Product descriptions in an online store, especially when it comes to shops specializing in one field, can create internal duplicate content. Consequently, the same parameters or copying and pasting descriptions of products differing in size or design, may negatively affect conversion and visibility of the website in the search results.
For search engine robots, quality descriptions are real grist to the mill. Unfortunately, the expansion of an online store, which equals more products with similar specifications, means that there will also appear some obstacles. Internal and external duplicate content (that we’ve already discussed on our blog) or keyword cannibalization create new challenges for website owners.
Product description – necessary only for SEO?
Comprehensive and unique content on the website is an essential part of the SEO process. Thanks to the Panda algorithm, sites that are well technically optimized and have quality content, are ranked high in the search results. Creating new descriptions makes it much easier to obtain unique texts and avoid both internal and external duplicate content. Quality content with an appropriate heading structure and key phrases will affect your conversion and improve your position in the search results. However, there are still many people who forget that content is king…
Why is it worth taking care of unique product descriptions?
For users, reading a description is the best way to analyze your qualifications and skills. A description serves both as a source of information and as a navigation, it’s similar to a customer’s advisor. Therefore, a primary goal of preparing a product description is to tailor the content to the users’ needs. All the information concerning the technical specification of the product, its application and use may successfully encourage potential customers to purchase goods on your offer.
A quality product description – what should it be like?
The description should be specific. It needs to be concise, aimed at conveying the essence of the product. Moreover, it shouldn’t be longer than 1000-2000 characters with spaces. It can contain the key phrases but they mustn’t take up more than 20% of the whole description. We believe that it doesn’t need to be mentioned that copying product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website is something you should avoid.
Surprisingly, it’s better to leave an empty space than to fill the subpage with vanilla content. Your product descriptions should contain not only information on how to use the product but also interesting hints that customers may not know about. You should also address the customer’s aspirations and point out the benefits of making the purchase.
Harmful internal duplicate content
Duplicating your content is also harmful when it comes to SEO. Internal duplicate content is one of the most frequently encountered problems that concerns both smaller and bigger sectors of e-commerce. The Panda algorithm effectively removes websites that show high percentage of internal duplicate content. If you want to be ranked in SERPs as high as possible, you need to be able to deal with duplicate content and in the case of numerous color versions or other sorting parameters of the same product, it may require support of a technical team.
Proper website architecture
Before you start exploring your CMS or implementing one of the methods of dealing with duplicate content resulting from marking product versions in a wrong way, you need to take a closer look at the internal structure of your online store .You can solve many problems caused by the size or fabrics from which a given product is made, by creating a separate category. Product diversification ensures better navigation, allows you to create unique descriptions for a specific group of goods and most importantly, supports good UX practices of the site.
The first method – create unique descriptions
The most favorable method to deal with subpages of products with different size, color or fabric parameters is to create a separate description and meta data on each subpage. This way, you provide your website with extra valuable content and avoid internal duplication.
The more unique descriptions on the website, the smaller the percentage of duplicate content. This solution will be ideal for shops whose range of colors and products isn’t particularly wide. Unfortunately, cooperation with a copywriter turns out to be more expensive in the long run, especially when you steadily continue to provide your online store with new products, colors and sizes.
Separate descriptions – when will they work well?
Creating separate description for each color variant of the product will be beneficial for SEO of products that are most frequently searched for with the use of long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are specific search phrases that are very precise and allow you to quickly find the exact product you’re looking for. They can increase the conversion on sites that don’t have the potential or resources to reach the top positions. The products that you prepare extra content for should be characterized by a large volume of detailed search. Most often, such products are branded goods – in their case, additional content can improve the potential of keywords.
Alternative ways to modify descriptions
If you decide to continue entering content on each of the subpages, you can take advantage of other possibilities offered by language. Using synonyms or editing your content works well in the case of subpages that generate substantial traffic to the site but use descriptions copied from e.g. the manufacturer’s website.
If you’re worried that your results will deteriorate, you can start with a gradual modification of your content with the help of paraphrasing or the use of synonyms. Nevertheless, such a solution isn’t beneficial in the long run, it should be implemented carefully and the subpage on which it’s deployed, needs to be constantly monitored.
The implementation of canonical links
Creating canonical links is the most popular method of dealing with duplicate content. This solution doesn’t require big financial resources and isn’t so time consuming. The meta tag is a command telling the search engine robots to index only one particular subpage. So, on your homepage you introduce an optimized description with keywords that match the primary product, e.g. earrings with frills.
On the other hand, you implement canonical links on subpages with different color versions of the primary product. Thanks to that, Google robots will index only the description. As a result, the content of the homepage will be indexed as the only one and subsequent subpages with the same texts representing products in different sizes won’t be taken into consideration by the robots.
You should also consider other ways of fighting with duplicate content on subpages of products differing in parameters. Create one subpage which will include all versions of the same product. This way, you’ll avoid URL duplication, although this method makes it impossible to search the site with the use of long tail keywords (such as black jeans pants). Consequently, the SEO process in this particular case can take a little bit longer.
Online shops with a wide range of products can also apply filters on their websites. Within one category, users can sort the product by color, size and other attributes that are helpful in finding the most suitable good, meaning the fabrics the product is made of or the brand that produced it. Such a solution will be perfect for clothing and electronic stores.
Filtering your content according to such parameters as color or size isn’t only a method of avoiding duplicate content. More importantly, this solution is very user-friendly. It works well in the case of sizeable online stores whose range of products supposed to be displayed is too big and customers aren’t sure what exactly they want to buy. When you’re looking for a new telly, you’ll probably specify its size and then choose from the provided search results, you don’t necessarily care about the brand or color.
Now you know that content filtering is user and search engine robots friendly. It works well in industries where color or the material from which a given product is made plays the key role (clothing, footwear or jewellery industries). However, the implementation of such a solution may lead to some problems.
The main category, for example women’s skirts, should be described and optimized – this is the subpage that the search engine robots ought to index.
Most often, after selecting a given filter, the URL address changes and you’re able to see the selected sorting options, just after the slash, like in the example below:
Search engine robots consider each of the created addresses as a separate one, so, in fact, the filtered subpages are a copy of the main category. That’s why each filter or option to sort or change the original view should include the “noindex” tag. Otherwise, the robots.txt file should contain a command to block the indexing of the filtered content. Filtering can also be implemented without entering meta tags.
Google won’t treat the subpage as a copy if its URL doesn’t change after choosing the appropriate filter or if the URL address includes a hashtag.
Recommendations – the power of user generated content
Lack of descriptions of each color version of the product may limit the conversion from subpages with high potential. Often users are more likely to search for a black cardigan (the power of long tail phrases). If your budget doesn’t allow you to cooperate with a copywriter, interact with your customers. Although this strategy may be a bit risky, it’s the finest method to fight with duplicate content. Using a special form prepared on the subpage, customers can write a few words about the products they bought and, in this way, enrich the content with independent and, most importantly, unique texts.
However, online shop owners need to take into account the fact that some of the reviews may be negative and in consequence, they can affect the decision making process of new potential customers.
You should be very careful when introducing new products to your offer. Take care of appropriate technical support, especially if your budget doesn’t allow you to prepare a separate description of each product version. Properly implemented canonical links or content filtering are optimal solutions, nevertheless, there are still many obstacles that website owners will have to face.