We’ve blogged many times about SEO copywriting and how quality is fast becoming one of the most important aspects of well-written web content. While I was recently reading that Google’s recent Penguin update will eliminate low-quality merchants from its listings, I became curious about what Google thinks is a quality merchant at the moment.

So where better to turn than to their own Shopping service guidelines. A quick nose through the Google Shopping Policies (the guidelines they have for products that are submitted to Google Shopping) and I found some interesting items, namely this one:

User Experience – Product description writing should provide a positive experience to users.

This isn’t new news and its something we keep going on about. Clicking into this section brings up more detail (I love details!) bold is mine:

The user trusts the product listing to provide effective and complete content and a destination that’s relevant, original and easy to navigate.

Trust and originality

Essentially, Google’s own policies state that they are looking for original content. That means no boilerplate copywriting from the manufacturer. Merchants wanting to list their products on Google must have completely original content. Here’s the relevant bit from the Landing Page Quality section:

Google Shopping doesn’t allow the promotion of duplicate and borrowed content. Merchants can only submit content which is their own or which they represent.

If you are still using the copy you copied from the manufacturer, you’ll want to get that re-written ASAP (before this merchant quality roll-out happens)!

What about the other aspects of trust?

‘Complete content’ makes sense, but what does ‘effective’ mean?

As an SEO copywriter, I can only read this one way:

‘Effective’ to Google means well-(copy)written product descriptions that actually try to sell the product (and are not just list of features).

Surprises in store for merchants?

While I was going through the guidelines, I did stop and ponder this one for a while:

Product listings should be compatible with Google’s brand decisions.

While the guidelines are around selling things of an ‘adult’ or ‘non-family’ nature, I find this guideline interesting and it should set off some alarm bells for you if you rely on selling through Google (or anyone else’s service for that matter).

What if they decide to do things differently in the future? What does that mean for your business?

We’ll have to see what the actual update entails, and to be sure there are a raft of technical considerations being talked about in SEO circles. But after reading through the current Google merchant guidelines, I can see that they already know what quality signals to look for: original product descriptions and content that users will trust.



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