What do the product descriptions on your website have in common with venomous spiders?
Both are potentially fatal!
I’m sure you’re careful to watch for 8-legged critters when on the trail (or if you’re from spider-infested Australia like me, when you’re walking down the street). So too, you should pay close attention to the content on the product pages of your ecommerce site.
Because if you are not careful, this content can be lethal to your rankings.
In fact, publishing standard, default product descriptions is one of the most common and deadly mistakes that ecommerce sites are making today.
Why Product Descriptions are So Deadly
Many ecommerce stores which retail or drop-ship wholesale products receive datafeeds from their manufacturers or suppliers. These feeds make it oh-so-easy to populate your store with hundreds of standard product titles, descriptions, images, etc.
Five years ago, using these datafeeds as-is was fine and dandy, and these product pages could even score you some search engine traffic. Over the past 2-3 years, as Google’s updates have put SEO competition into hyperdrive, SEO experts have increasingly discouraged using standard product descriptions.
Now, since Google’s Penguin update in April, using standard product descriptions has become a major SEO bloodsucker.
Yet so many ecommerce sites are still using standard product descriptions.
Why this Penguin Has Fangs
The main problem with the default product descriptions found in datafeeds is that many other sites are using them. In fact, your supplier and most of your competitors are using the exact same content on their product pages. In addition, countless shopping portals and marketplaces, starting at Amazon and NextTag and going right down to bottom of the spam barrel are using the same datafeeds and publishing the exact same content.
This creates a massive problem of “duplicate content” and Google circa 2012 feels the same way about duplicate content that you do about big hairy spiders.
Let’s get this clear: Google really, really does not like duplicate content.
It used to be that a bit of duplicate content just meant that that particular product page would not rank well in the search engines. Now, Google will penalize your rankings for your entire site if it determines that your site has a lot of duplicate content.
In other words, your entire SEO effort could collapse in a twitching heap if you don’t pay attention to the text on your product pages.
How to Take the Sting out of Duplicate Content
Fixing this problem is very simple: you need to create unique content for each of your product pages. Make sure that both the title and product description are original and created with the latest approach to on-page SEO in mind. The description should be at least 100 words long.
Sure, this is not as easy and fast as publishing the default content supplied in datafeeds, and if you have thousands of products this could be a big job. However a copywriter with reasonable skill can take care of it. Start with your top-selling products, and work through it slowly.
Have you been bitten by Google’s update over recent years?
Do you suspect that duplicate content has been part of your problem?