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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the reverse might be true online. Shoppers who purchase products from an ecommerce retailer want to know as much about that product as possible. Often, a photo alone won’t be enough. Plus, there’s the issue of search engines. If you want a product page to rank first in search engine results page, you have to pay attention to the way you describe that product with words and text. To affect rankings, you need SEO product descriptions.

SEO product descriptions help customers understand the product and whether meets their needs. They also ensure your products show up when someone searches for what your brand has to offer.

Why Should You Use SEO Product Descriptions?

The biggest reason to use SEO product descriptions is that doing so gives your product pages a fighting chance of getting on the top page of search engine results. Although search engine algorithms have come a long way, they still aren’t able to “see” images.

That means that if you’re selling a midi-length black skirt with an elastic waist and all you do is put a few pictures of the skirt on the product page, the page will look empty to a search engine. The search engine will think, “Nothing to see here!” And your midi-length black skirt won’t end up anywhere near the top of the results for a search.

On the other hand, if you’re selling a midi-length black skirt and you take the time to create a product description that reads something like:

This midi-length black skirt is perfect for warm spring days and hot summer nights. It floats to about mid-calf length, making it perfect for walking or dancing it. You’ll love the way the midi-length black skirt twirls when you spin. An elastic waist keeps the skirt comfy at all times.

Now the search engine can see that there’s a black skirt up for grabs. It has an idea of its length (midi), its color, and even the fact that it has an elastic waistband.

SEO product descriptions aren’t just for search engines, though. When you read the description above, you want to buy that skirt. It’s great for walking or dancing! It’s comfortable!

When creating SEO product descriptions, the trick is to keep the needs of your audience and the demands of the search engine front and center.

How to Create SEO Product Descriptions

Ready to write SEO product descriptions for your brand? Here’s what to do to make those descriptions appeal to both buyers and search engines.

Use long-tail keywords

A person who’s looking to buy a midi-length black skirt is most likely going to use that phrase or something similar when searching for that product on a search engine. If you want Google or other search engines to know that you’ve got a midi-length black skirt up for grabs, you need to include that phrase in the title of the product, and in the description itself.

Know your audience

You need buyer personas when writing SEO product descriptions. Although you might be focusing on the needs of the search engine, it’s imperative that you not forget the needs of your buyer/audience. Know who they are and what they want (for example, you might be a clothing company that sells comfy clothes to busy moms). When writing your description, focus on how your product solves your audience’s problems, and why they should buy it.

Be unique

Manufacturers will often include a description of the product when they sell it to you. Whatever you do, don’t just toss that description up on your website and call it a day. Why not? Because you need to be unique. Search engines see duplicate content, and often block that duplicate content from the search results. If you and every other company that’s selling the same product all use the manufacturer’s description, there’s no way any of you will rank.

Be specific

Online shopping is convenient, but it’s also known for producing a lot of fails. The last thing you want is for your customers to receive products that are nowhere near what they thought they ordered. To avoid disappointment and the hassle of returns, it’s important to be as specific as possible with your product descriptions. Specificity also helps your descriptions stand out to the search engines. For example, if you’re selling Hermes scarves, be sure to mention that, rather than the fact that you’ve got scarves for sale.

Highlight the features/benefits of the product

To take specificity one step further, it’s a good idea to really zero in on the features and benefits of what you’re selling. Again, doing so benefits the audience/customer and the search engines. If you’re selling clothing, give measurements for the garments, as well as fabric content and styling ideas. List the brand name, allow people to write and post reviews of the product, and give them an idea of how to use it (perhaps a black skirt pairs well with another product your company sells, for example).

Optimize images

Don’t ignore the images you use when you’re writing SEO product descriptions. Although Google and other search engines can’t “read” images, they can read the ALT text and titles of those images. Use long-tail keywords in the ALT text of the image, and in its title. If you’re selling a variety of similar products, make sure each image title and ALT text is 100 percent unique.

Examples of Stand-Out SEO Product Descriptions

What do great SEO product descriptions look like? Here are a few examples.

Zappos SEO Product Description

Zappos: Frye Terri Perf Oxford

Zappos has done a great deal to change how people approach shoe shopping online. The brand not only offers free shipping and returns to reduce risk to the consumer, it also provides detailed SEO product descriptions. The description for a pair of women’s shoes from the brand Frye is a good example. “Frye Terri Perf Oxford” is the long-tail keyword, and is used in the description itself. Zappos also goes on to describe the shoes’ material, style, and other details. There’s also a description of the size of the shoe, and reviews from customers.

Gardener's SEO Product Descriptions

Gardener’s: Crop Cage, 4′ by 8′

Gardener’s sells a crop cage designed to keep critters and pests away from your plants and crops. The description is specific, letting you know how tall the cage is, and the rest of its dimensions. It even highlights the benefits of the cage’s height (you can walk inside it without stooping). The description features the keyword “crop cage” several times, to help it rank on the top page of the search engine results. It also includes reviews of the product, and a how-to-use guide.

Method SEO Product Description

Method Glass + Surface Cleaner

Method takes a slightly different approach to SEO product descriptions. Its description for its glass and surface cleaner doesn’t rely on long-tail keywords (except in the title), but instead focuses on highlighting the benefits of using its product versus a conventional glass cleaner. You get full details on what’s in the glass + surface cleaner, and on what makes Method products different from the rest.

If you’re not getting much traction with your product pages, or if your ecommerce sales are lagging, it could be your product descriptions that are bringing you down. Add some pizzazz to your descriptions while focusing on what will get your pages to rank high on the results page, and you’re likely to notice an uptick in site visits — and eventually sales.