SEO Copywriting Checklist: Are your product descriptions costing you customers?

Are your product descriptions converting your prospects?Welcome to another video in the SEO Copywriting Checklist series!

Today’s video is addressed to those of you in e-Commerce retail, and asks: are your product descriptions costing you customers?

Tune in as Heather shows what works, and what does not, in well-optimized product copy:

YAWN…There’s Nothing Here That Screams “Buy Me!”

Well-written product descriptions are a blind spot for a lot of e-retailers, as evidenced by this first screenshot: you have the picture, and then a very, very short description of the product.

As written, the text certainly does the job in terms of the product’s technical specifications, but it doesn’t have any descriptive copy that screams “buy me!”

There’s nothing here that is targeted towards the reader that will tempt them to take that next conversions step.

Compare this example to what you’ll find on the lululemon site…

Great, Descriptive SEO Copy

This second screenshot is actually just a snippet of the product page. There’s a big picture at the top and there are the technical specifications for the shorts down below, but there the similarities end.

The product description is definitely SEO copy – the keyphrases are in there – but the tone and feel of the content is very fun: it’s engaging, and it’s highly targeted towards their audience.

And the lululemon copy provides much more information about the benefits that people will realize when they buy these shorts, as opposed to the previous example.

So you can see how this content is much more compelling. Especially if you’re dealing with products with a higher price point, then the more compelling the content, and the more you can demonstrate that value and the benefits, the more items you’re going to sell!

Highly Descriptive Copy Sells – And Makes You More Money!

At the end of the day, highly descriptive product copy will help you make more money from your site. So if you’re selling products online:

– Think beyond super-short product descriptions.

I know in a lot of cases you may think it’s easier to just do it short and sweet, and let the picture do the selling, but in many cases people want to have more information. And because…

– People can’t touch the product online – so you need to create highly descriptive text.

Rich, descriptive copy helps potential customers visualize what it would be like if they owned that product, so it definitely helps them take that next conversions step.

And like the lululemon example, you can…

– Use tone and feel to differentiate your offer.

This is especially important if you are selling products that other retailers sell online as well – and it might be that you and your competitors have similar price points, as well.

So who are people going to buy from?

They’re going to buy from the site that they “click” with the most, so that tone and feel of writing towards the target audience can really help generate more sales!

Thanks for joining me for this latest installment of the SEO Copywriting Checklist series! As always, if you have any questions at all, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at [email protected], or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

photo thanks to StormKatt

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Increase conversions, sales, & coverage with behavioral targeting

Two words – “behavioral targeting” – describe a technique that seems far too foreign to the world of online marketing and website optimization. In fact,  it’s something that most web developers are not even aware of.

However, the possibility is quite high that the sites that you frequent and find pretty impressive already use this technique. And chances are the popular sites of top grossing businesses owe it to this magnificent technique.

So what is behavioral targeting anyway?

Behavioral Targeting – Entering the Basics

Behavioral targeting are two important words that you need to be familiar with as you develop your website. In the world of online business and site competition, behavioral targeting is a very effective technique used to increase campaign prowess and reception. It is a technique often used by advertising companies to capture and hold the interest of their target market.

The Magic of Behavioral Targeting – How It Works

Behavioral Targeting requires a good study of the target market and the interests to which they directly cater.

Two kinds of behavioral targeting coincide with two types of website content advertising. First is onsite behavioral targeting, and second is network behavioral marketing.

Onsite behavioral targeting is what you would most often see in sites that publish news and other similar updates. It taps directly into the browsing patterns and behavior of the user and analyzes his or her interests from this data.

From this set of characteristics and analyzed patterns, the site conveys a pre-programmed offering of content in order to satisfy the interests and tastes of the site visitors – encouraging them to dig deeper into the site and stay longer.

Then we have network behavioral marketing. This type of marketing is more suited for advertising companies, since it taps directly into networking sites where potential customers are. This type of marketing also observes the browsing history and behavior of the site visitors, thereby enabling the advertiser to directly show the visitor the type of product promotions that s/he is most likely interested in seeing and actually buying.

Increasing Conversion Rates with Behavioral Targeting

When you visit a site, in reality, these two types of targeting are coupled so as to bring you the content and advertisements that you’re most likely interested in.

On one hand, the steady flow of related content is brought by the programmed data, via the virtue of onsite behavioral targeting. On the other hand, the ads generated in the site itself as you browse is brought by network behavioral targeting.

