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How Product Information Management (PIM) Helps

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How Product Information Management (PIM) Helps

Growing regional/national to major international brands have a lot of questions about product description page (PDP) optimization.

How much can be automated?

Does it matter if some of them have duplication?

What do we do with variable products that exist on a single URL?

Can I use manufacturer-provided product descriptions?

The problems with product descriptions are then exacerbated with larger product catalogs and more complex technology stacks.

However, with enterprise ecommerce stacks, you can also find opportunities to automate and make quick work of many product description issues.

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This is where the PIM (Product Information Management system) can be both an SEO and user experience dream.

In addition to product descriptions, the PIM can help stakeholders influence the user experience and bridge the gap between a user searching for and researching products to complete their purchases.

For many, the PIM is just another part of the tech stack.

But it can improve user experiences and enrich the PDP (Product Details Page) with information important from an SEO perspective, as well.

For this article, I’ll be leaning on a combination of both, as businesses in the ecommerce industry such as Bain & Company have claimed that companies who improve customer experience with tools can increase revenue by up to 25%.

Given that Google is working harder to improve user experiences on the web via Core Web Vitals, Speed, Mobile Friendliness, EAT and more, using the PIM to improve user experience can be more than just adding keywords to the page.

Often, the PIM is also responsible for product imagery, as well.

Sometimes this can be the Digital Asset Management system’s job, but for this article, I’m assuming the PIM handles them.

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Automating Product Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

Typically, the PIM will contain several fields relating to the product, including but not limited to:

  • Product name.
  • Product technical specifications (colors, size, material).
  • Product description.
  • Product identifiers (SKU, ISBN).

This information can be used to improve title tags and meta descriptions.

While Google is actively overwriting both elements, they are still processed and cached by Google.

Although only the title tag is factored into “ranking,” the meta description is still important from a CTR perspective.

Utilizing the PIM can also help alleviate duplication issues with title tags and provide better document information architecture for Google.

You can do this by having the front-end platform (the storefront) dynamically use the same information from the PIM as it does to populate the product description page template.

This information can also help Google serve content for hyper-specific queries, and return URLs from your site that are otherwise not in the immediate serving index.

Including more information in the title tag and meta description also helps steer Google to more accurate rewrites of your title tag and meta description.

This helps you avoid accidentally giving the user misleading information and a negative search experience.

Automating Product PDP Descriptions

Many product pages consist of generic product descriptions the manufacturer has likely provided.

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Duplicated product descriptions aren’t usually an issue because the content of a PDP is more than just written words. It’s the page’s value proposition in its entirety.

The objective is to make the duplicated description a supporting element of the page and not the focal point.

Google’s John Mueller has confirmed that this doesn’t cause a penalty scenario, and is only an issue when they don’t want to show multiple results by just listing the same content.

The way around this is to use the PIM to add value.

For most queries relating to “generic” products, Google augments the search results to include a mixture of local and online results.

This means that Google has to decide to rank either local or “best” sources with duplicate value propositions.

Most PIMs contain stock data, and most businesses who operate online and offline will have integrations that allow you to include the following information and elements on PDPs:

  • Availability in local stores (which you can further personalize if you are logged in to show availability in stores close to their defined location preferences).
  • Delivery lead times for home delivery.
  • Lead times for in-store pickup.

This gives the page another beneficial purpose and a reason for Google to choose to rank your PDP over others.

Defining Taxonomies & Relationships

In most PIMs, you can define taxonomies and relationships with other products within the database.

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This information can then be used, along with personalization elements, to create additional content blocks (and additional value propositions) on the PDP page, giving it additional user value.

You can also use these elements to encourage both cross-sells and up-sells, improve user average order value (AOV), and help select the correct complementary products.

For example, buying a lamp from the page presenting the correct bulb as a related product saves the user time and effort in determining (and searching for) the correct bulbs.

Taxonomies and tags can also be integrated with most internal site searches, so making sure key products and variations are tagged correctly and have accurate taxonomies can help users with product discovery on your website.

Key Takeaways

The PIM is an underutilized asset in the ecommerce SEO arsenal and can be overlooked or seen as “not part” of the marketing toolkit.

Including PIM stakeholders in marketing meetings with those responsible for extracting PIM information into the ecommerce storefront can help you find opportunities to enhance your product description page’s SEO value further.

