Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Dan Kern in June of 2015 and revised in 2018. While a lot of the original content still stands, algorithms and strategies are always changing. We’ve updated this post for 2021 so it may continue to be a helpful and accurate resource.
Good products will only get your online store so far. To drive traffic to your site and convert those visitors into buyers, you need compelling copywriting.
Content writing for eCommerce websites contains many of the same approaches as general SEO copywriting. But there are a few strategies unique to this industry that should be included in your home page, product, category, and blog page content.
By performing eCommerce copywriting services for dozens of online businesses, we’ve identified exactly which best practices drive the most traffic and conversions. And we’re going to share them with you in this guide.
Use these tips and tricks to create copy that motivates your customers to action and boosts your revenue numbers. And remember: If you want some professional guidance creating your eCommerce copywriting strategy, our team is always happy to help.
What is eCommerce Copywriting?
Copywriting for online eCommerce stores refers to the copy you create for any page on your website. This can include product pages, category pages, landing pages, product descriptions, and more.
eCommerce copywriting is designed to inform and educate the user — but to also push them toward a final checkout. How individual brands and stores approach this varies wildly, but they often use consumer psychology, knowledge of their purchase funnel, and other research to build trust with their customers.
How SEO Copywriting Plays a Role
In order to create effective eCommerce copy, you have to keep general SEO copywriting practices in mind, too. After all, before you can convince consumers to purchase your products, you need to bring them into your site with proper SEO techniques.
In short, SEO and eCommerce copywriting work hand-in-hand to increase sales and revenue by performing two main functions:
- Communicating your message to the reader and convincing them to take an action (i.e. contact you, make a purchase, etc.)
- Communicating to the search engines what the page is about and the user intent you are trying to serve with the page
General eCommerce Copywriting Best Practices
Your eCommerce business is unique, so your copywriting strategy should be, too. Before you dive into the strategies below, you need to identify what makes your products stand out from the crowd and what your brand wants to communicate to buyers. This will inform your strategy and make your content for your eCommerce website stand be that much more effective.
That said, there are a few practices we recommend every business follow to get their content ranking on Google and pulling in the right customers. We’ve included a few of them below, but you can also check out our eCommerce copywriting guide for a more comprehensive list.
1. Complete proper keyword research and sorting.
Keyword research is a must for SEO copywriting for eCommerce products. This vertical (and, most likely, your industry) is a crowded one. Even the best content will get you nowhere if it’s not optimized for search engines.
Before you start writing, conduct your keyword research. It will help you understand your current page rankings, competitor keywords, and the user intent behind the queries are you trying to rank for— in turn, making your content more effective.
You can use any of these tools to get started:
Note: We’ve created a guide on competitor keyword research using Semrush. You can replicate this process using Ahrefs, too.
Once you find your keywords, we recommend sorting them into three different categories:
- Primary keywords: the best combination of relevancy and search volume
- Secondary keywords: second-best combination of relevancy and search volume; unique from the primary keyword
- Tertiary keywords: third-best combination of relevancy and search volume; unique from the primary and secondary keywords
Separating your keywords into categories allows for more effective targeting strategies.
2. Use internal links.
Internal linking not only helps your content rank well in search engine results, it also motivates your consumers to move deeper into your website. When you link to other products and categories, your customer has the opportunity to learn more about your brand and your offerings — and you get more chances to push them toward a final conversion.
Our general rule is 1–3 internal links per webpage, but that strategy should vary based on the type of page you’re writing for (more on that below).
3. Always write with the customer in mind.
Writing for the web is very different than writing for anything else, and it’s especially true for eCommerce websites. Your customers have short attention spans; they’re looking for answers to their questions and the right product for their needs, and most of them don’t want to spend a long time in the research process.
When content writing for eCommerce websites, focus on the user benefits and perspective, not your store or brand. Give consumers the product details they’re looking for upfront, and don’t beat around the bush with flowery language.
This means highlighting:
- Product features, details, and descriptions
- Sales and discounts
- Reviews and testimonials
- And shipping and return policies
4. Follow copywriting best practices.
High-quality, compelling copywriting is not just for your website; it should be employed across all your content, including social media, email marketing, and more. Take the time to research copywriting best practices (we’ve listed a few below).
- Use the inverted pyramid. Lead with the good stuff, and tell your reader right away what they can expect to find on this page. Most web visitors don’t make it to the bottom of the page, so grab their attention at the beginning to increase the likelihood of conversion.
- Avoid using exclamation points or all caps to emphasize a point. It’s distracting, and it feels like you’re yelling at your readers. Your copy should demonstrate the user benefits clearly on its own and not rely on formatting additions to do the job. (If it doesn’t, you’ll need to go back to the drafting board.)
- Use a variety of formatting styles. Use bullet points, subheadings,FAQ, and quote features to highlight important details and prevent reader fatigue.
- Be clear and concise. Omit unnecessary words, and use short paragraphs and sentences in a welcoming tone of voice. Long, complicated phrases are for textbooks and academic theses, not for online stores.