A visitor is bound to be more receptive to, stay longer on, and delve deeper into the site because of the relevant, targeted content that s/he receives. The ads are specifically targeted to cater to his interests as well, which makes the site all the more captivating.

How Does Behavioral Targeting Increase Sales?

Illustrating how behavioral targeting increases sales is relatively easy. If you’ve ever browsed online marketing sites such as eBay or Amazon, you know that as you “click around” those products you find interesting, you will be prompted to check out a list of recommended items based on your apparent tastes. These lists have been created with the interests of the visitor in mind and surely, it has worked wonders for generating secondary on-site sales.

How Does Behavioral Targeting Increase Coverage?

By providing the most targeted, relevant content to site visitors, online marketers are likely to inspire them to share their positive experience with other potential prospects.  And by very simple math, more recommendations will mean more visitors, which in turn will mean more reach for your site.

For more information, check out Maxymiser‘s guide to behavioral targeting and personalization.

Happy targeting!


About the Author ~ Ruben Corbo

Ruben Corbo is a freelance copywriter who specializes in tech, online marketing, and smartphone related topics. He’s recently been diving into Behavioral Targeting & Personalization and A/B Testing. When Ruben is not writing, he is writing and producing music for short films and other visual arts. You can find Ruben on Twitter via @WriteOnTheDot.



photo thanks to heretakis (Lefteris Heretakis)




Tap your customers’ psyche to create powerful content

Greetings! You’re in for an intriguing SEO copywriting video today, as we enter the realm of customer psychology – specifically, tapping your customers’ psyche to create truly engaging, powerful content!

Based on psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” Heather walks us through the emotional (and motivational) levels of the psyche and illustrates how to tie your copy into each one with specific website examples.

So tune in to learn how to make your copy resonate with your customers on their deepest psychological levels, from their most basic physiological needs to their lofty esteem needs and aspirations.

As you’ve most likely gathered from Heather’s webinars and/or some of her blog posts, she discusses the psychology of copywriting a lot. The reason?

  • People make their buy decisions based on psychology: they ultimately buy based on their emotion.

Granted, they do their research, talk to their friends, and do their due diligence, but at the end of the day, their buy decision is an emotional decision.

That’s why…

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

…is so important to copywriting.

  • If you can tie your ad or website copy to something that is part of your customers’ psychological hierarchy of needs, you can write more compelling and powerful copy – content that resonates with what your customers’ are thinking about, are worried about, and/or want to achieve.

This first graphic is a little reminder of what Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are, which you may recall from high school or college: at the base of the pyramid are the basic physiological needs for survival, then progressing (evolving) upwards through safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and finally, self-actualization.

This psychological “needs” pyramid represents what Maslow thought we all experience, as we move beyond our instinctual physiological needs of food, water, etc., to the need to become self-actualized human beings.

So what follows is how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can inform and improve your copywriting, illustrated with specific examples from the Web.

Physiological Needs

The Help-4-Homes (Save Your Home Today!) website is a great example of content that is targeted to basic, physical needs: it is geared towards people who are almost in foreclosure and face losing their house.

This is very freaky situation for folks to deal with – they’re confused, they’re scared, and they’re looking for options. The web copy reflects the readers’ feelings with a checklist of concerns: has your mortgage rate been reset (and you can’t afford it)? Have you suffered a financial hardship?

Then at the end of the copy is a really powerful testimonial from a client who affirms that she was going through this problem and contacted the company, and the company was able to help her.

  • The copy ties into those elemental physiological needs and hits those high points with a checklist of concerns, followed by reassurance via a strong testimonial.

If you’re in an industry where physiological needs are the motivating factor, you can look to this example as a template for writing copy that is far more detailed and compelling than just “We can help you save your house” or “We can help you beat foreclosure.”

Safety Needs

An example of a website that addresses the psyche’s need for safety is ADT: they “specialize in home security.”

If you’re in the mindset where you want to buy a home security system, ADT’s benefit statements are most reassuring: it is the gold standard in home security; they offer a personal emergency response system; there is video surveillance plus intrusion detection.

  • These benefit statements are crucial because they help the reader feel safe. They let the reader know that he’s at the right place, he’s working with a company that can help him, and that understands his needs.

So if you’re working with a company that deals with safety, ADT’s web content is a fantastic example of a different way to approach the copy. And again, it is far more powerful than just “We’ll help keep you safe”, as it details specific benefits to help the reader feel at ease.

