On December 9th, 2008 wrote on the subject of Organic Search Marketing.

Your Product Pages- How Copying The Manufacturers Description Harms a Site.

If you own or operate an e-commerce website, chances are your competition may supply the same products you do. While competition is great, there are certain considerations you should make regarding the content on your product pages to beat your competitors.

Every product page should have great descriptions of the product, as well as inviting and well-presented professional photography to entice and attract searchers into making a purchase. However, one common mistake many e-commerce sites make is copying the descriptions written by the manufacturer.

Lets take the Apple iPhone product page as an example:

From the official product page, searching for the first sentence “With its beautiful 3.5-inch widescreen display and Multi-Touch controls, iPhone is also one amazing iPod” in Google returns 13,500 pages!

iphone duplicate content example

This shows there are hundreds of pages using the default description as the description on their pages- causing lots of duplicate content in Google’s index.

Why is This a Problem for You?

Duplicate content is a large problem search engines face. Search engines do not want to display pages in their results which contain the same content as another, as this can affect their credibility in delivering the closest possible results to which the searcher is looking for.

In addition, search engines do not want to waste their time indexing content which is provided on another site, so may skip a duplicated page, and are likely to skip an entire site if too many duplications are found. This not only has an effect on the new product page but also has a knock-on effect to other pages already indexed- penalising your site.

And this example is just for one product- supposing you sold other Apple products and copied the description from the manufacturers product pages? This means a large amount of the text on your product pages is copied.

This causes a problem for your site in search engines, as duplicate content is a major problem which search engines can and will penalise your site for!

So how can you avoid this problem? The ideal solution is to not copy the manufacturers description to begin with. Instead, creating your own product descriptions is far better- not only can you tailor it more specifically to your customers needs and desires (thus getting you a better conversion rate), but this also gives search engines more unique content to crawl when indexing your page.

If however it is essential to copy the product description from the manufacturers site, ensure you add additional unique content to the page- and don’t forget to reference and link to the manufacturers page.

By applying this small change, search engines are less likely to penalise your site for duplicate content, giving you a better chance of outranking your competitors, along with other on-page and off-page optimisation techniques!

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