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Ultimate SEO Guide to Online Product Descriptions For 2018

Written by on October 08, 2018

Aside from influencer marketing, which is predicted to be one of the biggest digital marketing trends of 2018, writing effective SEO product description is the next best tactic for attracting and converting your customers.

The best customers are the ones who know what they want to buy, so, what better way to help them out than through product descriptions? This is why it’s so important to meet them halfway through with SEO descriptions ready when they google for the relevant keywords.

So, if you’re just starting off, or your budget is low for paying influencers to get out the word for you, what you can do instead is focus on getting sales through the good old organic traffic way.

And by that I mean SEO product description, the good kind – the one that actually converts.

According to Optify: “websites that rank as number one on Google, enjoy an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4%, while number two websites had 12.5% and the number three website had 9.5%.” What this means is that if your product descriptions are search engine optimized – you have a good chance of enjoying free and organic traffic all through natural Google searches.

SEO-Product-Descriptions-Google-Rankings

There are a lot of different ways you can optimize to boost your visitors and sales. SEO is one of them.

In this guide, we’ll be looking at:

  • Some of the general SEO basics.
  • How to write SEO friendly product descriptions.
  • How to rank higher on Google for your products through different mediums.
  • Copywriting tips and formulas you can start applying today on how to convert visitors through your descriptions.
  • Links and other material on how to improve your SEO and copy.
  • And more.

So, with that said, here are a couple of ways to reap that sweet organic traffic just through sheer product descriptions for your online eCommerce store and convert them into buying. 

Let’s jump into it:

1. The Essentials of SEO product descriptions (+ some resources)

One of the biggest steps of SEO is having your site fully optimized, including each and every detail. The more the merrier.

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This includes things like:

Meta description (aka the preview)

The description tag acts as a preview of the main page. Whenever you Google something, this tag is the preview snippet of text that shows up under the listing of the results.

Invoice-Berry-SEO-Meta-Description-Example
You already know what you’re getting yourself into: free invoice templates, with five different template designs.

Ideally, the text should be up to 300 characters or else it will get cut off.

For eCommerce, here’s what you’d want to include in your meta description tags:

  • Relevant keywords / research phrases – write your description around the most important product keyword (is it homemade? Natural? etc.).  This way, whenever someone googles that said keyword, it will show up as bold in the tag and stand out.
  • Verbs – “Shop, buy, discover” are just a handful of phrases you’ll notice when Googling for a specific product. People who set out with the intent to purchase a product are going to be drawn in by this kind of language.
  • Call to action (CTA) – You can always take it a step further and combine verbs with a relevant CTA at the end to really seal the deal. For example “start sending invoices today.”
  • Accuracy – No matter what you do, you’ll want the description tag to be accurate to the actual page of contents. Don’t mislead people with clickbait or false descriptions, this will just harm your SEO ranking.

Image alt tags

Your visitors won’t see this.

But the search engine will. You might get away with sweeping this under the rug but it’s still good SEO practice to provide alt text for your images so the search engine can get a better understanding of the visual content of the web page. You’ll also rank higher on Pinterest this way.

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URL page titles/tags

This step is pretty straightforward, and also important from a search engine perspective.

In short: keep it simple and aim up to 50-60 characters for a title tag. What the page is about should be reflected in the URL page.

Some things to keep in mind when writing an effective URL:

  • Usability – Try to see things from the eyes of your customers. If the URL reflects the content of the page, you’re good to go.
  • Length – Try to generally keep it shorter so people will be able to copy/paste it without the link messing up their whole emails.
  • Keywords Use – Try to include the specific phrase in the URL. E.g. what your product is, just don’t overuse it.
  • Hyphens – The best way to separate SEO text in the URL is through hyphens (-) because not all browsers see some signs like underscores. Better safe than sorry!

Usually, simply the title of the article works. As long as it’s not too long.

Backlinks

Backlinks are created when one site links to another, and they’re just as, if not equally important as keywords.

Essentially, by linking to another place, you are signaling to Google that you trust that place and provide a recommendation. Now, you might be thinking, the more backlinks the better, right?

