Google has firmly cemented its place as the king of search engines. Commanding at least 80% of the internet search market, Google also has a monopoly on its users’ time – 83% of them use it every single day. Therefore, achieving first page status in the Google search results is vital for any online business wishing to compete, especially e-commerce businesses.
However, Google is aware of the desire to achieve this status by all online businesses and the various underhand methods many of them will go to in order to attain it. Intent as ever in promoting fresh, relevant content, Google actively searches out duplicate content and penalises sites which employ it, either by dropping them down the rankings or not displaying them altogether.
As such, avoiding this penalisation is a must for all online business owners who don’t want to see their performance in Google’s eyes slip.
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content refers to blocks of text which are repeated verbatim on more than one webpage on the same of different websites. For e-commerce site owners, which often have tens, hundreds or even thousands of pages dedicated to individual products, this can pose a problem.
Firstly, with so many product pages, there is a great temptation to replicate content for more than one product, and, as a result, more than one page. Who has the time to write ten thousand product descriptions anyway?
Also, many e-commerce websites sell products from a different supplier. And it’s easier to use the description they supply. After all, if – for example – you sell iCandy pushchairs, it’s going to be hard to top the polished and persuasive copy they already use, right?
This becomes even more of a problem when an e-commerce platform uses multiple different sites to promote its products. So, if you also use websites like Amazon, eBay or Etsy, the same product description will be spun out again and again! This can come about due to a variety of reasons, whether it’s testing out new promotional marketing schemes, catering to different markets across the globe or simply using altered web addresses. When the same content is recognised as being lifted word-for-word from another URL, you have a big problem.
It’s specifically this kind of behaviour that Google seeks to punish, since it believes the owners of these sites are promoting spammy content and adding nothing new of value to search results. It should be noted that Google has professed that duplicate content on the same site will not be penalised – but neither will it be rewarded in search engine results.
What can you do?
Fortunately, the problem of duplicate content is one that is relatively easy (if time-consuming) to rectify. Basically, Google has invariably been of the opinion that “original content is king”. What this means in practical terms is that to be completely sure of avoiding penalisation and achieving higher rankings in the all-important search results, you’ll need to create unique content for every single one of your product pages.
Of course, if you own an e-commerce store with countless distinct products, this can represent something of a logistical nightmare. In answer to this problem, there are dedicated agencies which specialise in creating compelling, unique content on any topic. Tackling such a big problem may seem unfeasible to many small or fledgling businesses, but remember – as long as you’re not lifting material directly from another website, you won’t be immediately penalised.
You should, however, aim to make all of your content as unique as possible over time. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, but begin by targeting more expensive or more popular products on your site (essentially, the biggest sellers for the highest profit margin) and work backwards from there.
You can also avoid having quite such a large volume of distinct pages by grouping together similar items on a single page, or incorporating check boxes for the same product with a different colour or size, for example. This will bring down the amount of content you need to keep unique, thus reducing the chance of duplicate content penalisation.
Get in touch with the professionals
If Google’s complex algorithms still represent a baffling mystery, don’t worry – you’re not alone. At Fluid Digital, our experienced team of digital marketing experts are fully versed in all of the intricate ins and outs of Google’s search results policies, allowing us a unique position to advise you on the course of action best suited to your unique situation. We can even implement it for you!
Get in touch with us today to find out what we can do for you. What are you waiting for?