Back to basics – The guide to great product content
As a retailer, nothing is more frustrating than content that undervalues your products. As a customer, unhelpful content makes shopping a chore. In our Back to Basics – The guide to great product content, we look at how important product descriptions are for your conversion rates, and how you can tackle the mammoth task of writing them.
WHAT ARE PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS?
At the very core of any e-commerce site is the products it sells. Consumers go online to find the exact product they’re looking for and a huge advantage that the internet has over in-store shopping is that they can find it within minutes. Typing in ‘little black dress’ to a search engine brings up hundreds of thousands of results for consumers to comfortably browse, compared to the restricted offerings of local high street shops. The problem for online retailers then, is that the marketplace is crowded. Plus, unlike high street stores, consumers can’t try out the products and are essentially ‘buying blind’. This is where product descriptions become a crucial foundation for any site.
WHY DO YOU NEED QUALITY PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS?
Strong content written by skilled writers results in better-informed customers, increased trust in your brand, and, finally, loyalty or advocacy of your brand. It also helps to reduce the chance of returns because customers are buying the product based on accurate information. User-friendly product content is particularly important for electrical or tech products, which usually include lots of complicated technical information. When buying these types of items, customers will be looking for content that can help them easily compare products to make sure they are choosing the right one for their needs.
On average, 36% of sessions enter via a product page compared to just 21% of entries via the homepage. Often, product pages are not designed to be the user’s first point of contact with a site and without optimisation for a better UX, it sets up a bad first impression. Nailing the content to give customers a better first impression helps to improve trust and advocacy.
Add SEO into the mix and your site benefits from better search engine rankings, more click-throughs and a higher return on investment. These channels overlap to create successful product content that grows brand awareness at a customer level and increases online visibility.
Why aren’t retailers making proper product descriptions a priority?
- Product-level content is often overlooked
Product content is a foundation for websites that can be overlooked for more glamorous digital projects. Retailers need a ‘back to basics’ approach to improve the SEO and content foundations of their site before attracting customers with digital campaigns that are not matched in quality by product pages.
- Finding internal resource can be difficult
Brands may also struggle with product content when they don’t have access to the resources they need. A team of copywriters and SEO experts are required to make sure content is properly optimised and retailers may not have an in-house department.
For large companies with 1000’s of products on offer, the task is time-consuming. A high product churn makes it hard to justify spending time on product descriptions.
- Retailers are happy to rely on manufacturer content
Online retailers are then forced to rely on manufacturers to supply the content. It may save time and research, but as the same content is also distributed to several retailers this causes duplication issues which will affect search rankings. What’s more, with the same content as your competitors, customers may not be persuaded to buy from your site over others.
This section looks at the benefits that good content brings to your product descriptions. The tone of voice, information, and structure that goes into each description represents your brand’s image. Getting it right will improve customer relations and help to increase conversions.
PRODUCING QUALITY CONTENT
The first issue facing online retailers is the quality of their content. Poorly-written descriptions devalue a product. If grammar is incorrect, or the writing is difficult to comprehend, it makes a brand look unprofessional. And with so much competition from other retailers, it’s important to persuade customers that your site is reputable.
Most importantly though, it is vital you have accurate product information. Publishing content that has inaccurate information will disappoint or anger customers, especially after purchase. Avoid breaking trading standards and invest in proper research and quality control for each description.
Writing content well and making it useful is the second task at hand. Market research and knowing your target demographics will tell you who to write for, but without a team of skilled writers by your side, the copy risks sounding amateur. It’s therefore essential that content is well-written to match the value of the product.
CONVEYING YOUR TONE OF VOICE
With many retailers using manufacturer-written descriptions, the tone or quality may not reflect that individual brand’s values. Having a proper content strategy with branding guidelines helps to make your product descriptions unique to you, and improves customer perception.
Shaping your own unique tone of voice can have added benefits for your brand awareness. Something that really gets consumers’ attention is storytelling. Tell the story behind your brand or even the product to authentically reach out to your target audience. This is something that works particularly well for smaller brands.
COMBATING ‘WINDOW-SHOPPING’ HABITS
Average online conversion rates for each industry show the ‘window-shopping’ habits of online shoppers – on average, fashion retail e-commerce sites have a conversion rate of just 3.5%, which means that a huge percentage of consumers are visiting a product page without making a purchase.
So, what’s stopping consumers from making a purchase? Consumer research from Salsify found that 94% abandon a site if they can’t find the information they need, and 88% say product content plays an extremely important role in their decision. These statistics demonstrate the failings of e-commerce sites. Without enough information on a product, the huge majority of site visitors leave. Content needs to be informative enough that it captures the attention of consumers, and helps to inform their decision.
PROVIDING ENOUGH INFORMATION
RHP Tip: A television costing around £1,500 should have enough content to reflect the expense being invested by the customer. Too little content and conversion will be poor. Too much though, and you risk losing their attention. Often, a minimum of 150 words is enough to inform the customer and keep their attention. In most cases, any more than 500 words is probably too much.
