This is the most detailed guide on how to craft product descriptions that convert well and rank high in search. You’ll get to see every element of a product description deconstructed with examples to see what works and what doesn’t.
At the end of this guide, you’ll learn how to write a product description that sells and ranks well on search engines, plus a FREE Product Description Template.
What Is a Product Description?
A product description is the sales copy that helps a shopper understand a product and convince him/her to buy.
A compelling product description offers shoppers with details like features, benefits and even technical specifications.
Would you rather buy this essential oil candle?
Or this candle?
Why Is Product Description Important?
If the product description does not satisfy the shopper for lack of information, the shopper will likely abandon the product. Therefore, including important details is a huge factor for your products to be added to the cart.
Writing descriptions for all your products sounds time-consuming and a lot of work. Well, it is. But the benefits of having great product descriptions far outweigh the resources spent on creating them if you do it right. Using unique, compelling product descriptions can:
- Increase conversion rate
- Reduce abandoned carts
- Decrease return rate
- Minimize customer calls
- Improve organic search rankings
Questions to Ask Before Writing Product Descriptions
Before you start to write your product descriptions, let’s get down to brass tacks first. The fundamentals of writing an effective product description is to identify your target customers and how they can benefit from your product. The easiest way to unravel this is by using the 5Ws and 1H formula.
How do you use this formula? Let’s take a fashion apparel store as an example.
1. Who is the product for?
Think of a specific group of people who would use or enjoy your product. It could be based on gender (e.g. men, women), age group (adult, teens), lifestyle choices (e.g. fitness enthusiasts, leisure travelers, sports fans), or major life events they go through (e.g. expecting mothers).
2. What product attributes should you include?
Think of the details a shopper should know about your product before making a buying decision. Product attributes include sizing, materials, care instructions, specific functions, etc.
Use the right metric system (centimeters vs. inch) depending on where your shoppers are from for better user experience. A size conversion chart will come in handy too.
3. Where would someone use your product?
Think of events/occasions where the consumer can use your product. Suits for weddings, proms, or job interviews? A little black dress for date nights or parties, perhaps?
4. When should someone use the product?
Think of the time the buyer can and will use your product. Is it for daily use? Summer? Winter? Christmas?
5. Why is the product superior over competitors?
Expand on your what’s and single out the benefits your buyer will get from your product. Do you make clothes out of eco-friendly fabrics? Is your apparel more affordable without sacrificing quality? Think of the benefits that will resonate with your target buyers.
Using texts to highlight your product’s benefits is a good starting point. But you can also reinforce the benefit message with the use of images and videos. For instance, using close-up images of the fabric can illustrate the quality of the clothing, or photos showing how the dress fare in a specific event setting.
6. How does the product work?
Most times, you need not tell shoppers how your product works. But there are many occasions where you need to explain a product. Take thermal clothes, for example. Shoppers will be keen to know the technology behind it or how this product keeps them warm.
Note that this doesn’t have to be 100% text. You can use images to simplify texts or videos to explain the technology behind it. Using an unboxing video works better than a huge chunk of text, plus it helps with time on site.
How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell and Good for SEO
Now, let’s get into details on how to write a good product description that sells. How do you describe a product? Are long descriptions always better? How important is writing product descriptions for SEO? What’s an SEO-friendly product description?
Here are some best practices when writing product descriptions that sell:
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience
While you might probably get a sense of your target audience now just by asking, “Who is the product for?” knowing your audience doesn’t end there. You need to dig deeper than learning whether your audience is male or female, married or not. Ask yourself questions like:
- What type of language do your target customers use?
- What words do they use to describe or speak of your product?
- Do they appreciate a little storytelling?
- Do they have questions about your product that you can answer?
Writing product descriptions would be so much easier and effective if you know your target audience on a deeper level. Hu Kitchen, for instance, knows their paleo and vegan food-loving audience too well:
The best product descriptions address the target buyer’s frustrations to pique their curiosity and communicate with them on a more personal level. Your product description can speak on behalf of the product using words that your target buyers use.
Step 2: Determine the Copy Format
There are three most commonly used types of copy formats used in product descriptions: bullet points, paragraphs, and tables. Each format has a unique purpose.
3 Types of Copy Formats
- Bullet Points
Using bullet points is the perfect copy format to highlight key product details such as specs (size, color, technology, use cases, etc.) and features. Often these are short phrases perfect for shoppers who will most likely scan the most important product details only.