Note: If you don’t have copywriting experience, you’ll likely find your best success working with eCommerce copywriters who can implement these strategies quickly and efficiently.
eCommerce Copywriting Guidelines By Page Type
Every page on your eCommerce site performs a different function, and your copywriting strategy should reflect that. We’ve detailed our approaches below, based on what we’ve seen make the biggest impacts on organic traffic and conversion rates.
Home Page Copywriting Tips
Your home page content serves a few purposes:
- Engaging your customers
- Displaying the categories and products they should check out first
- Setting a brand look and feel
Your content, design, and functionality will all work together to accomplish these goals. We recommend a few eCommerce home page best practices to increase conversion rates and user experience, as well as the copywriting strategies detailed below.
Some businesses will overlook content for visual appeal on their home page, but we recommend having between 400–600 words of unique content, too. This allows you more room to use keyword variations (in a natural way and with a core focus), link to internal content, and get your point across.
Meta & On-Page Keyword Targeting
Branded keywords are the only way to go on an eCommerce home page. Even the most broad of product keywords will likely fail to rank. Instead, you want to use branded keywords to allow those who are looking for your site to find your home page easily:
- Meta Title (under 55 characters, including spaces): Target branded keywords, including your company name.
- Meta Description (under 150 characters, including spaces): Target branded keywords. Your copy should include a call-to-action to motivate searchers to click.
- On-Page Title/H1 (typically 2–5 words): This should be your company name.
Your home page is the entry point for many of your customers, and proper internal links will guarantee they move deeper into your site (and be more likely to make a purchase). It’s a good idea to highlight top categories and products here.
We recommend working with an eCommerce conversion rate optimization expert to determine where these links are most successful. With all the image links to categories and products, linking within your copy may not even be necessary.
A home page is no good without engaging images and video. It’s a good idea to work with a designer or developer to see how your copy and media work together prior to publishing. Remember, they should both drive action from your site users.
If you did your keyword targeting right, you shouldn’t need to update your content, because you’ll already be ranking for your branded keywords. However, switch out your copy and images as needed to represent any promotions, sales, new products, or more that you want highlighted on your home page.
Category Page Copywriting Guidelines
Content on your category pages helps consumers understand which types of products are available in this category and the benefits to them — as well as tell Google what the category topic is. It can also be used to build your brand’s credibility about the topic at hand. For example, if your company is one of the largest online retailers for your products, use your copy to express that — and to increase buyer confidence and conversions.
Your eCommerce category page content should orientate your visitor to the topic of the page and help them decide what to do next.
We recommend using about 100 words of content at the top and placing at least 200 words of additional content (like helpful product articles) at the bottom of your category pages.
Here’s an example from one of our clients. Their top-of-the-page content clocks in at 52 words, but introduces the category succinctly and includes valuable keywords.
Below the category and product grid, customers can learn more about pool chemicals in a 900-word article on the topic (where our client can also add more keywords).
Meta & On-Page Keyword Targeting
To maximize your keyword usage on category page content, follow these strategies for targeting:
- Meta Title (under 55 characters, including spaces): Target the primary keyword first and then secondary keywords. It should accurately describe the category.
- Meta Description (under 150 characters, including spaces): Target all keywords. Your copy should be action-focused and mention core benefits.
- On-Page Title/H1 (typically 2–5 words): This is the category name. It should target the primary keyword phrase and be very specific. An example: Use “Men’s Outdoor Hiking Boots” instead of just “Men’s Boots,” if the specific products are all outdoor hiking boots for men.
- Basic Descriptions (75–100 words minimum above product grid; extra 200+ words of content to the bottom of product grid, if possible): Target all keywords once, and target multiple keywords with one usage where possible (such as when the primary keyword is part of a longer secondary keyword phrase). Boldface the primary keyword once using “<strong></strong>” tags.
To boost content relevancy, link to 1–3 related categories/sub-categories contextually within a category description. This also assists your consumer with navigation to different areas on your site.
Because category pages already include images of the products (typically as a product grid), we don’t recommend adding images within the copy — especially when writing copy for above the grid. Adding any media there will push down the product grid and negatively impact your conversion rate.
In addition to their typical use, category pages are great ways to bring attention to a popular product or time-sensitive promotion.
But, however you use them, category pages should be maintained regularly. Remove out-of-stock products and completed promotions, and make sure to fix any broken links that occur.
Product Page Copywriting Guidelines
eCommerce sites typically have many more product pages than category pages, so this is where you can separate your business from the pack and convince Google’s algorithm that your product page content (and overall site) is of higher quality than competitors.
These are highly converting pages, so make them read naturally, make them compelling (focus on the benefits to the customer), and make them unique. Be specific in your descriptive details. You want someone to buy this product? Earn it.
Product copywriting should include at least 100–200 words of unique content. However, if the product is complex and/or highly competitive, we recommend the page have 250–500 words of unique content.
