A typical scenario: after considerable consideration, you’ve decided to open an online shop. You have also invested a lot of time researching available technology and have concluded that a flexible, customisable and inexpensive ePages rental shop will be ideal. An excellent choice! You learn how best to use the software, create a wonderful layout and begin entering products.
After you’ve already invested hours in your future online business, you want to save time by resorting to the standard texts which the manufacturer supplied together with product images. Stop! Step back and reflect — instead of making one of the biggest mistakes possible in this situation.
Why, you ask? Spend a few minutes researching online to determine just how many of your online competitors use the manufacturer’s product texts. You will be astonished.
To name but one example, let’s select an excerpt from Apple’s product text for its iPod touch and then google the phrase. A search for “Use the revolutionary Multi-Touch interface to flick through your music in Cover Flow” returns over 12.000 results for web pages which all use exactly the same standard text. If you use the identical product description, then you will compete against all those website operators for the attention of search engines and customers.
The pen is mightier than the sword” — in the online era, as well
Google and other search engines value originality and reward it with a higher ranking. The pivotal factor in this regard: search engines tend to recognize who first used a given text online. Such websites benefit from the originality of their texts and receive better evaluations. If you use a manufacturer’s product texts, then it’s extremely likely that somebody else did the same long ago. Google and other engines will barely notice your website — if at all. Conversely, if you compose your very own product text, then you will have the undivided attention of search engines.
Unfortunately, content theft — the unauthorised use of others’ content — is rampant online (despite the fact that it is every bit as prohibited online as it is offline). So, what happens to your ranking if one of your competitors simply copies large amounts of the product texts which you worked so hard to create for your own website? Developers at Google provided an answer some time ago at Google Blog:
“Don’t fret too much about sites that scrape (misappropriate and republish) your content. Though annoying, it’s highly unlikely that such sites can negatively impact your site’s presence in Google. If you do spot a case that’s particularly frustrating, you are welcome to file a DMCA request (http://www.google.com/dmca.html) to claim ownership of the content and have us deal with the rogue site.”
Use words to sell
People finding your website is half the battle; persuading potential customers to purchase from you is the other half. How can original texts help you?
Just imagine you’re at a party. Would you rather talk with the innumerable guests who all have the same things to say and merely contribute to the background noise? Or, instead, with the one person who knows how to tell an interesting story and exudes eloquence, wit and charm? Not a difficult decision, is it?
But the presentation of products in your online shop is no different. If you lazily resort to mass-produced standard texts and standard images, then there is nothing which will distinguish you from your competitors — except price.
But you will gain a decisive sales advantage versus your competition if you can show customers that you have spent time analysing the products you sell, you know their respective advantages and disadvantages, and you can provide informed opinions about your products.
Exploit this opportunity to increase your sales.
Get ready to write
It literally pays off, by all means, to create your own product texts. Yet where and how to begin? We provide some help on getting started in our article: “Writing for the Web: 10 Rules” (http://www.epages.com/en/blog/index.php/2009/01/14/writing-for-the-web-10-rules/ )We also recommend the following books to everyone who wishes to more deeply explore this (admittedly) complex topic:
“Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content That Works”
by Janice Redish
“Writing for the Web”
by Crawford Kilian