Saturday 11 Aug 2007
Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
Taken as a whole, e-commerce product pages must be one of the most neglected bunch of documents on the Internet. A business owner slaps up a page with a title, maybe some dimensions or product specifications, a photo and a price, and then steps away from the computer, wrongly assuming that they’ve done all there is to do. Let me urge small e-commerce business owners to jump out of this rut of assumption by calling your attention to three important fact:
About 80% of Internet searches are informational, not transactional.
People are not nearly as likely to link to product pages as they are to informational pages.
The Googlebot is majorly bored by pages with only a handful of words on them.
Where does this leave us with our 50-100 product website that badly needs more exposure, more visitors, more links and more sales? It’s time to be like Einstein, approach our subject from numerous angles and think beyond the assumptions others are making.
Turn Your Boring E-commerce Product Description Pages Into Little Wells of Information
In my last post, I proudly introduced a new website we’d designed for a new client, Two Cat Studio. We started off this 20 product website with some very basic descriptions of the lovely jewelry this client makes. As a second phase of the project, once the site was launched, we revisited each of the product pages and set our minds to developing unique and interesting copy for them. The average word count of the mini-articles we wrote for each of these pages is now about 650 words, some shorter some longer, and these pages now have many more chances to be ranked for long-tail search phrases and to be of use to searchers.
You Don’t Have to Write 650 Words About the Specific Product
I can understand any business owner feeling rather daunted by writing endlessly about how great a product is. The technique I’m suggesting here does not mean writing, “this is just a super product,” over and over again. Rather, we need to brainstorm and approach our topic from as many interesting angles as we can think of to give us something legitimate to write about.
Let me show you how we did this for our client’s jewelry company, in hopes that you can take our technique and apply it to your own subject.
Our Main Subject Is Jewelry in the Form of Bracelets, Necklaces and Earrings
After we’ve described the individual jewelry piece, we can step away from the actual piece and write about our subject from any of the following angles:
1. Ancient History
A little research teaches us that Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Romans, Ancient Chinese, Ancient Indian cultures and many others wore bracelets, earrings and necklaces. We can research what the oldest known necklace is, where it came from, who wore it, whether it had some type of cultural or spiritual significance. We can find biblical references to certain gemstones. We can find pieces of ancient jewelry at auctions online to determine their current worth and learn more of their history. We can put jewelry into a historical context to increase our visitors’ value for the tradition of wearing jewelry.
2. Modern Times
We can learn which gemstones currently serve as birthstones or wedding anniversary stones. We can mention famous modern pieces of jewelry. We can discover where today’s gemstones and precious metals come from. If we discover that a certain type of jasper used in one of our jewelry pieces comes from an interesting town, we can write a bit about that town and their local pride in being the sole source of a gemstone. We can warm up the romance around a gemstone by offering vivid depictions of the desert, jungle or mountains where our jewelry components are coming from.
We can delve into fashion trends, explaining how though black jewelry was associated with mourning in the Victorian era, we now consider it appropriate for classy formal wear. We can talk about current popular gemstones and gemstone cuts. We can write copy about popular jewelry styles and cite the change in jewelry tastes over the past 50 years.
Why might a customer choose red garnets, green jasper, or blue turquoise? Our research can teach us that there are several schools of thought striving to answer these questions. We can write oodles about these theories of Color Symbolism, Color Psychology and Chromotherapy in relationship to the gemstones in our jewelry piece. We can look to New Age beliefs and talk about the somewhat magical properties currently being assigned to gems.
A scientific approach lends itself beautifully to our subject. We can write about the scientific properties of onyx, quartz, aquamarine, rubies, etc. We can write copy describing how these gems are mined and what it is about each one that makes it suitable for the art of jewelry making.
We can invite the active participation of our visitors by teaching them how to do things themselves. We can instruct them in the special care each gemstone or precious metal requires. We can teach them how to clean and store their jewelry. We can provide simple illustrated instructions for making your own handy, inexpensive jewelry pouches. We can them how to judge quality in gems and jewelry. We can make our customers feel smarter because they’ve just learned something from our website.
These were some of the angles we approached our subject from. We found others, and you can find other approaches that will be especially relevant to your subject. Take an up close look at one of the pages we created to see how it’s all laid out.
*Note how we’ve kept the e-commerce function up above the fold of the page. The customer can read the initial, basic description, get the price, see the photo and buy the item all without having to scroll. We are not forcing them to read more…we are simply providing the option to do so if they’d like.
Why Product Pages Like These Succeed Over Their Word-Weak Competition
Product pages like these:
- Give bots something lengthy and meaty to crawl
- Increase our chances of ranking for a variety of related long-tail search terms
- Enable us to repeat our main keyword phrase several times throughout the copy in a natural way
- Show our visitors that we place enough importance on this product to write about it
- Give our visitors a reason to link to our pages
- Give us multiple internal linking opportunities not just to related products but to related types of information
- Do much to set us apart from our bland, product-only competition
- Have a chance of becoming an authority document in the midst of weaker documents
Setting Reasonable Goals
If you have a 50 product e-commerce site, set a reasonable goal of writing just one page of copy a day. Sit down at your computer with a list of ideas you’ve brainstormed about your subject. Pick the idea that best matches the product you are focusing on. Spend 15 minutes researching that product and 20 minutes writing about it. In less than an hour, you can greatly improve that page, and in less than 2 months you will have improved ALL of your 50 product pages.
You don’t have to change your whole site over night, but a dedicated effort counts here. And, if you try and simply can’t achieve your goal, you could hire a professional copywriter to give you a list of ideas to write about, or to do the writing for you. Any route you go, the result will be a site with much more oomph than the majority of e-commerce sites out there today.