Social Needs

Here is another core psychological need that we all have, and one that can be tapped in creating copy (and images).

In this example of Pottery Barn’s website, you’ll notice that it really doesn’t say all that much. The company’s writers could do a lot more to flesh it out and make it seem more social, certainly.

But what grabs you is the picture: this cozy table setting with four glasses of wine. It tells a story. Somebody has been there, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the view of the water (presumably Chesapeake Bay). It conveys a very comfortable, social type of environment.

  • So not only can you use words to tie into one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but you can also use images. Remember that you’ll want to make sure that your images are helping to reinforce what you’re saying in the copy.

Esteem Needs

Finally, we’re going to end our discussion with the psyche’s esteem needs: these are the people that want to impress, and that want the best of the best.

The website example here is Dream Homes, where you can browse these spectacular homes and luxury rentals located all over the United States and Mexico.

It is definitely about “living the dream.”

So if you’re working with luxury goods and things that are more exclusive, you could tie your copy into Maslow’s “esteem needs” in his hierarchy: that will help people connect better, because that is precisely what they’re looking for.

  • Folks with esteem-based psychological needs are seeking that exclusivity, that rarity and privilege of an experience that not everyone can have – one that they know they’ll be able to talk about and remember all their lives.

A Concluding Thought

If you’re a copywriter and want to learn how to write better, especially for conversions, then you’ll want to do a lot of reading around psychology. The more you understand about what makes people “tick” and the underlying psychology of their motivation, the better your content will be!

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s SEO copywriting video how-to! Do you have a question about SEO or Web writing for Heather, or a suggestion for a topic, please let her know via email, at [email protected], or Twitter, @heatherlloyd. See you next Monday!


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photo thanks to BetterWorks, Inc.




4 content optimization tips for e-commerce websites

Guest Author, Nick Stamoulis

E-commerce sites often struggle with their SEO. Boring, bland product descriptions make up the bulk of the content, the URL structures are often a mess and because they rely so heavily on graphics the site speed is very slow and most of the site looks blank to the search spiders. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no hope for e-commerce sites when it comes to optimizing their content! SEO best practice guidelines still apply, but an e-commerce site might have to approach it differently than another site.

Here are 4 content optimization tips for e-commerce websites:

1. Make the product descriptions unique.

One of the most common problems plaguing e-commerce websites is that they all use the same product description sent over from the manufacturer. How are you going to make your website stand out when your content is duplicated across a dozen other e-commerce sites? Why should a potential customer choose your site over the competition? Rewrite the generic product descriptions so they include your unique selling point! Don’t be afraid to beef up the product description if you need to; the more content you have the more information there is for the search spiders to read and index. It is also easier to incorporate keywords naturally when you have more content to optimize.

2. Add customer reviews to product pages.

Customer reviews can help from both an SEO and user-experience standpoint. Online buying has become a very social activity. Consumers want to read peer reviews BEFORE they make a purchasing decision so they know it’s the right decision for them. Why let your potential customers venture off site to read a peer review when you can build it right into your website? This helps build consumer trust in your e-commerce site and might be the last push a visitor needs to become a customer. Consumer reviews also gives your site more unique content for the search spiders to read and index.

3. Create Meta data templates

If your e-commerce site is relatively small, writing unique Meta tags, Meta descriptions, title tags and H1 tags (elements of on-site SEO) might not take that long; if your site has 3,000 pages it’s another story. One way to help speed up the content optimization process of an e-commerce site is to create a dozen or so Meta data templates that you can use at random throughout your site. For instance, a Meta description template for a furniture e-commerce site might look something like this:

Shop online with [COMPANY NAME] to find unique [ROOM] furniture sets in a variety of wood types and stains. Click here to order your new [ROOM] furniture.

They could use that Meta description (and slight variations) for the dining room, bedroom, living room or kitchen furniture pages of their site. Over a large enough site, it won’t read like duplicate content. By changing up the targeted keywords depending on the page you can optimize them accordingly.

4. Try different call-to-actions

At the end of the day, an e-commerce site’s job is to sell your company’s products. One way to help your conversion rate is by changing up the call-to-actions throughout your site. For instance, with the holidays rapidly approaching you could incorporate call-to-actions such as “Buy now and guaranteed delivery by Christmas” or “Spend $50 or more and receive free holiday shipping!” There is no “perfect” call-to-action or incentive that is going to make all of the visitors to your site buy right then and there; so change it up! Find the right call-to-action that seems to resonate best with your target audience. Remember, each site is different so what works for your competition might not always work for you.

