You’re confident about your storefront on-site performance. Your site speed score is top notch, your images are professionally shot, and a recent iteration of testing has taken your ecommerce conversion rate optimization to a new level.
Unfortunately, even if your product descriptions are optimized to sell, that fact alone may not be enough to impact the bottom line.
After all, no one can buy your products if they can’t find them.
And, if you’re not number one in search… you might as well not exist. The average click-through rate (CTR) for position one is 39.2%, according to Advanced Web Ranking, with position two bringing in an average CTR of 15.45%.
In this article, you’ll learn seven tips to optimize your search engine optimization (SEO) for product descriptions and earn better rankings for your ecommerce store.
Get the latest ecommerce trends, insights and resources straight to your inbox
By submitting this form, you agree to receive promotional messages from Shopify. Unsubscribe any time by clicking the link in our emails.
Table of Contents
- What are SEO product descriptions?
- Benefits of SEO-friendly product descriptions
- 7 tips for writing SEO-friendly product descriptions
- Good product descriptions are worth the hard work
What are SEO product descriptions?
SEO product descriptions help ecommerce websites show up better in search engines like Google. They are used on websites that sell products online, like clothes or toys, and include special words and phrases that people might use when they’re searching for those things online.
Benefits of SEO-friendly product descriptions
Improved search engine ranking
You can rank higher for relevant keywords by including them in your product descriptions. It can help drive organic traffic to your website and make your products more visible in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Enhanced user experience
Well-written, informative product descriptions can provide value to potential customers and improve their overall experience on your ecommerce site. Online trust and credibility can help increase conversions.
A detailed, accurate, and engaging description of your products can persuade potential customers to buy. Good copywriting can also help you differentiate your products from the competition.
7 tips for writing SEO-friendly product descriptions
- Write for buyers, not bots
- Major on benefits, include features
- Target the right SEO product keywords
- Strategically place keywords in your copy
- Let buyer awareness drive length
- Create a clear call to action
- Create unique product descriptions for each PDP
1. Write for buyers, not bots
The number one rule for good ecommerce SEO any time, anywhere, is to write for people first … not the search engine web crawlers.
Here’s why: What’s good for your target audience is good for search engines, because their main concern is usability.
The whole point of organic search is to help users find exactly what they’re looking for. If your own product descriptions align with this goal, you’re going to please Google Search algorithms and rank well.
Sure, you can use manufacturer’s descriptions. But they won’t be able to nail your brand voice and audience pain points like you can.
When writing your descriptions, always ask yourself:
Does this help the online buyer? Does it inform them, enlighten them, and, ultimately, help them make a purchase decision?
If you start from square one using this approach, you’re already on the ideal path to writing SEO-optimized product descriptions.
2. Major on benefits, include features
You cannot write an informative, accurate description of a product unless you understand that product inside out. Vague knowledge of a product will lead to an equally vague description, one that is unhelpful for your online buyers as well as the search engines.
Here’s a good example. Does this writer know anything about the winter boots they’re describing?
This description could be referring to any winter boots. It doesn’t connect to the buyer’s information need. It’s heavy on features, but light on benefits.
You may be jazzed about your products’ features and ready to shout them from the rooftops, but all your buyers care about are the benefits.
Here’s the difference:
Features are impersonal. Features describe what a product can do, what it looks like, or how it works without relating those things to the buyer. Features are great, but why should the buyer care?
Let’s return to the above winter boots for an example of an entirely features-driven product description:
“The Cougar Creek Boots Feature A Canvas Upper With A Round Toe. The Man-made Outsole Lends Lasting Traction And Wear.”
This description tells you what materials the boots are made of. What it does not tell you is how boots made of those materials will improve your life beyond “lasting traction and wear.”
Even that little bit tells us next-to-nothing.
- Will they stand up to getting wet?
- Lasting traction and wear as compared to what?
- Will these boots get me through harsh winter seasons?
Even if these boots could get you through a week living in a sub-zero arctic tundra, we’d never know. So, what’s a better way to inform online buyers and get them to linger on your product page?
Benefits describe how product features will work for the buyer. Benefits address exactly how your product will improve their lives.
Describing benefits is far more helpful for certain demographics than listing features. Adding product benefits makes your description relevant to the buyer, and that makes it better for SEO.
A good, benefits-driven description looks like this:
It not only mentions features (“a waterproof rubber foot” and “a soft fabric lining”), it also tells you how you will benefit from them (the rubber “blocks moisture from getting in” and the fabric lining “ensures toasty warmth and comfort”).
Note how quickly you get a clear picture of what it would be like to wear these boots when you read this description. It covers all the main points that matter to a buyer in two sentences.
When you stick to the benefits of your products in your descriptions, your persuasive power and SEO strategy will be equally as effective.
3. Target the right SEO product keywords
Your job of correctly optimizing SEO for product descriptions must include using the right keywords. This will help search engines understand your pages, which will help internet searchers find what you’re selling.
So, how do you do the right keyword research?
It’s all about narrowing down to the right phrase, and it all starts with a solid keyword tool. SEMrush is a great option, as is KWFinder or Moz Keyword Explorer. These tools let you research specific keywords and give you valuable data about factors like:
- Search volume (how many people are searching for a given keyword)
- Keyword difficulty (how hard it will be to rank for a given keyword)
- Related terms you can potentially use in your content (e.g., long tail keywords)
The right keywords will almost always fall into that last category, known as long tail keywords. Why? Because the longer the search query the higher a buyer’s intent of purchase. You should use this type because they have a higher conversion value—they lead to more sales.
For example, let’s say we’re selling a product that fits the general definition of “face oil.”
To narrow down our keyword, we should consider our ingredients (or, substitute the benefits and features, if we have a retail product).
