When a visitor lands on a product page for the first time, what do you suppose convinces him to actually buy the product? Is it the snazzy product image, so carefully airbrushed? Sure it might grab his attention, but it won’t be convincing enough. You’d think it would be the Product Title, clear and coherent, conveying the best qualities of the product in a single glance. Nope. That’s not it either. Turns out, it is the product description on the product page that has the maximum impact on the customer’s psyche.
Product descriptions have been a largely ignored component of product pages until recently since store owners assume that people just skim through them. True enough, most do. However, studies show that 20% of the total purchase failures could be attributed to poor product descriptions or the lack of one.
That’s a significant chunk of your sales, one which can be easily salvaged if you have a stellar product description.
This leads us to ask:
- What exactly is a product description?
- What are the essential components of a product description?
- How can you write one that convinces your audience and search engines that your product stands out from the rest?!
That’s what we shall find out.
First things first.
What is a Product Description?
Oberlo defines the term ‘product description’ as, ‘the copy that describes the features and benefits of the product to the customer’. Most store owners never go beyond this bare-bones definition, but a product description is much, much more than a statement outlining your product features.
Ideally, your product description is the section where your visitor finds the answer to every question he has before buying the product. If the search for the product is a spiritual quest, your product description should be his nirvana.
Having established that, let’s now see how can you write a product description that will impress both people – and Google.
Writing a Product Description People Will Love
There are numerous ways of writing a product description, from a one-sentence product pitch to a personal story that connects with your audience. However, over this range of diverse approaches, there are a few essential components that remain consistent.
Product Description Should Contain Sufficient Information.
While writing the product copy, the most important objective is to provide sufficient information. Address all the whys and wherefores of the product in detail, highlighting the words and phrases that are especially relevant to your audience. Don’t be worried about the length of the copy, so long as you are not using superfluous words to stuff your content.
For example, consider that you are selling a pair of shoes. The product description can start with the brand name and include material, available sizes, colors, weight, type of sole, actual dimensions, shipping dimensions, lifestyle type, closure type, etc. In short, all the details that will satisfy any queries your customers might have.
The thing is, people want genuine details, especially if they are about to make a major investment. In such an instance they won’t be satisfied with a point-by-point brief that just touches on the benefits without actually talking about the technical details. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and address every question you yourself would want to be answered.
Be Direct and Specific (unless you have proof for using that superlative)
If you read the heading above, you’ll see that the two strategies I am advising you to follow are polar opposites. That is because this is a bone of contention between copywriters as to whether the product description should be short and quickly readable or a longer, personal story. Both theories have their merits.
Keeping product descriptions to-the-point and specific is important. Flowery language impresses no one. As Shopify says, all those long-winded, extra words you use are the ‘yeah yeah’ words, i.e., words people overlook because they are so mind-numbingly generic.
On the other hand, sacrificing an emotional connect your product might generate for the sake of brevity is not good either. Say you are selling an inspirational book. In this case, people do not want to know only about the weight and size and font of the book, they want to know how has it impacted the lives of the readers. They want to hear a first-hand account of the reader which will inspire them to experience the transformation themselves.
Using superlatives can be tolerated if and only if you have substantial, irrefutable proof to back your claim. In the example above, if you were to show that the book ranked on the New York Times’ best-seller list, you have a solid proof to support your claim that it is the best book available in that genre, which gives your product description enormous credibility.
Speak of both Features and Benefits
The third essential requirement of a product description is that you need to speak of both, the features and the benefits of the product, to woo your audience. Store owners tend to believe that customers are only concerned about how the product affects them and so look for the benefits of the product. However, this rides a lot on the kind of audience you are targeting.
Never take a generic buyer persona as a representative of your target audience. Decide upon the niche you want to target and speak to only that section of the masses. For instance, If you plan to sell a watch, you may talk about how ergonomic it is, how the dials light up to show analog and digital displays, and how lightweight and comfortable it is. But if you were to talk about a pair of roller skates you are selling, you need to talk about the material of the wheels, the diameter of the wheels, the number of ball bearings, kit add-ons like a helmet, elbow- and knee-pads, and more. The latter group would hardly be excited to know that the wheels were a bright neon orange in color (and two other shades).
This is the case for clearly classifiable products. However, most of the products you sell will require both, benefits and features, to have a significant impact in converting your visitor to a customer. The benefits appeal to a wider audience while the features are the domain of the field experts. Either way, you establish your authority as a market leader through a blended product description.
The points above should give you a fair idea of what to expect from a great product description and the things that need to be avoided as well.
So much for the human mind; Google’s algorithm is a little harder to convince.
Writing a Product Description Google Will Love
Search engines like Google are not concerned about how a product looks; Google does not even view all those images you add for the product. Instead, it focuses on the way people interact with your product description.
The Importance of Keywords and Keyword Research
It starts with the main words/phrases your product is ranking for – these are your keywords. Whenever a potential customer enters a search query, Google analyses how many relevant keywords are targeted in your product description. If it finds a perfect match, your description will show up in the search results.
