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Words that sell: how to write effective product descriptions

mens Tennis shoes SDo you sell products online? Then you’re part of a retail e-commerce market that was worth a massive US$40bn in 2018. 

Yes, you did read those figures right - billions, not millions!

That equates to a 7.3% shares of total retail sales in Canada in 2017. What’s more, 75% of consumers spent more that $500 online in 2018.

And online sales are set to grow too: 

“Revenue generated within the retail e-commerce market is expected to surpass 55 billion Canadian dollars by 2023, up from 40 billion in 2018.” (1)

So, how can your business maximise its online sales potential? First you need to sell to Google…





Product descriptions for Google AND humans

The aim of any product description should be two-fold:

  1. To sell your products to a real person
  2. To give search engines as much information as possible

The goal is that every single one of your products can appear in search results in their own right. So, if someone is searching online for a specific item, you want that precise product to show up, not your home page!


E-commerce solutions for businesses

There are literally dozens of e-commerce solutions out there, most of which do a very good job and are scalable for almost any business. They include Magento, Shopify, and Woo Commerce, one of the most popular for WordPress sites. To be honest, they all pretty much work the same way when it comes to categorising your products and creating product descriptions.


How to arrange your products

Chances are, you don’t just sell one product, you sell a range. So you need to divide up your products into meaningful Categories that makes it easer for people to find what they want. For example, if your store sells sports shoes, you could create Categories based on sports, such as:

  • Running
  • Athletics
  • Golf
  • Winter Sports
  • Racquet Sports

These are your main Categories. You can have as many sub-Categories as you like too, such as:

  • Tennis shoes
  • Squash shoes
  • Badminton Shoes


Category descriptions

In most e-commerce solutions, Category pages are auto-generated by the system as a series of pictures and links. Which looks great for humans but isn’t so good for search engines.

However, you can usually add a short paragraph at the TOP of each Category page, to describe what’s on the page. Google likes that. A lot. Gently fill it with keywords relating to the shoes features on the page, and you’re in business. Humans will probably skip past it to the pictures, especially on mobiles, which is just fine.


Product descriptions: which is which?

Most e-commerce systems offer:

  • A Short Description, which sits alongside the image of your product
  • A Main Description, which sits underneath somewhere (often in a Description tab)

To see how these work, here’s a random tennis shoe we found on Amazon.ca:

pink tennis shoe

  • The section under the Size selector is the Short Description
  • The Main Description (Product description) is way down the bottom, under the Related Products gallery

pink tennis shoe description 2


Why are there two descriptions?

  • The Short Description is your quick sales pitch for those who want to click and buy now
  • The Main Description is a more detailed description for thsoe who like to do their research

As you can see in the listing for the tennis shoe above, the seller hasn’t given very much detail at all! Compare that to this listing for compression running socks, where the seller has really gone to town on both descriptions!

Short Description

compression sock short description

Main Description (with pictures!)

compression sock main description


Product titles that sell, sell, sell

As you may have noticed, the product titles in Amazon can be really long! Here’s the one for the sock example above:

“Physix Gear Compression Running Socks Men Women - Best Low Cut No Show Athletic Socks for Stamina Circulation & Recovery - Ultra Durable Ankle Socks Designed for Plantar Fasciitis, Cycling & Running”

On your own website, that’s just too much. Indeed, in many systems, you can’t have that may characters in a product title anyway! Instead, save all that detail for your Short Description.


Short descriptions: why customers should buy from you

Some marketing gurus would suggest you don’t put any text in between the product title and the Buy Now button, to avoid people on mobiles having to scroll down. We disagree. That’s fine for big name stores, but people are probably going to want to know why they should buy your product. So really sell it to them in a couple of lines in your Short Description, or a bulletted list. Then that customer's click will be an informed decision, so they are more likely to continue through to final purchase and not abandon their basket.


Product titles and product descriptions

Here's an example of a product title and description in action, at a site we recently built for a Canadian client.

patchouli essential short 2

It’s a classic e-commerce Product Description with a Short Description next to the product image, then Add to Cart button, and then a more detailed Main Description below.

  • The Product Title highlights the fact that it’s certified organic
  • The Short Description lists the benefits of this particular essential oil
  • The Main Description contains detailed information on origin, production and a whole lot more (click on the pic to read it)

We like this layout a lot because it also includes the breadcrumb bar at the top, which tells you which Category you are in.


Meta tags in product descriptions

Meta data on your product description really will make a difference. Most e-commerce systems allow you to add in two specific meta tags:

  • a meta title
  • a meta description

First of all, the meta title. This is what appears when you roll over the tab in your browser. Here’s the example for the oil above:

patchouli browser bar

As you can see, we’ve added more detail here - it’s pure and concentrated. ‘Pure essential oil’ and ‘concentrated essential oil’ are both keywords we researched. So we’ve added them in.


This meta title also appears in Google search results, as the first line:

patchouli SERPs

The two lines of text underneath the green link are the meta description. It’s your elevator pitch that encourages humans to click on the link and add spice to their love life! So, make sure you write meta tags for every product if you want to get clicks through from search engines results pages.


Not sure you can write all this text?

Don’t worry - we can! More to the point, we have already for a whole host of clients, from automotive parts to perfumes, load cells to lingerie. We’ll start with keyword research into the phrases potential customers are using to find products like yours every day (if you haven’t got it done already). Then we’ll craft all your product description text - short, main, meta and Category if required - into a format that you can simply cut and paste into place.

What’s more, you can then take that format and keyword research and write your own product descriptions from then on if you wish. Many clients now do this after we taught them how!

We offer product description writing as a one-off job, on a budget based on hours taken, or as a regular monthly service to work through all your product descriptions over time - the choice is yours.


(1) https://www.statista.com/topics/2728/e-commerce-in-canada/

Photo by Oliver Sjöström 

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