If you think the Butterfly Effect only pertains to Chaos Theory, and has nothing to do with content merchandising, think again. Just as the flutter of an Achilles Morpho in Brazil can lead to a tornado in Texas, poorly written, inaccurate introductions on your Amazon.com product detail pages can create a storm of confusion in Tennessee and lead to poor sales.
[This post is part of our ongoing series, The Art and Science of the Enhanced (A+) Page.]
Whether you like it or not, bots and other high-tech descendants of Ghengis Khan continually troll the web to pillage and plunder your content for their own profit. If you've got a good product with good sales potential, tens of thousands of sites will steal your product content verbatim and make it available to millions of eyeballs. The content that gets stolen is generally from your website, Amazon.com, or other high-profile e-tail sites.
While some of these plagiarizers are reputable companies, the vast majority of them are referral/affiliate sites that want a nickel or two from your online sales. The vast majority of those refer eyeballs and sales to Amazon, but any e-commerce site with an affiliate program will do.
While the greedier of the bunch lift the entire product description, most of the thieves settle for the first few sentences. With the help of your content and their SEO strategies, these sites attract eyeballs and redirect customers to Amazon where the sale takes place. You get a sale, and the sites get a percentage of sales they refer.
This WILL happen without your permission, and totally outside of your control. So get used to it, and turn it to your advantage.
If sites are willing to spread your product information to millions of potential customers for free, simply take advantage of that exposure and make sure they are spreading well-written, accurate information that you fully control.
Copy/paste the first sentence or two of virtually any product description from your site, Amazon.com, or any top-tier e-commerce site that carries your product. Put the passage in quotation marks and Google it. Wait +/- 0.43 seconds and see what happens. (The more popular the product or brand, the more results you'll see.)
Take the content that exists on the web for the Belkin N600 Wireless Dual Band Router as an example.
I've taken the first two sentences of what I think is a pretty good opening paragraph from an Amazon.com product description for the router:
"The Belkin N600 DB Wireless Dual-Band N+ Router features advanced wireless performance for video streaming, online gaming, and other media-intensive applications. Belkin's exclusive MultiBeam technology minimizes dead spots and provides advanced coverage throughout your home, allowing you to stream HD video on more devices in more locations."
Below are screen shots from Google SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) for the exact quote of these two sentences. You see immediately that the search resulted in 4,070 hits. This means that this content is being displayed on at least 4,070 pages. (The results displayed on SERPs are typically a fraction of the actual number of possible results.)
And if you Google only the first sentence, you get well over 5,000 pages that carry this content.
If we perform the same task with the lesser-quality Best Buy content:
This wireless router features up to 300 Mbps data transfer speed to optimize speed and performance for media-intensive applications and allows you to connect up to 4 computers to the Internet.
Here's what we get:
And again, with Belkin.com's own content:
"Belkin’s exclusive MultiBeam antenna technology gives you maximum throughput while minimizing dead spots for optimized video streaming from multiple devices, virtually anywhere in your home.."
Here are the results:
So what's the point? What we've seen is that three distinct pieces of introductory content for the same product have been populated across more than 15,000 Web pages. Multiply that by the number of hits these sites get, and you can quickly see how many eyeballs this content reaches. And bear in mind again that Google SERPs display only a fraction of the total number of results.
A random pick of another product from a manufacturer website (the Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Jig Saw: "Makita-built variable speed motor delivers 0-2,600 strokes per minute for fast and efficient cutting.") shows content that does not come anywhere near our best practices for an introduction, and it gives us nearly 30,000 hits!
Given all that exposure, if I were the merchandising manager of this product, I'd make sure that every piece of content affiliated with this product was optimized for conversion.
While this task sounds daunting, given the large number of retail outlets and distributors that can carry your product, in fact it means little more than creating three unique pieces of content: one for your website, one for your leading e-tail account, such as Amazon, and one basic description that your account managers can use for their NIS forms. If you optimize your descriptions for these pieces of content, you'll successfully control the vast majority of information that online consumers have access to.
As I mentioned in the first post of this series, introductory content should include the name of the product, what it does, and how it will benefit the consumer.
In other words, the first 150 words of text you associate your product with will reverberate far outside of the sites you post it on. If your content is strong, you will smile as your content takes flight across the continents and oceans of consumers. If it's not, your sales team will soon get stormy reports of bad customer experiences and poor sales.