The dangers of generating product descriptions in your Shopify store

A customer recently approached me with a question about generating product descriptions.

They sell 1,000s of similar products where there are very few differences between each product. To save time they started to use product description generator that would smash up a few partial descriptions into one specific for their product based on product tags.

Think Mad Libs product descriptions. For example,

"This [BRAND] pen comes with [SIZE] oz of [COLOR] ink. […]"

They implemented this in the theme so their products wouldn’t actually have this description entered. The theme would figure out what text to use automatically.

They wanted to know from me if there would be any SEO impact to this approach.

While innovative, there’s a strong chance they’d be negatively impacted.

Since the actual product desperation is not filled out, there are a two other places on the page that are blank:

  • the meta description, which Google uses heavily
  • Twitter and OpenGraph (Facebook) tags which are used when the page is shared

Having a meta description for every page in your store is very valuable as it’s a major piece of data that Google uses. Sometimes Google will even use it directly in the search results.

I also don’t think Google will rate the generated product description well. If it’s not unique enough, Google might count the page as a duplicated page which will have a major impact on how the page ranks (which then drops traffic). I usually recommend at least 300 words of unique descriptions per product.

Additionally, parts of Shopify and Shopify apps use the description field too. Having it blank might have other unexpected impacts.

My recommendation is to write a custom product description for each product.

If that’s too much work and you have to use automatically generated ones, try to save the description into the product itself. A custom app or a well-managed product import/export process should be able to handle that without too much trouble.

One SEO feature that actually works is structured data.

Mostly because Google wants everyone to set it up so their jobs are easier.

You can either audit, code, and test your store’s structured data by hand or install JSON-LD for SEO and have all the structured data you need.

It’s already helping over two thousand Shopify stores with their structured data and it could help you too.

Eric Davis

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