Can ecommerce sites use manufacturers’ product descriptions?

Can ecommerce sites use manufacturers’ product descriptions?

Google’s John Mueller has recently offered some interesting insights into the use of product descriptions from manufacturers on ecommerce websites.

In a recent SEO Office Hours hangout, Mueller received a question about an ecommerce site using descriptions of products that are copied directly from their manufacturers. The questioner was concerned about these descriptions negatively affecting the site’s rankings due to them flagging up as duplicate content. Mueller was also asked whether the issue of duplicate content could be avoided by linking the descriptions back to their original sources.

In his response, Mueller explained how the search engine deals with duplicate content like this, and he assured the questioner that using manufacturer descriptions wasn’t actually a problem.

Mueller stated that ecommerce sites don’t need to link their descriptions back to the original source in order to avoid any duplicate content issues, because, in actuality, there is no issue with duplicate content.

Explaining further, Mueller said that websites don’t receive a penalty for containing duplicate content, and the only instance an algorithmic penalty or intervention from Google would occur would be if a website contained only content that was duplicated. As long as the rest of the website content is unique, Mueller assured the questioner that using manufacturer descriptions for products is “perfectly fine”, and there is no need to fear any negative ranking consequences.

Mueller did provide further information on how this works when it comes to ranking pages for snippets. He explained that:

“If someone is searching for something generic which is only in the description of that product and the snippet that we would show for your website, for the manufacturer were exactly the same, then we would try to pick one of those pages and show only that one.”

Mueller added that if a person was searching for a generic term that featured in a product description, and Google could determine that the searcher wanted to buy that product, it would show the page it believed to be the best source of that product, taking stock levels and proximity of the ecommerce store to the searcher into consideration.

While this will likely be good news for ecommerce sites, here at Engage Web, we know that having unique, engaging product descriptions is a key way to making your products stand out against competitors’ on the web, and to encouraging purchases. If you’d like to have a chat about how we can help craft unique product descriptions for your ecommerce business, get in touch today.

Digital Marketing Executive at Engage Web
Emily is no stranger to the world of online content. By the age of just 14, a novel she wrote on the story-writing website Wattpad had amassed more than a million views!

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