How to write product descriptions that will increase your search engine traffic and conversions.
You have your shiny new ecommerce site ready to go. All the products are loaded, images from that expensive photo shoot cut out and optimised – everything is looking great. The site goes live and you wait for the flood of traffic and orders. And you continue to wait.
You can’t get your head round it. You’ve spent months on the site, then you spent a full day copying and pasting those descriptions from your suppliers website…. Ah!
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see in ecommerce and something which in the post panda world you’re just not going to get away with. Not only will google refuse to rank your product pages (no matter how shiny those product images look), all those copied descriptions are creating a big flag that says ‘my site is low quality’ and your whole website will probably (in fact I would say definitely) be penalised and go to ranking hell.
I’m going to put this in bold as it is so important – do not copy product descriptions!
Why Text Is Important
Let’s get one thing clear, google is still a search engine which primarily indexes text content. It doesn’t care that you have the most amazing customer service in the world and your physical shop is the cleanest in the county, what it cares about is unique content for its index. As far as google is concerned, if it already has that 300 word product description in its index from another site, it’s just not going to give your page the time of day.
Ok, so now you know that copying product descriptions is bad for your search engine rankings, but here’s another consideration. A generic manufacturers description is not a good sales pitch. The text on your companies website is your corporate voice and there should be a consistency throughout. If you are selling products from multiple companies, all the product descriptions will be written in a different way and there will be no continuity from brand to brand. You wouldn’t set your shop out like this in the real world would you?
So, how do you write compelling descriptions, which are consistent from product to product, encourage purchase and get across your companies message. Well, I mentioned the word above, but first of all it is important to find your companies ‘voice’.
What Is Your Corporate Voice?
First of all think of your target market. If you are selling expensive watches and your target customer is a 45 – 55 year old male, you will probably want your text to be formal, professional, clinical. No colloquialisms etc.
If you are selling fashion you might want more informal, chatty descriptions (think smiley faces and lols) which could engage more with a young female.
Here is an example of a sentence which might appear in a product description: –
Identify your customer and speak to them!
Dealing With Similar Products
One complaint I hear all the time is that ‘but all those (insert product type) are the same, how can I write about each of them separately?’
Well, the first question I ask when I hear this statement is are they really different products? If you have a red widget, a green widget and a blue one, all on different pages, you might be better served condensing them into one product (a widget) with 3 options. It will be much easier to write one compelling product description instead of 3 and will mean less clicking around for the customer.
If they truly are different products, then great. Think about what makes them different. For example, how many different shades of green are there (a quick google search has just told me a million!). Does this shade remind you of grassy fields in the Summer? Well, tell the customer so they can visualise it. Remember, people have their monitors set to different brightnesses etc (not to mention viewing on different devices) so although you have spent hours getting the colour just right on your screen it might look completely different on theirs.
How Long Should Your Product Description Be?
The longer the better really (although don’t just add words for the sake of it!) but in reality somewhere around 250 words is fine for most product descriptions. For your key products aim for 500+ words.
Sounds a lot? Well, to put it into perspective if you have been reading this far, firstly thank you for your attention and secondly you have so far read about 800 words. Here’s a quick tutorial on a method you can use to write your descriptions, although this is just a suggestion and might not work for your particular product type. We’ll go for a watch from our hypothetical watch company. Note that I know nothing about watches, so this will be an exercise in waffling as much as anything!
Part 1 – Introduce The Product
This finest quality 24ct gold Bolex watch is available in 5 sizes from small to extra large. The watch is manufactured in Switzerland by the master craftsmen at the Bolex institute and is accurate to within 5 milliseconds.
Part 2 – Who Is The Product For – Speak To The Target Customer
Perfect for the modern professional who is rushing from meeting to meeting, this gold watch is reliable, lightweight (weighing just 100 grams) and elegant. The Bolex brand is trusted and recognised for quality and is sure to create the right impression.
Part 3 – Some More Features
Additional features include an alarm clock which can be set to activate on a daily basis (or as a one off) and a waterproof casing which is guaranteed up to a depth of 50 metres. No need to worry about forgetting to take your watch off before diving into the hotel pool after a busy day at a conference.
The watch casing is made from 24ct gold, which ensures it will last and retain its resale value. For more information about the differences between gold purities see our article on the topic here.
Part 4 – Why Should They Buy From You?
Unlike many of our competitors, we offer a 4 year guarantee on the Bolex 24ct gold watch and offer free lifetime servicing at our stores nationwide. We hold all sizes in stock and aim to ship orders within 24 hours, with next day delivery available on all orders.
Part 5 – Repeat The Key Features In A Bullet List
- Finest quality 24ct gold bolex watch
- Manufactured in Switzerland to the highest standards
- Available in 5 sizes
- Alarm clock
- Waterproof to depth of 50 metres
- 4 year guarantee
- Lifetime servicing
- Next day delivery available
That’s pretty much bang on 250 words and took about 10 minutes writing about a completely made up product. If you know your products you should easily be able to put together 250 – 300 words for each one using a similar format – no excuses! Repeating the key features in a bullet list at the end is not just to beef up the words, it means that customers can quickly get the key facts if they are browsing from product to product and do not want to read the full description.
So, to sum up – good quality, original descriptions of at least 250 words are absolutely essential if you want to succeed in selling products online. As mentioned at the start of this article your website will not rank in google without them, but that should not be the primary factor behind spending taking the time to write them. Your description is your sales pitch and your chance to sell the product to the customer, so make the most of it!
If you have any other tips you would like to share, or questions, then please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help!