Own Your Content

Monday, May 02, 2011
Cynthia Young

If you sell stuff online and you describe the stuff that you sell and you show me pictures of what you’re selling, you as the builder of this content own both the description and the media. But why in the world are you giving it away to others to rank? I understand the theory behind affiliate marketing but I urge retailers today to think about their sharing of content with affiliates. If you hand over a data feed of your products, media and inventory, what would prompt customers to come to your store? We were told in February that Google Panda was created because:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”  – Google Blog

Panda is designed to remove poor content and shallow pages that are littered with advertising. These only create a poor user experience. The intention of Panda is to improve the user experience in the search manifold. How is it, then, that a retailer can have original content and information and still be able to use affiliates?

The only way to succeed in this new search environment is to give affiliates entirely new content. Is it worth it? An affiliate can take hundreds of pages of your content and own it for themselves only to ask you, the retailer, to pay for the additional click. It’s like asking to be in a directory of directories. A great article on this topic notes: “When retailers share all of their original content via feeds for shopping and/or affiliate folks, there’s the serious danger of Google seeing that content as “low quality,” probably because it’s on so many different sites.”

Worse yet — with Panda, Google is now suggesting that the site with the most in-depth and thoughtful content will be considered the authority. If an affiliate has hundreds of listings of dresses and I also sell dresses, how will I get noticed for my 10 dresses when I am among the other 100 dresses of an affiliate? Google will say that the affiliate is the owner of the term ‘dresses.’ I urge retailers to own your content and be the master of your domain…oh and don’t forget the images, links and reviews!

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