Well, not quite.

When building backlinks, (by getting featured on other blogs, for example) you need to keep in mind where those backlinks are coming from. The more reputable and trusted their domain is – the better. This is why buying cheap backlinks from Fiverr isn’t recommended, as tempting as it may seem.

Of course, the above concepts are only the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re starting off, the best place to get acquainted with SEO is probably the MOZ SEO Beginner Guide. They have a ton of other useful SEO guides and tools that can help you out.

Keyword Research & Targeting

This is arguably the most important step of SEO.

Ranking for the relevant keywords can put you miles ahead of your competitors since most people only ever look at the top 3 listings on Google. There are many steps to doing a thorough keyword research and a thousand other variables to keep in mind when evaluating the value of an SEO keyword.

SEO-Product-Description-Keyword-Research-And-Targeting

For example, what products help you net more sales from your online store? Is it relevant to the website’s content? Should you be focusing on long-tail keywords (less demand, but easier to rank for since they are most specific for SEO. E.g. “black size 12 athletic running shoes for men”) instead?

These are all questions you should keep in mind when doing keyword research.

1.1 Site speed impacts your SEO ranking

For customers, site speed matters – a lot.

In fact, it’s one of the deciding factors for search engines (yes, Google your site speed into consideration) and people alike.

According to Google:

2 seconds is the threshold for most eCommerce websites.

It might come as a surprise but site speed is indeed one of the ranking factors for Google, along with their mobile-first index.

On average, the top ranking mobile pages load in just under 3 seconds or so. Though the loading speed difference isn’t that major (we’re talking milliseconds here) for most of the top ranking sites, the difference matters for more than rankings.

The fact of the matter is that people are impatient and don’t have a very high attention span.

You can increase your conversions as high as up to 30% with a faster loading site and better user experience.

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Here’s how:

  • Hosting and backend – your hosting services can make or break your eCommerce brand. Make sure you’re getting the best conditions for speed and that the code is stable.
  • Google Tag Manager – this tool helps you efficiently manage your data and tags. If you’re handling a lot of data daily, be sure to look into this tool.
  • Images – a picture is worth a thousand words, so it’s important to have pictures on your product description page. But they also usually take up most of the space on the page. So, look into tools like TinyPNG to reduce the size of the images you use, while retaining the quality.

In short: speed is a crucial part of user-experience and also impacts your Google ranking as well. As such, you should focus on optimizing your product description page to the fullest, including the tiny details.

But luckily for you, I’m not throwing you in the deep end here with no help.

There are a lot of SEO tools and even more resources that can help you with keyword research. Listing them all would probably take forever and you can only get better through experience. So, if you’re wondering where to start, be sure to check out the SEO tools section MOZ recommends when doing keyword research.

Now that you’re familiar with the simple, but effective SEO concepts, we can move on actually writing the product descriptions with SEO in mind.  

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2. Best SEO product description is unique and different (+ tips on copywriting)

Everything’s been done before. But still, that shouldn’t deter you from giving your products an unique twist.

Copywriting is another essential step as far as your product descriptions go. Above all, it should be simple, flow well and sound natural.

Here’s what you need to know when writing your product descriptions:

2.1 Don’t steal product descriptions

I get it, there are only so many ways to describe the same product that’s listed everywhere.

But there still is no excuse for copy-pasting description from one place to another. This completely kills your traffic by redirecting it to the original source on Google, which has a higher domain and page authority. And it also makes you less credible.

Bad-Example-Of-Copy-Paste-SEO-Product-Description
Spot the difference: AlieExpress v obviously copy-pasted SEO description.

Remember: usability comes before SEO.

Give your customers some breathing space, they don’t need to read the same phrase a hundred times to get what the page is about.

As a side note: don’t stuff and repeat keywords aimlessly. This will just distract your customers and get you penalized by Google.

If someone can’t even find out the basics about your product, they’re probably not going to end up buying it. Make sure the description is “fresh” first, and then worry about keywords later.

2.2 Don’t use product descriptions from manufacturers

Manufacturers know best, right? After all, it’s their product. So, it makes sense to do what they do?

