We all have at least one acquaintance, who during a course of a conversation, can’t muster up one positive sentence no matter what the subject. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. The one who on a glorious, sunny day with a sky as blue as the ocean and a breeze as warm as hot biscuits just out of the oven, would complain that the cool glass of lemonade he’s sipping on is too tart.
I’ve got several of these types in my contact list and I heard from one of them the other day. We have a pretty good relationship and I can call him a miserable bastard without him taking offense or ringing up one of the beards, who make way more money than I do, to complain about my demeanor.
When I saw his number come up on my phone, I answered it by saying, “you’re caller number six and you just won a trip to the Bahamas.”
“I had my wallet stolen there once and I never went back,” he snapped back.
Welcome to my world. I know he’s reading this right now muttering, “you son-of-a-bitch” under his breath. I give it about three more minutes before my phone rings. But, I’ll let it ring… the complaint department is closed on Tuesdays.
We chat about once a month. Usually about how bad the economy sucks, how he hates his competition and how he could strangle the neighbor next door for feeding the pigeons. Today he called to tell me what he hates most about being an eCommerce store owner.
I paused for a moment and ran through the possible reasons in my mind anticipating what would come out of his mouth. Employees, competition, payroll taxes, the proposed Internet sales tax and the rising cost of health care were things that I was expecting to hear about, but he threw me for a loop.
“I hate Google.”
We both chuckled and I said, “who doesn’t.”
In the online world, having your site indexed well with Google can make or break you. In his case, he ranked very well in the Mighty G for years and spent very little on pay-per-click advertising because his website came up within the top ten search results for almost everything he sold.
Over the past several months, he lost those coveted listings and now comes in on or after page 3 and not at all for some terms he used to rank well with. Luckily for me, he accepts full blame for his misfortune and he readily admits he’s a lazy store owner. He rode the curve up to the top making a good deal of money without spending a ton on advertising. But now he’s coasting downhill a victim of one of Google’s Deadly Sins. Duplicate content.
Grumpy, as I’ll lovingly refer to him as, is a 100% drop ship business owner. He doesn’t maintain inventory, outsources his customer service to a call center and has one employee – his daughter – who sends the day’s orders to the various drop shippers to fulfill. During the good days, he would get between 200 – 250 orders a day with an average order value of $37. Over the course of the past 18 months, his orders have dwindled to around 80 – 100 a day.
Since he was drop shipping the 2500+ products he sells, he used the vendor supplied product descriptions for them all instead of writing unique ones for his store. He will be the first to admit that he “f**ked up big time,” as he puts it. Now he’s trying to recover, spending hours writing unique descriptions, adding copy to section pages in the hopes this fresh content will put the spark back into his listings.
I’m sure you know a store owner who is in the same boat as Grumpy, or you may be one yourself. For years, I have preached the importance of having good quality, unique content on your website. It not only makes you stand out from your competition and aid in your organic rankings, it gives you the opportunity to give your store a unique voice by writing content that fits your store and the audience you serve.
If you’re selling HDMI cables to the average home consumer who needs one for the new television they just bought, you’re going to write your product descriptions differently than if you were selling that cable on a website catering to professional audiophiles and geeky tech people. Your website has a personality and your copy should reflect the personality you’ve given it.
Stock copy provided by a manufacturer isn’t sexy. It’s over used. It’s deadly.
Unique copy is sexy. It’s yours. It sells. It Googles well.
Grumpy has his work cut out for him and he’s banging out new product descriptions at a pretty good clip, but even that sparked a bit of a complaint.
“I’m sick of this shit. My fingers hurt. I have a headache. But, I’m about halfway done.”
I left him with a parting thought, “at least you’re not unemployed.”
“You’re right. I gotta run. I’ve got more damn descriptions to write.”