Shopping Cart Duplication – #1 Cause

At PRO-Webs we complete a great deal of site reports, and this gives us a unique advantage for research, testing and identifying common mistakes. Today, we are going to let shop owners in on the biggest cause of content duplication we have seen to date… But first lets get in to some background and information about the less than stellar results of content duplication.

What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Most of the time when we see this, it’s unintentional or at least not malicious in origin: forums that generate both regular and stripped-down mobile-targeted pages, store items shown (and — worse yet — linked) via multiple distinct URLs, and so on. In some cases, content is duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or garner more traffic via popular or long-tail queries.

So duplicate content very simply put, is any content which is too similar to another page’s (any page’s) content indexed in Google. Duplicate content can cause a host of headaches and is certainly not a concrete foundation for a top performing online store. Why should shop owners care about duplicate content?… Simple Google and other search engines care a great deal.

This is really one of those times when you as a business owner needs to walk a mile in Google’s shoes. Google aims to deliver the best UNIQUE content for every search… This is what Google, the business, does for their customers. As I am sure you as a shop owner want the best for your customers, you can clearly understand why Google would not want the same content in 5 different results to deliver their users. So if there is duplicate content… What does Google do about it?

In theory, when Google is presented to 2 pages which are not unique enough to rank independently, they make a decision as to which page to rank for the terms. There is very certainly a very complicated algorithmic computation Google does to determine which page to rank… But that really matters little. Generally speaking, the site which has the greatest authority for the content will rank and the other is shunned from the main search-able index. There is likely a ton of metrics used to determine authority for this purpose, but the largest factors are likely to be PageRank, relevant links, traffic and the age of the page. Seriously though… The simple truth is if you stole it and published it, you are not going to be able to rank it properly.

So back to the purpose of this post…

What is the #1 cause of content duplication in shopping carts?

Many shop owners are distributing or drop shipping the product base from their online store. The drop shipper or main distribution source will nearly always provide product information and descriptions for the products they wish you to sell. In our hast and waste to launch our new store or new product, many shop owners will use all or some large blocks of the distributors or manufacturers product information… UHOH

There are really only 2 factors of concern with regard to this type of content duplication.

  1. Overall duplication percentage of the page
  2. Large blocks or shingles of text containing keywords

The overall duplication percentage of the page is not nearly the biggest issue, but it can and will cause Google to frown on your pages. Again, there is much debate as the what a tolerable level of duplication is… But Google’s not saying (for obvious reasons). My best estimation is at or around 25 to 30% duplicate a page will begin to fail you.

The next and really more serious duplication factor in my estimation is large blocks of text containing keywords which are 100% duplicate. Whether is be theory or fact, we know Google is capable of identifying search terms in a page and presenting a snippet for a organic search result description… Therefore, in like function, large blocks of text containing important text and keywords which are duplicate will be easily identified. This is very specifically a debilitating issue when the block of duplicated content is at the top of a container, like a paragraph or div for example.

When content is at the top of a page, paragraph, div or table… Google considers it to be of larger importance that the text in the same container below it. Duplicate content is a position of power such as this is the quickest way for a page to fail at the hands of Google’s duplication filters.

So whats the answer here…

How do I fix the duplicate content on my site?

Well, the simplest answer is not probably what most shop owners will want to hear (at least in my experience), but create great descriptive and unique content for your shops… Every page! At least any you want to perform well =-P!

So maybe you don’t have the time or skill to write such killer content? You can take a great deal less time and “shingle” the content provided to you from the manufacturers. This is really not a complicated process at all, Google reads text in blocks or shingles… I think about 10 word shingles to narrow it down. So if you take the text provided by the manufacturer and change or add a word every 5 words… then it is no longer duplicate =-). Please notice I DID NOT say delete a word, as this does nothing much at all, you must add or change a word. I tell shop owners every 5 word shingles, simply to be on the safe side and ideally have even better content when they are done.

It can be very disheartening to hear shop owners say “I don’t have time for that”… I just generally respond, you will have plenty of time when your online shop has no sales… Just do it then =-)