Google On Original Content Related To Product Descriptions

Oct 8, 2013 • 8:53 am | comments (23) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google shoppingOriginal and unique content is always something Google says is a very important aspect of ranking and providing value. But what about when you sell a commodity item that everyone else sells, like pens or home appliances and so on?

You and a thousand other web sites are given the same photos, product descriptions, specifications, videos and so on from the manufacturer that everyone else gets. What makes your content better without you doing something better with the content manually?

The answer is nothing but does it matter?

Google's John Mueller, in a Google Webmaster Hangout talked about just that. You can hear it around 20 minutes into that video or by clicking on the question:

Let's say a company uses product descriptions on their own site and at the same time provides the descriptions via a database to official retailers who might reuse them on their website. How can correct content attribution / ownership be ensured?

John answered that in these cases, they won't look into ownership of the content. Yes, he said that. Here is the transcription:

So, for example, if there's an online store that's selling a book, and it's selling it worldwide, and there's also a local bookstore that's selling the same book and on the site they have the same description as the big general online store, and if we can recognize that a user wants to find local content, then maybe we'll show them the local version.

And if we can recognize that the user doesn't want to find just local content but something maybe they can buy online, then maybe we'll show them the global version...

So it's not something where we'd say that if you wrote this product description your site will always be ranking for queries for that product description, but rather we'll try to show them the appropriate version that matches what we think the user is looking for.

So in some cases, maybe original source of content is not always the most important thing.

Original content here, is not king - at least with product descriptions.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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10/08/2013 01:45 pm

oh great bring on the scrapers...... man google is madness and really pathetic.... talking about local results google uk doesn't not provide a single usful result for local electricians or local plumbing only will show page after page of directories...... and oh yeah most of the plumbers and electricians have to buy ads at the top.... ITS ALL A FIX!


10/08/2013 02:03 pm

I hope everyone is cheering on Bing or some other competitor to come in and take over Google's ridiculous "household name" status as the only search engine. They're becoming ridiculous. Tired of having to listen to Cutt's advice and never see any results, let alone turn around the algorithm hits that completely devastated my business. Google cares about one thing and one thing only - appeasing its shareholders. It exists to provide/promote AdWords, and everything else is treated as a joke.


10/08/2013 02:08 pm

This sounds like the big stores win. The local store would only get a small amount of traffic because they only show up when the global (big site) does not. So like dude33 said bring out the scrapers. Buy a domain with PR, links, and toss up a huge scraped site and you win.

Steve Peron

10/08/2013 02:33 pm

This is still does not answer what Google will do with 2 online retailers with the same product descriptions.


10/08/2013 03:07 pm

I'm not a big fan of the latest Google activity, but if you sell something, using same software, same photos, same descriptions, same tactics others use, then there is no reason to blame Google for the luck of the deals done.


10/08/2013 03:13 pm

Correct, the original source does not matter for products. What matters is if Google's buddy Amazon gets the sale. I mean why would Google rank the actual company that produces, retails and supports the product first in the search results? Unsupported third party warehouse shopping is definitely the better user experience. lol


10/08/2013 03:21 pm

You can avoid scrapping of your content by two easy steps. 1. If you use RSS, then make it delayed some hours. 2. Write the script, where the session will be terminated, if the number of pages rendered per certain period of time exceeds the limit. That's it. Use original content, avoiding scrappers. To keep it under control, include unique string on every page in tiny font size, somewhere in the corner of the page. Like ProductNumber-RandomlyGeneratedString. Then occasionally, if you feel your content could be scrapped, do a search by this string and fill DCMA if any.

Durant Imboden

10/08/2013 03:26 pm

Why shouldn't the big stores win when they and the small stores are using the same manufacturer-supplied product descriptions? Online megastores like Amazon have established reputations, vast numbers of inbound links, user reviews, and so on. They're the default choice for most shoppers, so it's only reasonable that they should rank higher for [insert product name] when the small e-commerce sites aren't offering anything different or better. The cleverer small retailers will see an opportunity here: By creating original, useful content that's better than the manufacturer-supplied product descriptions that everyone else is using, they'll have a better chance of improving their rankings--if not against Amazon and other megastores, then against the vast number of small retailers who think they should rank No. 1 with copycat content.


10/08/2013 03:41 pm

thanks for those ideas!


