Writing product descriptions that accurately represent your products, generate consumer interest, and help raise conversion rates is a difficult task. It involves juggling a number of ideas and honing your writing and editing abilities until you’re comfortable repeatedly writing to a targeted audience and in a specific tone of voice. Here, we take a look at 15 easily-actionable ways you can improve your product descriptions and ensure they’re optimised for both consumers and search engines.
1. Know who you’re selling to
When you’re creating perfect product descriptions, it’s absolutely essential that you know who you’re targeting. In other words, you need to work with a buyer profile. If you’re not already utilising buyer personas, they can be succinctly defined as an imagined, ideal customer.
Think about who buys your products.
• What kind of job do they have?
• Where do they live?
• How do they spend their spare time?
• What media do they consume?
• Who do they look up to?
The answers to these questions will help form the basis of a buyer persona. They’ll bring you closer to your audience and allow you to use more focused language. When carefully considered and constructed, buyer personas can increase the efficiency of your product descriptions by ensuring you sound like the kind of retailer your customers want to buy from.
2. Emphasise the benefits
The term ‘product description’ can be a little misleading. While your content should aim to accurately describe the product and its key features, it also needs to explain how they ultimately benefit the customer. While a basic description provides the superficial details of a product, it does nothing to sell it.
Before you begin your product description, try and create a list of all the product’s key features. From this, you’ll need to ensure you understand what the benefits of each feature are to the user. For instance, a lightweight e-reader benefits the user by being easy to transport and offering a take-anywhere alternative to heavy novels.
Remember, a good description doesn’t just detail the product’s key features. It tells the customer what the product can do for them or what problems it solves.
3. Make it scannable
Very few internet users read through content in anything resembling a traditional manner. Attention spans are short and mobile devices make it increasingly easy to consume incredible amounts of content in a very short period of time. In fact, research suggests that only 16% of users read web pages word-for-word.
Consequently, your product descriptions need to be written in a way that allows the user to extract as much useful information as quickly as possible. They need to be scannable. There are a few ways of achieving this.
• Emphasise key words or phrases by highlighting, underlining or colouring them.
• Keep sentences short and uncomplicated.
• Use bulleted lists to convey important information.
• Stick to a single idea at a time and try to encapsulate the idea as briefly and accurately as possible.
4. Discover your voice
Almost as important as knowing who your customers are, is knowing who you are. This means perfecting your tone of voice and ensuring that it remains stable throughout your product descriptions. Tone of voice depends on the type of relationship your business has with its customers.
Are you expected to interact with the detached professionalism of a large corporation or do you want to playfully engage with customers through humour? Do you want to sound like your customers or do you want to to be someone to whom they would happily go to for advice? Knowing exactly how you want to be read will allow you to write in a way that reflects your brand and attracts the right customers.
5. Edit, edit, edit
Once you’ve got your first draft down, it’s time to edit. And edit. And edit again. Taking your raw material and turning it into product description SEO gold takes a keen eye and a great deal of practice. You’ll want to refine the text by starting with the following;
• Cut unnecessary words or phrases.
• Focus your use of adjectives, so they’re working together to create a coherent image.
• Simplify grammatical structure.
• Replace any generic terms or descriptors with words that tell the customer something very specific about the product. For instance, words like ‘nice’ and ‘excellent,’ tell us nothing about the product.
If you find yourself using too many generic terms, try replacing them with concrete facts and figures. For example, rather than using ‘fast delivery,’ give the customer a precise time scale – ‘product packaged, shipped and delivered within 3 working days.’
6. Keep the language simple
When writing product descriptions, it’s incredibly tempting to over-complicate the language. This usually occurs because writers confuse verbosity with good writing. Effective product description writing will convey the intended message in language that’s accessible to everyone. It will do so in an unpretentious and direct manner, without forcing complex vocabulary into the content.
Keeping the language of a product description simple is important for several reasons. Primarily, it makes the text easy to read and scannable. Secondly, it reduces the chance of the writer including a ‘sticking spot’ – a moment in the text which interrupts the reading and potentially forces the customer to detach from it.
7. Minimise the use of jargon
In the same way that it’s important to keep your language simple, it’s also a good idea to minimise (or completely eradicate) the use of industry jargon in your product. Generally, jargon will put off a large percentage of customers. It can render the text incomprehensible, suggest elitism or a division between the business and its customers, and result in the product description losing much of its power.
