Saturday, November 3, 2012

Why Ecommerce Sites Get Penalized by Google and the Panda Update

Google released the friendly sounding update Panda into the wild over a year ago, and the bamboo it was supposed to munch on were content farms. Content farms included sites such as eHow and typically had a lot of content written by a lot of people on a lot of different topics, all  highly SEO’d to rank for a multitude of search terms, such as “How to Bath Your Dog” or “How to Get Dressed in the Morning in Richmond VA.”

Bluntly, content farms were asking for a Google update to take them out: they provided very poorly written content, churned out by ‘professional writers’ who could barely string two words together without using an exclamation point!

Panda targeted “thin content”, which broadly means poorly written English, repetitive regurgitation, low word counts, a large number of pages on the site and providing little in the way of value to human readers.
The problem with this description is we are also describing an eCommerce site and Panda cannot tell between a badly written content farm and high-value, commercial site delivering real value.

Ecommerce sites typically have:

Lots of Pages
Because they offer lots of products, and even where the product line is restricted, there will be lots of options. Think colors and sizes for one V-Neck T-shirt and suddenly you see how many pages can be created for one very simple product.

Duplicated Content
Duplicate content provides zero SEO benefit, and with Panda it is waving a red rag at a stampeding bull. But use our t-shirt site again, and you can see you cannot really write something that different about a red t-shirt or a blue one: the only difference is the color.
Another issue for Ecommerce sites is that they frequently take a product description, especially if it is technical in nature, from the manufacturer or master distributor’s site and paste it into their own product pages.

Low Word Counts
Again, just how much can you say about a t-shirt?
Seriously, try to write 400 words on t-shirts of any kind…and then think of the task extrapolated out for S, M, L, XL and XXL variations then multiplied out further by color variations and this is even before we get to different styles.
It is usual to see a product page which is heavy on images with a light touch when it comes to the word count.