Why high quality product descriptions are essential for eCommerce success

posted on December 19, 2016 9:00 am in
unique product descriptions

The importance of unique product descriptions is often overlooked or underestimated by ecommerce managers. We are frequently engaged by clients of all sizes as their SEO agency and one of the major issues to address is the product descriptions.

In this article, we will explain why failure to address this area can be a major cause for poor rankings and low revenues.

Why are unique product descriptions important?

Google Guidelines
Whether we like it or not, we need to stay on the right side of the Google guidelines and in this case, that means avoiding duplicate or very similar content across multiple pages.

This presents a challenge for ecommerce stores that have a large number of SKUs, as each one should have its own unique description and writing these can be a mammoth task.

Many store owners still take the lazy route of either copying the manufacturer’s description or not writing one at all.

However, there are certain things you can do to make your life easier.

Google recommends:

“If your site contains multiple pages with largely identical content, there are a number of ways you can indicate your preferred URL to Google – canonicalisation

More on this later!

User Experience
There has been a lot of research into product descriptions and user experience. One such study noted that 20% of abandoned purchases were down to incomplete or unclear product information.

Websites that do not write good quality, unique product descriptions may suffer by not having their product pages rank well for search terms in Google. And further to this, those websites that have managed to attract visitors could lose customers due to a lack of clear product information.

How to plan a product description re-write

Review Analytics
If you are working on an existing site, the first thing to do is review Google Analytics. This will enable you to see how much traffic and revenue the existing product pages currently generate.

Keyword Research
Keyword research also needs to be completed so that each product is targeting a specific search query. As well as this, it is important to determine potential traffic and the level of competition as this will be used alongside analytics data to create a priority list.

Create a priority list
The importance of the priority list depends on the volume of descriptions that need to be written. If you only have a few SKUs, then it is not such an issue. However, if you have a list that runs into the hundreds or thousands, then it is essential.

Priority should be given to products with high search volume or high priority for internal reasons such as high margin or popular sellers. Keywords should be mapped to each product in the list.

If you have a group of very similar but low-priority products, you can just write one product description and then add canonical tags to the other similar products that point to the unique one. This allows you to minimise effort on low-priority products.

Tips for writing a quality product description

Know your customer
Make sure you have a good idea about who will be reading the product description. If you don’t already have one, try and create some buyer personas. This will help you focus the copy on a target audience. If the tone of the copy is not pitched correctly, it will not be engaging.

Key features, key benefits
Before writing the description, create a list of key features and benefits that can form the foundations of the piece.

Get to the point
Whatever the tone of voice, it is important to get to the point. Be descriptive, be engaging, but don’t waffle.

Make it easy to scan
Many people will scan the content, so make it easy to do so. Use bullet points if appropriate, load key information to the front and end of the description and highlight key points.

Not too short, not too long
Aim for a length of around 100 – 200 words. This should be met without repetition and waffle (see above).

Include keywords
During the planning stage, you should have mapped keywords to the products. These need to be incorporated into the descriptions, but keep it natural. Google does not like keyword stuffing.

Use tabs if necessary
Tabs can be useful to organise information, especially if there is a lot of information that needs to be presented such as technical specifications, size guides etc.

Currently, Google gives text behind tabs less weighting. But, since the plan to index mobile sites over desktop was announced, soon, they no longer take issue with this process.

Once you have added enough quality descriptions to the site to cover the top priority pages, it would be sensible to no-index any lower priority ones until they have had their own description.

Review the Impact

It is useful to see the impact of any changes to your site in terms of rankings, traffic and revenue. However, do not expect these changes to take instant effect. The speed in which the changes will be noted will vary based on a number of factors including how often your website is currently crawled by the Googlebot.

The best way to review the impact is to see what the data says. You will be able to see how individual product pages are performing in analytics in terms of traffic and revenue.

Ranking tools such as RankTrackr, SEMrush and Moz can also be used to see positive movement of the rankings for the target product pages.

As we have seen, good quality unique product descriptions are a vital component of a successful SEO campaign. Addressing this can potentially provide a significant boost to rankings and revenue. If this is an issue that might be affecting you, get it on your to do list today.