It can provide additional opportunities to improve user experience, conversion rates, and AOV, as well.

The more specific and descriptive your product pages, the better Google and other search engines can determine their relevance to queries by highly motivated searchers on the hunt for products like yours.

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Use the tips above to maximize the value of your organization’s PIM by putting it to work for your SEO goals, as well.

And if you’re just getting started in ecommerce SEO or looking for a best practices checklist to make sure you’re making the most of all opportunities, you’ll want to check out Ecommerce Product Page SEO: 20 Dos & Don’ts.

More resources:


Featured Image: 13_Phunkod/Shutterstock

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SEO

8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

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8 Pillar Page Examples to Get Inspired By

Pillar pages are high-level introductions to a topic. They then link to other pages, which are usually more detailed guides about parts of the main topic.

Altogether, they form a content hub.

Example of a content hub

But not all pillar pages look the same. 

In this guide, we’ll look at eight examples of pillar pages to get your creative juices flowing.

Excerpt of beginner's guide to SEO by Ahrefs

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 1,200
Backlinks: 6,900
Referring domains: 899

Overview of Ahrefs' beginner's guide to SEO in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This is our very own pillar page, covering the broad topic of search engine optimization (SEO)

Why I like it

Besides the fact that I’m biased, I like the custom design we created for this page, which makes it different from the articles on our blog. 

Even though the design is custom, our pillar page is still a pretty classic “hub and spoke” style pillar page. We’ve broken the topic down neatly into six different chapters and internally linked to guides we’ve created about them. There are also custom animations when you hover over each chapter:

Examples of chapters in the SEO guide

We’ve also added a glossary section that comes with a custom illustration of the SERPs. We have explanations of what each element means, with internal links to more detailed content:

Custom illustration of the SERP

Finally, it links to another “pillar page”: our SEO glossary

Takeaway

Consider creating a custom design for your pillar page so that it stands out. 

Excerpt of Doctor Diet's ketogenic diet guide

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 92,200
Backlinks: 21,600
Referring domains: 1,700

Overview of Diet Doctor's ketogenic diet guide in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Diet Doctor is a health company focusing on low-carb diets. Its pillar page is a comprehensive guide on the keto diet. 

Why I like it

On the surface, it doesn’t exactly look like a pillar page; it looks like every other post on the Diet Doctor site. But that’s perfectly fine. It’s simply a different approach—you don’t have to call out the fact that it’s a pillar page. 

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Diet Doctor’s guide is split into 10 different sections with links to its own resources. The links bring you to different types of content (not just blog posts but videos too).

Video course about keto diet for beginners

Unlike the classic pillar page, Diet Doctor’s guide goes into enough detail for anyone who is casually researching the keto diet. But it also links to further resources for anyone who’s interested in doing additional research.

Takeaway

Pillar pages need not always just be text and links. Make it multimedia: You can add videos and images and even link to your own multimedia resources (e.g., a video course).

Excerpt of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 5,600
Backlinks: 2,800
Referring domains: 247

Overview of Wine Folly's beginner's guide to wine in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Wine Folly is a content site devoted to wine knowledge and appreciation. Its pillar page, as expected, is about wine. 

Why I like it

Wine Folly’s pillar page is a classic example of a “hub and spoke” style pillar page—split into multiple sections, with some supporting text, and then internal links to other resources that support each subsection. 

Supporting text and links to other resources

This page doesn’t just serve as a pillar page for ranking purposes, though. Given that it ranks well and receives quite a significant amount of search traffic, the page also has a call to action (CTA) to Wine Folly’s book:

Short description of book; below that, CTA encouraging site visitor to purchase it

Takeaway

While most websites design pillar pages for ranking, you can also use them for other purposes: capture email addresses, sell a book, pitch your product, etc. 

Excerpt of A-Z directory of yoga poses

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 11,100
Backlinks: 3,400
Referring domains: 457

Overview of Yoga Journal's A-Z directory of yoga poses in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Yoga Journal is an online and offline magazine. Its pillar page is an A-Z directory of yoga poses.

Why I like it

Yoga Journal’s pillar page is straightforward and simple. List down all possible yoga poses (in both their English and Sanskrit names) in a table form and link to them. 

