Writing Smart Copy For Your E-commerce Product Pages

image of einstein

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.

3. Trends
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.

4. Psychology
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.

4. Science
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.

5. Do-it-Yourself
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.

7 Responses to “Writing Smart Copy For Your E-commerce Product Pages”

  1. […] August 15, 2007 Writing Smart Copy for Your eCommerce Product Pages […]

  2. on 16 Oct 2007 at 8:31 am Craig Shea

    Your article provided some great tips for an e-tailer/e-commerce site. However, I work for a small manufacturer of industrial products. Our products are not “unique” in that we are one of a few manufacturers of such a product. For a site such as ours, it seems to me more is less. In other words, describe why my product is needed, the benefits versus a traditional or competitor’s product. Give the relevant features/specs and the most popular options. Provide contact information and the ability to have it quoted (our industry is extremely competitive, so prices are hardly ever given online). Our new website is not “released”, but can be found at tteconline.com Basically, I have face-lifted our 10-year old site to make it more accessible and modern looking. It still has a lot to desire, but it’s better than what it was. What kind of tips would you have for a manufacturer of industrial sensors where the goal is to have somebody call or e-mail for a quote or sale? I think 650 words on a simple field-cuttable probe is a bit much.


    Craig E. Shea
    IT Guru !;^)

  3. on 16 Oct 2007 at 2:13 pm admin

    Hi Craig,
    Thanks so much for stopping by. I tried to visit the two links you had put in your post but they were giving me ‘file not founds’ so I edited those, and want you to know that.

    You are doing a smart thing in describing the product and why it is needed. This is obviously important informaton. Technical specifications can be helpful, as well. I would say that with a situation like yours, user generated content in the form of product reviews would be the most helpful way to beef up the actual content of the site and provide greater value. What customers say about your product is often more convincing than what you say yourself, so if there is a way for you to offer some type of incentive for product reviews, this might be good. Would it be possible to offer a 5% discount if the customer agrees to write a review once they have used the product? Testimonials/reviews are extremely important for building both credibility, and secondarily, for adding to the valuable content on a site.

    I hope this suggestion helps and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!
    Kind Regards,

  4. […] Writing Smart copy for your E-Commerce Product Pages […]

  5. […] Writing Smart copy for your E-Commerce Product Pages […]

  6. on 11 Mar 2009 at 10:16 am diane

    I would love to implement this advice! Unfortunately my boss balks if I go beyond 650 characters, let alone 650 words. Also, our wonky web platform is just not set up for this kind of thing — and getting the web developer to change it is kind of like getting mountains to move and oceans to recede…you get the idea.

    I do try to make my product descriptions pretty meaty, but I wish I could go farther, e.g., by including below-the-fold stuff that explains some of the technical terms we use or elaborates on performance benefits. (I write for an e-commerce site which sells athletic apparel.)

  7. on 16 Nov 2009 at 3:18 pm Wiemann

    Those are some good points. But, with a lot of competition out there offering very similar items for free, it’s important to be unique, and really stress relationship building.

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