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How to write Product Descriptions for good SEO (Concise Webinar)
This Concise Webinar looks at where to use your keywords in your Product Catalog. This helps you improve the SEO for Product Pages of an ecommerce website, online store or product catalog.
Product Descriptions are obviously used on Product Detail pages, but there is another very important place to include Product information. A lot of people seem to miss this, so we cover it in the webinar.
We highlight a helpful and simple way to think about ‘Buyer Journeys’, and focus on Awareness raising and Preference building. We look at Problems. If you know your customers’ problems and use these in your product content, then you can dramatically help your SEO. We outline SEO Best Practices to optimise Product pages, how to write Product Descriptions and where to use your keywords to increase the likelihood of your products being found in Google.
This Concise Webinar is presented by Gareth Lane and Richard Keeves. It was recorded on October 8, 2019. The webinar notes and SEO Best Practice handouts for this session are available on request to all attendees, as well as clients and friends of Concise Digital.
Concise Webinars are free to attend. You can see the calendar of Upcoming Webinar events here.
Full Transcript: How to write Product Descriptions for good SEO (Concise Webinar)
Richard: Hello and welcome everybody to this concise webinar. Hopefully you can all hear me all right. My name is Richard Keeves. This webinar is how to write product descriptions. Quick intro. Me, I’m a director of Concise Digital and I’m joined also with Gareth who is the founding director. Gareth?
Gareth: This is the Gareth voice reporting for duty.
Richard: Just a quick bit about the concise webinars. These are meant to be 100% educational. We try to avoid waffle. They’re not sales pitches. This is about helping people, helping you understand concepts, learn things to apply in your own business and your websites. A couple of housekeeping things. This is being recorded hopefully and there is a chat facility so if you want to submit your questions use the chat so that we can go through those as we go and hopefully there’ll be some time at the end for live Q and A. Ripping into the topics some ‘fun facts’ in inverted commas because these are statistics they change depending on surveys, depending on how things move but looking at SEO and understanding about products and people when they search for products it’s really important to understand that a lot of people, in fact 85% of consumers according to Salesforce conduct online research before they make a purchase online. 95% read reviews but when people come to buy and they go into a website, the average 2.86% of e-commerce website visits convert into a purchase. A lot of people are researching, a lot of people are looking not many of those people are buying. When they do get in and start shopping 69% of shoppers abandon the process but here’s the good news. When people start doing Google searches according to Jumpshot, 35% of these Google product searches turn into transactions within five days. The average is 20 days. When somebody starts a product search and then moves on to purchase the average time is 20 days.
What does that tell us? Some people put that in the perspective of talking about funnels and sales funnels. Funnels are okay. It’s an interesting way of looking at things. Certainly it’s an interesting way of looking at statistics and understanding conversion rates but it’s a very macro view. When you’re looking at SEO a macro view is not so helpful. What I think are better to look at and what we found over the years better to look at is take a micro view and understand what is going on in the buyer’s journey, the pathway that the buyer has in order to make a purchase. Typically they start off researching depending on where they’re coming in but they start off in their journey and it is intentionally on this diagram it’s a meandering journey. Sometimes it can be direct but it’s a meandering journey that involves a lot of research often while they build up awareness, go through a process of evaluating products and then get to the point of saying okay, I think I’m ready to buy, I think I know what I want and then hopefully they move in to buy it.
In a relationship marketing process what you could interpret this to be is moving from different stages. First stage being ignorance where they actually don’t know. They don’t know necessarily about your business. They don’t necessarily know about your products. They don’t necessarily know about the brands you handle. They don’t even necessarily know even what it is that they’re looking for but they may have a problem. They then start looking and develop some awareness of something. They then over time develop a preference and then some go on to purchase.
When we talk about raising awareness and building preference there are lots of factors that get into it. This all ties into SEO. This is about understanding that people need to be aware and need to build a preference for your business and the brands that you handle, the products in your product range and the specific sort of product that may meet your needs. It’s a matching process. The customer typically has a problem that they’re looking to solve. They may have some wants. They have some needs. They have some expectations and they’re looking to find a solution or a product that will fit in with all of that. They then obviously need to have the ability and the willingness to pay and then they need to trust that it’s all going to happen. There’s a lot to get right and it takes time to build. When you’re just thinking about going in, building SEO for a quick sale you can miss out on a lot of the factors that involve leading up to the sale. It’s a really important thing to understand that from a product perspective SEO is never just about the product.
