Important Info about Template Web Sites


I know a lot of inspectors use templated Web sites. Colors may change, logos may change, contact info may change, but overall each of the templated sites are the same from company to company.

I’m bringing this up because I am getting a lot of PMs and emails (along with reading posts) about why certain inspectors are not getting their sites ranked higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It recently occured to me after posting to another thread why some of you may be having an issue.

First, a quotation:

Here’s an IMPORTANT quote from Peter Kent, noted author and expert, concerning what I just described:

"Sometimes called mirror pages or mirror sites, these duplicate pages are intended to help a site gain more than one or two entries into top positions…

Some people who use this trick try to modify each page a little to make it harder for search engines to recognize duplicates. The search engines, in particular Google, have designed tools to find duplications and will often drop a page from their indexes if they find a duplicate…"

–Peter Kent, Author & eBusiness Expert –

Peter Kent is a noted experted on all things e-commerce, and what he is essentially describing there are Web sites that are identical (or nearly identical) in content posted to different URLs on the Internet. Though he is not specifically talking about a templated Web site (as there is no malice intended), the concept is still the same.

It is one thing to order a templated site for its pre-formatted layout versus using a templated site for its pre-formatted content. If the templated content is mostly text - and search engine crawlers only look for text keywords and phrases (i.e., text) - then by the very definition of Peter Kent’s explanation above, a templated site wherein the text is duplicated from site to site is a MIRROR of its original.

In short, that might not be a good thing for those of you trying to achieve a higher search engine ranking as the even the Holy Grail of search, Google, has written software to recognize and delist sites that are, or even resemble, mirrors.

The company that provided you with the templated site is not the “bad guy”, but hopefully you understood what you were getting, and hopefully they understood what they were offerings. What would make them the “bad guy” is if they told you that by using their template, you would achieve better search rankings (a common practice by unscupulous or unknowledgable Web developers).

Realize now that just because you have a “Web guy” or company building your template (or even an original Web site) DOES NOT mean they understand SEO. In fact, perhaps 70%+ do not. They are just good Web designers. SEO is really more of a “business process” between man and machine.

To fix any maladies that may affect your search engine ranking by having a templated site, you need to change the textual content on your site to make it dramatically different than other templated sites sharing the same layout and content. That’s it. Unfortunately, it will require to you to invest some serious time into this project.

Keep in mind, too, that most people misunderstand the the science of natural SEO (using things like ‘blogs’ to increase your rank) and the effectiveness of inbound links. To wit, natural SEO should be practiced as long as it is practiced on YOUR site. For example, a “blog” is the most common form of natural SEO, but it doesn’t do your site any good if you aren’t blogging from YOUR URL. Blogging on third-party URLs only increase THEIR page rank, not yours.

But what really catches a crawler’s attention is how often your site is clicked-on by people…or how “useful” it is. (NOTE: It does’t have to be “useful”, per se. That’s just a word that is used generically for a site that has a lot of visitors who visit a lot of its pages.) Most people don’t realize that ISPs log clicks-through on pages and links (called “hits”). How do you think you are able to use Web-Stat software to see which pages on your site are clicked on the most? Well, search engine crawlers look for that F-I-R-S-T. Most SEO companies won’t tell you that because that’s the one thing they CAN’T control…but YOU CAN…and so can all your SEO BUDDIES.

So, anyway…

If you are using a templated site, you’d better start adding or replacing some pages with content that differs from other template users. If you don’t, it’s going to become harder for you to get indexed in the future.


Do you mean Roberta’s Grassfrog websites that a majority of our members here are using???:shock: :shock:

Hey Linas, I’m talking about any templated sites wherein the content is identical between them. You make the judgement call. I’m just stating the facts.


I randomly checked the page rank of some NACHI members that post here. I found Grassfrog (template websites) had a 1/10 pagerank. My site ( also a template website,had a page rank of 3/10. Then I checked your site and it had a page rank of 0/10.You better get to work on your site my friend. To find your page rank go to :shock: :shock:

Linas, niiiice comeback!

Actually, my corporate Website is, and it once had a 4/10 rank…now it’s only 2/10 because we no longer promote products under that brand (which is why you didn’t know to look for it). doesn’t have a rank because it doesn’t need one. That brand is marketed through direct sales and is not dependent on page rank.

There are also only about 26,000 active home inspectors in the U.S. (many of whom DO NOT have Web sites), so a search for the “home inspector” category will yield a higher page rank for inspector than a company that does what mine does as I have about 20x’s times the number of competitors from the corporate side and 100x’s the competitors from freelancers.

I learned long ago that making a direct contact by phone or email yielded faster results than waiting for someone to find my company over the Web - in my industry anyway. We are a service-based business (like you), but a single project (like custom Web development or multimedia production) can take weeks or months. Because of that, it doesn’t do us any good to even accept inbound calls as we would have to turn many of them down.

And I DID NOT bring Grassfrog into this (I’m sure they’ll thank you later). I was talking in factual generalities. I have no idea what Grassfrog’s strategies are.

By the way, you can tell Dan Smart of JD Associates Home Inspections ( that he has a 0/10 rank with a Grassfrog site. Think he’s the only one? Dan is also a new client of mine.