Meta & On-Page Keyword Targeting
Product pages are a completely different animal compared to category pages. The biggest reason: You don’t have to do keyword research for product pages.
Because the product name or model number is the keyword.
However, we do recommend using other keywords on these pages, too. Secondary and tertiary keywords can be used in conjunction with the product name (the primary keyword) within the various elements of the product page.
Use a combination of these in your meta data:
- Meta title (under 55 characters, including spaces): Target the product name first, then the generic keyword at the end. If room is available, the brand name can be added. Example: “2015 Nike Air Jordan – Basketball Shoes | Foot Locker”
- Meta description (under 150 characters, including spaces): Target the product name and the generic keyword. Keep your copy action-focused and mention core benefits to the potential customer.
- On-page title (H1): Simply use the product name.
You should also use keyword targeting in your product descriptions:
- Basic Descriptions (75–100 words): Standalone short descriptions should use the primary and generic keyword 1–2 times.
- Standard Descriptions (130-200 words): These are ideal for long product descriptions where product pages have both a short (top-of-page) and long (bottom-of-page) description. The first paragraph (25–50 words) could be used as the short description, and the full description can be used as the long description. Use the product name and generic keyword 2–3 times.
- Premium Descriptions (250-500+ words): This is for a client’s top products, so they should dive deep into the details and benefits of the product. Use the product name and generic keyword 3–4 times. Answer common questions about the product, such as “What does the fabric feel like?” or “What kind of material was used in its construction?”
An example: Product pages for our client Mountain House use a standard description model. First, users can read a short, top-of-page description:
Further down, they can read more about the product in a section we use to target even more keywords:
Like with every other page on your site, you should include internal links on your product pages. Focus on links to informational pages or posts directly related to the product that could be helpful to the user. Avoid excessive, unrelated links that could derail a user’s purchase intent.
Keep the actual description clear of the distractions of embedded images (you should, however, place compelling images near your copy). You might also add a video of the specific product to provide more information and potentially increase conversions.
Because a product page’s focus is so narrow, content updates are usually not required on a keyword-targeting front. However, make sure to keep your product pages updated with new product information, especially if they end up going out of stock.
Articles & Blog Post Copywriting Guidelines
Long-form articles and blog posts are often a critical part of an eCommerce content marketing strategy. They provide opportunities to not only target highly relevant keywords for your site, but to also answer your consumers’ questions, educate them about your products, and motivate them to make a purchase.
Before you start writing (or rewriting) blog posts for your site, we recommend completing a thorough eCommerce content audit to maximize your efforts. (Our SEO team can also handle this step for you.)
Content writing for eCommerce websites favors “big content” for articles and blog posts. How long this content needs to be depends on which keywords you’re targeting:
- Long-tail keywords: Minimum of 500–750 words
- Competitive short-tail keywords: 1,000–5,000 words
The longer (and more informative) your content, the better you can exhaust the topic, wow the target audience, and attract backlinks.
Meta & On-Page Keyword Targeting
Because blog content is so important to SEO success, pay special attention to your keyword targeting strategies here:
- Meta Title (under 55 characters, including spaces): Target the main keyword at the front of the title. If there’s still room, try to incorporate a secondary keyword or another keyword variation.
- Meta Description (under 150 characters, including spaces): Target the main keyword and other variations; these keywords will be bolded in search results. Include persuasive language or a call-to-action to boost click-through rates.
- Main Heading/H1 (typically 2–5 words): Target the main keywords and other keyword variations. We recommend a different H1 from your meta title; your H1 has less restrictions compared to a meta (“title”) tag, so you can include more keywords and write in a more user-friendly way.
Internal linking is a boon to blog posts and other long-form articles. Link to relevant categories, products, and other blog posts for your topic. This is also your only chance to customize anchor text for target keywords on those internal links, so take advantage of it.
Images and other media can break up long chunks of content in your blogs. They’ll also increase dwell time on the page. We recommend adding images for each section of your blog to boost reader engagement.
Each image should be compressed for speed and have appropriate alt text. You should also optimize file names to avoid the generic and unsightly “img_123456” title.
Blog posts and other long-form content can experience a process known as “content decay.” What ranks well at one point will usually decline in performance over the years as search algorithms and searcher behavior change. If you see a dip in organic performance and clicks, it’s probably time to reoptimize your content with new keywords, fresh content, and new strategies.
When you’re done, republish the content with a new date to reflect your changes.
Develop Your eCommerce Copywriting Strategy Now
SEO copywriting and eCommerce copywriting can be tricky, but with the tips and tricks listed above, you’re in good shape to start writing or rewriting your current on-page copy and improving your metadata. Follow these guidelines to rank better for the keywords you are targeting, increase traffic and conversions, and ultimately make your site more revenue.
Want an experienced marketer guiding you through your eCommerce copywriting strategy? Our SEO team has worked with dozens of online stores, and they’re happy to help you maximize your content anytime. Request a free proposal now to get started.