Coming back to the buyer’s journey with the different searching at different stages there’s different search intent. In the previous webinar we ran a few weeks ago we talked about keywords and how to find them, we talked about search intent. At different stages in the journey the buyer has different intent. Here’s an example. Let’s just imagine that we’re looking to get a new lawnmower. Hopefully you can see this the search that we did here. What type of lawnmower is best and what came up in the search results for Google are a whole bunch of things that Google thinks will answer the question about what type of lawnmower is best including an article by Choice about how to buy the best lawnmower and from Bunnings choosing a lawnmower that is right for you. There’s a bunch of things but this is about what type of lawnmower is best. Then if I was to move in to saying I’m doing a research and now I’m starting to understand that there are different sorts of lawnmowers and some are cordless and are petrols, some are electric. Then I thought I think I want a cordless and then I think I want maybe a Ryobi, that’s quite good. I think the Victor, that is quite good. Then I might just search to help my evaluation process saying let’s compare this two. Then you get a different set of results. You get some videos to help you understand what is going on and you also get comparison charts and buyer’s guides. All of this is before I’ve actually bought a product.
I might then say okay, I think I’m ready to buy. I think that I like this Ryobi 36-Volt cordless mower. That looks pretty cool. Then I may go and search for the best price. That is a typical search best price or I may see I want to buy one near me in which case Google will then deliver different results. Adding near me in there shows maps. By now we use Google a lot. Most of us understand that these are some of the things that Google can do but when it comes to your own SEO it’s really important to be objective about that and to say, in order for my customers to understand what is going on and to find the products in our system we then need to make sure we’re addressing the points. If I then went on to the landing page we can then see that this landing page was also coming up in the search results and it’s got a bunch of keyword elements in the page that has helped Google present this as the page that addresses the questions.
What is going on here? There are whole bunch of different buyers who have different intent, different stages in the buying process and what they have really are different problems. From an SEO perspective the best thing that we can focus on is to understand the problems at the different stages, turn those problems into questions and then answer the questions. You don’t have to create all the content yourself to answer the questions. You can link in to different videos. You can link to different content on site. You can embed people’s videos in your site if you can, if you want to for some reason. You can add a whole bunch of different things and you can link out to different information but if people have got problems you need to turn those problems into questions and then answer the questions. When it comes to writing content it’s really important to write for the buyers and not for Google. Don’t write for Google. Write for the buyers. Make sure that the content is in your style and it’s unique. Make sure that it’s engaging and make sure it’s valuable. Also people often don’t read big blocks of content but they scan it. You need to make sure that the product content that you have developed is easily scannable so that people can then focus in on the bits that are important to them.
The other primary thing when it comes to content and product description is to understand that it’s not just a little name on the product that is important it’s about understanding the features of the product, it’s about understanding the advantages and even more importantly it’s about understanding the benefits that those features and advantages give the customer. One of the acronym that we work with here is the FABs. What do we need to focus on? Focus on the FABs, features, advantages and benefits. Turn those benefits into credible, believable feelings about how the product can improve the buyer’s life. The fascinating thing here is at least I reckon it’s fascinating ifs if you write content for the buyers that actually is what Google is wanting as well. Google wants fresh, valuable, relevant, helpful content. That is what Google is looking for. If you write for the buyers and deliver on that then you’re actually writing for Google as well because that is what Google wants.
Moving into products. Where we use descriptions is not just on the product page or at least where you can work with can work with product descriptions is not just on the product page. It can also be on the product list page which may be the category page, it may be the sub category page, it could be a collection, it could be search results pages. What some people do is they just present images on their category pages as if the image is going to sell. Sometimes the image does sell but having a bit of extra content on there actually helps as well. One important tip when you’re looking at product descriptions is to include SEO friendly text and other helpful stuff whatever that may be on the product list pages so that the sort of information you can use. You can use keywords that define the category. Keywords that define the range or whatever it may be for that particular product list to include the title, URL, bread crumb navigation is really important. Bread crumb navigation is important not just for SEO but because it helps usability.