Check out Zalora’s product description for sports shoes:
If your product requires a little bit of narrative to appeal to the shoppers’ emotions and imagination to engage them, bullet points will not cut it. This is where a paragraph of texts come in. A paragraph of three to four sentences can be used to convey the story behind a product. If you have more to say about the product, feel free to add another paragraph.
It’s okay to inject some personality into your copy, but make sure it’s appropriate and on-brand. Here’s Onzie’s personality-filled product description for a pair of yoga pants:
For product variants with technical specs like electronic devices, it’s good to use a table to list or compare variants and specs. It’s much easier to consume technical details in tables.
Here’s DJI Mavic Air’s long list of tech specs organized in rows and columns:
Step 3: Stand Out With Mini-Stories
What makes your product special? Is your sweatshirt hand-knit by underprivileged individuals? Are you using locally sourced, recycled, or sustainable materials to manufacture your product? What are your missions? Are there people or causes that will benefit from every sale made through your product?
Using heartwarming stories to connect with your audience on a more profound level breaks rational barriers that naturally come with persuasive copywriting. Remember, people buy on emotion and justify with logic.
Storytelling is not new but still so effective. According to a 2017 study, 87% of consumers would buy products from a company that supports a social cause. Toms and Patagonia are two well-known brands that have found success in using the power of social cause stories to connect with their customers and eventually increase sales. And this strategy has been mirrored by thousands of companies worldwide.
UK-based wine marketplace Laithwaites.co.uk includes a brief family background of their wine vendors in every product.
Mini-stories don’t have to be full-on stories. A lot of companies showcase their products for a cause in just a few words. Check out Apple’s collab with non-profit RED:
Do mini-stories have to be a social cause? No. Think of ways that make your product so special? Does your product use some kind of special technology? How was the product tested?
To give you mini-story ideas, ask yourself these questions.
- Who is behind the product?
- What’s the rationale behind it?
- How did the product become what it is?
- What struggles did you have to go through to bring the product to life?
Step 4: Avoid Vague Descriptors
It’s tempting to just describe a product as “top-quality” and “perfect,” most especially if the product genuinely embodies these characteristics. These are average modifiers that have been used in almost every mediocre product description. But you don’t want mediocre product description. What you want is something that cuts through the noise, something that speaks to your target audience.
Therefore, you need to avoid these fuzzy words. These words water down the potential of your product description copy to convert a shopper easily.
So instead of saying “high-quality,” why not describe the material that makes it high-quality? Instead of saying “durable,” why not use words to describe the materials that make the product durable? Instead of saying “good,” why not use the words that make the product good? Make your readers imagine what the product is like in real life.
Look at this product description for Sperry topsiders that screams top-quality without actually using the term anywhere in the copy:
Product description copywriting can be tricky, especially if you are selling the most mundane everyday items. How can you be creative if you are selling trash bags? Well, folks at Planet Wise managed to come up with some compelling product descriptions despite that.
Step 5: Focus on Product Benefits
A feature is something a product has that appeals to the logical side of our brains. A benefit is something you get out of a product’s feature and appeals to the emotional side of our brains. The most effective product descriptions trigger emotions first and justify emotions with logic.
So instead of just telling shoppers the features of your product, give them the benefits. Ask yourself: “What’s in it for your audience?”
Think of smartphone devices and how brands sell them. While most companies will mention that their phone has a 24 MP camera, they don’t focus on that. They home in on what’s in it for the users.
Here’s how Google introduced the Pixel 4 smartphone on its product page:
|-Shoot without the flash. Capture rich detail and color, even in the dark, with the next generation of Night Sight.|
-Challenging shots, made easy. Adjust brightness and shadows separately with dual exposure controls. Capture vivid colors with Live HDR+.
-Focus on what matters. With a second camera lens, Portrait Mode is now even better. Backgrounds fade into an artful blur, giving photos a DSLR-like quality.
-Don’t lose out as you zoom in. A second camera lens and Super Res Zoom makes it easy to take high-quality photos from far away.
-Better shots with friends and family. Frequent Faces learns the people you photograph the most and captures Top Shot photos where they are smiling and not blinking.
