Are Manufacturer Feeds Duplicate Content?

One of the key points made at least week’s PubCon conference in Las Vegas is that product feeds from manufacturers are considered duplicate content by most search engines.  If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense… if you have hundreds and thousands of e-commerce sites out there marketing their products with the original manufacturer’s product description and details, then you have hundreds & thousands of sites with the exact same product page (minus their own site template, etc.).

Why would the search engines want to show hundreds of pages of the exact same result?  Answer… They don’t want to.  They are going to pick one page from you or your competitor’s websites and display the results on a very limited basis; you won’t see the first 10 results in Google showing the exact same product description, etc.

I queried a snippet from a watch description of a popular online retailer in Google and got the following results:

Query: 14-karat gold case and bracelet. Cabochon crown”
Results: 87 pages with the exact phrase on them.

The solution: if you’re an online retailer serious about driving organic search traffic to your website, you better make sure that your content is unique and that you’ve “added value” to the manufacturer descriptions you’re using.  You can still use everything the manufacturer provides, but you should enrich EVERY PRODUCT with quality keyword phrases and also add your own descriptions and comments about the products.  Start with your top-selling products or your highest profit items and work your way down from there.

Ideas for adding value to your store’s content & descriptions:

  • Custom write a description of each product and/or provide insight if you’re an expert.
  • Provide “add your comments” or “review this product” type facilities for visitors to dynamically add the content for you (see product pages).

Overall, you just need to make sure you’re adding valuable, unique content to your pages in order to avoid being penalized for duplicate content.  Remember, if you and all your competitors are using the exact same thing, only one of you is going to be seen!  Be sure to differentiate.