The ArtFire Variant Tool – Why It Doesn’t Work

Fey on Crowe SheaIf you read my blog regularly you probably already know that I left ArtFire. Partly this was because of the Assurance Program, but mostly it was due to the dramatic effects their variant tool had on my listings. You can read about it here.

Anyways. It’s been long since bugging me about how a tool that was designed to help us ended up having such a negative impact. I think I finally figured it out, and I want to kick myself for taking so long to do so. And, if I’m correct, I want to kick ArtFire for being so stupid.

When the variant tool was unleashed there was much chaos. One of many, many problems was the fact that, if you used the tool to create a listing then needed to edit it, you couldn’t save the edits because the tool was now pushing one’s titles beyond the 70 character limit. Many sellers tried to work around this by editing the titles – a procedure we got slapped on the wrist for. According to Kyle, ArtFire was using the titles to tell Google Shopping which items were variants.

Say whut?

Now, I don’t claim to be a guru of Google product feeds and I definitely know nothing about the XML version, but I did spend a year offering daily feed submissions to the Google Gods in the tab-delimited form. Let me tell you, if ArtFire was submitting their feeds correctly a change in the title shouldn’t matter. When a group of listings is first created both a group ID and individual IDs should be assigned to them. Just as Etsy assigns us with a listing number that doesn’t change with edits, those IDs shouldn’t change, either.

So it stands to reason that ArtFire isn’t assigning IDs to listings or listing groups. Which means they aren’t submitting the feeds properly. But, for s**ts and grins, let’s say they are. There’s still the issue of the incredibly long titles. Google does penalize for long titles – especially if they accompanied by equally long URLs. The more you have, the bigger the impact. And lets not forget keyword stuffing. The Google Gods loathe that and will bitch slap you in a second for it. Yet that is exactly what the variant tool is doing: stuffing titles with keywords.

So, to appease Google (and possibly improve their rapidly declining ranking) it seems ArtFire quickly created a tool without thinking about the full impact of it. But, of course, it’s not their fault. It’s Google’s fault for making the demand for the tool, or the seller’s fault for “not using it properly”. *headdesk*

To summarize, if you’re on ArtFire, using the variant tool and are wondering why you’re not getting any views, it’s because you’ve been borked. Better to take the slap for duplicate content. It hurts much less.