Let’s dissect the texts above:
|Night Sight||“Shoot without the flash.”|
|Dual exposure controls / Live HDR+||“Challenging shots, made easy.”|
|Portrait Mode||“Focus on what matters.”|
|Second camera lens / Super Res Zoom||“Don’t lose out as you zoom in.”|
|Frequent Faces||“Better shots with friends and family.”|
If you don’t see the benefits message, would you be able to tell what Night Sight is for? What are dual exposure controls for? Instead of highlighting the phone’s features, the copy focused on what these things do for the buyers.
Another classic example of using benefits over features is Apple’s copy for its iPod:
Instead of highlighting that this iPod has 5 GB of memory, the copy delivers what the audience wants to know by showcasing how many songs this tiny music player can carry. Amaze-balls!
Step 6: Sprinkle Power Words That Sell
Power words are words that evoke an emotional or psychological response. These are often used in headlines, calls to actions, and buttons where you persuade the reader to take action. In which case, use power words in the product descriptions to entice the shopper to buy your product.
Take note of the sensory words that Dove used to describe the main ingredient, the dark chocolate itself, and how you will feel if you eat it. You don’t see or feel or taste the product. But just by using the right words, the copy appeals to almost all your senses.
But be careful with using excessive adjectives in your copy. Adjectives may either add power to your product descriptions or dilute their effectiveness if they contribute nothing to your copy. There are no hard and fast rules here as to which power words you can and cannot use, but here are 700+ power words to get you started.
Step 7: Write SEO-Friendly Product Descriptions
Writing good product descriptions for online stores isn’t only about crafting persuasive copy. Product descriptions have to be optimized for search engines, too. But how do you write SEO-friendly product descriptions?
For the search term “10 person tent,” the second top result is an Ozark tent listed on Amazon. The top result is a page for Amazon’s recommended 10-person tents.
In my experience, product descriptions with keywords in the title appear to be more effective than putting keywords in the details, those that are usually in bullet points. But there are some cases too wherein the keywords are actually used in the product details. Regardless, make it a point to include your main target keyword in your product descriptions, whether it’s in the product title, product details, image alt texts, and meta descriptions.
Any SEO product description writing should start with good ecommerce keyword research. It’s your best chance to know which terms your target audience is using to find a product like yours. If your store has been around for some time, you can check out Google Analytics and Google Search Console to find what keywords you are ranking for or getting clicks and impressions.
If your online store is built on Shopify, check out this Shopify SEO Guide and learn how to rank your store.
To create product descriptions for search engines, make it easier for the bots to decipher the page. One best way to do this is to design a naming convention for all your products.
The standard naming convention looks like this:
[BRAND NAME] [MODEL/PRODUCT TYPE] [KEY ATTRIBUTES]
The key attributes could be volume, capacity, size, color, flavor, etc.
The only time you should break this rule is if you have an established brand already selling on your own store. In which case, you have the option to drop the brand name and start with the product model.
Here’s how a Balenciaga shirt is sold on Balenciaga’s website:
And this is how a Balenciaga shirt is sold on Farfetch’s store:
If the product model is not reader-friendly, like those that contain seemingly random alphanumerics, you could highlight key attributes instead.
Step 8: Use Visuals to Support Texts
Visual elements like icons, pictures, or videos break up chunks of text. If your product description copy is getting too verbose even if you are already using bullet points, use visuals to replace or support texts.
Just like what Solo Stove did to this product description wherein the main characteristics of the product are all reduced to icons.
Adidas also knows too well that close-up photos of its product can do better than texts to drive their point home.
Step 9: Include Social Proof
Using any forms of social proof — whether it’s customer reviews, star ratings, press mentions, or awards — encourage people to buy. They help shoppers decide if your product is worth buying, especially if the shopper is iffy about your product. Ninety-three percent of buyers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions.
Take wireless headphones brand Status, for instance. The wireless headphones industry is dominated by the likes of Bose, Beats, JBL, and even big tech companies like Apple, Sony, and Samsung. To rise above the competition, Status, a newbie brand that’s virtually unknown, used customer reviews and press mentions as their leverage.
Social proof doesn’t have to be customer reviews or press mentions. It could also be awards you won for your extraordinary product. Like ErgoErgo, a brand that isn’t shy to display the recognition they got for their ergonomic stool.
Common Mistakes When Writing Product Descriptions
Now that we got the best practices of product description copywriting out of the way. Let’s talk about the common mistakes many businesses and copywriters make when writing product descriptions.
