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My website integrates with the inventory of local stores. A store could have hundreds or thousands of products.

I'm considering having a product page for each inventory item, given that it is specific to locale and a specific store. The product descriptions can sometimes be quite terse however (sometimes only 1 or 2 words), while others can be quite descriptive.

From my SEO research, it seems that product pages without a lot of unique content can be considered spammy by search engines. I don't want to be spammy, but for products with more specific descriptions, it could be very helpful for customers to be able to find a product page from a specific store in their locale.

Is this a practice that will cause trouble with search engines?

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    Will each product be unique to a locale and store or will the same general product type be listed multiple times, one for each locale and store possible? – JCL1178 Nov 21 '14 at 6:28
  • Each product is locale and store specific, however it could very well have the same product description (albeit usually less than 7 or 8 words) – settheline Nov 21 '14 at 18:27
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For the experience I had writing titles and descriptions, I would say you are looking for titles of around 70 Characters and descriptions of around 300.

In my case I had them in multiple languages and made an effort to always have at least more than 250 chars on the description, and things went good.

Funny thing is that one of my competitors started to outrank me with only titles and no descriptions, his difference was that he was publishing a lot more content than me. To have an idea I was publishing between 15 and 25 small articles per day and he was doubling that.

Bottom line is that in the long run, he started to fade and I kept the top positions for the keywords that mattered the most.

My advice in your case is to make an effort to have a complete product page with at least a title, categories and some tags if you can't have a description. Other products with descriptions will compensate the lack of useful text in the others and everything will be fine.

  • Thanks for the input @nunorbatista. The products in question are generated from a stores inventory. A store uploads a CSV file of their product list which populates the database. So in this case it's not possible for me to edit the product descriptions, titles, or categories. Make sense? – settheline Nov 21 '14 at 18:32
  • Yes, makes sense, all you have to do is advise the store owners to have their stores updated and with good titles and descriptions, it's good for them and for you. You'll act like a directory and for that, I recommend you this reading: moz.com/blog/… – nunorbatista Nov 21 '14 at 18:36
  • Agree, it would be nice to have store owners do that. In the short term, I don't think it's a possibility. So until a product page has more relevant and full product info, convention is that I should hold off on creating individual product pages? The last thing I want right now is to get penalized - we're just launching. – settheline Nov 21 '14 at 18:44
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    @settheline take a look at this article: seroundtable.com/google-directories-ranking-16229.html You should build your site the way you think it's better for your customers. If having a product page is good, then do it. From my point of view, the directories I saw doesn't have the article view, when the user sees the product listed, they just click and go. – nunorbatista Nov 21 '14 at 18:51
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Since you're just launching, be safe in regards to SEO. If you get hit by Panda, it's a very deep hole to crawl out of, so avoid that ;)

For these pages you're considering, separate the utility for human visitors from the utility for search engines.

If the pages help a visitor find a specific product offered by a specific local retailer, then they serve a valuable purpose to your visitors, and to your business, so by all means create the pages.

However, since you don't have the ability to build unique, valuable content for each of these pages, they will likely be viewed by Panda as "low quality".

So create the pages, populate them with the data you have available, and add a meta robots "noindex, follow" to the pages. It will the pages from harming you re: Panda, but still allow your human visitors to get value from them.

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