to one of the pages on your site that you did not write the content yourself. Copy a sentence from that page and do a search in Google for the sentence.
Look at the search results. Visit some of the pages in the search results and compare the content on those pages to your own page.
If you see lots of identical content, you have a cookie-cutter site!
What to do about it
You have to change the content.
Go to each page with duplicated content and rewrite those pages in your own words. This will be an excellent opportunity to write your pages in a way that they stand out above the competition.
If you also discover that your site provider has restricted what you can do on your site (like installing plugins or doing site updates) then you need to contact them. If they refuse to help you out, you may need to move your website to another website host.
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