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Product Descriptions Best Practices

It's been proven that one of the most effective ways to get more traffic and up your conversion rate is to spend time creating descriptive, complete product descriptions that cater to your shoppers' fantasies of owning the product. The tips here will position your store and products up for success.


Know Your Shopper

Either by experience or research, you should know what kind of person typically purchases your products. Take your potential buyers’ demographic and how they identify into consideration when writing your descriptions.

Include as much technical detail about your product that your established demographic would want - things like size, weight, features and benefits.

Depending on who your shoppers are and what your product is, you may need to go further with an in-depth explanation or visual of how your product or service works.

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Kore Essentials uses this simple graphic to visually explain in a few seconds what would take perhaps a full minute to read.

Focus on where your products are used. Is it used indoors or outdoors? Is it meant for home or the office? Similarly, consider when your product is used. Is it something you use in the morning or at night? Is it seasonal, like Halloween costumes? Consider the geographic location (e.g. Southwest United States, Europe, tropical countries) of where the product is most popular.

Point out things that differentiate your products and brand from your competitor. What makes you the superior choice? Maybe your products are "Made in the USA", or maybe some of your sales benefit a not-for-profit charitable organization.


Develop Your Voice

Product descriptions written with a characteristic voice or recognizable tone is more interesting than a straight-forward, pragmatic explanation of what the product is or does. Consider the demographic of your shoppers and how your voice and tone relate to your brand. Are you the regal authority in your market, or the quirky start-up?

Have a look at brands like Man Crates, ThinkGeek and ModCloth, and you'll see how their product descriptions speak to their respective audiences. J. Peterman's descriptions were so fantastical that the TV show Seinfeld even talked about it! It may not work for everyone, but it's just something to keep in mind.

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Man Crate’s opening description of their Grill Master Crate demonstrates good tone and voice for the audience the product is marketed to.

Make Your Description Easy to Read

When a visitor first loads a page, they are usually already visually scanning it for the specific information they want. Remember, the longer a user has to look for what they want on a page, the more likely it is they are going to leave.

There are a few best practices you can utilize to help your shopper find what they're looking for:

  • Use a large, clear typeface - shoot for readability over style.
  • Use subheadings to catch the eye of shoppers scanning the page.
  • Bullet pointed lists (like this one) make it easier to digest serialized content, like features, benefits and specifications.
  • Provide photo or video descriptions for shoppers who don't like to read.
  • Use white space (or negative space). Jumbled or compact content is more difficult to scan.

Optimize for Search Engines

Following all of the above prescribed practices will prime your product descriptions to already be optimized for search engine traffic. Here are some of the last things to consider when finalizing your product descriptions.

Be sure to keep your descriptions unique if you have very similar products. If the only difference between two hats is the color, then find other creative ways to differentiate between them.

Orange collar description is the exact same as the blue collar description.

Blue collar description is the exact same as the orange collar.

Don’t use the same exact description for more than one product - it will be considered duplicate content, which search engines rank lower.

If two products have essentially the same description verbatim, search engines see this as duplicate content, and one or both products could suffer in search engine ranking. To that end, if you have a default description provided by a manufacturer or distributor, be sure to change them to be unique, or else you’ll be no more attractive to shoppers than the competition using the same descriptions.

If you have an existing store with BigCommerce, this is a simple issue to identify and fix. Simply export your products to a CSV file, then use some conditional formatting to find duplicate data. There also online services, like Siteliner, who can identify duplicate content on your site.

If you use photos or graphics in your descriptions, be sure to fill in their alt tag information (in BigCommerce we call them "image descriptions").

Image descriptions help search engines further identify the content on the page (since they can't actually "see" them like we do), and also provides another means for your products to be found via searchers performing image queries for your products.

Generally, you'll want your image descriptions to be brief. Anything longer than 15 words should be considered to be included in just your normal content.

In BigCommerce, we provide a WYSIWYG editor to create product descriptions. When adding an image, switch to the Appearance tab to add an Image Description (alt tag) to your image.

Switch to the Appearance tab in the WYSIWYG editor to add image descriptions (alt tags).

You can also add an image description when you add a product image by switching to the Images & Videos tab.

Switch to the Images & Videos tab when adding product information to add image descriptions (alt tags).

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