Consumers scour the Internet to research products before making a purchase. Today's shoppers want information before they buy. Those retailers providing the information shoppers seek in a unique manner can enjoy significant advantages over other retailers competing for a shopper's purchase. And now with Google's MayDay Update wreaking havoc on long-tail rankings for some ecommerce stores, the time is right for getting your product descriptions ramped up.

Here's why you'll want to make sure each of your products has unique descriptions.

Your product pages can gain organic search engine visibility 

There's much to be said for having your products show up on the first page of Google or Yahoo. Organic search engine listings can bring valuable traffic directly to your product pages without the per-click cost of paid search. You can reach way beyond existing marketing campaigns to a whole new set of consumers who may have never heard of you or thought to shop on your site otherwise.

But search engines don't like duplicate content. They work hard to return useful results to searchers - and that means filtering out all the "me too" web pages containing the same content.

This puts you at a severe disadvantage if you're using the standard supplied copy for product descriptions - the same as every other retailer. Search engines are likely to favor the manufacturer's web site or a retailer that has added elements to customize its product page, while filtering out all the other sites showing the standard copy. Including yours.

Sometimes customizing your product descriptions is all that's needed to help your product pages show up in searches naturally. Just be aware of important keywords for each product - retain the keywords used in the original content and ensure other possible keywords are also addressed in the new copy. That way your product pages will not only enjoy the likelihood of ranking above those of other retailers for the same keywords in the generic product descriptions, but they can show up for a larger set of search terms, too.

Just one thing. Keep in mind that in order for your product descriptions to help with search engine visibility, the architecture of your product pages must support indexing of that content. Be sure to ask an SEO expert for a structural assessment when you're looking at your product pages.

Shoppers who land on your product pages are more likely to buy

Let's face it. Most manufacturer-supplied product descriptions are pretty bland. Well-written product descriptions can help increase the shopper's propensity to purchase from you. Studies have shown that consumers are reluctant to buy from sites that don't include enough information to answer all their questions. Your unique product descriptions can offer more details than competing sites, alleviating any concerns or unanswered questions the shopper would face elsewhere.

Even if you offer commodity products that normally compete on price, you can create perceived value with the information you provide. While some consumers may still use your site for research and then shop elsewhere to find the lowest price, you'll find that others assign a premium value to your web site, appreciating that they can research and buy at the same online store.

In addition, creating complete, unique descriptions for each of your products can also go a long way toward boosting credibility. Consumers are more likely to trust a web site that has invested in well-written, thorough product information.

Your online store builds more valuable brand equity 

You sell products provided by a lot of different manufacturers. Each vendor has its own format for the descriptions it provides, leaving your product pages a patchwork of different copy styles, occasional grammatical mishaps and generally very boring, incomplete information.

When you invest in unique descriptions for all the products you sell, you can match the tone to your own store brand. Customers experience a seamless voice from your home page through category landing pages right down to each product. You'll be more likely to build rapport with customers, which can create a point of differentiation for your store and support greater shopper loyalty.

Yes, it does take a significant investment to provide compelling product descriptions. But with the payoff of greater search engine visibility, higher conversions and enhanced brand equity, rewriting manufacturer product descriptions is well worth the investment. The retailers that recognize this are the ones creating a long-term advantage online.

Why not make your store the place to research and buy the products you sell, rather than just another choice among hundreds?

July 12, 2010

Stone Reuning is president and founder of SEO Advantage, Inc., an online marketing firm and website optimization company that helps businesses turn their websites into powerful lead and revenue generation tools.

Beginning with a focus on search engine optimization in 1999, SEO Advantage now brings a full multi-disciplinary approach to each client website. Clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services. Experts in SEO, social media optimization, online reputation management, and website conversions work hand-in-hand with small business owners and client marketing departments providing complete copywriting and creative web design support.

You'll find SEO Advantage referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as well as popular ebooks like The Small Business Blogging Blueprint.


Thank you, for such a clear and comprehensive post. Since I’ve been reading you, I feel I have begun to understand more about this topic. Please keep writing. I just hope people are listening to you and reading you.

A really helpful and insightful post - keep up the great work!

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