Revisiting The Common Denominator Concept

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 in Copywriting | 4 comments

Revisiting The Common Denominator Concept

I must admit, I inadvertently caused a bit of a panic in my VIP coaching group COPYWRITING FOR CREATIVES this past weekend over one of my core teaching concepts. The Common Denominator Concept is actually rather simple but can intimidate people because it focuses on Google SEO (search engine optimization). Members read the original article, which stated I recommend varying all product descriptions by approximately half and that generalized anxiety started seeping through the cracks. The purpose of this article is to revisit this concept, provide a little more information, but most importantly provide reassurance.

So what is The Common Denominator Concept?

You can read the full article here: COMMON DENOMINATOR ARTICLE

If you want the SparkNotes version though, here is a quick synopsis of the idea:

Basically if you have a phrase or text that you put into each and every listing, take it out and put it in a policy section instead. Most platforms, and certainly your own website, will allow you to create a policy section. This is where you can create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) selection and relocate these areas of duplicate text. It is the same concept as lowering fractions with a common denominator into smaller and, therefore, easier to understand terms. You want your text to be easy to understand, inviting, emotional, and primed for search engine optimization. It’s not an easy task but it can be done.

Examples of phrases that would be considered Common Denominators:

Shipping profiles

Refund policies

How to order instructions


Computer monitor warnings

So if you find yourself repeating the same phrases over and over again and you have similar listings in the double or triple digits, consider removing them and relocating them into a policy section.

Google can consider your descriptions “spammy” if you have a large amount of duplicate text.

This really comes into play if you have dozens or hundreds of repeat items. If you sell scarves, for example, and have a stock of 50+ items with the SAME description, you might run into issues.

If you sell those same scarves but only have ten variants, it’s not ideal but it’s less of an issue.

Before we go any further, I want to really emphasize that how much stock you put into this concept is completely up to you. If you do not feel like you have the bandwidth to create unique copy, then don’t do it. BUT, if you chose not to do it, don’t be surprised if you experience negative effects. So many of my clients struggle with finding that balance between hobby and business so my advice is simple:

If you want to be a business, put in the extra effort. Write new descriptions.

Do not blindly copy and paste your own and certainly do not copy and paste manufacturers descriptions.

If you sell online, you do not have the luxury of talking to your customers in person. You can’t smile at them, joke with them, or exchange small talk. You don’t have music to create an ambiance in a storefront and you don’t have little treats to share as they browse. You have your photography, your branding, and your copy. If you skimp on product descriptions, you are subconsciously telling customers that you don’t have time to come up with variations.

Let that sink in.

You don’t have time to put in the effort to create unique and engaging text.

What else don’t you have time for?

Customers might wonder where else you cut corners.

So, how do you manage creating unique copy for similar items? You can swap out synonyms for nouns and adjectives. You can switch sentence structure. You can summarize your policy details in a single sentence directing customers to a comprehensive FAQ.

This concept, like all concepts in business, is but one tool to get your company recognized.

Please feel free to share any questions in the comment section below and let me know what you think about The Common Denominator Concept.


  1. 1-17-2017

    I just returned to my FAQs and I was able to edit. don’t know the problem but it’s working now. Would you be able to look at my FAQs and see if they “flow?”

  2. 1-17-2017

    thanks for this info. I am in the process of doing what you have suggested and submitting FAQs instead of my usual blurb I copy and paste from Word. Now I have to go through all my listings and change them.

    However, I wanted to edit some of my answers but I keep getting a red warning that there was an error and please try again. I do but the system won’t let me edit.

    Is this and Etsy problem?

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