1. Overoptimizing for Search Engines
Long gone are the days when ranking at the top of Google’s search results could easily be achieved with keyword stuffing. Surprisingly, tons of product pages can still be seen riddled with keywords all over the place, begging Google to derank them. Today, keyword stuffing is not going to cut it anymore.
So as much as possible, place your main target keyword in the title, URL, and product description/details/overview in the most natural way. Depending on how you structure your product descriptions, you may also include your target keyword in the body copy.
Writing product descriptions for your jewelry, for example, should be as natural as this…
..and not this.
Note that overoptimizing for search engines is not only off-putting for search engines but also your audience. Poorly-written product descriptions can lead to high bounce rates and low conversion rates. Who wants that?
2. Using Generic Copy From Suppliers
Equally as worse as keyword stuffing is the use of boilerplate product descriptions of manufacturers or suppliers. In the eyes of customers, it’s lazy and screams “I-don’t-care-if-you-buy-this-product-or-not.”
Even if the manufacturer’s product description is speckless (which hardly ever happens), make no mistake. It’s likely used by other vendors. As you may already know, search engines look at unoriginal content with disgust, and if you are lucky enough, you’ll be buried six feet deep in search results.
A quick Google search of this coffee table’s product description on Amazon…
…returns a bunch of online stores selling the same product with the same description, including these two:
Duplicate product descriptions are bad for SEO. So customize your product descriptions as unique as possible.
3. Does Not Include Benefits
A product description that puts emphasis on features instead of benefits is one thing. A product description that does not include benefit at all is another. Sure, the easiest way to create product descriptions is to list all the product features. Boom. Done.
But this is a grave mistake. You need to make sure your target audience knows what these features do. What’s in a feature that can help your audience ease their life? That’s a benefit!
I tackled this above, but it bears repeating. Using features as the center of attention is not as effective as putting benefits front and center. Features appeal to logic, whereas benefits connect with people’s emotions.
Here’s a product description of cat ear headphones that…doesn’t actually help at all:
4. Lack of Structure
A lot of online store owners go in without a plan or process when it comes to crafting product descriptions. This is not smart for so many reasons. Having a go-to product description template ensures consistency in brand voice and tone throughout your store.
With a plug-and-play template for product descriptions, it’s easy to flesh out the most important details and make your product descriptions convert well. And that’s what you will find in the following section.
Product Description Template
Processing all the information in this guide can be overwhelming. That is why I created this FREE Product Description Template — to help you create product descriptions that sell without breaking a sweat.
Note that this template is not one-size-fits-all. The right information to showcase in product descriptions varies by industry and audience profile. Hence, use this template as a guide rather than a rule book.
Keep your product descriptions 300-500 words long. This is the optimal length to include a compelling and keyword-rich copy, from the title down to the product profile.
Let’s get down to the guidelines we follow when writing product descriptions for ecommerce stores. Adapt these product description guidelines and feel free to modify them to match your product and style.
1. Product Title
Place your product title above the fold. It should be bigger than the other texts. Here are great formulas to follow when creating a product title:
[Brand Name] [Product Type/Model] [Key Feature]
[Brand Name] [Product Type/Model] [Material] [Fitting] [Key Feature]
2. Product Features / Details
Use bullet points or tables to summarize or highlight technical details. If you use bullet points, highlight 4-6 most important features only.
3. Care Instructions / How It Works
Tell your audience how to take care of your product or what it can do.
4. About the Brand
Write 2-3 sentences about your brand. What’s your mission? Who are you helping? What’s unique about your brand?
5. About the Product
Tell your audience more about your product. Describe WHY a shopper should choose your product over your competitors. In the Product Features /Details section, you list key details only that your audience should know about your product. Here, you can include what makes your product special. Are you using sustainable materials? Are there people or causes that will benefit from this product? This section is also an opportunity to tell a story. Keep this part 2-3 sentences long.
Writing product descriptions that sell is both science and art. It’s a science because you need to follow a proven process to come up with a persuasive, high-converting copy. It’s an art because you need to use a connection for your message to come through and finally make that sale.
If there’s only one lesson you can take away from here, it’s that understanding your target audience is the strongest foundation of all product descriptions. Forget copy format. Forget power words. But never, ever forget who you are selling to. So unlock the 5Ws and 1H formula first.
I hope this guide has given you tons of ideas on how to write product descriptions that sell.
Got questions? Thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments.