UPDATE (Mar 7. 2023) : We have changed our thinking/approach on this method. While Brand Swapping is still a great way to quickly identify additional keywords to write for (and shortens the overall time required to research/write) we believe it is worth rewriting the content entirely, so that it is unique (instead of re-using content, word-for-word). While we don’t have any hard evidence to suggest Google actively penalizes this approach specifically, we do know Google rewards unique content. We are of the mindset now that playing it safe is the appropriate course of action.
“Brand Swapping” is a phrase Keith and I coined to describe a content scaling strategy we’ve successfully implemented on each of our respective niche sites.
I can personally attribute over 150,000+ organic pageviews a month directly to the Brand Swapping method.
What is the “Brand Swapping” Method?
The concept behind the Brand Swapping method is simple: reuse about 80-90% of a brand related post you’ve already written to publish an entirely new piece of content for a different brand.
Let’s use the keyword, “Yamaha dirt bike won’t start”, as an example.
Start by writing the absolute best piece of content out there for “Yamaha dirt bike won’t start”.
Once you’ve crafted the perfect post and hit publish, create a list of all the other top dirt bike brands:
Go ahead and spin up a draft post and do a “Find and Replace” on the “Yamaha dirt bike won’t start” post. Swap “Yamaha” for “Suzuki”.
Now do your research for “Suzuki dirt bike won’t start”.
What you’ll find is that 80-90% of the content you wrote for Yamaha dirt bikes not starting is applicable to Suzuki. It just so happens that there are a handful of things you should ALWAYS try when your dirt bike won’t start, regardless of the brand.
The KEY, however, is to make sure you adequately cover the 10-20% difference.
For example, maybe Suzuki dirt bikes have a unique issue where the clutch gets stuck, or perhaps there is a switch that has to be turned clockwise before you try starting it.
Make sure you cover these nuances explicitly in your Suzuki post.
Benefits of Brand Swapping
The obvious benefit for you as a content creator, is the ability to more easily scale content.
The fact that 80-90% of the content you wrote for Yamaha dirt bikes not starting is applicable to Suzuki means you can reuse old content over and over again for different brands.
Yes, you still have to do in-depth research to identify and cover the 10-20% difference between brands, but you will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend writing.
In the dirt bike example above, a single post becomes many!
Another benefit is highly relevant content for the reader. If you own a Yamaha dirt bike and it won’t start, which post are you more likely to click/want: “Dirt bike won’t start”, or “Yamaha dirt bike won’t start”?
You want the Yamaha specific content.
Yes, there will be a lot of overlap with other dirt bike brands, but the 10-20% that’s specific to Yamaha could make all the difference when it comes to getting your dirt bike started again.
A true win-win – you get more traffic, and your reader gets the answer they were looking for.
Brand Swapping case studies
Here are some case studies of various Brand Swapping clusters that are currently live on my site.
Note that the keywords are made up in my examples below, but all the data is real.
All pageview stats are from a single month: July 2022.
This cluster represents the first time I used Brand Swapping on my niche site. I turned 1 post into 14.
These posts were all published around September of 2021. In total, this cluster brings in 70,000+ pageviews a month.
You’ll notice I even ended up writing, and ranking for the generic, brand-less keyword “dirtbike won’t start”.
This cluster was published around October of 2021. I turned 1 post into 6. This cluster brings in 20,000+ pageviews a month.
This cluster was published around April of 2022. I turned 1 post into 13. This cluster brings in 26,000+ pageviews a month.
These are the primary Brand Swapping clusters on my site today, but I have about 5 others.
In total, Brand Swapping accounts for about 150,000+ out of the 700,000+ total pageviews my site receives each month.
Is Brand Swapping considered Duplicate Content?
“Duplicate content” gets thrown around quite a bit in SEO land, but I think it’s largely misunderstood.
Let’s start with Google’s own definition of duplicate content:
“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content in the same language or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:
- Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices
- Items in an online store that are shown or linked to by multiple distinct URLs
- Printer-only versions of web pages.”
Usually the issue here is that Google simply doesn’t know which page it should rank, unless you take the necessary steps to indicate your preferred URL (“canonicalization“).
If you don’t take these steps, Google will choose which page to rank for you, and the other “duplicate” pages won’t be indexed at all.
That’s the main “problem” with duplicate content, the pages deemed “duplicates” simply won’t rank. But as John Mu has said previously, Google “would not demote a website because of duplicate content”.
And, in the case of Brand Swapping, why would Google penalize you? You’re creating quality, relevant content that the reader wants. That’s Google’s entire business model.
So far our sites are evidence that not only is the Brand Swapping method “allowed”, it’s rewarded.