product descriptions

I did some searching on Google recently. And it occurred to me just how little time we spend looking at search results on anything other than page 1.


I was searching for a fairly specific item which I couldn’t find. And when I couldn’t find what I wanted on page 1, I changed my search term.


It just didn’t occur to me that the answer was sat waiting for me on a later page, and started looking at page 1 results on many other related search terms.


Actually it wasn’t on a later page. Turns out virtually no one in this country sells what I was looking for over the internet.* But that’s not the point.


For many customers it doesn’t matter if you’re on page 2 or 22, if you’re not page 1 you’re not going to get eyes on your pages.


So what’s the answer?


There are a number of things you can do. But a little bit of research and a few changes to your written content can make a big difference.

I’ll use an example I was discussing with a client recently about a Butlers Table, and give you a few things you can do to improve the ranking of your products in search rankings.

Be original

When it comes to product descriptions, there’s always a lot of duplicated content. Unless you’re selling something you made yourself, chances are the manufacturer supplied a product description.

And because you’re busy, and you have lots of products to manage on your e-commerce site, you just cut-and-paste the product description. Job done. Next!


But now when Google looks for your Butlers Table, it can’t decide the most appropriate website because you’re the same as many others. And because it’s clearly not original, Google sees is as a poorer quality page.


If you cut-and-paste the description, think how many retailers did exactly the same. Now you’re just one of the masses.

So come up with something original that your audience will like. Give it the voice of your brand. Give it some personality. Give it something your competitors haven’t thought about.

Be careful what you call it

In this example it’s called a Butlers Table. According to Google’s Keyword Planner, that phrase gets 260 searches per month. Call it a Butlers Tray Table, and you’ve suddenly got 590 searches per month. So just by calling it something else, you’re more than doubling the chances of being noticed.

A word of warning here though – call a spade a spade. If it isn’t what you say it is, you’re just going to frustrate your visitor. And they’ll click off your page straight away and make your bounce rates shoot through the roof, which will only damage the `score` of your website page.


Looking at the image above, `coffee table` gets 49,500 searches per month. But is it a coffee table? And would someone searching for a coffee table really expect to see a reclaimed, vintage butler tray table? So you might include those words in the description but make sure that you choose keywords that are appropriate.


And if you already have the best word, use it.

Keyword placement

Putting keywords in the right places is pretty straightforward. Put you keywords or keyphrase in the following places:


  • URL ( -other-words)
  • page title (H1 tag)
  • first paragraph
  • last paragraph
  • 1 x for every 100 words (give or take)


This is often not too tricky. But for certain phrases it can be a very awkward phrase to fit into a sentence smoothly, let alone several times.


A word about length of content: Google recommends 300 words, but for some product descriptions this is overkill. So use what you think is enough to get the message across, and include your keywords.

There are other important factors that can boost your search engine ranking, even with small amounts of content on each page. So don’t panic if you’re scratching your head thinking of what to write because you’ve said it all. Put the pen down, and step away from the paper (Or save your file and step away from the computer? Ed.)


Always write for your audience first; Google second.

Theme keywords

It’s not all about your keywords. They’re important, don’t get me wrong. But Google looks for a theme to the rest of the words on your page, too.


Making you content friendlier for search engines using Semantic SEO means you’re creating more signs for Google to show that your page is relevant. So using the image above again, can see that words like coffee, dining, chairs, and side table are all related.

And if your product is a Reclaimed Butlers Tray Table, all of a sudden words like rustic, vintage, antique are relevant. So include words that Google says are related, and words connected in meaning to your keywords.


Competition for keywords can be pretty tough some times. So really it’s a case of trying to give yourself an edge over your competitors, so there’s a couple of things to think about when selecting your keywords for your product descriptions:


  1. Do I use the highly competitive keywords and battle with lots of other people for the most popular keywords?
  2. Do I go for a much less competitive keyword and increase my chances of featuring higher in the search rankings for fewer searches?


Take a look at the image below for the Butlers Table related words ordered from low to high competition.

You have to ask yourself whether you could use any of these keywords for your product, without confusing or misleading your customer. I’d be asking the following questions:


  • Could I call it an antique table top? Could I simply say it has an `antique table top design`?
  • Would `dining room` bring me the right visitors? Why are these people searching for dining room?
  • Is it an `antique butler table`?


And so on.

This is where your experimentation may come in. Do you want a greater chance of getting fewer visits? Or a poorer chance of more visits?


Or could you use some of these low competition words within your content as a `theme`?


There are lots of questions to consider here, and no perfect answer. That’s why when it comes to Adword campaigns and optimisation for specific keywords, there’s often a degree of trial an error based and educated decisions and experience.

So what now?

Optimising your product descriptions could be as simple as making a few changes. Like calling it a Butlers Tray Table instead of Butlers Table. You might need to just make sure your keyword is in your URL, or that you’ve used the keyphrase a couple more times in your content.


So try it. Take a look at the performance of your pages so far. Make some changes. And monitor it.


If you’re too busy, just pick a selection of products to test it on. Monitor your results, and commit to more changes when you see the improvements.

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