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5 ways to avoid the Google Panda / Farmer update for duplicate content eCommerce sites

10:39 on Tue, 29 Mar 2011 | SEO | 15 Comments

Popular UK SEO blogger, Patrick Altoft at Blogstorm released a post yesterday outlining the potential impact of Google's Panda / Farmer update will have on eCommerce sites with little unique content.

The update can potentially affect eCommerce sites that have product descriptions duplicated across many other sites. For example if your site sells laptops and you are using exactly the same product descriptions and specifications as the manufacturer and many other sites, you could face a drop in organic search traffic.

Although this isn't set in stone, it is certainly something that should be taken seriously as the Panda update will hit the UK any time soon. If your site is facing these difficulties, consider the following to try and differentiate your content from the rest of the crowd:


  1. Hire a content writer to write unique, compelling descriptions for your products. This will not only make Google happy but may increase conversion rates as well.
  2. Pull in snippets of independent product reviews from sources such as Reevoo and Which?. Make sure the content is viewable to Google so no iFrames people!
  3. Encourage user generated content by inviting users to leave reviews on your products. This method requires no extra time or effort other than moderation, as the customer writes the content for you! You may need to incentivise customers to leave reviews by giving them discount off their next orders or entering them into a prize draw. This alone however has its advantages as it increases the chances that a customer will return to the site.
  4. Add FAQ information within product page descriptions. Instead of linking to an FAQ page from a term in the product description, display it on the actual page with clever CSS so that Google can see it.
  5. List related products on the page, pulling through description snippets which will be unique to your site.


We would love to hear your take on this update in the UK and also if you have been affected in the US. Please let us know what you think in the comments below.

Comments & Discussion


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Wilber • Years ago

This site really has all of the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn't know who to ask.



Murrell • Years ago

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The words in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrome.
I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Many thanks



Antje • Years ago

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John • Years ago

Excellent article, it is very difficult to write interesting unique articles for some markets. If a person dedicates time and effort into SEO there is going to be rich rewards later on, 1 change on a page on one of my sites took months for it to be picked up and so please remember it pays to be patient and any corrections to sites will take time to be picked up.



Yavo • Years ago

Just curious when would people start spending time on creating enjoyable and quality sites rather than trying to crack Google algorithms.

I am still at research point, but so far what I read is "fix the penalization with more internal links and php-printed RSS".

As this is the 3rd blog sharing advices that are not really in-depth and do have questionable results it seemed about time for me to ask:

Are you aware that the Farmer filter is designed to utilize machine learning algorithms??

And to all the small-time webmasters, such as myself, out there - avoid wasting time on user generated content unless you have 100+ visitors per day.
Furthermore technologies for scraping content of any kind will result in penalization, sooner or later.

Better use this time to think on out of the box ways for coming up with fresh and original content OR at least a way to present your content.. attract a community, focus on on-page SEO and there you have it - a quality web site.


p.s. Chris, I hope you did not find my tone disturbing or insulting in any way when mentioning the solutions suggested by you. All is intended as constructive criticism, but then again, I believe you are not in big need of advice :)


Sam May

Sam May • Years ago

@Kaloyan, I'll be very interested to see the results of your mini-experiment.


Kaloyan Banev

Kaloyan Banev • Years ago

Sure Chris, I will let you know when the post is done. 1 month stats, only 150 links build, 100% dupe content, blog based on WordPress.


Chris Gedge

Chris Gedge • Years ago

Sounds interesting Kaloyan. Keep us updated.


Kaloyan Banev

Kaloyan Banev • Years ago

I hope many people are reading this, but next week I will bust one myth regarding duplicate content, Google rankings and Panda update. I will show a website, which is 100% based on duplicate content, I will publish snapshots from Google analytics, reference to copyscape and if anybody does not believe, I will invite them to share actually GA stats – 84% of traffic is coming from Google!


Google Panda / Farmer update is live in the UK

Google Panda / Farmer update is live in the UK • Years ago


As of yesterday, April 11th at 12pm West Coast US time, Google officially announced the release of the Google Panda / Farmer update in all English ... [...]


Chris Gedge

Chris Gedge • Years ago

Hi Rob. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about people stealing your content. Google however is clever enough to attribute the content to the original source by factors such as when it was first indexed etc. This means that the original source should always be treated as the one that ranks and duplicates will be filtered out (remember there is no duplicate content "penalty", only a filter).


Rob Ingram

Rob Ingram • Years ago

Even if you do hire an editor to create unique content, if this does stay high on the organic searches it won't be long until peopel will copy it and then it will be the same old duplicate content again. What to do...keep changing it every time it gets used somehwere?


Richard Teahon

Richard Teahon • Years ago

This is good advise. I particularly like the suggestion of user generated content to add a unique spin to the content.


Chris Gedge

Chris Gedge • Years ago

Hi H. Agreed that the copy writing option isn't going to be possible for everyone's budgets, however encouraging user generated content is essentially free.

Pulling in snippets from other sites will help to differentiate your site from the rest but I believe the real benefit will be from unique content that no one else has or can replicate.



rv • Years ago

Hi Chris.
Thanks for sharing.

of course, having an editor is the best solution. Some might not be able to afford one. In that case, the big question is:

Is G going to consider a mash up of snippets as unique content?

Shouldn't aggregators like Testfreak have survived to the update if that was the case?

Could you advice us on the most efficient length of the snippet you would recommend to grab from review site?