Wrong.

This is basically the same as copying product descriptions. Don’t do this. It’s a sure-fire way of getting filtered by Google.

These type of product descriptions are already distributed to many online eCommerce stores and harm your SEO instead.

SEO-Product-Descriptions-Distributed

And to make things worse, the product descriptions manufacturers use aren’t exactly written to sell. They list the main description, some details and leave it at that.

Your goal of writing SEO-friendly product description is to rank high on search engines, stay memorable and finally, to sell.

So, instead of using pre-written product descriptions (whether it be from manufacturers or Aliexpress), what you should do is focus on creating unique content.

2.3 Be unique & memorable

Let me ask you this: how would you write a description for a flashlight?

You might be tempted to use the same old jargon: “bright, portable, shines up to x miles, perfect for camping…” so on. But where’s the fun in that?

Instead, let’s take ThinkGeek and see how they write their product descriptions for something as simple as an LED flashlight.

Think-Geek-Unique-SEO-Product-Description
Beautiful.

I don’t know about you, but I think I want to buy a flashlight now. And I don’t even need one.

But jokes aside, of course, it all depends on your target market and buyer persona.

For ThinkGeek, this is someone nerdy/geeky who appreciates the humor in the little things.

So, what does this mean when writing product descriptions?

Play to your strengths.

Here’s why doing proper research on your market is so important.

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How would you sell your products to your target market in person?

Be sure to use the appropriate language and tone. And then incorporate that in your SEO-friendly product description.

If the said tone uses humor and witty jokes – that’s perfectly fine, as long as your product description matches your product and buyer.

So, with the above in mind, here’s what you might end up with if you’re following along:

A piece of product description that not only is different from anywhere else on the internet, but also written in a way that sticks with your customers.

Now that you got your product descriptions ready, don’t forget to include the relevant product keywords and phrases where appropriate.

SEO and content go hand-in-hand.

Focus on the user experience and usability of your product descriptions first. Then make sure it is SEO optimized.

Another important thing about product descriptions is the copy, a.k.a. sales through text.

If you want to sell through words, here’s what you do:

2.4 Convert features to benefits

People don’t buy drills. They buy holes.

This is an ancient marketing and copywriting tactic. And for a good reason: it works.

Think like a customer. Don’t focus on what you’re selling, but rather, what it means to them (i.e. holes, not drills).

The way this works is you’re basically converting features to benefits. So, instead of selling the specific product, you’re selling how the said product will improve their life.

Here’s what you do:

1. Create a fact sheet.

Take a piece of paper (or a word document) and list as many facts about the product as possible.

SEO-Product-Descriptions-Creating-a-Fact-Sheet

It doesn’t matter how long it turns out, as long as you get to know the ins and the outs of your product.

No one will see this, so, don’t worry. Don’t hold back. Positive facts, negative, everything goes here.

2. Create a benefits list.

Now, start going over the above fact sheet and transforming them to benefits where possible.

A fact is what the product is like. A benefit is what the product will do to your customer.

Of course, not every fact will be a positive one. So, not every fact will translate into a benefit. This is why you should try and list as many facts about the product as possible first.

The facts that do transform into benefits, however, go on your description page.

As for the ones that aren’t positive and can’t spin them into a benefit – feel free to cross them out. Ideally, your fact sheet should have up to hundreds of facts about the products, so, don’t worry about crossing some of them out.

And your imagination is the limit here when writing. For example is your product bright red? Perhaps it will help your customers stand out and receive compliments. Don’t be afraid to try and spin a seemingly obvious fact about your product into a benefit.

If you want to get a better sense of how this works and brush up on your copywriting skills, check out how the “best copy writer alive” Gary Halbert does it in his letters.

2.5 AIDA

This is another common copywriting formula that you can apply to everything from email and content marketing to eCommerce.

What’s so great about is it that, if done well, it can guide your customers through the whole purchasing process.

What is AIDA?

AIDA stands for:

A – Awareness (or attention)

I – Interest

D – Desire

A – Action

And if used well, you can guide consumers through the whole experience funnel with this simple, yet effective, formula.