One thing that Google will rank you highly for in SEO is if people stay on your website, if they’re engaged on your website, they’re there longer, Google thinks they’re getting better value for the click that got them there and therefore Google will rank you higher as a result of your website being more engaging. It’s a fascinating thing. It’s not just about keyword. It’s about making your site works and this is making it engaging. Not only that if you can give buttons to click on the way through Google will actually think that people are using the sight and Google will rank you higher there as well, this whole user experience. There’s lots of places where you can use your keywords.
By the way, this information that is in this presentation is available as webinar handout note for you. Afterwards you just send us an email if you want. Please makes notes. Make whatever notes that you want but we’re happy to provide this to you as well. That is for product list pages.
The next thing is the product detail pages. Typically they show product information and a whole bunch of other things and where to use the keywords. Make sure that the keywords are in your URL, in the product page title with a unique URL, in the bread crumbs and when you look at the title there are some things to think about how to structure titles. There’s never a right or wrong answer for everybody, different websites and different businesses and different customer bases search in different ways but there are some things that are good and there are some things that are not so good. Try to focus on how people are searching for your product and then set up the titles on the pages to address how people are searching. Gareth is going to talk a bit about that in a minute when he does a little demo. How you structure things is really important. Where to use keywords and also not just keywords but the variations of the keywords in the product page you can use them in the headline total, in the description, don’t overuse. Make sure that the use of them is natural and makes sense for the readers. Use keywords in images, use keywords in video and also all of the other content that you can embed and include as part of the product page. These are often located in tabs and there’s a whole bunch of things that you can include in there which helps you deliver on the research that people want to do before they make a purchase. You’re being the helpful guy when people are looking and doing their research online.
There’s a bunch of other tips and these are also in a document that we’re happy to send you. We try to keep this webinar as concise but there are a lot of things here. Each of these things are headers and there’s points underneath these in the document. One that I did want to talk about right now though is about when you have products in your product catalog and you have zero stock quantity. Sometimes some people and you’ll even find stuff on the web that says if you’re out of stock then don’t show the product because Google will sort of rank you down because it will be a bad experience. We take the different view. If you’re temporarily out of stock continue to display the product but make sure that the page is engaging and demonstrates the quality and consistency of the site. Give people a way of seeing when the stock is going to be back in. Give them a form to fill out. Give them a button to click. Give them something in order to take some actions so that Google knows that wasn’t a dead search that Google delivered. If a product is permanently unavailable then delete it and move on. Now Gareth, over to you to run through some examples.
Gareth: Just sharing my screen. Just a little check. You can see it okay. This is a particularly good example I came across the other day. It’s a pool cleaner and Zodiac is the brand name and MX6 is the model number. Zodiac make two very similar pool cleaners. One is an MX6, one is an MX8. This is a great example of an upsell message where I may have been familiar with the MX6 but they’re recommending me the MX8 and they’re taking me to a link. While this is a paid add the concept still applies for product descriptions and or ads. If this for example if it wasn’t an ad could take you to a blog article or an information page which explains the difference between the MX6 and MX8. As Rich was saying I may be in my research phase of my journey. I’m not quite ready to buy yet so I’m very likely to click on that ad.
The following one under here is definitely aimed at a bargain hunter by saying this is exactly what you’ve typed in Zodiac MX6 and we’re offering them at 30% recommended retail price. If I’m ready to buy I’m likely to click that one. Down under here in the organic listings there’s a site that is showing reviews. Because I haven’t used a word such as buy or best price Google’s bot is sending me to a site that is not selling the product but is doing a comparison. You would think that Zodiac the manufacturer would rank first but because of the way that I have searched Google has put a review site up top. It’s really important to consider how users are browsing. Also Google has suggested some reviews with some videos here as well. If you have a product like that that you can do a review or a video guide on then that is a really good way of being able to jump top of the list because it’s informational and useful.
