Using the right search engine optimization (SEO) strategies in product copy can drive traffic to your ecommerce business’ product pages and entice buyers to convert. But how do you make your brand’s shiny swag stand out in a digital space crowded with it? You do it by effectively optimizing your product description pages—not only to drive traffic to your website, but also to improve conversion rates on your product pages and to boost your brand. If you don’t have the luxury of writing and optimizing new product copy before you push it live, fret not: In this post we’ll demystify the process of optimizing existing product copy and demonstrate the importance of it for your ecomm business, whether you do it yourself or hire an agency to help.
If you have an in-house copy team who have written your live product copy, great—start by simply identifying the best target keywords for each product, including a modifier or two that could give the product a leg up in the search results. Once you do that, nudging the keywords into the existing product copy is the basic exercise that follows. We’ll show you how in three steps.
1 | Identify Target Keywords for Each Product
Example Product: Textured Quarter-Zip Sweater
All the terms in the existing product name above are plausible primary keywords—and 9 times out of 10 you’ll want to include your product name in the medium-tail target keyword you settle on—but adding a single modifier might help this product’s ranking in the search engine results page (SERP).
You have multiple options for keyword identification: Use Google Ads, SEMrush, Moz, or another keyword planner tool if you have access to one; do your SEO research without buying any software or subscribing to a service, using Google’s autocomplete feature; or use a free artificial intelligence platform like Google’s Bard to identify modifiers your target audience would likely use to find your product. For this particular quarter-zip, we could choose ‘heather’ or ‘pullover’ to help it:
While each pairing of the noun ‘sweater’ with a modifier has high competition, nudging in just one of these terms will still help distinguish this quarter-zip sweater from other, similar sweaters.
Medium-Tail Target Keyword: Textured Heather Quarter-Zip Sweater
We can quibble about how many terms to use in a medium-tail keyword like this one, but the sweet spot is four or five; if you choose more that, the optimizing exercise grows needlessly complex and the keywords will clutter important page elements, including the title tag.
2 | Add Keywords to Each Product’s URL, Title Tag & Meta Description
The friendly URL (a unique, easy-to-digest web address that displays in the address bar), the page title tag, and the meta description are HTML elements that should include the target keywords you identify for each product, and they ought to be as identical to one another as you can reasonably make them. Title tags and meta descriptions are essential page elements that display in the search engine results and play an important role in the position the search engine assigns the web page—how high in the SERP list the link to your web page appears. Looking again at our example product shows us these elements as they exist without optimization:
URL Suffix: /collections/sweatshirts/products/verzaro-quarter-zip-hthr-grey
Page Title: Textured Quarter-Zip Sweater Gray | UNTUCKit
Meta Description: This easy layer is made from breathable cotton and is the perfect way to add some extra warmth to any fall look without overheating.
This is how the product displays in the SERP:
Going back to our target keyword, textured heather quarter-zip sweater, we’ll optimize these search engine-crawlable elements, starting with the URL; the one that exists is not easy to digest, for a human user or a search engine. Then we’ll do the same for the page title and meta description:
Friendly URL: /collections/sweaters/products/textured-heather-quarter-zip-sweater
Page Title: Textured Heather Quarter-Zip Sweater | UNTUCKit
Meta Description: Our textured heather quarter-zip sweater is made from breathable cotton and is the perfect layer to add extra warmth to any fall look without overheating.
Note that the existing URL included the term ‘sweatshirts’ after ‘collections’ instead of ‘sweaters,’ sending mixed signals to the search engines. We’d actually recommend dropping all those segments that clutter the address and using a cleaner friendly URL instead: /textured-heather-quarter-zip-sweater.
Not only do these small changes make the web page easier for a user to digest, they also signal to a search engine that this landing page is all about a sweater—not just any sweater, but a textured heather quarter-zip one. This is how we begin to make this particular shiny swag stand out in a crowded digital space.
Make the Product’s Meta Description Compelling
There was nothing especially wrong with the product’s meta description as written, but the small change we made to it is more descriptive (the original meta description did not include the term ‘sweater’ at all) and thus has a better chance of enticing a user to click through to the product. And because clicking through is the goal, composing a compelling meta description that accurately represents what a user will find when they click through is the best strategy. The new, optimized meta description also underscores yet again for the search engines what this landing page is all about. When you write or edit a meta description, try to situate the keywords near the beginning of the sentence, and limit the character count to around 150 if possible; if it is much longer than that, Google will truncate the language and drop in ellipses (...) in the SERP.
This particular landing page does not have a ‘subheader’ under the product name near the top, but implementing the meta description there to use as the subhead and marking it up with H2 tags is another solid SEO strategy. It could also stand in as the opening sentence of the product description, which we’ll address next.
3 | Place Keywords Strategically Throughout Product Descriptions
Now we’ll take a light touch to copy edits in the actual product description to work in our target keywords naturally, and strategically. Here is how the product description reads on the existing landing page:
The product description layout as it exists is not a bad template to follow: a brief copy block followed by a bulleted list, which can recapitulate the product description (an excellent way to target and entice mobile users), or expand upon it with other details. Either way, we can help this product by implementing keywords as follows (target keywords in blue, secondary in red):
“Our Textured Heather Quarter-Zip Sweater is an irresistibly soft style that features the ideal combination of comfort and a sharp thermal texture. This easy layer is made from breathable cotton and is the perfect way to add some extra warmth to any fall look without overheating. Plus, its convenient pouch pockets are a must-have for all your cargo when on the move. Wear this attractive quarter-zip pullover sweater over your favorite untucked button-down with a pair of our Classic Chino Pants for a classic fall look.”
We worked in a mention of ‘pullover’ as a secondary keyword for whatever boost it might give this product, since we already found it has solid search volume paired with the term ‘sweater.’ Next, we’ll make the bullets a skosh more descriptive by attaching each feature to a benefit, and we’ll add keywords where it makes sense:
- Quarter-zip placket adjusts for comfort at the mock neck
- Pullover sweater in neutral heather gray complements most outfits
- Pouch pockets convey small essentials
In this example, the merchant has used the second sentence of the original product description as the meta description, or Google has pulled it through to use. The new, optimized opening sentence works as well or even better as a meta description, so we might implement it in this case. And in fact, lately more and more we’ve seen search engines grab the opening sentence of a product description or category copy block to use for the meta description, if it better represents the page, so this is a good practice from the get-go.
Note that the first bullet mentions this sweater has a mock neck, a detail not mentioned in the main product description. We might have chosen to use it as a target keyword: Textured Quarter-Zip Mock Neck Sweater. Then we’d have worked it into the copy block. This is simply to say that choosing keywords is not an exact science, but something of an art—the goal is to choose the terms that best represent the product and that have search volume, and there may be many options for a given product. Steer clear of ‘generic’ modifiers—the terms ‘soft’ and ‘cotton’ are examples—or variables like sleeve length or gender, except to distinguish different versions of the same product. And choosing small details from the bottom of the description to use as target keywords—collar or cuff type, for example—is not only ineffective for SEO, but will also make editing your copy a nightmare.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in Your Product Copy Edits
Search engines will penalize keyword-stuffed web pages, pushing them farther down in the search results. Notice how we used the target keywords once in the opening sentence, and then just one other time in this brief product description, without stuffing them into the copy or making the language awkward in our effort to optimize it. If you have scores or even hundreds of products to optimize, you can achieve this task relatively quickly making only light edits, once you identify the target keyword for each product.
Importantly, each product requires a unique target keyword, a thing you’ll accomplish by using unique modifiers. Using identical keywords to optimize multiple products will make them compete with each other instead of standing out in search results. By the same token, individual products stand a better chance to rank well if each has a unique title, meta description, and product copy. Resist the temptation to use identical copy but change only the one distinguishing attribute, for example the garment color. While this requires a little extra work of you, it will help give each product a better chance to rank in the SERP.
Product Optimizing Takeaways
If nothing else, remember these basics before optimizing existing product copy:
- Each product needs a unique medium-tail keyword.
- Ideally, each page element—the URL, the page title, the meta description, the product name, and the product copy—should include the target medium-tail keyword.
- The keywords should closely mimic the product name; adding a modifier can boost the product SEO.
- The keywords should occur within the product description strategically but naturally, never stuffed.
- The product meta description and copy should tell a compelling story that makes the user want to click through and ultimately to buy the product.
Effective SEO in product copy is achievable with just a wee bit of elbow grease. We compose and optimize product copy for our clients every day of the week at Eight Oh Two; our agency is a proven leader in search engine and performance marketing, leveraging best-in-class technology with the very best in human intelligence. Contact us today to learn how we can help optimize your products to entice clicks and conversions.