Crafting good product descriptions is crucial when you sell online. A Nielsen Norman study found that 20% of unsuccessful online sales could be attributed to incomplete or unclear product information. Another study by Field Agent found that 82% of mobile users considered product descriptions to be “very” and “extremely” influential when shopping online.
Product descriptions are also key for appearing in search results, which can help customers find your business online and help you win more sales. Here are some best practices for writing winning product descriptions to grow your online sales.
What is a product description?
A product description is text on your website or other shopping channels — such as Facebook Marketplace or Instagram Shop — that describes a product, its features, and its benefits to the customer. Effective product descriptions make it easy for customers to understand the value of the product and why they should make a purchase.
How to write an effective product description
How you structure and what you choose to include in your product description will depend on the products you offer, but here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your descriptions are effective.
Write for your ideal customer.
Create a mental picture of your ideal buyer and write for that person. This will make your product description more personal and persuasive. Putting your buyer first will also help you exclude irrelevant information. Always ask yourself, “Will this information help the buyer to make a decision?”
Balance features and benefits.
Whether you list features or benefits first depends on the product. For example, customers buying a smartphone will most likely be interested in the specifications and technical details, while customers buying hair oil may be more interested in the benefits for their hair.
Even if you list the product features first, don’t forget to highlight the benefits. A 5000mAh phone battery means that the buyer can use their phone all day without needing to recharge. Organic ingredients in hair oil could mean that the product is suitable for people with sensitive scalps. Think through the features of your product and highlight the accompanying benefits.
Use highly descriptive words.
Buyers can’t touch, feel, or hold a product in your online store, so you need to create a clear mental picture of what the product would feel like in their hands. Describe textures, smells, and other characteristics that may not be immediately apparent to the buyer.
Instead of saying that a face cream has a pleasant aroma, which is subjective, describe the scent so buyers know what to expect. For example, Green People Organic Lifestyle describes one of its best-selling lotions as having “a light citrus and floral aroma.” Customers who do not like citrus or floral scents would appreciate the heads-up and skip the lotion to seek another product on your site.
Include customer reviews, if available.
Customers read reviews before making a purchase. Reviews help build trust and provide social proof. You can include a sentence or two from a product’s best customer reviews in your description to act as a testimonial and to help provide unique information that you might not include otherwise in your product description.
Include all necessary information.
Your product description should be accurate and honest — do not mislead the customer. Provide all the important information customers need to make a decision, especially those that could pose a problem after purchase. For example, a common complaint among customers is that items are often larger or smaller than they appear in photos, so be sure to provide all product dimensions and weights. Specify what’s included in the product package. That way your customers know what to expect and there will be no surprises.
Optimize your product descriptions for search engines.
Product descriptions are important for SEO. If your product descriptions are optimized correctly, prospective buyers will be able to find your product when they perform searches related to your offerings. Below are some of the steps you can take to optimize your product descriptions for search engines.
Ensure your eCommerce site uses structured data.
Structured data or schema markup is code that helps search engines understand the content of a web page — for example, that a series of digits is a price or a date. Product schema markup can help your eCommerce listings appear in relevant, high-intent search results, like “red wool v-neck sweater size medium.” Many eCommerce site builder tools automatically include schema markup, including Square Online.
Conduct keyword research.
The first step is to find out the keywords buyers use to search for products like yours. Some of the criteria to consider when selecting keywords include volume, ease of ranking, keyword length, and search intent.
Volume: Higher volume searches mean more potential eyeballs. However, it may be difficult to rank for those keywords.
Ease of ranking: For example, if major retailers already rank for a keyword, it may be difficult to beat them.
Keyword length: A best practice is to target long-tail keywords. These are longer and more specific keywords that buyers use when they are close to a sale. Consider the keywords hand cream and organic hand cream for dry skin, for example. While the former gives little context about the searcher’s interests, the latter is specific and tells us that the buyer is interested in not only hand cream of the organic type, but also those formulated specifically for people with dry skin. In general, long-tail keywords have fewer searches than medium- or short-tail keywords, but they are usually easier to rank for and have a higher conversion value.
Search intent: Choose transactional keywords — that is, keywords that show a searcher is close to the point of purchase. Examples include product brand names and words such as sales, best, discount, coupon, buy, and near me. A real-life example could be “best organic face cream + location.”
Use selected keywords in page elements and product descriptions.
Once you’ve identified keywords to target, include them in the most important elements on your product pages. These are:
- Page title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Product images alt text
- Product descriptions
It’s important not to overstuff keywords. If your description is less than 300 words long, then mention the keyword no more than once in the description. Here’s a more detailed SEO guide that can help you nail SEO at any stage of your business.
Product description examples
There’s plenty of room to get creative when describing the products you sell. Here are some examples of real-world product descriptions and the strategies behind them.
The features-first product description
Apple is a global brand that needs little or no introduction. Users of its MacBook Air are likely to be tech-savvy, which is why the product description focuses first on the specs and technical features. But it also expands on the benefits of those features down the page. Here’s a description of the Apple M2 Chip:
“M2 starts the next generation of Apple silicon. Its 8-core CPU lets you zip through everyday tasks like creating documents and presentations, or take on more intensive workflows like developing in Xcode or mixing tracks in Logic Pro.”
The benefits-first product description
Skincare is personal for many people, so it’s no surprise that Savor Beauty focuses on the benefits of its Kalahari Melon Cleansing Oil. Below are the first few sentences.
“Reset your radiance! This clarifying lightweight cleansing oil cleanses pores for a clear complexion.
Kalahari Melon’s vitamin F dissolves sebum, unclogs pores, melts off dirt and makeup while softening skin. Grapeseed oil’s antioxidant-rich proanthocyanidin purifies pores.
The subtle scent reminds us of a refreshing citrus breeze cocktail 🍹
Specially formulated for oily/acne-prone and combination skin types, and our sensitive beauties.”
This description outlines the important benefits as well as the ideal product user. Notice the clear description of the scent — “a refreshing citrus breeze cocktail.”
The story-based product description
Whistler Wines tells a farm-to-table story in the product description for its 2022 Fruit Tingle – Frizzante. The “Story Behind the Label” section of the description reads:
“Made for those who enjoy a hint of sweetness. This spritzy frizzante has just the right amount of bubbles. It’s a fruit basket of flavor across your palate and like our resident Galahs, it’s best enjoyed with friends.”
“The Fruit” section focuses on the origins and wine-making process:
“This wine is made up of three grape varieties — 46% Muscat Blanc, 31% Semillon and 23% Chardonnay. The Muscat Blanc & Chardonnay was grown by Greg Barritt, down at Rowland Flat towards the southern end of the Barossa Valley. The Semillon was grown on the sandy soils of Light Pass by the Rohrlach Family. All three grape varieties were picked on the same morning and pressed to tank. From there they were cold settled before being rough racked.”
The story reinforces the brand’s credibility and may help customers build a stronger connection with the brand.