Google can handle boilerplate content...but you still shouldn't use it!
 by Casey Markee

Google can handle boilerplate content...but you still shouldn't use it!

  • My client insists on including a boilerplate statement on the footer of all their pages which includes information on their location, mission statement and hyperlinks to various sections of their site. Doesn't this hurt your site in Google or even trigger a penalty? How would you suggest we handle it?

Answer: Boilerplate content such as repetitive legal disclaimers, copyright info, or short company blurbs with embedded links, are still very common on many Web site pages. Usually found in the form of replicated navigational menus, footer content, or in sidebars, boilerplate content used to be the bane of site owners and a common target for Google algorithmically.

In fact, Google's own Webmaster guidelines still very clearly say that boilerplate content should be minimized wherever possible, specifically:

"Minimize boilerplate repetition: For instance, instead of including lengthy copyright text on the bottom of every page, include a very brief summary and then link to a page with more details."

And this is entirely understandable from an SEO standpoint: boilerplate content can lead to increased "noise" semantically which can confuse search engines causing them to ignore the page completely. Thus, it has been a well-heeled recommendation for years both from ourselves here at SearchEngineNews and in the SEO community in general to minimize the use of on-site boilerplate content whenever possible.

However, at the very end of 2011, Google Engineer John Mueller responded to a Webmaster Central Help thread involving boilerplate text repeated on site pages and his answer appears to imply a shift in how Google now views this type of content.

"Google is generally quite good at recognizing "boilerplate text" (text which you repeat on many pages)...