Is Duplicate Content Harmful for your E-commerce Product Pages

by | Dec 1, 2016 | Content Writing, Ecommerce, Search Engine Optimization

According to Google, duplicate content is information that shows up in multiple locations on the web. This confuses the engine and can lead to the erratic ranking of websites. The search engine may fail to recognize the parent URL and instead display every related URL in the search term. This can result in lower search engine rankings and a significant reduction in sales.

It isn’t uncommon to find numerous eCommerce sites selling similar products, each with its own page, often with overlapping duplicate content when it comes to describing the product specifications. Search engines consider this thin content that doesn’t provide any unique value. Duplicate content can also be created by a wide range of URL quirks. For example typing in www. and a company name will likely bring up the same results as simply typing in the company name and search engines consider this to be duplicate content.

While Google may not actively penalize duplicate content, in many cases, the duplicated pages are ignored by the search engine. This means the pages are non-existent in SEO terms. Also, things as simple as creating a printer-friendly version of your site may be considered duplicate content.

It’s important to understand the different reasons for duplication and methods for overcoming them:

Even if duplicated content doesn’t incur any penalties, it may cause your eCommerce webpage to rank lower than it should. To fix this, it’s a good idea to write unique content for each product. If you find it difficult to write unique descriptions for numerous types of the same product, consider having the content writing outsourced.

  1.  SEO You may often see that even individual product descriptions trigger duplicate warnings. Often the same product with separate pages for different colors cause this. To avoid duplication in these cases, create a single product page with check boxes for different features of that product. This will help to make the webpage more SEO-friendly.
  2. In some situations, a page may have a unique product description but still be considered thin, often because it doesn’t have much valuable information on it. In these cases, there are some things you can do to increase the valued content on the page. Consider expanding the product descriptions themselves, adding some product reviews and including related links such as “users also bought” or “similar products.”
  3. If you have an eCommerce marketplace that sells hundreds, even thousands of products, you obviously don’t want that many product pages as it can slow the site down. However, organizing the content into category pages can only partially solve the problem. A feasible solution could be to label the page links with rel=next/rel=previous tags. With these tags, Search engines understand that each search result page is a part of a larger inventory and not a stand-alone page.

As mentioned earlier, the search giant Google isn’t going to penalize you and not show your website for having duplicate web pages. However, your product pages will miss out on some real-time organic SEO growth which often results in less traffic and fewer sales.


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