Words Matter

Inaugural guest blog starts with an industry journalist that I have collaborated with in previous projects. Love her energy and how her mind thinks. Enjoy.
— Sonya Ruff Jarvis
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Words Matter

The way you title your product pages and the language that you use in your product descriptions can make or break your ability to be found in searches. Here, some key basic considerations for powerful SEO.

Let’s go on a scavenger hunt, shall we?

Let’s take a moment to see if we can find your products online without using the name of your business.

What would you type into Google to possibly get you there? Would you use a single word? A phrase? A series of phrases? Would you need to add a location, such as the city in which you’re shopping? What about descriptors: large, cheap, 118-inch, blue, outdoor?

Spend a bit of time and try this. See whether your store or products come up. See whether your competitors’ do. See whether someone who’s searching for what you sell would find your site.

It’s an interesting exercise, isn’t it? So often, when we present our goods to the online marketplace, we think about selling. We list the product benefits, and we include a beautiful photo. And yes, these are important--in fact, I’ll talk about images in my next blog.

But how often do we look at our products from the perspective of finding?

Step into the consumers’ shoes for a moment. When I’m shopping for new curtains for my home, I already know what length I need and what color family I’m seeking. There may be many lovely options out there, but I want to see choices that will work. And quickly. If I can’t tell from the Google results (or, if I’m extra patient/desperate, from the first page that I click on in your site) whether you have what I need, I’ll move on.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to make things easy for the consumer. Think about what a customer needs to know before he or she purchases your product. Then make sure those words are on your product page.

Those words will vary, of course, depending on what you retail, but they’re not much different from the words that a customer might use if he or she called a physical store:

“Hi there. I’m looking for a light blue microfiber armchair, but it has to be narrow--a maximum of 20 inches wide. And it needs to have metal legs. Do you have anything like that in stock? If so, how much does it cost?”

In this case, your product page should include these words: chair, armchair, blue, narrow, metal legs, 20 inches wide, microfiber. You might also add 20”, metal frame, velvet look and descriptors indicating style, such as midcentury or formal.

Your customer might appreciate your glowing description explaining that the chair is comfortable, will last a lifetime and will enliven his living room. But he’ll only know this if he finds your product page first. So make sure your product description also includes specifics, and list as many as possible in your page title without making it too long or awkward. Don’t forget to add keywords to the “alt text” for your images, too--Bing reads those, and a fair number of people use Bing.

There is an entire science behind search-engine optimization. If you have the resources, it’s well worth it to populate the backend of your website with keywords; use heads and subheads appropriately; achieve the proper length in each paragraph; regularly assess page load speed; rewrite your snippet; and so forth. What Google likes and needs from websites in order to bestow a high rank regularly changes, so you’ll also need to repeat these tasks regularly and adjust as necessary.

There are digital marketing agencies specializing in exactly this. But if you’re ambitious and slightly analytical, you can perform some basic keyword research yourself. Subscribe to the MOZ Blog and check out the free MOZ Keyword Explorer at https://moz.com/explorer. The experts behind this site are highly respected and do a good job of straddling the line between practical everyman and geek science.

At a more basic level, however, start by naming and populating your product pages with the details that shoppers are looking for. Run a few searches. Ask a few friends and colleagues to do the same. The answers might lead you to take a less narrow (microfiber) view of your descriptions and give your sales some (metal) legs.

Julianne Will, Writer | Editor | Social Media Marketer | ESL Instructor | Entrepreneur
Julianne has been published in major metropolitan daily newspapers and national magazines, as well as written print and online copy for diverse industries including wine, fitness, food, travel, retail, banking, industrial technology, real estate, commercial paint and decorating, and more. She crafts strategy, creates profiles and serves as the voice of businesses on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Julianne also has launched a small ecommerce business retailing goods that give back.   juliannewill.com | explorelocaluniverse.com