Optimizing a website that uses large amounts of syndicated content can be a challenge. With Google now paying particular attention to fresh and unique content it's vital that the content on your website stands out from the crowd. Heres what Google has to say on the matter:

"If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you'd prefer."

Source: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66359

Syndicated content is prevalent in the ecommerce sector where manufacturers supply a description to accompany their products displayed on resellers websites. This content then gets published to many sites selling the same product. This is an issue as Google and other search engines can see this as duplication.

Research around this area of syndicated content has shown that even adding one paragraph of unique content can set a page apart from the competition. However, if the site you're working on has tens of thousands of products, writing a unique sentence for each product can be a mammoth task.

So with all this in mind, here are the steps that I take to tackle syndicated content:

  1. Syndicated content can remain on your product pages but should be improved and enhanced by unique content. If you have the resource, write a unique product description that is a sentence or a paragraph long and place it above the syndicated content. This will help the product stand out from the competition.
  2. Identify you best selling products and concentrate on writing unique descriptions for these first. By prioritizing your products you will be adding value where you're most likely to see a return.
  3. Leverage your internal resource by identifying staff members who can write a suitable short description for a product. If you can get ten staff members to write ten descriptions per week you'll soon have fresh unique content for all of your key products.
  4. Avoid rewriting or spinning the content from the manufacturer. The aim should not only be to add unique content to your site but to add value to the products so as your customers can make an informed decision.
  5. Don't be afraid to have fun with the content, encourage you writers to be a little creative.
  6. Encourage customers to review products. There is a range of ways you can do this and the value of user generated content is no secret to anyone working in SEO. If you are able to display customer reviews on product pages then this will help to add unique and valuable content to your product pages.