Online shop owners and eCommerce managers know the real importance of product descriptions and category content, but it is still often overlooked or not optimised.
Let’s define our terms: a product description is the marketing copy that explains what a product is and why it is worth buying. The purpose of a product description is to give customers the details around the benefits and features of the product so that they're compelled to buy it. You can see on the below image, Lush have included all the information on the product, underneath the CTA where the customer can add to basket.
Whether a product has specific functions or a personal purpose for the customer, as they browse they imagine what it would be liked to own this product. Therefore, you need the descriptions to sell the product, incorporating both prose writing and journalism - your average "good" product description will just not do. Competition is growing, it needs to be great writing.
Category content is the products category page copy – this wording could be the ranking content to introduce your brand to new people and display the products you are offering to customers. It can also be used to improve sites internal linking, which is very important for an SEO strategy. You can see the category content here, for Lush 'Bubble Bars' - though this sentence is a short example of category content, it does give a good example of Lush's copy style, which is another important aspect that we will dive into soon.
As well, without useful and unique category pages you simply have a list of products with a small amount of content that is duplicated on the product page. A category page with unique and helpful content will out-rank similar products. It should help answer any questions and offer you the chance to create a brand voice and introduce your brand.
Now while your content and products will change, your landing pages will not, so it’s worth taking the time to fully optimise them, and here is how you do so.
Researching keywords is an essential part of ensuring that your category content is written with SEO in mind in order to improve site organic performance. It's helpful to think about the volume of traffic each keyword will bring, the difficulty in ranking high for it and where you are currently ranking, if at all.
After you have completed your keyword research, you should make a checklist of chosen keywords and organise them into categories and subcategories - more generic words should be put as top level categories. These groups of keywords should then be assigned to your categories. If there are too many keyword groups assigned to one category then you might consider splitting that category page into two separate categories, so they can be targeted more effectively.
Category pages should be used to target the shorter more general keywords. Your product pages need to be used for targeting specific, longer keywords - the style, model and brand of product. These long-tail keywords are going to be more relevant for those who are at the end of the funnel and ready to purchase. Keep the more generic words for those category pages. Make sure to read this blog post to understand where long and short keywords come into play for your business.
Now it's time to put together your descriptions and determine the best format. As some shoppers only scan websites, it’s a good idea to have a list of bullet points that cover the most important product details - this makes them quick and easy to read.
But, bullet points are not the best way to sell a product alone or convince shoppers that they're looking at a great deal. You need to engage a shopper’s emotions and imagination by drawing them in with a paragraph that sets a scene and realise why their life has been so incomplete without the product (like we saw with the Lush example earlier). Make it appealing.
This is your opportunity to be creative and establish a voice for your brand. Whether that be serious or casual, it’s what makes your company its own. Think of brands like Lush, or Innocent smoothies - they have established strong brand voices that are recognisable.
The voice you’re projecting speaks for every aspect of your online marketing, SEO, social media and paid search. It’s unique and compelling copy that will make your products the most relevant for search engines.
Once your product descriptions are up and running you need goals to measure their success.
This isn’t a quick process especially if you rely on product descriptions from your distributions or manufacturers. If time resource is an issue for you, then it would be better to concentrate on the categories and products with the largest potential audience growth – or your most profitable product lines, to optimise them to their fullest potential. But if you can commit to writing a handful or so product descriptions a day, you’ll see many benefits such as:
We find that measurement is a common issue for brands, as seen in our State of Content Marketing Survey results, so be sure to record what you can, and use an effective measurement tool to help you see the progression, or regression in results. We’ve got a template you can access here, to help with this issue.
Take your product description that one step further, is your product better because it’s been through years of testing? Is it handmade? How is your product differentiated from others?
You tell a good story in your short product description by including snippets of detail that proves your product is better than the rest. So don’t be afraid to boast.
One thing to remember is that text isn’t always the best way to describe your product. If you feel your page is looking too wordy, there’s another way you can simplify it - with an image. Show your product off visually and explain exactly what it does.
These days, people do not buy without seeing an image – especially on eCommerce sites. So, ensure that you are using good quality images, with different views. We’ve all seen those 360’ rotating images – the conversion rate on these is about 27% higher than for standard two-dimensional images. Make the views as detailed as you can.
Other than graphics, a video can be a helpful and effective way to showcase how to use a product and the features it includes. Many retail sites see this as crucial now, with a short ‘catwalk’ showing off the item. Our Lush example earlier has a video of the product being used, alongside the CTA to buy.
From the moment you create a website and begin to construct your design, think about how images and descriptions can work together to tell a story to your customers. Accompanying your content with an image or video is fundamental for eCommerce sites, it acts as the digital window for your online business. Therefore, you must ensure that the text is one hundred per cent accurate and conveys a true representation of what you’re selling.
We recommend a product description should be between 250-500 words including your keywords and product titles. But remember not to force it with spam content, if it’s not needed, don’t write it for the sake of it.
So, what does this look like when we put it all together?
Let’s say our category is facial cleansers; here’s what the category should look like.
Why we love this description:
And what about those all-important product descriptions? Again, we’ll use a face wash:
Why we love this description:
In conclusion, writing killer category content and product descriptions requires time, effort and some forward thinking. While you may not have thought it to be a priority in the past, your business needs to start optimising now. With customer retention, brand reputations and SEO strategies, it’s worth putting in the work to produce high quality and captivating content.
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