Now, as people navigate to your product page and read your product description, Google checks the amount of time they are spending on the page. The more engaging your product description, the longer they interact with the page, and the more Google is convinced that your product description is a valuable contribution to your audience.
However, it is necessary to understand that stuffing keywords into your product copy is far from helpful. If Google sees you repeating a phrase once too often, it is going to end up considering your product description as spam and block it from the organic search results.
The kind of keywords you choose depends on extensive keyword research, using tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner in Google Analytics, etc. A handy trick is to see all the other ‘recommended results’ at the bottom of the search page whenever you are checking the popularity of your keyword.
Product Reviews as an Inspiration for Product Description
Another way to increase your standing in Google’s all-seeing eye is by having product reviews as a part of your product description. Not only do product reviews hold a genuine lens to the usability of your product, they can also give you a direct idea of what customers are expecting from the product description.
Continuing the example of the inspirational book, take a look at the feedback people have left in the comments – it will give you a lot of ideas about the keywords you can target in your product description. In addition, these reviews can even appear as ‘featured snippets’ in Google’s search results as they target all the relevant keywords organically.
The structure of your product description is as important a factor as any. A succinct heading, features arranged in a bullet-point format, header tags containing your keywords, and unique and original content are immensely helpful for product page SEO. The flow of the product description should be logical, following the general train of thought of the reader. This ensures that the visitor finds the content engaging and relevant to read right until the end.
Product images are a part of the product description to an extent, so we’ll briefly touch upon some important aspects of image optimization for product images. As we’ve seen before, Google does not note the image; instead, it notes the alternative text (alt-attributes) you add for the image. Alt-text is the text you see in place of a broken image. Consequently, inserting keywords into your alt-text can go a long way in helping Google understand that the image is directly relevant to your page and product description.
The Ideal Length of a Product Description
One of the main questions people have is about the ideal length of the product copy which will rank on Google. To tell you the truth, there is no such ideal length. Some say shorter descriptions are better since people have short attention spans these days, while others advocate longer, fuller product descriptions. While it is true that Google’s recent updates seem to favor longer descriptions, there is no reason a short copy cannot rank equally well or better, provided all the relevant keywords are targeted.
Ultimately, it depends on the product you are selling and how best you can present it.
Some Examples of Great Product Descriptions
Here are a few examples of well-designed product descriptions.
Example 1: 32 oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle by Nalgene
“Our most popular bottle, available in a variety of colors to help brighten up anybody’s gear. The large opening on our wide-mouth bottles easily accommodates ice cubes, fits most water purifiers and filters, and makes hand washing a breeze. The attached loop-top never gets lost and screws on and off easily. Printed graduations let keep track of your hydration. Dishwasher safe (Please make sure the top does not touch the heating element, or it will melt).”
They have mentioned the target audience in the first line itself. The description clearly articulates the water bottle’s special perks and practicality. Mentioning that the product is dishwasher-safe works for them. It touches on what could be a pain point for its customers. The third and fourth line set the product apart from the competition by listing special benefits. Finally, the company makes an important disclaimer with the text “Please make sure the top does not touch the heating element” to provide valuable product care information that will help the company proactively reduce returns.
Example 2: Oak barrel by Hillbilly Stills
“Make a statement with our rustic black hooped American oak barrels. Even though smaller than their larger cousins, our specialty oak barrels are the real thing and will be right at home in your kitchen or bar. The black steel hoops will react to the changes in humidity and seasons and will age to a beautiful patina giving your barrel that special vintage look. Perfect as an aging and mellowing barrel for liquors and wines or making kinds of vinegar and ciders, each oak barrel comes detailed with rustic black hoops, and with its own stand, bung, and spigot. You will love this baby. It looks awesome sitting on a bar!”
Hillbilly Stills captures your imagination with statements like “it will be right at home with your kitchen or bar.” The company also mentions all of the bonus items included with the purchase of a product. A pain point they have covered is that people want a multi-functional barrel because they do not want to invest in a separate barrel for each spirit. So this barrel works for all types of spirits like wines, kinds of vinegar, ciders, etc.
In both these examples, we see the use of direct and indirect keywords that are relevant to the product and enhance the knowledge of the reader. The customer is able to find out all the necessary information at a glance as well as understand the potential benefits of the product. Now that is a product description people and Google will both love!
Product descriptions are the unsung heroes of your product pages. According to a study by OneSpace, 87% of the customers rate product content as ‘very important’ while purchasing a product, regardless of the product category. This proves that your visitors are ready to spend some time reading a well-crafted product description if they see that you are not leading them on a wild goose chase.
If we were to sum it up, the ideal product description would be one that addresses the needs of the visitor through the appropriate use of keywords and relatable content. However, there is no perfect formula that is going to make your product description shoot effortlessly ahead through the competition. Writing product copy is an iterative process and has to be revised time and again as the expectations of people and search engines change.