Ecommerce Product Page Duplicate Content

Is it okay to use the manufacturer’s product on your product page? Since other ecommerce websites also use it, will the duplicate content hurt SEO?

The short answer is yes, it is okay to use the original manufacturer’s description that other sites are also using. And you can do so without penalty. Duplicate content is only an issue if that is the only content you’ll be providing on the product page on your site and if everything on the page will be exactly duplicated elsewhere. I see identical product descriptions between competitive sites very frequently as many companies just copy and paste the description from the manufacturer catalog. Duplicate product description is very common, and short of rewriting the description, a good way to get around it is by providing additional details and information about the product on the page to make it unique.  I’m not too terribly worried about using the identical descriptions on ecommerce pages with additional information available on the page. However, it becomes an issue when the descriptions make up the majority of page content for your product page (without reviews, videos, etc), which puts it closer to duplicate risk territory. 

When it comes to duplicate content and elements on a site, especially retail sites, it’s complicated. Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content alone, they’re more interested in the quality of the content and website. Where there is duplicate content or content that is not unique, Google sees this as low quality content which does lower ranking power tremendously. They’re not going to recommend low quality content to a searcher. Quality, helpful information is really what Google cares about. We tell clients content, links and user engagement because that’s the best way to translate that into something kind of tangible. However, if your site or the pages on your site are deemed low quality or potentially engaging in low quality practices, that is grounds for penalty. Additionally, the

Some ideas you may also want to use on your product pages to avoid duplicate content and enhance the value of the page:

  • Enhanced product details
  • Product videos (and transcripts)
  • Product Q&A
  • Fill in details about the product, applications, dimensions, usage case, instructions, etc
  • Additional photos from manufacturer
  • Photo gallery from customers
  • Provide a brief description about the brand, linking back to the brand page on your site
  • Product manual downloads, spec documents, technical details
It certainly couldn’t hurt to rewrite the product descriptions to eliminate the duplicate content issue. In fact, rewriting and enhancing the description could really help out the conversion rates from these pages. However, it can be a time consuming and manual task that your team should weigh the cost vs benefit on. It’s pretty common to use the manufacturer’s description, and an approach to get around duplicate content risk is to build on to the original manufacturer’s description and provide additional information. Amazon is a really good example of this. The best product pages from Amazon that rank well in search go out of their way to provide a lot of information (sometimes almost too much), to combat duplicate content issues, and to prove that their page should be the authority and worthy of ranking.
I would also stress the importance of creating collection and category pages because Google is known to look past individual product pages for this very reason. Relying on your category pages for ranking should be a priority over the individual product pages since there’s more valuable real estate there.
There is a relationship between conversions from product pages and the availability of quality, helpful content on those pages. Ecommerce sites convert better when there is more information about the products available. The best and most effective product pages put more emphasis on customer service, answering common and anticipated questions about a product with in-depth  helpful information about the product found on the product page.

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