In an ideal world, every website would have something that makes it seem special compared with the various other sites on the market. It could be a change in the website style or in the information that's available for certain users. However, in many cases online, writers find themselves trapped with content that can't be changed because it represents information that doesn't change from person to person. For example, if your site's function is to list government requests and other options to viewers, you're limited in how much you can change the overall format of the information. 

Website owners don't have the option to throw up their hands in surrender when this scenario happens. This becomes especially true if your site is the second or third to make use of the information. Google and other search engines are looking for sites that figure out creative ways to get information to stand out when it's shown to other people. 

There are many ways for website owners to give a fresh look to their content, even if it's based on feed analysis and other forms of aggregated data. Sites with this issue are often called commodity content websites. The data that website owners get from these kinds of sites is more useful than any personalization that comes from website owners. However, these sites prove by their own existence that it's possible to make useful ways to differentiate the data. 

As part of Google's search liaison, John Mueller gave interesting information about how to make a site stand out. It's less about searching for an easy answer. Speaking to someone about a commodity website issue, Mueller replied, "It doesn't matter what kind of site, ultimately you need to find a way to differentiate yourself, especially when it comes to commodity content. What would make your site the objective best result by far for your preferred queries? Just being the same as others doesn't cut it."

It takes time to ensure that a website has the content needed to seem better for people who are also trying to gain access to the commodity content. There are several key questions that a website owner should consider. 

For example: What do competitors with the same information do to differentiate their websites? What kind of data missing from competitor sites would make your company's website more useful? Do the competitors have authority, and what changes need to be made to give your current commodity website more authority in a certain area?

It takes time to understand how to properly differentiate a website from others. Helping a site stick out, even when using commodity data, can help the website's owners ensure that the site has everything needed to improve its function online. 

Published on: Dec 4, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.