Thousands of Product Descriptions? You’ve Got Unique SEO Problems

ecommerce seo

Product descriptions outranked pictures and customer reviews as a top-influencing content factor for buyers considering a purchase on an ecommerce site.

With Google just as likely to return a product page as it is a category page on the search engine results (SERP), merchants have an opportunity to optimize their products for better ranking.

Google treats each product page as it would any other web page, meaning duplicate content could be an issue. For ecommerce giants with tens of thousands of SKUs, pages that need original, optimized content aren’t hard to find.

To be sure that your product pages rank well, consider these options.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Product Page SEO

1. Check for Content Quality and Duplication

Your product page is no different from any other on your site. Google will check its content, comparing it against both internal and external pages. While duplicate content within your internal pages won’t necessarily hurt you, it isn’t an ideal situation either. Google will choose which page has authority for you.

Follow these best practices to minimize internal duplication issues:

  • Use a canonical tag for products that show up in multiple places in your taxonomy.
  • Use one page for products with variations (size, color, etc.) instead of individual URLs containing the same product description.
  • For products with separate variation pages, denote one as the master copy using the canonical tag, or use unique product descriptions for each.

Using unique product descriptions and coding your pages to better communicate with Google will go a long way toward helping your rankings.

Check your content against external sites.

All too often, retailers publish the product descriptions provided by the manufacturer.

  • The manufacturer’s description isn’t original and is treated as such by Google. This has the potential to hurt your rankings, and it might keep your pages from ranking at all.
  • Manufacturer descriptions aren’t designed to sell a product for your business.

Another common misstep is the use of a competing merchant’s description. Doing so practically guarantees that the competitor will outrank you in the SERPs, as your content is a copy of theirs. This is especially true of sites like Amazon with very high domain authority (DA), and it may also result in penalties — not to mention it’s an illegal practice.

Check your page content for accuracy and volume.

If your content is unique, you’re in a better position to perform well in the search results; however, original content isn’t enough. Product descriptions that contain errors or too few words tend to perform poorly, both in ranking and conversion. Be sure to include enough information to score well in relevancy.

Product page content that’s original, well-crafted and optimized drives organic traffic.

2. Optimize Your New Content

If you’re not selling small-market or unique products, there’s a good chance that you’ll have stiff competition for the more broad search terms such as smartphone or washing machine. There are still ways that you can optimize your product descriptions and target lower-cost clicks that could have higher conversion rates.

It starts with keyword research.

There are many tools designed to assist merchants with keyword research. Some of the notable ones include:

These tools help you to build strong keyword lists, including long-tail keywords, for all of your products.

Optimize product descriptions with long-tail keywords.

Keyword tools will help you to identify relevant keywords for a given product. For instance, a search for washing machine could show you that other associated searches include:

    • Washing machine repair
    • Washing machine delivery
    • Washing machine and dryer
    • Washing machine on sale
  • Washing machine reviews

By analyzing these lists, you can find terms that may indicate a buyer is close to purchasing a product that you offer. For PPC advertisers, these longer phrases are often less competitive, which means you’ll pay less per click.

Keywords can give you an idea of where the buyer is in their process:

    • Broad keywords. These are typically used by people in the beginning stage of the buying process or for informational purposes. They’re extremely competitive keywords and often have higher PPC costs. Example search term: refrigerator.
    • Long-tail keywords. These show that the buyer is possibly interested in more than general information. These words are helpful for both targeting and eliminating potential buyers. Example search terms: smart refrigerator or refrigerator repair service.
  • Intent keywords. This is where skilled SEO pros excel. Intent keywords can help identify when a searcher is ready to buy. Targeting these types of keywords will often provide less, but better-qualified, traffic. When done carefully, you’ll attract high-converting clicks at a lower cost. Example search terms: refrigerator free delivery or new smart refrigerator black.

By targeting searchers who use these longer phrases and optimizing your content to be relevant, the conversion rates on your product pages should increase.

To optimize for organic traffic, you’ll want to fit some of the key terms that apply to your product into its description to add relevancy. When using these longer phrases, you’ll be more likely to rank higher than those using less savvy methods.

3. Optimize Your Category Pages

Some businesses opt for formal keyword research on their category pages instead of the more time-consuming product pages. Depending on the scope of your catalog, it may be wise to take this approach. Optimizing and using your category pages for PPC campaigns is quicker than analyzing and mapping individual product pages, although merchants who opt for the more in-depth approach may have an advantage.

Regardless, you should still optimize your product pages with a basic template to target the more common long-tailed keywords. A template could be as simple as:

  • Brand > model name > descriptor > generic product term. For instance, Keurig K525 platinum coffee maker or Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike.

Be economical with your product descriptions. Trying to fit too many keywords in can make them difficult to read, which doesn’t resonate well with buyers. Focus your descriptions toward buyers while keeping some carefully selected keywords in place.

Consider Your Options

Beginning a project of this size can be a daunting task, but it’s necessary to stay (or become) competitive. Product pages must include original, optimized content that sells your product.

No matter how many SKUs your site holds, you have options. You can:

    • Write them yourself. Some products practically describe themselves, but others are more challenging. There’s plenty of posts online offering advice on how to write compelling and effective product descriptions. Some give excellent tips. Decide the proper word range for your niche and start writing. It’s a viable option for smaller inventories, but it can be quite time-consuming.
    • Hire staff. Some jobs are that big. Hiring staff gives you the ability to oversee the project and offer direction and feedback quickly. Your volume will dictate the amount of staff you’ll need. If your products have technical features or measurements, hiring an editor would be a smart move. Even the best writers make mistakes, so someone will need to fact check and proofread the work.
    • Hire freelance writers. Many freelance writers would be happy to write your product descriptions. With some trial and error, and time, you should be able to assemble a team of product description writers that understands your requirements and produces solid work. Of course, you’ll still need to do the editing, and communication can be tricky.
  • Work with a content marketing service. Content marketing services staff hundreds and sometimes thousands of writers. With large talent pools, they’re able to train a team of writers to produce copy to your specifications. Some even offer editing services and a dedicated project manager to facilitate consistent communication and implement project changes. By limiting your involvement to project oversight, you won’t be bogged down by a long process.

If you’ve got thousands of SKUs, you’ve got thousands of SEO opportunities. Talk to a professional to learn more about your options.

Posted in SEO
Eric Hoppe

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Eric has been working in marketing and product management for over a decade with companies in the software, eCommerce and content creation spaces. He’s particularly drawn to both content marketing and SEO and is excited that the two areas are increasingly converging. While he’s pretty serious about marketing, he does love to drop a great dad joke on occasion.

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