Writing content when your Shopify store’s products aren’t unique little snowflakes

Writing content is one of the more difficult components of SEO, especially when your products don’t lend themselves to having unique content about them.

Customer Ryan had an even harder time:

I was curious on your thoughts on writing product descriptions for products that have different colors. I have a site where I HAVE to have individual product pages.

Do you feel that I need to write different content on each product page, even though only the color is different?

If the products are identical, except for the color, it’ll be difficult to write something unique for each one.

When you have the same descriptions on each product page Google will classify one as the original content and the rest as duplicate content.

That way you can have the same content on multiple products.

You shouldn’t be penalized, it’ll just be that Google will show the original page in the search results most of the time and the others will rarely show up.

One thing to make sure is that there are actual links to the other pages so visitors and Google can follow those. By actual links I mean a regular link, not just a bit of JavaScript or variant switcher (the "a href" HTML tag).

You might also look into using a custom canonical url tag on the pages. It’s not perfect but it can help Google understand that a page is copy or very similar to another one. The benefits of the canonical tag is that you can define the original page.

For example, say you have a red, blue, and green version. You want the red version to be the original because it’s the best seller.

  • On the red page you’d have the canonical tag pointing to the red page (itself).
  • On the blue page you’d have the tag pointing to the red page.
  • On the green page you’d have the tag pointing to the red page.

Google doesn’t always use or respect these but this is currently the best way to label duplicate pages. Google has a lot more details on duplicate urls, though Shopify and some Shopify themes have some parts built in already.

One final point to remember, these are guidelines or suggestions for Google. Just because you setup canonical tags a specific way doesn’t mean that Google will always use them.

One SEO feature that works well 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 almost three thousand Shopify stores with their structured data and it could help you too.

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