10/08/2013 03:42 pm

An average consumer doesn't like to deal with NoName vendors. Consumers trust Amazon more. Google detects this behavior and offers to visit Amazon at first. This is consumer's choice, not Google's. Google just reflects it. But this is the dead end for Google, because if same store is shown on top of the SERP hundreds of times, then the other day I will go to the store directly. So, Google has to do something sooner or later to keep visitors. From the other hand Google has a lot of time ahead, because many users uses Google as an entrance, even they know forehead what to expect in search and what store they finally will land. I asked myself many times, why I use Google every time, even I know the exact site I would like to land on. Why don't I visit the website directly? In many cases it's because of the poor search on the desired website. But mostly because of behavior. Anyway, there is no reason to expect major changes in the SERP in the nearest future. Amazon will dominate. Act accordingly )


10/08/2013 04:12 pm

Why do you think Google wants to give Amazon airspace? They're very much in competition. I'd say it's a sign that Google *is* giving the people what they want, when they return Amazon listings. Weird to think that it's acting in Google's best interests to do so.


10/08/2013 05:12 pm

You must have missed what this said. It said it does not matter where the content is coming from. So the small local guy creates unique content and that is scraped buy a bigger site. The big site wins. I am not talking about Amazon here but the same is still true. There is nothing stopping someone from listing a product on Amazon pulling a description from the small site that has the unique content. Guess who will win then? The Amazon listing with content that was scraped.


10/08/2013 05:34 pm

If you have two pages website, then you're right. Your scenario is highly possible. If you have well established website, offering unique possibilities to the users, then scrapping of couple of pages can't hurt you. Furthermore, I believe, if you write to Amazon and provide cached page from Google, proving that you were the first who published certain content, Amazon will take actions. But anyway, well established unique website is the best way to avoid scrapping problems. It's proved.


10/08/2013 09:28 pm

There are a lot of small eCommerce sites that sell only a few products and Amazon was an example. Why does the webmaster need to do this is the first place? Google is not giving credit to who should get the credit. That is all this is about. Not the various ways you can stop this. The content was created by a small site there should be no way any other site can out rank it no matter the site type.

Craig Hamilton-Parker

10/08/2013 11:10 pm

I also add either a nonsense word or number in the text and set up a Google Alert fot it.


10/09/2013 12:59 am

You're right. I also would like Google to put this under control as soon as possible and I believe they have top priority on this. But you also have to understand how it works. Google must crawl each and every website in real time to end this problem. I doubt its even possible with the hardware we have at moment. So, it's not like they don't want to do, they just can't. But it doesn't mean, that the Internet must be switched off. Right? Consider everything related to Internet like a water. It's a dangerous place for the people and it can kill. But if you can swim, then you can enjoy it. Same with the Internet. One of the swimming methods to avoid sinking in the waters of the Internet is to have well established website. (Sure there are others).


10/09/2013 01:24 am

PLenty of scrapper sites have proved that for years. If a site has more PR or trust and scrapes your content and offers it to the Google index they almost always beat you out in the SERP's. Nothing really new here other than someone at Google admitting it.

Soni Sharma

10/09/2013 06:25 am

In this case I suggest Google should provide higher rank to the store which provides better service, products at best price or Google should display all stores website starting from lowest price in kind of info-graphic search result or panorama view. In this case user can easily compare stores whether they are buying it online or looking for any store.


10/09/2013 02:24 pm

google not cares about articles quality, & unique content and copyrights.


10/09/2013 08:39 pm

I totally agree Steve - it is double-speak to me, a politicians answer. I got no definitive clarification at all.


10/10/2013 03:28 am

Though I'm sure what Google does with product descriptions, I don't think product descriptions should be used as content to rank sites, for the very reason given in the explanations in this post on product descriptions appearing in multiple sites that sell the same products

Andrea Moro

10/10/2013 08:16 am

Well it's like the recipe to be the king here is selling unique product, thus making you and your site the only one able to rank. [Chuckles] Honestly, when I go for Online shopping I do always a very quick scan on Amazon to ascertain whether an item is on their catalogue or one of the many sellers it use their platform. Using Amazon to me represents a guarantee to receive items in good status and a good customer service. In some case they do also offer the best deal on terms of shipping fee + cost of the item. If a local dealer has the same product shown on Amazon site at a better price it is only then that I start googling for the specific product somewhere else. I'm sure this is not an unconventional pattern and you may replace Amazon with those big web sites that are considered an authority in their industry. So what could make the difference then? Once again it's not the description itself but the marketing message you can attach to it. So the meta tags should focus on your deal, your product should include the rich snippets, customers' feedback should be part of the strategy thus incorporating their reviews etc. If you want a business to survive online you can't ignore the digital marketplace rules and all tools should be blended.

rich man

10/11/2013 06:53 pm

Getting highly ranked in google depends on luck. A lot of companies have focused on products that they were ranked high on google, while their better services and products were shelved or made insignificant. It means that google ranking has decided sales focus for a company, what products and services it should provide at that moment (due to ranking which causes demand for that product/service) and it has nothing to do with how good a company is. Google can't solve this problem and probably never will.

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