And since you mentioned Grassfrog, I want to point out a perfect exampe of “mirroring” sites. Go to This is a prime example of a “mirror” site belonging to Grassfrog. I’m not Google, and I didn’t say mirrors were bad. Google, Yahoo, MSN and did. They liken it to spam. I personal don’t give a flying frog. I think it’s smart marketing.

Oh, and has 0/10 ranking. Go figure. I never said Grassfrog was a bad company, nor did I ever mention the name “Grassfrog”. It’s amazing the can of worms people open up.

Either try to show all of the facts, Linas, or just BE NICE :roll: .

I use the Google Toolbar.


You make a good point, Robert, but it’s also important to note that many search engines also take into consideration a few other integral factors when analyzing a web page.

The first is that most search engines differentiate between page content and page design. Typically site design elements (navigation links, header, footer, etc) are given different weight than page elements (page content, inline links, etc). As long as your site’s content is primarily (see second point below) unique to your business, you should be fine.

The second is that search engines can, in CERTAIN CASES, look positively on duplicated material. Take, for example, a particularly useful article posted by the EPA. You’ll find that sites that have posted that same article on their web sites are often ranked fairly high for the topic that article covers (obviously there’s a lot more going on there, but all else equal). Another example would be NACHI’s 3 mistakes article–a member copying this article won’t see any negative effect on their search engine placement (and in fact may see a positive effect) as long as the rest of their site is relatively unique.

When talking about mirroring from a SEM point of view, you’re typically talking about mirroring a site’s contents (or goal). The mirrored site’s shell/design/look and feel might change, but the content is (primarily) the same. In the case of web site templates it is exactly the opposite. The content changes and the shell/design/look and feel are similar. In this case you’re typically pretty safe. In fact I’ve never heard of a web site getting banned by Google or any other search engine because of a template design.


Me neither, but if the consortiums are talking about the criteria for getting banned, and they mention that the criteria CAN include templates (depending on the level of similarities), then it’s worth mentioning. As you know, the search companies will soon find a way to make it harder for everyone to manipulate rank through SEO strategies.


But at the same time search engines DON’T want to exclude legitimate web sites, and enough companies throughout all industries use templates that I don’t think it will ever become an issue.

Regardless, if you separate content from design using CSS it becomes a moot point because the template is almost entirely kept out of the ranking algorithm. If you do choose a template site, ask whether they use CSS-based design or table-based design. You want CSS-based design.


Glad you mentioned that because I didn’t even think about it at the time I wrote my post.


I have a page rank of 3/10. What does that mean?


BTW…My site is a “template” site, but it is almost 90% customized. Very little standard text used on other templates.

It means your situation doesn’t apply. :wink:

Damn good.

My sprinkler company websites have been up since the late 90’s I think…they have page ranks of 0/10

My home inspection site is less than one year old…1/10…can we thank NACHI for that?

Mine was 3/10 and then dropped back to 2/10. :shock: What’s up with that?

Wow…I’ve got a 3/10 and my website sucks. :cool:

I’ve currently got a page ranking of 3, with a traffic rating of 786,000 last week. 32 incoming Google links with 2500 total incoming links. Roberta gives you a blank canvas, what you do with it, is totally up to the client. Check out my site at yes it has a similar appearance to some of her other client websites, but the content and structure are totally different. I paid $350 for the start up and another $150 in miscellaneous changes. I’ve had the site with Roberta for 18 months, its performance and inspection related revenue generation has been improving every month since I began doing business with her.

Remember, I didn’t bring Grassfrog into this. I may have been “challenged” and someone else brought up Grassfrog so I made my stand. As I said, I was making people aware of a factual issue that had nothing to do with any particular company. I get reamed for that a lot as you’ve seen :neutral: .

Nonetheless, I don’t doubt Grassfrog is a superb company. I’ve read nothing but amazing testimonies about them. I don’t do template or custom Web development anymore, so if Grassfrog is the “go to” company, then by all means, “go to” it. My reference to Grassfrog was only to put Linas’ comment into perspective after he brought them up. Frog legs was the dish of the moment…nothing more.


Actually, your Web site is exactly what search crawlers want to see. Fair amount of text, bigger than average font size, lot of keywords and phrases in the body copy. I didn’t do a complete analysis of your site, but those elements along make crawlers happy. There are other basis SEO techniques that I’m sure you can apply, but as long as you have people clicking through your sites (to produce web logs) and as long as other sites are pointing to you, then you will “naturally” move up.

Just be aware that a few thousand more inspectors will be coming into the industry in the next few years to complete with your position.


About Page Ranks

  • All pages are ranked if indexed by Google. A rank of 0/10 does not mean your site has not been indexed.

  • Inbound links to your site are worthless if the those “pointer” sites have not been indexed by a search engine (Google or otherwise).

  • Links pointing OUT to other sites contribute to BOTH your page rankings though the site being pointed to benefits the most (called “voting”).

  • Having a large number of pages on your site may make it easier for search crawlers to index your site, but it only contributes to your page rank in a very small way. {Remember, “page rank” is based on the law of gravity. If more sites are pointing to you (i.e., gravitating) and more people are clicking on your site (i.e., gravitating), then you will have a higher page rank.}

  • If you have useful information on your site that other people can reference on their sites by linking to the pages on your site, then you will increase your page rank.
    With all of that being said…

  • If your page rank is 0/10, but you are 100% covered-up with business, then your page rank is irrelevant.

  • If your page rank is 6/10, but you are not busy, then your page rank is irrelevant.