If we add our top ingredient for face oil, we might identify something truly unique, like squalene oil. (For inquiring minds, squalene is a substance found in shark liver oil, known for anti-cancer and skin-protecting effects.)
Let’s say our product specifically also has Vitamin C and rose oil in it. We can add more key ingredients, and get a targeted phrase: squalene vitamin C rose oil.
Check out how the competition numbers go down when we narrow down our keywords (screenshots from Semrush).
Starting with “face oil,” we’re up against some fairly big sites: in the top results are pages from Ulta and Sephora, and we’re looking at numbers on the keyword difficulty scale that score past 50 out of 100. Possible, but by no means easy.
But, just by adding “vitamin c rose” to our product, “face oil,” we can identify an easier keyword to rank for:
By narrowing down, we’re competing with less big names to win first-page placement for our keyword ranking.
Check out how the brand Biossance—a Shopify Plus merchant—uses this exact keyword phrase for its product, a fantastic example of how to “SEO” your product descriptions.
4. Strategically place keywords in your copy
Once you have some good keywords in hand, you can strategically place them in your product descriptions.
Avoid keyword stuffing. This is easy to do in short descriptions (300 words or less). To avoid it, use your focus keyword no more than a few times:
- Once in the page’s URL
- Once in the product description title
- Once or twice in the body copy
- Once in the alt image tag
Improve your SEO and include your keyword in your link text, but only if it meshes with the product title.
Let’s return to the Biossance facial oil for a good example of how to use keywords in your product descriptions.
Throughout this product description, the keyword “squalane vitamin C rose oil” is used:
- Once in the URL
- Once in the page title and H1
- Once in the image alt=”Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil”
- And sparingly in the body copy
This shortlist above is all you need to rank (and to avoid penalization for repeating your keyword ad nauseam).
5. Let buyer awareness drive length
Your process of optimizing SEO for product descriptions also needs to include writing at the right length for good search engine results.
Unfortunately, there is no set length that works for every product. Instead, best practices demand that you base the length of your descriptions on what your audience needs.
And, each buyer persona will differ based on their level of awareness.
Low buyer awareness
Online buyers with low awareness of your product will need more convincing—they have no idea who you are, your product specs, or that they have a need for it. This means you have to describe your product thoroughly to bring them to the level of awareness needed for a sale.
The example we looked at above from Biossance thoroughly addresses buyers, even those at a low awareness level.
The first part is a general summary, and—below that—there are tabs the user can click on to learn more about the details, ingredients, how to use, and FAQs. This is a fantastic way to lay out product copy in a way that is both user-friendly and informative.
Biossance also showcases customer reviews for buyers to check out and see if its the right product for them.
High buyer awareness
On the other end of the spectrum, online buyers with high awareness are already fully cognizant of both the product and why they need it. They require far less convincing to reach for their wallets, so you’ll need less copy to do it.
Here’s an example of a product description for a simple t-shirt from Madewell that addresses buyers with a high-awareness level:
Everybody knows what a t-shirt is and what it’s for. Most buyers have a high awareness level about this staple. We don’t need a novel-length description to explain it. Just a brief paragraph and key bullet points.
Of course, awareness can be features-dependent, too.
Think about selling everyday cotton t-shirts, for instance, like the one described above. Everybody knows what they are, what they’re used for, and how to care for them. You don’t need to explain their purpose or describe their special features in detail.
But, what about organic cotton t-shirts? What about hand-sewn t-shirts with embroidered details? Or designer t-shirts made from high-end fabric?
As you can see, as soon as the special features of a product increase, the need for a longer description grows, too.
This is why your product description length for SEO depends on your particular targets, their level of product awareness, and the type of products you sell.
6. Create a clear call to action (CTA)
Your call to action (CTA) should come after the product description is written. CTAs help shoppers move seamlessly through their journey, from product browse to checkout. They should be clear and engaging, and include an action you want the customer to take.
Create ecommerce product pages with CTA’s like “Add to Cart” or “Add to Bag.” Many retailers also use a secondary “Add to Wishlist” CTA to let shoppers save desired products to their account, as seen in the Culture Kings example below.
7. Create unique product descriptions for each PDP
Another must for good SEO is to avoid duplicate content at all costs.
In general, creating similar descriptions for all the products in your online store can cause problems for search engines trying to index your pages.
When you have product descriptions that look like near-duplicates, search engines don’t know what to do with them. This can drive down visibility for all of your pages.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, each of your product descriptions needs to be unique, including specific product titles.
If you can’t write a unique product description for certain pages right away (because of sheer volume, for instance), add a “no index” meta tag to those pages.
This tells search engines to essentially skip the page.
It’s better to keep your product descriptions off Google’s radar rather than risk getting docked for spammy-looking behavior. (The search engines can penalize you for posting hundreds of pages that look like near-duplicates.)
Once you can get around to adding unique content to those pages, go ahead and remove the “no index” tag.
Good product descriptions are worth the hard work
There’s no doubt about it: SEO for product descriptions can be tricky for retailers.
The key is to think of the online buyer’s information needs first and foremost. Then, follow best practices to make sure your digital marketing skills will net the attention of search engines.
That’s the simple rule of thumb for writing winning product descriptions that do their job without a hitch.
SEO Product Descriptions FAQ
How do I add SEO to my product description?
To optimize a product page for search, some of the main elements you’ll need are a descriptive heading, title tag, and meta description, a unique product description, high quality product images with descriptive alt text, and a human-readable URL structure.
How long should a product description be SEO?
They should be as long as necessary to comprehensively describe the product. Meta descriptions on product pages, however, should be 160 characters or less if you don’t want Google to truncate them.
What should I write for my product description?
Your product description should provide a valuable and engaging experience for your reader that explains the product's primary features, benefits, and pricing. It should also include keywords to ensure Google and other search engines can find them.