SEO-Product-Descriptions-AIDA-Funnel

Here’s how you can use AIDA in your product descriptions:

First, you grab their attention, you hold onto it and get them engaged or excited enough to continue reading. Once you have their interest, you want to provoke desire and finally, push them to make an action (usually to purchase the product).

Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s easier said than done.

So, let’s zoom in on each of the steps individually.

Awareness

The first step is always capturing the visitor’s attention.

This process usually starts through search engines.  So, make sure your meta description and page URL look great first.

Once they’re on your product page, you only have a couple of seconds to capture and retain their attention. It only takes about 5 seconds for them to decide if this was indeed what they were looking for or to click away.

So, if you’re page it too distracting and has too much extra information – you’ll probably lose them.

Instead, focus on figuring out your target market and audience, making use of visuals, and generating eye-catching headlines and titles.

A few things you should ask yourself when on this step:

  • Who is going to read this? What is their gender? Location? Family status? So on. The more in tune you are with your buyer persona – the better.
  • What is their biggest problem regarding the product? How does it keep them up at night?
  • What is the solution? How are you going to solve the above problem?
  • How does your audience talk about their problems? Are there any specific words or concepts they use?

All this to say, get to know your target market. 

It makes a world of a difference when you’re using language that your customers use as opposed to just generalizing or following a template.

Start with the headline. Once you catch their eye, it’s vital you don’t lose their attention and hold on to their attention span.

SEO-Product-Descriptions-AIDA

The headline doesn’t even have to be clever or witty. As long as it’s simple and has resonance, you’re on the right track.

Interest

This is the step that’ll really determine how well you understand your target market.

It’s easy to get capture someone’s attention with an alluring headline. Now, you need to show them why they should care and continue scrolling.

Just because they found your page through Google, doesn’t mean they won’t click away. You need to make them truly desire the product.

There are a lot of different ways you can do this, but for the most part, you can:

  • Determine the root of their problems.
  • Demonstrate that you clearly understand it, i.e. show don’t tell.
  • Use information, persuasive techniques, and social proof to convince them if you think there’s room for second thoughts.

Establish a close and a personal connection with your lead, educate them about their problem, and they’ll be more likely to trust you and continue scrolling.

Once you reel in your leads by provoking interest, you move on to their desire, or the want.

Desire

So far, if things are going well, a visitor has landed on your product page and you’ve managed to hold onto their attention. Great.

Now, you need to tap into their biggest desires.

SEO-Product-Description-Cultivating-Desire

This may sound a lot like the interest step, but it’s important to differentiate between the two.

Interest is looking up information, researching the product, and seeing how it might help you.

Desire is actually wanting it and envisioning you using it. You realize the product is a perfect fit for you and want it right then and there.

Before the desire step, your customers have a need. A need they haven’t yet satisfied and are looking for a way to do so. They might have certain hesitations and doubts, which you need to clear away and motivate them.

Only once you persuade them through this step does the need turn into a want. 

Action

This is the final step and the one where you’ll see if all your efforts paid off.

Finally, you need to influence and push them to take action.

Once you’ve caught your leads’ attention, reeled them in through their interest, stirred up enough desire, it’s time to seal the deal.

This step is where all the build-up pays off.

Call to action statements are statements that that push your visitors to the next step. “Buy now”, “sign up”, “sign up for a newsletter” and more are all valid CTAs you’ve probably seen all over the internet.

It’s important to have a clear CTA button. Your “buy now” button has to be simple, visible, and stand out. It’s what everything has been building up to, but make sure you don’t overdo it.

Keep it simple. There is no need for extra distractions. Just make sure the final CTA button is in a different color, and is in a place that makes sense.

There are many ways you can incorporate strong CTA language in your description. Some of the most effective verbs include:

  • Start
  • Stop
  • Build
  • Join
  • Learn
  • Discover

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all template for your CTA button.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and do A/B tests until you find the right copy that works for you.

A lot of product descriptions boil down to reiterating until it’s perfect. And the better you get to know your target market, the better your product page becomes in time.

When writing product description though, you shouldn’t forget about:

3. Details! Details! Details!

Details are great.

