Product feeds make it possible to reach entirely new markets on ecommerce channels with built-in audiences. As a merchant, making a product feed available means the ability to scale offers on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and even Walmart.com. It also allows you to compete for price and feature comparison shoppers on websites like Ebates, Google Shopping and Shopzilla.
However, product feeds also present a major risk for retailers who fail to differentiate product description content between the feed and their own online catalog.
For SEO reasons like these, product feeds should always use their own product descriptions, separate and completely unique from the one shown on your product pages. There are several ways this can be achieved, ranging in complexity.
Often this can be as easy as assigning an empty field in the database to this alternate description. For example, maybe you have a “short description” and a “long description” field for products in the CMS, but only use one of them. The other field can serve as a way to enter alternate content for feeds, thus keeping your on-page product descriptions unique.
Worst-case scenario, even just using the meta description for product feeds and keeping your main product description exclusive would be better than duplicating the main product description in shopping feeds.
How On-Site and Off-Site Product Description Needs Differ
Product descriptions used in feeds require much less content, making it easier to scale the rewriting of feed content than the rewriting of catalog content.
Generally speaking, the product description on your site should be well optimized for search and written with customers in mind. It should sell them. It can use rich content like videos and image carousels, and can contain dozens of product photo variations. Paying close attention to these opportunities to convert on-site traffic is one way retailers can compete with juggernauts like Amazon.com.
Product feed content, on the other hand, is going to be competing with your site in the search results, along with everyone else, not to mention other results in the marketplace or comparison engine. There is much less opportunity to convert those eyes than the ones on your site, and so scalable automation becomes an option.
How to Scale Product Description Copywriting
Perhaps the easiest way to ensure your content stands out is to write unique content for your own product descriptions, and use the description provided by the manufacturer in product feeds.
Another way to scale product feed copywriting is by tapping into lots of data about each product (if you have it) and creating rules that allow some very smart software to semi-automate the process -- always with the careful guidance of an experienced copywriter. We’ve experimented with this at Inflow, and will have some case studies coming out on the blog soon. To summarize our findings: Machine-learning-enhanced product copywriting works if you have access to rich data about the products.
Without rich data about each product, it is best to write product feed descriptions the old fashioned way: Copywriting and merchandising interns - under the careful guidance of an experienced copywriter or merchandiser.
TL;DR - Amazon already has the upper hand in search, along with the reputation to make Google think they’re the ones who own the content. Win back some of your search traffic from Amazon and other third-party merchants by keeping your best content exclusive to your own site.
Now that you aren’t feeding out the content, all product descriptions on your own site should be unique (assuming you aren’t using a manufacturer's’ description). This means you can easily find websites that steal your content and report them to Google via this DMCA complaint form. Nobody should ever outrank you for your own content.
This approach will allow you to compete on other marketplaces and comparison shopping engines, while not cannibalizing your opportunity to win new customers directly from search engines. And that means lower acquisition costs, and more profit.