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CSV format

Abbreviation CSV refers to a type of text data in data processing with which large amounts of structured data can be recorded, stored, and processed. The term CSV stands for "comma-separated values". CSV files are used many times for product catalogs in online stores. The file ends in .csv.

Background and structure

Structured data can be used and processed in the CSV format. There are no fixed encoding rules for creating CSV files. Typically, UTF-8 is used and written in 7-bit ASCII. In addition, different characters (commas, tabs, etc.) are used for line breaks. Common representations are tables, in which other tables can also be nested.

The following structure is typical for a CSV file:

  • Definition of the columns in the table header.
  • One character is used to separate individual records.
  • One character is used to separate individual columns (commas, tabs, or spaces).
  • Field delimiter HTML special character within file to avoid confusion with separators.


There is no uniform format for CSV files. When collecting data for special reading software, the format must be defined in advance to avoid errors. This causes problems when reading the date and time data. In the same way, it is possible that an excess of text causes reading errors.

Application areas

CSV files are used in many areas. Here are some application examples:

  • Export of products for the ERP system of an online store.
  • Export of data from an SEO software tool, reanalysis tools or web analysis tools such as Google Analytics for further processing with your own programs or reports.
  • Import of products for price comparison portals or shopping portals such as Google Shopping or Amazon Product Ads.
  • Data export for the provision of data delivered through CSS.
  • Export of URL lists for further processing with the appropriate analysis tools.
  • Provision of product lists for affiliate marketing or retargeting.

Benefits for Marketing and SEO

The advantage of CSV files in marketing is that this raw data can be easily analyzed with the most popular programs and clearly displayed in graphs or diagrams. At the same time, data can be collected with various CMS or analysis tools by means of a simple file export. For SEO area, CSV files are suitable for create regular reports on keyword positions or to generate summaries of existing URLs, for example.

It can be a disadvantage that there are no fixed formatting rules. Date formats that are read differently, or blank fields that are interpreted incorrectly, can lead to false conclusions from long-term analysis. Thus, it is essential that the entire format is clearly defined prior to data collection.