One of the most boring things I did as an ecommerce shop owner was writing product descriptions.
At The Wedding Crafter we had over 1,000 products and many of them were pretty basic too – how many exciting ways can you think of to describe a sheet of cream card? It was oh, so tempting to do a copy/paste and just tweak a word or two here and there.
But cutting corners with your descriptions is a mistake because these will determine (i) if anyone will ever find your products and (ii) whether they will buy them when they do.
I’m going to start by explaining why product descriptions are so important. And then look at the common problems – and how to fix them.
Your descriptions are absolutely vital in getting your product pages found online – whether via paid or organic search. The best ecommerce businesses drive thousands of targeted visitors direct to their product pages.
You probably know that the product title is important for Google organic search, but these days Google looks for much more than matching keywords in the meta title and URL. They also want to see original, relevant content on the page.
With big brands and Amazon and eBay grabbing much of page 1 organic search results, Google Shopping is becoming an essential tool for the independent ecommerce seller.
But did you know that the most important element of your data feed for Google Shopping is actually the product description rather than the title?
It’s not the only factor, of course, but weak descriptions mean:
- the chances of your product being shown for the most relevant searches is lower
- you will pay more to get your products in front of those targeted buyers.
and higher bids mean your products get shown for lots of less relevant searches, which reduces your click through rate, which in turn means you need to bid higher to get shown.
It’s a vicious circle!
7 Common Mistakes
Here are the most frequent product description issues – and how to resolve them:
1. Too short
Short product descriptions mean Google has very little to work with both for paid and organic searches.
You should aim for a minimum of 100 words of original content for each product. (But don’t simply pad with meaningless waffle – see point No 5).
When you have a number of products which are very similar, it’s very tempting to use the same basic description and just change a word or two for each variation.
But this means all your products look the same to Google and could land you a duplicate content penalty.
So many ecommerce shops simply paste the manufacturer’s description into their products. Which means there is absolutely nothing except price to differentiate you from your competition.
Plus, Google will decide which of the many pages using the text is the original – and ignore all the others. Chances are it won’t be your page they pick!
4. Missing keywords
Do you actually check what people search for when creating your product titles and descriptions? Use the Google keyword planner to make sure you work from a position of knowledge rather than gut instinct.
Decide which are the most important keywords and use them in the title. Then use the description to include variations.
5. Missing details
Make sure you include all the relevant detail a buyer needs to make a purchase decision. So many times I’ve searched for an item, found what I’m looking for but then failed to buy because I can’t find a vital piece of information.
Things like dimensions (homewares), washing instructions (fashion), what it’s made from (jewellery). These are all examples I have come across which a store owner failed to mention in their description.
6. Meaningless or Irrelevant
While it’s good to have plenty of words, don’t be tempted to write an essay filled with long detailed ramblings that don’t tell your buyer anything.
There’s lots of scope for relevant detail – examples of how to use the product, benefits to the buyer – so be imaginative.
Put the most relevant points first and break up the text by using paragraphs and headings to make it readable.
If you’re selling products like fashion, accessories, homewares, then you are really selling a lifestyle. So reflect that in your product description and use it to make people WANT to buy.
Purely factual descriptions only work for commodity type products.