The best thing about them? You can’t really go wrong with them and you can always include the relevant SEO keywords where appropriate to boost your sales.

Providing details is a must regardless of the product.

It goes without saying that you should provide the basics like the size, material, and so on. There’s a reason almost everyone uses bullet points to list the main details. After all, they’re short, sweet and straight to the point.

But why not go beyond that?

Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. If your product is really detailed – go all out.

Details win trust.

They show you really know your product and prove credibility. This, in turn, builds trust and saves your customers the time of emailing you questions about the product.

Let’s take a look at what Onzie is doing:

Onzie-SEO-Product-Description-Details-Example
The fact that it was made in the USA is important to some people, for example.

Their product page contains a mix of description that connects with their visitors as well as a short list of details they might want to know. All of which have the appropriate tone and are SEO friendly.

The takeaway here is that you should not be afraid of those pesky details. Something you may feel is obvious information or just unnecessary, might help out your customers or give you extra space to place the relevant keywords.

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Though, this doesn’t mean you’re always limited to writing. Just remember, you can always,

4. Switch up your product descriptions

For example…

Videos

Video is an interesting way to show off your product in action and the sky is the limit when it comes to the many ways you can do that.

Even Google loves video since it can be SEO friendly as well. Since 2011, when Google unveiled the Panda update, more and more sites which have some form of video content have been enjoying higher rankings on Google.

Moreover, web pages that include a video usually mean that people will spend more time on that page and have an additional place for meta/description tags for the hosted video.

SEO-Product-Description-Videos

According to Marketing Land, up to 57% of retailers reported Average Order Value (AOV) increased of at least 50% for customers who watch the video on their product page. In addition to that, videos are a great way to raise brand awareness, gain a stronger social media presence, increase engagement and more.

The videos themselves can be many different types and even incorporate humor, tell a story and more.

Still, regardless of the approach you take, there are some things you should keep in mind if you decide to go the video route.

  • Keep it short and simple: No one wants to see an introduction and other extra information. They just want to see the product in action. So, aim to up 30 seconds at most.
  • Tell a story: While this may seem challenging when dealing with footage of about 30 seconds, as long as you strike a chord with the viewer, you’re on the right track. And this brings us to the next point
  • Remember the person: At the end of the day, you have to remember there’s a human being at the other end watching the video. The whole point of a video is to connect with people. By making the video relatable, your customers are more likely to walk away feeling like someone truly understood them, feeling a certain emotion (whether it be humor, motivation, etc.)
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With that in mind, you could have a brief video showcasing the product, or you could take it to the next step and actually show how it’d look like in action!

Check it out:

Asos incorporates a brief “catwalk” style video on their product page, demonstrating the product in a more practical setting, while walking, turning and so on.

Asos-Video-SEO-Product-Description-Example
The best of both worlds: the pictures help the customers see the details and the video offers a 360-degree view.

It’s also worth mentioning that if your video contains any dialogue, be sure to include captions as they’re an additional way for the search engines to crawl and index data.

Though, when all is said and done, starting might seem a little overwhelming.

So, what now?

Whether it be writing different and unique product descriptions that fit your buyer persona, going all out on the details, switching up your product descriptions and experimenting with different forms of media, or just using straight up amazing copy, there still a long way to go.

There is a lot, and I mean a lot of things to cover when approaching eCommerce and/or SEO in general. There are a lot of tools, resources, guides and more.

Ultimately, you want to create an SEO friendly product description that gives shoppers the information they need in a skimmable format. If the descriptions make sense, flows well and hits all the SEO checkmarks – you’re on the right track and don’t have to worry so much.

Writing the perfect SEO friendly product description for your business can be tricky and take time to see the return on investment.

But with that said, once you start seeing the organic traffic and purchases coming in, it’ll all be worth it.

The key is to think from the customer’s point of view. Once you walk a mile in their shoes and figure out their needs and concerns, you can start writing your descriptions.

Remember, it all begins with researching your target market, writing optimal content and copy, with a focus on converting, and finally, making sure it’s SEO optimized as well.

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