Mani from Delhi asks if product descriptions, like those you would find on an e-commerce site, are considered duplicate content by search engine bots. Sometimes the descriptions can be the same across a number of different sites that carry the same product.

Search engine giants like Google penalize sites that provide duplicate content or content that’s identical to content found elsewhere on the web. Sites that offer duplicate content get ranked lower than sites with original content because Google wants to reward high-quality sites and penalize low-quality sites in an attempt to provide more high-quality and relevant sites to its users when they perform searches.

Matt Cutts, who works for Google, answers the question by saying that yes, product descriptions often do appear the same across many e-commerce sites, and yes, without original content, your website will go down in rankings. He asks affiliate site owners to provide fresh, original content and copy for the products they carry if they want the site to rank higher. Otherwise, he states, they’re not offering anything that users can’t already find somewhere else on the web. There isn’t any reason sites with any kind of duplicate content should get ranked higher because they aren’t adding any value.