Portent Staff // Apr 28 2009
Any reputable Internet marketing company will tell you that you need product descriptions.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is, they aren’t difficult to write and they not only help sell the product, they can improve your Search Engine Optimization efforts. Who knew? Trouble is, most copywriters would rather write toilet plunger ads than tackle a thousand product descriptions. I can say this, because in my copy writing career I have written hundreds, maybe even thousands of them. You start the day with the wind behind your creative sales and by the time you finish product number 15, you feel like your brain was injected with Novocain. Use these five simple tips to better product descriptions and you’ll sail through your next big project. That’s a promise.
It’s tempting to start with cool products that get your creative juices flowing. But don’t start writing until you know which products need descriptions right away and which ones can wait. If you’re selling shoes and it’s spring, start with sandals, not winter boots. What are people searching for? What are your customers buying? Add content to those products first and save the rest for later.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you cannot copy and paste one description into a similar product’s description. Not even if the products look exactly the same. The Google Gods frown upon duplicate content. Don’t cry. When you feel carpal tunnel coming on and your brain turns into a puddle (usually by description 25), copy the text. Then, paste it into the next description and change a few words. The “bag” in description one becomes a “tote” in description two. Green is now lime, forest, or sage. Add in a fresh sentence or two and viola — a two-for-one product description deal and no duplicate content!
You don’t have to be a writer to tell the difference between copy that gracefully leaps off the page and copy that clumsily falls flat.
Bad: These dark black shoes are really nice in warm weather….
Who wants nice shoes? I don’t. I want bold, fashionable, chic. I want boots for dancing, slippers to lounge in, sandals for seaside strolls on autumn afternoons. Nice means boring. Never use the word “nice” in a product description. And while I’m on the subject, use the word “perfect,” sparingly. An editor (and rabid baseball fan) once told me that “perfect,” only applies to God and maybe Babe Ruth.
Better: Made for women on the move, these knockout heels by Fake Shoe Co. take you from the boardroom to happy hour in style.
Just like the “upside-down triangle” in journalism, there’s a formula to product descriptions. Use bullet points for all the important details: what comes with, what it’s made of, and how much it measures. Tempting as it may be, don’t show off your expansive vocabulary in your web content — save that for dinner parties. Write for your readers. Extract the word “elemental,” and replace with “simple.” You don’t want potential customers skipping off to the online dictionary; you want them to stay on the page and purchase!
Once you’re done crafting your description, go back through and pepper the content with keywords. And when I say pepper, I mean pepper. Use keywords just like you would pepper a salad – too much and the salad becomes inedible, too little and it doesn’t make much of a difference. Add in a keyword-rich link to a high-ranking category page. If you want your web site to rank for “high-heel shoes” find out what page on your website ranks for “high-heel shoes.” Then, link to that page using the words “high-heel shoes.” A link doesn’t have to be included in every product description, but a few good links can improve rankings. Keywords and links aren’t the most exciting part of content writing, but they help your rankings AND make you look like a SEO Super Star. So use them!
Always be accurate in your product descriptions. Never guesstimate a measurement or assume a pair of pants has pockets. Nothing angers customers more than when they receive a box of 11 cookies instead of the box of 12 cookies they ordered. Proofread and fact-check at least three times before you click “publish,” or “send.” Before you begin writing, get the product details from the manufacturer or client. If you don’t know something, ask. This simple step could save you from going back and rewriting 15 product descriptions because you wrote “real leather,” and the bags are “faux leather.” Oops.