Should You Reuse Manufacturer Product Descriptions?
Generating content for a website isn’t as easy as you’d think. Unfortunately, websites don’t just spring into being fully formed, with lovely words extolling your company and product. Somebody has to write those words, and somebody has to write words for every single product on every single page of that website. Producing so much content might seem like a daunting task—and it can be very tempting to cut corners. In professional content writing, is it okay to borrow material from the manufacturer?
When a customer visits your site, they’re looking for information on your products. You, of course, have to provide it for them. And look—the manufacturer provides all those handy little descriptions of these products on their website! Just copy and paste and you’re done, right?
Wrong. Although this approach is easiest, it also isn’t likely to get you very far. The problem is that copying those product descriptions is so easy, everyone does it, and if everyone does it, you aren’t going to stand out. Instead of becoming special, new, or interesting, your product page becomes just one more in a sea of faceless websites.
Search engines are very, very, very good at recognizing duplication. They can tell that your content is exactly the same as content found on the manufacturer’s website, and they know that you didn’t come up with it. If you didn’t do the work, should your site be ranked any higher than the site that had the content first? Search engines will almost always penalize you for posting duplicate content.
Finally, in some cases the material may have a copyright registered. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stealing material from other sites—even manufacturers’ descriptions—can lead to legal problems down the road. Even if it doesn’t, representing someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism, which is unethical.
One of the most important rules of search engine optimization (SEO) is that all content needs to be original. All of it. Most people are smart enough to be original on their homepages and other important pieces of text, but this rule applies to everything from blogs to FAQs—and yes, your product descriptions. Don’t borrow material from other websites, social media, or even printed works.
So what are you supposed to do? The simplest course of action is just to rewrite the product descriptions. You can keep the main ideas, the highlights of the product, and any statistics or measurements; just use your own words. Saying the same thing differently isn’t hard to do, and it will keep you in the clear when it comes to duplication. This is the simplest approach whether you write your own material or hire content writers to do it for you.
If you really want to stand out, use the product description as an opportunity to add your own review or a customer’s testimonial. This is the perfect place to convince the consumers to buy from you, and the new ideas can only help your SEO.
Cutting corners might seem tempting, but it can hurt your website more than it helps. Unless you’re trying to lower your search rankings, it’s not a good idea to directly reuse manufacturer descriptions.