Busting the Myth: Why Consistent Content in eCommerce Won’t Kill Your SEO
Emily Saka | August 28, 2015
We see time and again that the brands who totally crush it in ecommerce are the ones that have complete, accurate and consistent product content.
For most companies we talk to, the benefits of “complete” and “accurate” content make sense. Gaps in your content can lead to transactional errors and inconsistent shopping experiences across sites. Meanwhile, inaccuracies provide false information that, at worst, can potentially lead to costly product returns.
But the third word - “consistent” - provokes some head-scratching and the inevitable question: “Wait, doesn’t consistent content kill my SEO?” (Hint: The answer is no.)
In this post, we’ll explore the concept of “consistent content” as it relates to two different buckets of product content:
- Rich marketing copy: the content that sells your products - including product descriptions, feature bullets, benefits and other types of copy that let you get creative with telling compelling stories and showing off your brand voice
- General product attributes: the content that describes your products - including dimensions, weights, colors and other information about the physical product
Consistent Marketing Copy:
Your marketing copy is your best chance to sell both your product and your brand. If there are multiple product descriptions or feature bullet variations floating around the web for the same product, the copy should be consistent in speaking to your target audience and featuring your company - whether it means using branded terms to describe specific product features, or employing your brand’s sense of humor (or lack thereof).
But where do these multiple descriptions and feature bullets come from?
Sometimes they come from retailers, who take your content and write descriptions unique to their site. In this scenario, sending complete and accurate content to your retailers - chock full of those branded terms and terrible puns your brand loves so much - helps ensure consistency in the messaging, even if someone else is doing the writing.
More often, than not, however, these variations come from the advice that every blog post on the topic has ever told us: unique content is key to winning at SEO.
We recently partnered with Google and began publishing customer product content to Google Shopping through their new Manufacturer Center. We quickly noticed something interesting in their requirements, and we asked right away: “Hey Google - creators of the world’s most awesome search engine - don’t you want to remind brands to send you unique content if they want an SEO advantage?
The answer, to our surprise, was an overwhelming,
“Not at all!”
Instead, Google wants their brands to fill in all Manufacturer Center attributes with content they’ve already created. High-ranking content, they say, is only really dependent on these two guidelines:
- Will your end user search for the content?
- Will your end user choose your product after reading the content?
Put another way: If your content connects with your end user, your products will be found. Period. So, provided that your existing content has already proven effective at driving traffic and conversions, you’re much better off duplicating this content across the web than writing different copy with different keywords for each retailer - even if your message is consistent.
If you’re still a little skeptical, it’s okay - just remember that this is what Google is advocating for it’s own shopping site! So now that we’ve established that consistent content doesn’t hurt your SEO, let’s take it a step further. How does consistent content actually make your life better?
Consistent Product Attributes
Imagine that you’re a brand manufacturer who makes specialty envelopes. For consumers who research your envelopes online before ever holding one in their hands, you need to answer some fundamental questions about the physical product, such as:
- What type of envelope is this?
- What are the dimensions of the envelope?
- How much does a unit of envelopes weigh?
Now imagine that one type of letter envelope is sold in sets of 100 that weigh 25 pounds each. This hypothetical envelope type comes in 30 different colors and three different shapes of flaps. That’s 90 individual SKUs for just one type of envelope.
If you look at your master set of product content and each SKU has a value for weight, and that value is the number 25 plus some indication of pounds, your content is technically complete and accurate.
But surprise! There are still tons of inconsistencies.
Some values are written as “25 lb”; others as “25-lb,” “25 lb.,” “25.02 lbs” and, simply, “25 pounds.” You start looking down your master and find these inconsistencies appearing well beyond just these 90 SKUs, and across all your other properties. Dimensions, counts and even simple envelope types are written out in every format imaginable.
So why does this matter? Simply put: retailers all have unique product content requirements. (And yes, right down to the “-lb” versus “lb”.) The fastest way to meet those needs, and with no risk to SEO, is to create a rich set of attributes with values that can easily be mapped and transformed to any retailer’s requirements. To make the mapping process seamless, each of these values must be consistently formatted. After all, selecting all the values that read “25-lb” and transforming them to “25 lbs,” or even “400-oz.” is easy; selecting all possible variations from “25 lb” to “25.02-lbs” and performing the same transformation is not.
In sum, consistent content sells more - without killing SEO. It’s easier for you to create and manage and, with the right partner, you can easily transform your single source of truth to meet every new retailer’s complete set of requirements.
Want to learn more about the effect Google is having on the marketplace? Read more here.