Another one of Richard’s points that he mentioned is how you label product name. This particular example here of laser distance measurers. They’re very dramatically priced from $85 to $800. They’re all laser distance measurers but the key difference between them is how far they measure. This business has been very smart by putting in the key differentiator right up front. Bosch is the brand name, 25 meters is the key attribute and then the laser distance measurer and then the product code on the end. What they didn’t do was go Bosch GLM 25 laser distance measurer which doesn’t mean anything to standard Joe Blokes but instead they used the bit that makes the most difference. For example the (0:19:20.8) 200 meter laser distance measurer you can see why it’s $799 because it will do 200 meter distance versus 25 meters for $85. It allows the consumer to have a really good overview of what they are looking for quickly which also help the bot understand. If you want to start working on this yourself then it’s a good way of looking at what your top pages are by following the 80-20 rule. Like most businesses 80% of your revenue probably comes from 20% of your products or 20% of your customers so it would be worth having a look at your Google analytics.
I’ve just done a very quick mock-up of where to find this information in Google analytics. If you go to behaviour, site content and then all pages you will find a very lovely list of all of the pages of your website sorted in order of those that you have viewed the most. They’re going to be the easiest ones to rank better and rewrite descriptions for so it gives you a really nice ordered list of the ones that you can focus on and then you make sure that they’re optimized correctly. Back to you Richard.
Richard: Moving on. As Gareth just mentioned, one of the questions we get is it’s a big job. Where do you start? Gareth just mentioned about the Pareto Principle, the 80-20 rule. There are some products that are more important than others. That’s a good place to start. There are some pages on the website that are more important than others and that’s another place to start. You can focus in on some of the key pages and maybe your top 10 products and your top three product categories and you start on those. You don’t try and do everything at once. It’s impossible but pick off the ones that are important or you can pick on the top skews to then say okay, let’s make sure that we are optimising for the ones that are the most important.
We’re almost right on time. This has been a bit of a run through and I guess I’m apologizing because I went through it very quickly but there’s a lot to cover. We’re not trying to make it complicated. There are a lot more tips that we can provide you in the handout. Please email. It’s free. There’s no strings. We won’t even harass you. We don’t do that but if you do have any questions now is a great time to ask them in the chat or in the questions or we’ll wrap up.
Gareth: We bored everyone to death today Richard. There’s so much useful information that no one has a question.
Richard: Does anyone have any?
Gareth: We can have a coffee. Here they come. When you are optimising existing website do you then use redirects? Wonderful question. What Kirsten is talking about is if I was edit a page URL which is commonly automatically linked to the product name or the product title then there is a possibility that that URL cannot get re-indexed in Google in the correct way and the way you get around that is you use what is called a 301 redirect from original URL to the new URL. Excuse all the technical jargon there but if you have changed a URL then you want to make sure that you do something called a 301 redirect. If you don’t know how to do one of those it is worth you paying someone like us to do it properly because if you get it wrong you can find that your rankings that you did have drop of substantially.
Richard: Just on that, the question is when you’re optimising existing websites do you use redirects? I think Gareth’s point there is you do if you’re creating another page with a different URL but if you are just optimising the same page you don’t need to put a redirect in.
Gareth: As long as the URL doesn’t change you don’t need in a new URL. Joe question, does using Google ads have any impact on your organic SEO? It’s a funny question that one because I, for a long time, have personally believed that it does but there’s no proof that suggests otherwise. I did learn today that Google has just hit the $100 billion in US annual revenue mark. The only place that that revenue comes from is Google ads and any way on the ad network. If I was that business I’d be wanting to do whatever I could to protect that level of revenue. What is interesting is 50% of the Google ad calculation is based on the same idea of how organic SEO works. While doing ads probably won’t affect your Google organic ranks, if you follow the concepts in Google ads then you will find your organic results will improve just because 50% of the calculation to do with quality score is a 100% of how the relevancy factor works.