LOWER BOUNCE RATES
Including the right information will in turn help to lower bounce rates as fewer consumers leave your site dissatisfied after not finding the content they expect or enough information. Checking consumer written reviews and looking at frequently asked questions about the product should give you some hints about what to include.
The result of all this is lower bounce rates, which helps support SEO. Low average bounce rates improve your domain authority with search engines and improve SERPs. Content doesn’t just propel your brand image, it also increases awareness as your online presence becomes more visible.
Find out more of the Organic Search benefits to writing unique product content in the next section.
SEO also plays an important role in producing great product content. Without mastering the basics of SEO and following best practices to get your product pages ranking in the long term, your well-written content may not be seen. Plus, relying on manufacturer content presents duplication issues. Optimising every single description and making them unique will improve site visibility and leads to greater ROI.
RANKING FOR KEYWORDS
Similarly to content writers answering consumers’ questions, SEO experts can conduct keyword research to find out what potential customers search for when looking for a product. For example, one customer looking for a TV might search ‘Smart TV’, while another might search for ‘WIFI ready smart TV’. Both of these search terms refer to the same type of product and the search will return thousands of results from multiple retailers.
RHP Tip: Conducting research uncovers keyword search trends and reveals just how many people are searching for that term. Product descriptions need to be written around keyword topics in order to be found by the right customer. The trick is to avoid ‘keyword stuffing’. Simply loading copy with keywords will be penalised by search engines. Instead, the keywords need to be naturally written into the copy, and feature in heading tags, to be rewarded with higher rankings.
SERPs POSITIONS ARE VITAL FOR CLICK-THROUGH RATES
Keywords aren’t the only way to improve rankings. Optimising at product level has a knock-on effect at category level. Improving search visibility for certain product groups will improve rankings and visibility of that subcategory. And ranking highly on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is vital for click-throughs.
Research has found that the difference between position number 1 and position number 2 on a search page means, on average, a huge 23.9% lower CTR.
So, optimising your website at product level increases the rankings and more CTRs. And with customers then finding persuasive and informative content on site, the chance of conversion is also increased.
Using headings is another way to improve SERPs. They give structure to content, making it more digestible, and also help search engines recognise the topic of the description.
UNIQUE CONTENT FIXES DUPLICATION
Another SEO issue tripping up online retailers is duplicate content. Search engines crawl your site, looking for unique content to rank highly on SERPs. Using manufacturer-written descriptions that are distributed to competitors is seen as duplicate content and penalised.
Enlisting the help of writers and working on a large number of products will help to fill your site with unique content, that is looked upon favourably by search engines. Likewise, meta descriptions need to be unique too. Utilising the specialities of both content writers and SEO experts produces good quality unique content that is optimised for search engines.
Find 3 examples of great product content in the next section…
Below are 3 examples of great product content. These retailers have taken into consideration some SEO best practices and matched that with well-written and engaging copy that is helpful for the user.
TESCO’S UNIQUE CONTENT
Tesco stands out from competitors with their unique product descriptions, creating content for the most popular fitness tracker on the market, Fitbit. This description explains the key features of the product in an uncomplicated way, and is the ideal length to appeal to Tesco’s key demographic.
The content is also optimised for relevant brand and non-brand keywords and will therefore appear on search engine pages for both specific and non-specific searches related to the product.
NIKE’S ATTENTION-GRABBING COPY
Nike break their content for Flyknit trainers into easy-to-digest sections that won’t lose users’ attention.
They add in an aspect of storytelling to their content. Explaining a little about why and how this particular shoe came to be, Nike add an emotional value that persuades the customer to buy. This may not work for all brands, but Nike have established a tone of voice that reflects the quality of their products.
SEPHORA’S USE OF HEADING TAGS
Sephora use subheading tags to structure their content, making it more favourable for search engines. <H1> to <H6> tags are rewarded by search engines because the content is more likely to be user-friendly and easily scannable.
Helpful heading tags allow users to quickly find the information they are looking for, reducing the likelihood that they will give up and abandon the page.
The benefits of great product content are two-fold. They help customers, and as a result improve your brand’s value, plus they improve SEO, increasing your site’s visibility online. And, these benefits are just a few steps away. Here’s the 4-step process you need to follow to write successful product descriptions:
1. Find content and SEO resources
You may need to look for external help if your product catalogue is large, or is updated regularly
2. Know your target audience
Create or revisit your customer personas and review your competitors
3. Research the product and search terms
Make sure you know what you’re writing about and have found the relevant keywords for each product
4. Produce helpful, well-written content that’s SEO optimised
Always write for the customer first and avoid keyword stuffing
To please customers and Search Engines, writing product content needs to be an integrated approach. SEO insight and keyword trends inform the content but ultimately, it needs to fulfil the needs of your customers.
If you’d like to chat about how updating your product copy could help your serch marketing strategy, get in touch.