Product descriptions are invaluable when generating a presence for brands and businesses online. Google adores good product descriptions, especially ones that are easy to find and understand when crawling a site.
The key is to writing good product descriptions that both Google and your customers will love is to use the right words while avoiding useless terms and phrases.
Words to avoid
As a general rule of thumb, there are words copywriters avoid when writing product descriptions (or any copy.) If you find yourself using any of these, seek an alternative, as they can make a brand appear less than intelligent.
Word to avoid include:
- Got, get, gotten—Don’t tell the customer to “get a jacket,” suggest they buy it.
- Actually, literally, honestly—No one uses these in copy, even in conversation. They’re gap fillers when people can’t think of something else to say.
- Stunning—Stunning is overused so much on social media that it’s now considered lazy to use it in real writing.
- Just—It can also make a brand sound a little dumb.
- Nice—This word makes brands appear lazy.
- Very, kind of, maybe—Need I say more?
- Sorry—This has negative connotations.
Psychology of product descriptions
Every consumer suffers from buyer’s guilt. Even before they’ve bought a product, they feel guilty for spending the money, especially if it’s a treat for themselves. In writing copy, we always try to be reassuring.
If you eradicate buyer’s guilt, you not only make a sale, though; you also leave the customer with feelings of happiness, which can prompt a speedy return.
How to eliminate buyer’s guilt
Begin by using product descriptions wisely:
- Let them know it’s a one-time only offer
- Make them aware that it’s an absolute bargain
- Compliment them on finding such a bargain (use the word “deal” or make them an offer for more luxurious brands)
- Make the product sound exclusive
- Detail the product as essential (e.g., “These shoes are an essential accessory for your summer wardrobe”)
- Make it sound as though the product will save them money (e.g., “With these shoes you will not have to buy another pair all summer”)
- Highlight multi-use (e.g., “This dress can be transformed from day to night with a simple brooch or belt and change of shoes”)
- Avoid using words such as “treat” (unless it’s a gift), “splash” and “expensive” (even if it is)
Using the example of a perfume someone really doesn’t need but may want: “This perfume sends out an exotic aroma that assaults the senses of all who are near. You deserve to match your personality to this sensual scent that is perfect for long summer evenings by the beach.”
Duplicate copy is a big no-no and can actually ruin a business.
To make sure you don’t accidentally use duplicate copy, sign up for Copyscape.com and paste in each product description. (I have no idea how people accidentally write the exact same copy that is used on another website, but have heard the excuse from my own writers, who think I’m a bit daft.) If Copyscape flags your copy as duplicate, rewrite it to be unique.
Keywords used to be used disgustingly—that’s the only word for it. When I first began as a copywriter over a decade ago, the stuffing of keywords was almost mandatory. I hated it. It made copy look weak and didn’t please the customer at all. There are still some people out there who think keyword stuffing conquers all. It doesn’t. And it can now hurt your rankings in search results.
This being said, keywords should still show up naturally in copy, as your customers need to find the products and will usually do so with a Google search. The title can sometimes be enough, but a good description can give the SEO efforts a boost.
Instead of simply copying the title all over again, take a look at the product yourself to see what features it has.
Black jersey ribbed jumper with dipped hem and bat-wing sleeves by French Connection, size 10
It is highly unlikely someone will search that entire phrase. More likely, they will be look for variations of:
- Black Jumper
- Top Batwing Sleeves
- Ribbed Jersey
- Dipped Hem Jumper
- French Connection Top
- Jumper Size 10
These are the words you need to put in the description, but not all at once.
It’s good practice to identify these before writing the description or creating the tags.
For example: “This black jumper is a size 10 French Connection top. Its bat-wing sleeves and ribbed jersey wool make it ideal for a balmy summer evening as it provides the perfect cover up while giving comfort against a sea breeze. Wear with a maxi skirt for a relaxed evening feel, or layer over another dipped hem top for a warmer look.”
Your product description could also be used as a meta description, making the first 100 characters valuable.
The other variations can be used as tags for the product, which is why this is a good practice to get into.
Setting the scene
Once you’ve mastered the art of keywords, SEO, and words that are a no go, it’s time to conjure up some images in the buyer’s mind. You don’t just want your buyer to buy a product, you want them to feel they are buying a lifestyle, as this is what will keep them coming back.
For example, it’s rarely executives who buy accessories for executives. Instead, it’s usually those who want to be executives. By making your customers feel as though they are achieving their dreams, or getting one step closer to the success they crave, you have a customer for life.
Consider Coca Cola: They don’t sell cola. They sell happiness.
Virgin America doesn’t sell plane tickets: They sell the jet-setting lifestyle.
The list goes on.
One way to do this is by mentioning an event, using adjectives, or pointing out a celebrity’s use of the product.
For example, “This leather tote would be ideal for a picnic on a grassy tor as you enjoy watching a game of polo.” Or, “The subtle floral fragrance of this luxury perfume is ideal for breezy days at the races or simple cocktails at home.”
Even if the purchaser has no plans for polo, buying the product will make them feel one step closer to that lifestyle.
Product descriptions in action
As the marketing director of BrandStreet, I’ve been writing the product descriptions for Marks and Spencer, Bench, Moss Bros, and Boots before launch. All of these tactics have been implemented, and we are seeing significant traffic generated from searches for our products.
Product descriptions are essential for e-commerce success. Adhering to Google’s guidelines, while stepping inside the customer’s head, is the perfect recipe for product description success.
I’d really enjoy if others working in e-commerce share some tips for how they’re using product descriptions in the comments below.