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What's Better for SEO: Unique or Templated Content?

Posted on May 19, 2022 by Rida Abidi

Start here: how our SEO split tests work

If you aren't familiar with the fundamentals of how we run controlled SEO experiments that form the basis of all our case studies, then you might find it useful to start by reading the explanation at the end of this article before digesting the details of the case study below. If you'd like to get a new case study by email every two weeks, just enter your email address here.

In this week’s #SPQuiz, we asked our Twitter followers what they thought the impact on organic traffic was when we replaced templated content with unique content on a customer’s website.

Here is what people thought:

Most of our followers believe that using unique content over templated content positively impacted organic traffic.

Most of our followers believe that this change positively impacted organic traffic - and they were right! When we replaced the templated content for unique, this change had a positive impact on organic traffic!

Read the full case study below!

The Case Study

One thing in common with many websites, especially large websites with many similar pages, is that they implement at least some content based on a template rather than writing unique content for every page. An example would be seeing a block of content on a “how to knit” page and then seeing similar content after navigating to a “how to crochet” page. 

One of the benefits of boilerplate content to large websites is that it’s far more scalable and less resource-intensive than writing unique content for every page, which can become expensive.

However, by using templated content, there is a possibility of missing out on SEO opportunities, such as targeting more relevant keywords, having content of sufficient quality to compete for competitive queries, and enhancing brand credibility.

A customer tested removing their templated content and instead added a block of unique content below the fold of their listing pages. 

Below is the comparison between the control and the variant:

The control was the original templated content while the variant we were testing against was the unique content we implemented.

The chart below shows the impact of this test on organic sessions for listing pages:

The result from changing the templated content on the customers' listing pages resulted in an almost 14% uplift in organic traffic!

Removing the templated content and replacing it with unique content resulted in an almost 14% uplift in organic traffic! It was statistically significant at the 90% level, and based on the strength of the hypothesis and size of the uplift, we were comfortable calling this one a winner.

This could have been because we could target more relevant keywords, giving crawlers a better understanding of the page and better match our web pages with users' search queries, or because it improved rankings for more valuable keywords. 

The boost in traffic we saw for this website was beneficial, but it’s always important to bear in mind that something working for one website might not work for another. The only way to know for sure is by testing what works for you!

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How our SEO split tests work

The most important thing to know is that our case studies are based on controlled experiments with control and variant pages:

  • By detecting changes in performance of the variant pages compared to the control, we know that the measured effect was not caused by seasonality, sitewide changes, Google algorithm updates, competitor changes, or any other external impact.
  • The statistical analysis compares the actual outcome to a forecast, and comes with a confidence interval so we know how certain we are the effect is real.
  • We measure the impact on organic traffic in order to capture changes to rankings and/or changes to clickthrough rate (more here).

Read more about how SEO A/B testing works or get a demo of the SearchPilot platform.