FunnelKake’s E-Commerce Guide to Optimizing Product Titles and Descriptions

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Frequently, e-commerce clients come to us with a website that’s performing poorly in organic search and sales. In many cases, the problem is with product titles, product descriptions, meta titles, and meta descriptions that weren’t optimized following best practices. It usually falls to us to update thousands of products to optimize them for organic search. Quickly.

FunnelKake has created a primer for our e-commerce clients on best practices for entering product titles and descriptions to give them a strong start out of the gate. What follows is a stripped down version of that guide.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCT TITLES

Optimal Product Title Length: Be as concise as possible while still communicating what’s necessary to identify the product. The on-page length is your choice if you are also adding a meta title. If not, use no more than 60 characters, or it will be truncated in search results.

A product title should always contain:
• Brand (even if the Brand appears elsewhere on the page. Not necessary if it’s your own brand.)
• What the product is (chair, drill, bandages, sweater, earrings, mug, game) – in most cases this is a noun
• Necessary descriptors to set it apart from similar products (but only what’s necessary – color, size, model, brand line, etc.)

Examples:

Typical product description:

[brand] [brand line] [type of product] [additional description]
  • Kate Spade New York All In Good Taste Tea Kettle – 2.5 qt
  • Vans Asher Slip-On Sneaker – Women’s
  • Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Athletic Fit Dress Shirt – Performance Stretch Flex Collar (this is a bit long, but the collar may be a significant factor for search)

In some cases, like that of hardware, tools or computer equipment, model numbers or part numbers should always be included in the product title, as users frequently search with these numbers.

For instance:

  • Senco Duraspin EA0301 Bit #2 Square Head
  • HP 501534-001 Memory PC3-10600  4GB

If you are the manufacturer of your own products, you get bonus space in the title, because the brand isn’t necessary. In this case, use attributes like model, color, size, and style before the type of product, such as:

  • Men’s Sport Tour Bike – Green 27”
  • Hazelton Round Dining Table
  • Alphabounce Instinct Running Shoes

Takeaway
To win in search, understand your customers and how they search for products – the keywords they use are the most important terms to include in title and descriptions.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS

Important note: If you’re a reseller, never copy and paste descriptions from the manufacturer or any other reseller onto your website. This will result in your product page being considered duplicate content, and it will be shown rarely if ever in search results. You must always create a unique description.

Optimal Product Description Length: Your choice, but bear in mind that google will choose to show whatever text they want based on the user query if you do not specify a meta description.

There are 2 purposes in writing the product description: To reinforce the keywords in the title and to get the conversion.

Using our earlier Kate Spade New York All In Good Taste Tea Kettle – 2.5 qt example, your description can be of any length but would include all of the terms found in the title but not in the same order or sequence as they appear in the title. An excellent example can be found on the Bed Bath & Beyond website:

“Add eye-catching functionality to your kitchen with the 2.5-qt. All in Good Taste Tea Kettle by Kate Spade New York. Compatible with all cooktops, it features a stainless steel wire handle and lid, plus a fun “WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK” message on the spout.”

The product description can (and we encourage) include the “voice” of the site – your style of writing, and what separates you from other vendors selling an identical product. This can be key in getting the conversion.

A strictly utilitarian approach is fine for things like hardware, computer parts, electronics or tools: itemized specs work fine.  In the case of home décor or clothing, we suggest much more text so that the user can imagine that item on their bodies or in their home: how will this item make them feel? What will it help them accomplish? Play on acceptance, inclusion in community, status, or other emotional touchpoints. This is especially important in highly competitive product categories.

Your CMS may have a short description field and a long description field. Information should be unique in each field and should never be duplicated. The field which appears closest to the product image and the Add to Cart/Buy Now button should contain the most persuasive information. The field which appears farthest from the purchase point should fill in the details, contain branding statements, expand on the details, etc.

Takeaway
Any word/s on the page may appear in search results, including titles, descriptions, and meta titles and descriptions. But the most important keywords for your product should always appear in the first sentence of your description and as the first words in your title.

