Visit almost any marketing forum that discusses search engine optimization, and you will undoubtedly come across individuals telling everyone that you need unique content to rank or that Google loves original content. It's nonsense, and there are so many examples of why it is nonsense. Now we have a new example that potentially really puts this silly notion to bed once and for all.
Dan Sharp, from Screaming Frog, recently posted on Twitter a little experiment he did to show that you can hijack search results using someone else's content. Not only that, he did it with Google's own content.
Wanted to prove a point that we could easily hijack ranking for 'search engine optimisation', just by using Google's own starter guide. pic.twitter.com/3J5VWzo6Y4
— Dan Sharp (@screamingfrog) February 17, 2017
Dan took Google's Search Engine Optimization Guide and posted it to the Screaming Frog Website. It is now ranking for the term search engine optimization in the U.S. and the U.K.
Still think you need unique content to rank?
In the SEO community there has been an ongoing debate for some time over the belief that you need to constantly update your content in order for Google to lover your website. While there is nothing wrong with posting about new topics that relate to your site’s content, it is not a requirement to regularly update your site in order to rank well. In fact, it can actually hurt your rankings.
What? Posting can hurt my rankings?
Surely you can’t be serious.
I know for some of you that will come as a shock. You will probably even disagree with me.
I was recently auditing a site for someone. They have been bouncing around the rankings for several of their primary keywords for months. One week they would break the top 5. A few weeks later they were on page 3. Then they would hit page one. After that back to page 5.
They went to message forums seeking help and advice. They got a lot of the normal nonsense.
Don’t worry about it. Just keep adding content regularly.
This is the Google Dance. It is quite common for a new site or a site building backlinks.
Have you checked your backlinks? Perhaps this is a Penguin/Panda penalty.
All of that normal junk you see on forums. Fortunately, they were smart enough to realize none of those people had a clue what they were talking about.
I did a complete audit to look for anything else that might be contributing to this issue, but I knew what the problem was right away. I only had to ask one question to see the problem.
What page of your site is ranking for these keywords you are targeting?
Answer: The homepage mostly. Sometimes a new post will rank, but then it quickly drops.
There were some other very minor SEO issues on the site. Things like using HTML to resize images, some small grammatical errors, and not fully making use of an internal linking plan. Although all of these things can certainly hold a site back, none of them will make rankings bounce around like this person was seeing.
The problem was that they were publishing new posts 3-4 times a day and their site was setup with a traditional blog format. Why is that a problem? They were targeting the homepage, yet the content on their homepage was constantly in a state of flux. Or they were targeting keywords with their new articles, but with every new post they published, their previous articles were getting pushed deeper into the site. With no real internal linking structure or plan, this is a major problem.
Now, if you are a giant authority in your niche, you can get away with that. Your link profile will basically over come any onpage content issues you might have. Let’s be honest though, you might claim you have an “authority” site, but in reality you probably do not. Amazon is an authority. WebMD is an authority. www.best-pink-fluffy-shoes-and-slippers.info is not an authority.
The solution is either to make a static homepage targeting your keywords, or to designate an internal page and then focus the site (using a silo structure) and your off-page efforts around that page.
This is not the first time I have encountered this. In fact, often when you see someone complaining about their rankings bouncing around a lot, this turns out to be the main culprit. It regularly is the cause of what people refer to as “The Google Dance”.
So yes, there are times where updating your site and publishing new content can actually cause your rankings to plummet.
Google has announced a major overhaul to its search algorithm it has called Hummingbird. Hummingbird went live weeks ago, but Google is just now confirming it. There really is not much information about it. Google is just stating it impacts how search results find answers to specific questions. You can read more at
and a host of other places. The stories read more like a press release though instead of having any real information.