List of yoga poses in table form

Since it’s listed in alphabetical order, it’s useful for anyone who knows the name of a particular pose and is interested in learning more. 

What I also like is that Yoga Journal has added an extra column on the type of pose each yoga pose belongs to. If we click on any of the pose types, we’re directed to a category page where you can find similar kinds of poses: 

Examples of standing yoga poses (in grid format)

Takeaway

The A-Z format can be a good format for your pillar page if the broad topic you’re targeting fits the style (e.g., dance moves, freestyle football tricks, etc.).

Excerpt of Atlassian's guide to agile development

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 115,200
Backlinks: 3,200
Referring domains: 860

Overview of Atlassian's guide to agile development in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Atlassian is a software company. You’ve probably heard of its products: Jira, Confluence, Trello, etc. Its pillar page is on agile development.

Why I like it

Atlassian’s pillar page is split into different topics related to agile development. It then has internal links to each topic—both as a sticky table of contents and card-style widgets after the introduction: 

Sticky table of contents
Card-style widgets

I also like the “Up next” feature at the bottom of the pillar page, which makes it seem like an online book rather than a page. 

Example of "Up next" feature

Takeaway

Consider adding a table of contents to your pillar page. 

Excerpt of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 114,400
Backlinks: 2,900
Referring domains: 592

Overview of Muscle and Strength's workout routines database in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Muscle and Strength’s pillar page is a massive database linking to various categories of workouts. 

Why I like it

Calling it a pillar page seems to be an understatement. Muscle and Strength’s free workouts page appears to be more like a website. 

When you open the page, you’ll see that it’s neatly split into multiple categories, such as “workouts for men,” “workouts for women,” “biceps,” “abs,” etc. 

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Workout categories (in grid format)

Clicking through to any of them leads us to a category page containing all sorts of workouts:

Types of workouts for men (in grid format)

Compared to the other pillar pages on this list, where they’re linking to other subpages, Muscle and Strength’s pillar page links to other category pages, which then link to their subpages, i.e., its massive archive of free workouts.

Takeaway

Content databases, such as the one above, are a huge undertaking for a pillar page but can be worth it if the broad topic you’re targeting fits a format like this. Ideally, the topic should be about something where the content for it is ever-growing (e.g., workout plans, recipes, email templates, etc.).

Excerpt of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 39,100
Backlinks: 1,100
Referring domains: 308

Overview of Tofugu's guide to learning Japanese in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Tofugu is a site about learning Japanese. And its pillar page is about, well, learning Japanese.

Why I like it

This is an incredible (and yes, ridiculously good) guide to learning Japanese from scratch. It covers every stage you’ll go through as a complete beginner—from knowing no Japanese to having intermediate proficiency in the language. 

Unlike other pillar pages where information is usually scarce and simply links out to further resources, this page holds nothing back. Under each section, there is great detail about what that section is, why it’s important, how it works, and even an estimated time of how long that stage takes to complete. 

Another interesting aspect is how Tofugu has structured its internal links as active CTAs. Rather than “Learn more” or “Read more,” it’s all about encouraging users to do a task and completing that stage. 

CTA encouraging user to head to the next task of learning to read hiragana

Takeaway

Two takeaways here:

  • Pillar pages can be ridiculously comprehensive. It depends on the topic you’re targeting and how competitive it is.
  • CTAs can be more exciting than merely just “Read more.”
Excerpt of Zapier's guide to working remotely

Key stats

Estimated organic traffic: 890
Backlinks: 4,100
Referring domains: 1,100

Overview of Zapier's guide to working remotely in Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Zapier allows users to connect multiple software products together via “zaps.” It’s a 100% remote company, and its pillar page is about remote work. 

Why I like it

Zapier’s pillar page is basically like Wine Folly’s pillar page. Break a topic into subsections, add a couple of links of text, and then add internal links to further resources. 

In the examples above, we’ve seen all sorts of execution for pillar pages. There are those with custom designs and others that are crazily comprehensive.

But sometimes, all a pillar page needs is a simple design with links. 

Takeaway

If you already have a bunch of existing content on your website, you can create a simple pillar page like this to organize your content for your readers. 

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Keep learning

Inspired by these examples and want to create your own pillar page? Learn how to successfully do so with these two guides:

Any questions or comments? Let me know on Twitter.  



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