Product data feeds: 3 reasons why brands need to diversify and conquer

Once upon a time, ecommerce brands could rely on their website to act as a standalone shop window: an online extension or replacement for a bricks-and-mortar flagship store. However, with the rise of marketplaces, brands such as IKEA, who began selling on Amazon earlier this year, are increasingly having to adapt to a range of third-party sales channels.

Making the most of this opportunity requires an understanding of best practice within each individual channel, whether that be Google Shopping, Amazon or Pricegrabber, comparison shopping engines (CSEs) or social media. This in turn calls for appropriately optimised product data feeds – and yet, despite the search visibility and conversion benefits of producing tailored product content for each channel, many brands continue to push out copy via their data feeds that’s directly duplicated from their own websites.

Here are three reasons why duplicating product content across multiple channels is a false economy – and why variation is the key to success.

1. Duplicate content can be damaging to SEO

Third-party sites that contain syndicated duplicate content from a brand’s website can, in some cases, pose an SEO threat to the brand’s own domain, cannibalising search traffic and inadvertently forcing product pages out of search engine results pages (SERPs). Below is Google’s definition of 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. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin. Examples of non-malicious duplicate content could include:

– Discussion forums that can generate both regular and stripped-down pages targeted at mobile devices.

– Store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs.

– Printer-only versions of web pages.

Google has previously stated that it does not penalise ‘innocent’ duplicate content (i.e. non-spam sites). However, it does overlook it. Google’s algorithm filters for duplicates, so that only one version of a duplicated text is permitted to appear in any one SERP. This means that any iteration of the text that Google judges ‘non-canonical’ (i.e. not the original) is effectively erased from the search results.

How does this relate to product data feeds? If a brand farms out to a CSE the same product descriptions that sit on its owned domain, it is creating duplicate versions of those product pages across the web. For any given search query, Google will filter all but one of these pages from its SERPs. Naturally, this has the potential to negatively impact traffic to the brand’s own website (and consequently, higher-margin direct conversions) if Google favours the third-party site in its results.

2. Protect your brand integrity with differentiation

Many brands spend a lot of time cultivating a unique, evocative tone of voice for their owned channels. But sharing that brand-specific content with numerous aggregators across the web may have the adverse effect of compromising brand integrity.

How? Brands wield little control over how their products are displayed on non-owned sites. It is the marketplace’s template, colours, format and user experience that brands now find couching their products, rather than their own. Even if a sale is secured, it is often the marketplace’s checkout that customers go through, not yours.

Furthermore, your brand presentation and identity is already compromised by the very transactional nature of the marketplace. A label like Burberry, for example, which prefers to conjure a sharp and luxurious image on its owned site, will struggle to do the same within the Amazon results pages. The core customer experience that you work hard to create in your e-store will inevitably cede to the more prosaic realities of an aggregator, marketplace or comparative engine.

In this case, it is better to embrace the house voice and style in full than attempt to recreate a watered-down version of your own. Protect the integrity of your branding in the long term: keep the voice of your owned site and marketplace product content distinct from one another.

3. Best practice varies between channels: a tailored approach is key

The search algorithms and product page specifications of aggregators and marketplaces naturally vary, as does best practice per channel. Failing to tailor the content that you’re distributing via your product data feeds can lead to incomplete or missing fields, non-compliant images and poorly-presented information on  third-party product pages, resulting in lowered click-through-rates and conversions.

For example, NexTag, a bidding channel known for its high proportion of deals and discounts, automatically includes the name of a product’s brand at the start of a title, meaning that this data should be eliminated from the rest of a title’s copy. The site also has a low product description length limit, at 500 characters to Google’s 5000; as a result, brands should communicate their core offering as succinctly as possible, foregoing flowing copy for a quick-fire sales pitch.

On the other hand, Amazon requires all of its product descriptions to list the most important information in five bullet points at the top of the entry. This will be the first thing your customer will read about your product, so those five bullets need to communicate the most salient product USPs.

In this way, a one-size-fits-all approach to multi-channel product presentation simply does not work: what performs well on one third-party site won’t necessarily perform well on another. And in the worst-case scenario, it may result in embarrassing display and content errors.

Of course, the demand for bespoke product content for data feeds poses sizeable operational challenges. Generating multiple versions of product descriptions, all tailored to both brand tone of voice and specific audiences, is a monumental task for already stretched in-house teams. Outsourcing your content production can save both time and money, delivering improved and measurable ROI.

To find out how Quill can help your product data feeds deliver using high quality, fully optimised content, get in touch.

More posts from the blog


Content as a compass: streamlining the online travel purchase journey

Find out more

Ethical ecommerce: does brand purpose still sell?

Find out more

Google Lens: the what, why and how for ecommerce

Find out more

Get in touch with the team

Contact Back to top