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So, lets say I do marketing for Unicorn Vendors. There are unicorn vendors in every city in the US. I'm tasked with creating websites for my clients. Will it hurt my local SEO rankings if I make a generic website that applies to all unicorn vendors, but use different domains/logos/header and title text for each client?

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Short answer. Depends. If these sites appear to be different sites with duplicate content, then Yes! It will hurt.

Changing the domain name, title, and logo is not enough.

Google and Bing read the site content rather thoroughly and will find duplicate content and even uses AI analysis to find very similar content which appears to be duplicate content changed to fool the search engines.

Following your scenario, I would create a single website with each customer as either a sub-directory or a sub-domain. I would use markup for the customer pages to indicate that these are vendors and indicate address, phone numbers, and so forth. If a customer has their own website, then link to their site from the vendor pages.

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As I said, I am the one creating their websites. These clients do not have websites. I'm tasked with creating their sites, and then SEOing them. Thing is, I have to be invisible. It needs to appear as if it is their website. – Lurxxer Apr 7 '14 at 17:20
Okay I get it now. Still duplicate content will hurt someone. The first site found will be considered the content owner short of any indication. You will really want to make the sites different. But that is not to say that the sites cannot have the same information. Just know that the whole Google citation code allowed Google to analyze content and find duplication. There can be some duplication of course. Just make each site different enough that a human would look at each and think they are different even if you borrowed somewhat liberally from site to site. – closetnoc Apr 7 '14 at 17:28

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