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Automatic Product Feeds: Good or Bad?
When you have a web site that sells products online, sometimes you come across Automatic Product Feeds from drop shippers and other wholesalers. This means that your supplier automatically loads your web site with products, descriptions, prices, quantity available and so forth. These feeds are updated on a regular basis so that you don’t have to manually add products, manage prices and descriptions, etc.
For people who are new to online business, this looks like the Holy Grail of ease in product management.
BUT, there are serious problems with Automatic Product Feeds that nobody seems to want to tell you. So I'll tell you, because I don't want you to have serious problems with your online business!
THE FIRST PROBLEM is that people tend to take the ENTIRE product feed and put it on their web site. That often means hundreds or even thousands of products on a singe site. It also means products on that site will be unrelated to each other. For example, a drop shipping / wholesale product feed might carry everything from sporting goods to jewelry to clocks to baby buggies.
That’s really bad. Why?
Because a web site that has more than one specific product line on it is next to impossible to get ranked in Google (the most important search engine) or any other search engine.
These days, search engines look for web sites that tell one story about one thing. If you’re going to sell baby buggies, you need to sell ONLY baby buggies on your site. If you’re going to sell sporting goods, pick ONE type of sporting goods product (baseball bats, for example) and sell only that. If you mix products that a search engine sees as unrelated to each other, you have far too wide a mix of keywords for a search engine to rank you well for any ONE set of keywords, and nobody will ever find your site. If nobody finds your site, no sales.
THE SECOND PROBLEM is that when you get a product feed, you get descriptions of the products along with the feed. That seems like a good thing, but for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) it’s actually a bad thing. Manufacturer and wholesalers’ descriptions of products are almost always short and factual. For good SEO, and for good sales conversion, your product descriptions need to be personalized. They need to be very descriptive, contain the right SEO Keywords for that product and page, and give people a warm fuzzy feeling that matches the overall look and personality of your site.
When you simply take the descriptions directly from the wholesaler and don’t re-write them to do all those things, you lose a very important part of your SEO, and a very important part of your sales conversion (turning visitors into buyers).
So let's say you use an automatic product feed, and you DO re-write your descriptions to be both more SEO friendly and conversion friendly.
In a few days, that product feed is going to UPDATE, and it's going to RESET all your product descriptions back to the original text. In other words, it'll wipe out all your changes and you'll have to do it all again. And then AGAIN in a few more days when the feed updates again...well, you get the picture.
For these reasons, there's simply no good reason to use any kind of an automated product feed. Not for a small business.
The big-box stores use them all the time, because the big-box stores do NOT need to personalize their product descriptions and rely on SEO. They rely on the power of their real-world BRANDS to bring in traffic.
As a small business owner, you can't spend millions on real-world advertising, so you need every advantage you can get in the search engines. That means that your product descriptions become a huge part of your marketing, and an auomated product feed will kill your SEO all day long.
Most of the time, the things that SEEM the easiest in this business turn out to be the worst things you can do.
Automatic product feeds are a prime example.
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