Richard: We ran a webinar a few weeks ago on quality scores. One of the things with quality scores is it looks at the experience on the landing page, the click through rate and the relevance of the whole experience when determining quality scores for Google ads. As Gareth was just saying it’s not necessarily that Google says if you’re paying for ads we’re going to rank you higher. It’s more than if you’re paying for ads and doing a good job with it you’re probably doing the right things on your website in order for the ads to work well. As a result those pages are going to rank nicely organically as well.
The other perspective on it too is when someone is scrolling through the search engine results pages and they see an ad for you at the top even if they don’t click on that ad, if they scroll down and they then see you in the top 10 on that first page there is this awareness that they already have of you because they saw the ad at the top and they then repeat that, I’ve heard of that business before. You heard it because you saw it a big higher up the page. I’ve heard of that business before. I’ll click on that. There’s a bit of a double effect when people see your name more often they’re more likely to click on it if you’re delivering what it is that they want.
Gareth: Another question, you did some research on this Richard. Since Google displays excerpts in organic searches what should you highlight in that limited area? Should you always customise this or just let it pull from a content naturally?
Richard: Google is pretty clever at pulling things naturally but it’s always better to tell Google what you want to have displayed which is why it’s always better to write a meta description for a page rather than let Google make up a meta description. Having said that Google is quite good at including elements from searches in the description that shows a snippet on the search results page. There’s probably some arguments you could mount either way but generally you’re better off to tell Google what to display rather than to let Google to sort of make its own call on that because you’re able to write it in a way that is going to entice people rather than just hope for the best. It’s always better to take control and to be in control of your own destiny as a general rule.
Gareth: What is wrong with my keywords if my product is not listed in the first page? I can answer that. That is a very complex or very simple question to answer. Google is trying to put a list of results that the user wants to click on. It’s a concept of relevancy. What Google is trying to do is make sure that when the customer Google’s something they find what they want. If you’re finding that your product is not listed on the first page then it means that Google doesn’t see your website as important for that term. You need to go about the exercise of optimising your website and your relevancy factors in order to make sure that the bot sees your site as important and relevant for those terms. It’s quite a lot to do that.
Richard: It’s also not just necessarily your keywords. Your keywords may be fine but your site may suck. Sorry (0:28:34.3) blunt but your keywords may be fine but Google may think that your site is not authoritative enough or there may just be far more sites that have more authority within Google, more credibility, more authority within Google’s mind that it then wants to place ahead of what your site has. It’s not necessarily a reflection on your keywords although it could be. It could be about the content. It could be about the experience people have. It could be about how Google’s been tracking your website and is not happy with how things have been presented. You may have a high bounce rate and Google says I’m not going to send people there because it’s got a high bounce rate but really there is a lot to get right. On page SEO which product descriptions are an example are just one of the factors. There are off page or off site SEO factors which really goes to making sure that your website is seen by Google as credible and authoritative. We’re not trying to present this as an easy answer. That is why we’re doing this in modules so we can pick off different topics based on what people said they wanted and what is important and then really just making sure. There is a heck of a lot to it.
Gareth: All right, I believe that’s it for questions.
Richard: Sorry, I may not have answered your question totally brilliantly there but the point is there’s just a lot to get right. If you’ve got any other questions please feel free to ask, phone or email and we’re happy to help. The next webinars that are coming up just before we wrap up the next one is in approximately two weeks and it’s called How to Setup Goals in Google Analytics. Gareth is going to be running that one primarily. Then after that the next one two weeks after on the Thursday is about Google Shopping. Lots of people are getting lots of success with Google Shopping. Google is getting lots of success with Google Shopping. This is a growing area that it’s really important to understand. This webinar is about what is it, how does it work and is it for you? That’s it for the upcoming webinar. Thanks very much for participating in this one. If you want any more help please get in touch. Thanks again, Gareth.
Gareth: Thank you. Just if anyone has any ideas or thinks they would like to cover feel free to send either Rich or myself an email. The two of us are a bank of knowledge. We generally know what we’re talking about. If you’ve got a topic that you want us to cover in a future webinar please let us know.
Richard: Plus we research this heavily as well and with the latest stuff. Thanks very much guys. All the best. Thank you. Enjoy your day.
END OF TRANSCRIPT: How to write Product Descriptions for good SEO