VARIANTS/OPTIONS

When a product only differs by attributes such as size or color, creating one main product with variants is a best practice. This saves a lot of time for you and is also what search engines prefer. Otherwise, you’ll have content between products which is virtually identical, which creates a confusing user experience.

Each variant will have the opportunity to associate an image with it. Whenever possible, attach the exact variant to the listing so that that image shows when a user selects that variant for purchase.

Using the Alphabounce Instinct Running Shoes from Adidas example above, the main product listing will contain variants for colors and sizes.

 Read More:  

Case Study: How We Grew E-commerce Revenue by 1,000%

E-Commerce Case Study: Declining Revenue and Increased Marketing Costs

How to Optimize Your E-commerce Sales Funnel

HOW TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCT META TITLES

Optimal Meta Title Length: 60 characters (more may be truncated in search results).
If the Meta Title field is blank, search engines will show the Product Title field followed by the default name of the store (whatever has been entered as the name of the website). The advantage of the meta title is the ability to shorten the title for search if it’s necessarily long on the page, or to re-arrange the keywords to optimize search. In any case, never exceed 60 characters for the meta title. Search engines will rarely show more than this.

Note: on most e-commerce platforms it isn’t necessary to add your store name after the title – the search listing is usually appended to include that. Please check the knowledge base for your provider.

Takeaway
There is no need to add keywords to the keyword field – they are no longer used by google and all keywords for search are pulled from the title, description, meta title, and meta description fields.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCT META DESCRIPTIONS

Optimal Meta Description Length: 160 characters
If left blank, search engines will usually pull the first content it finds in the product description field, which may not be the best text to get the click. Here is where you can “suggest” what you’d like a search engine to show. Whatever you place here, do not exceed 160 characters, as search engines will rarely show more.

If you’re using the shopping platforms for Google or Bing, consider that only the first 25 words (give or take, depending on device) of the title text and no description will be shown to users. This makes the order of words and keywords in the Title field very important. The basic feed only uses your on-page titles and not your meta titles, so plan your title carefully – the listing cannot be altered for the shopping platform. Some feed tools which can be added to your CMS allow you to customize the title.

Takeaway

Search engines produce what are called “dynamic search results”, based on the user’s query and web browsing history. This means that search engines may use any text you place in the title, description, or meta fields in search results. So think of the metas as “suggestions” for how you’d like your products to be represented.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE PRODUCT IMAGES

All images should be as large as possible at 72px resolution. E-commerce is quickly becoming dominated by mobile devices and the high resolution screens on these devices require very large images which load quickly. Images that pixelate, load slowly or don’t render well are rejected by consumers and search engines alike. Please check your e-commerce CMS for recommended sizes. We can’t over emphasize how important this is to your success.

Naming conventions for image files: Your image file name is a URL. SEO can be improved significantly if keywords are used to name the file. It serves no purpose for an image to be named bgtyui^%#@ or image12.jpg.

The file name for the image should always have similar keywords as those found in the title of the product:

Womens-hyperlight-down-jacket-green or Womens_hyperlight_down_jacket_green

**Alpha-numeric tags to ID the image are okay to use, but it’s best to include them after the conventional name.

Image alt tags are a meta field that search engines use to identify images. The alt tag function is usually accessed via the image editor in your CMS and is important for SEO.

As of today, search engines cannot “read” images (although that is quickly changing). For now, they must be told what the image is, so use a version of the keywords in your product title.  So a typical tag might be:

Women’s hyperlight down jacket green Or Women’s down jacket

  • Other notes about optimizing product titles and descriptions:
    Google requires that a product status field is shown. Use only the terms “In Stock”, “Temporarily Out Of Stock”, “Out of Stock”, or “Discontinued”.
  • List the UPC in the appropriate field and enable it to be shown on the page.
  • List the condition as “new”, or if selling vintage products, use mint, near mint, like new, etc.
  • Do not try to “stuff” keywords into product titles and descriptions – you’ll be quick to receive penalties from search engines.

Content updated October, 2018

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