E-commerce: 3 Ways to Duplicate Content Without Knowing It

There are many choices beyond keywords that can either help or hurt your website’s search engine results. Unfortunately, you may not even realize that you’re doing some of the most damaging things to your search engine ranking just by uploading products to your e-commerce website.

The biggest concern new web masters should have about organic rankings is how Google Panda helps rank websites based on content and relevancy. While there are other search engines, with 67% of the search market, Google is certainly the biggest one to worry about. Google’s Panda algorithm judges the uniqueness of a website’s content and either penalizes or completely drops sites that are determined to be of low quality. While Panda looks at a variety of factors, it focuses highly on not ranking sites that contain duplicate content. It only takes a few pages of poor quality or duplicate content to negatively affect a website, which many website owners found out after Panda’s initial launch when their sites disappeared from the search results. Google’s main goal, however, is not to penalize sites, but to reward searchers with the most relevant results from quality websites.

What is considered poor quality content? The main things Panda looks for are:

  • “Shallow” content (content that is not useful or not enough)
  • Poorly written content
  • Plagiarized Content

This seems simple enough to avoid, right? Just make sure that when you are adding text to your website that it is actually something a visitor would find helpful, that it is well written and that no part of it is copied from anywhere else on the internet.

This is part of the equation, but there are many other ways that you could be unknowingly adding duplicate content to your site, especially an e-commerce site. “Content” is a broad term that is used to include not only the text on your site, but everything down to product descriptions, titles and photo URLs. This means that even if your site is the best looking one out there with the best deals, little things could be holding you back from getting traffic.

Good Bad

Automatic Product Uploads are Bad News

As an ecommerce site selling products online, by far one of the worst things you can do for website traffic is use a mass upload feature that automatically adds new products to your website from your supplier. While it may save you a little time, the cost of all those duplicate products on a website can be huge. Here are some of the biggest duplicate content snafus caused by mass uploads.

Duplicate Product Descriptions

When you automatically upload products without changing the individual product descriptions you are basically spamming your site with duplicate content that is also on everyone else’s site who uses that supplier and doesn’t know any better. Does this mean that you need to go in and re-write the description for every product on your site? Yes. Ideally, you would never have the duplicate content on there.

It is always best to change the description at the start, before you even put the product up. In the beginning this may mean starting slowly and uploading a few products a day until you get to the number you want. If you now realize that your site is completely full of bad product descriptions, don’t worry, you don’t have to scrap it and start over—just start working through and changing a few each day. It will take a little bit of time for your website to recover from any bad rankings it has been receiving, but the good news about the Panda update to real-time is that it should happen more quickly; previously, making up for a bad ranking could take months.

Duplicate Product Titles

This goes along with creating Unique Product Descriptions, but don’t forget to make your Product Titles unique as well. Aside from preventing your products from being flagged as the same that can be found on other sites, product titles are a great way to create more specific, relevant names for what you sell and also to incorporate and create keywords that will get more people who are looking for those products to your site. For example, if the new t-shirt you get from your supplier is “Cotton Top Red”, simply changing it to “American Supply Women’s Red Cotton T-Shirt” not only solves your duplicate product title problem, but it’s more helpful to your potential buyers.

Duplicate Product Image URLs

Finally, even though it’s the first thing people look at when browsing products online, many web masters don’t realize that Google is also looking at their product images. If the image URL is the same as wherever you got it from, guess what? That’s duplicate content.  Make sure that when you are adding product pictures to your website that you are saving them with your own unique name and then uploading them to your site.

That’s it—three simple changes that can make a world of difference to your rankings. Automatic uploads may seem convenient, but convenience is a small price to pay for a unique site that both Google and potential customers will see the value of. Try some of these suggestions and watch your site rise in the search results.

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