However, there is one notable exception to this rule. If your customers use specific jargon, you should too. In this context, jargon can demonstrate you have a thorough understanding of your industry and your products. It’s a fine line though – you need to be sure that the vast majority of your audience are aware of and regularly use the jargon if you want to include it.
8. Don’t oversell the product
While you don’t want to under-sell your product, it’s equally important that you don’t over-sell it. Customers can be wary of sales pitches and aren’t likely to take every claim a business makes at face value. Consequently, if you over-exaggerate the benefits of your product or use hyperbolic language that doesn’t reflect the true nature of your product, customers are likely to realise.
This kind of language detracts from product descriptions by bringing the honesty of a business into question. In many cases, hyperbolic language will cause users to question all of a business’ other claims – no matter how accurate they are. This means that writers need to tread a fine line between providing their product with the ‘hype’ required and overstepping into fanciful language or overkill.
9. Remember you’re selling more than a product
More often than not, you’re pitching more than a simple product to your customers. For example, if you’re selling a family board game, you’re actually selling more quality time with those you love. If you’re selling holidays, you’re actually selling a jet-setting lifestyle and experiences of a lifetime. If you’re selling a jumper, you’re actually selling a very particular image and style.
When writing product descriptions, you need to make sure you keep this elusive “secret product” in mind. Make sure the language you use matches that which you’d expect. Try and make connections between your product and the lifestyle(s) it is associated with. In some respects, this is about cause and effect. What will happen if a customer buys this product? How will their life change? How will the the product be ideally used?
10. Format depends on context
When considering format and how that affects a user’s ability to consume information, it’s vital that you take the context into consideration. Here, context refers to how the product description interacts with other features on the page. For instance, how the product description is placed in relation to the photograph, pricing, or other relevant information.
Some formats may suit certain contexts better than others. This is particularly true of formatting features like bullet points. While longer paragraphs and more flowing text may be better used when the customer’s attention has already been captured, bullet points are a great way of communicating information quickly and generating immediate interest. Consequently, they should be one of the first things you see.
11. Use long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are combinations of words that are so specific only a few users will actually search for them. However, these customers know what they’re looking for and are generally ready to buy. Long-tail keywords are a great way of using Google’s algorithms to ensure customers looking for a product just like yours will see it first.
In other words, they’re a way of attracting customers that are much more likely to convert a website visit into a sale. Whereas most users will browse an incredible number of products before they purchase anything, users searching for your precise terms are far more likely to leave having spent money.
12. Perform extensive research
Research is absolutely essential to an accurate and efficient product description. We’ve already discussed how it’s important to create buyer personas, but there are a number of other ways in which research can help too.
• Competitor research – take a look at how your competitors write their product descriptions. Do they do anything that you don’t? What language do they use? What tone of voice do they employ?
• Analytical data – use the analytical data that you’ve already accumulated. When do certain types of product sell well? What’s making them sell well? How can you incorporate that into your product descriptions?
13. No duplicate copy
If you’re serious about SEO and ensuring your product descriptions are truly optimised for Google, it’s absolutely essential that your content is not duplicated anywhere else on the web. Duplication can seriously damage a website’s Google ranking and make it difficult for users to find your business online. This is one of the principal reasons demand has soared for original content in recent years and a greater number of businesses are taking precautions to protect their intellectual property. There are a number of ways you can do this;
• Use a paid service like Copyscape to check for duplication across the internet.
• Use a free plagiarism application like Duplichecker. Though typically not as powerful as paid services, they can still be useful.
• Employ a website protection service like Copysentry so that you’re immediately aware of any duplication of your website.
• Invest in a professional product description writing service
14. Natural use of keywords
Where once keywords were the be-all and end-all of SEO, now they’re often looked down on as relatively crude way of making yourself seen and heard. This is a little unfair. Keywords are still enormously important to product descriptions, but the way we use them has changed. Now, it’s far more important to use them selectively and to ensure they’re naturally incorporated into the text. No longer can product descriptions be stuffed full of key terms and phrases in the hope that you’ll be pushed higher in the rankings. Instead, take a softer approach and introduce your top few terms into the header and the body of the text in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the description or make them immediately stand out as keywords.
15. Analyse customer reviews
Analysing customer reviews not only provides you with useful feedback on your product, it can also provide a business with important insights into language use. By looking deeper into customer reviews, organisations can begin to study keyword usage, explore ways their products and services are being used, and better understand the perceived benefits of a product. By integrating this information into future product descriptions, writers can optimise content for both customers and Google.