About the Author – Nick Stamoulis

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing a Boston based full service SEO firm. One of the top SEO solutions, Brick Marketing has over 12 years of B2C and B2B SEO experience. You can contact Nick Stamoulis at [email protected]

Writing for print vs. Web: 5 tips for catalog copywriters

Confession: Catalog copywriters have yelled at me during an in-house training. Two separate times.

Teaching print copywriters the difference between writing for the Web vs. print can be an interesting challenge. A common misconception is that Web SEO copy is “thin,” keyphrase-stuffed and poorly written. So, when I start talking a mile-a-minute about “putting keyphrases into content” and “Title tags,” the first reaction is often something like:

“What the hell is she talking about? Stick random words in our copy just for search engines? No way.”

That’s when the yelling starts (and the real learning takes place.) By the end, they’re totally on board with the “writing for Web vs print” fundamentals.

If you’re a print catalog copywriter looking to make the leap into Web SEO writing, here are some things to consider (and yes, you can yell at me if you need to!). :)

Yes, this means that you have to include certain words (otherwise known as keyphrases) in your copy. However, the keyphrases should never detract from your content’s “voice” or flow.

    • Keyphrases are your friends.

Adding keyphrases (the words people type into a search box to find your products)  help people easily find your product pages  – and it’s a must-do strategy for top search positions. Otherwise, it’s like writing a fantastic catalog description, but only mailing the catalog to a few people. If you want to maximize the number of people who see your product page, keyphrases are key.

    • Longer copy is a good thing.

Does writing only 50-75 words for a print catalog seem stifling? Time to rejoice – the search engines reward product pages with original, descriptive and keyphrase-rich Web copy. You still want to write tight content that’s easy to scan, but know you have more room to move with the copy length.

    • You can learn Web SEO writing – even if you’re not a “techie.”

It’s true that new terms like “meta description,” “H1 tags,” and “Titles” can initially seem intimidating. An easy way of remedying this is matching the SEO term to a concept that’s more familiar to you. Your headline goes in the H1 header tag. The meta description is like a short abstract. Titles are the headlines that appear on the search engine results page. It’s really that simple.

    • Writing for the Web is a must-have skill set.

Hamilton Davison, executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association, predicts that mailing costs will skyrocket 22 percent this year or next. More than ever, catalog companies are reducing the number of print catalogs they mail, or discontinuing their catalog all together. This means they’re looking for copywriters who can blend traditional print catalog writing guidelines with Web SEO copy best practices. If you don’t get the training you need, you may miss out to a less experienced (but more Web savvy) writer. Now is the time. Really.

5 post-Panda strategies for optimizing your e-commerce site

Welcome back! In this third post of her Q & A video blog series, Heather addresses the oft-asked question:  How can I make my e-commerce site better for the search engines? Many smaller to mid-sized e-commerce companies are now striving to make their sites as good as they can possibly be, after suffering the fallout of Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.

Over the past financially-stressed year, many e-commerce companies simply lacked the resources needed to produce high-quality, original content.  So they’ve been hurt by Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.  But there is a shiny silver lining to this setback, as Heather explains:

Common E-Commerce Issues:

  • Mayday Update: Many SMB’s without the financial resources to invest in content generation were “downgraded” by Google because they simply duplicated the product descriptions from the original manufacturers of the goods offered.
  • Farmer/Panda Update: Those businesses without the money for content creation were also hurt due to “thin” and/or “low-quality” content.  These folks may have tried to build out keyphrase-laden pages to drive traffic, or were stuck with the same old products pages with no fresh or original copy.

Whatever the circumstance, these smaller e-commerce companies are at a huge disadvantage right now.  But the silver lining is that this setback presents a fantastic opportunity for these businesses to give their e-commerce site a complete “make-over.”

So here’s what to do (over) if you find your e-commerce site hurting from Google’s algorithm changes:

1) Figure out what’s working, and what’s not: Seize this opportunity to delve deep into your analytics and look at things like bounce and conversion rates. The information you glean can provide you with a road map as to what to do next.  For instance…

2) Are you using the right keyphrases? Upon entering the e-commerce world, you may not have completely understood what keyphrases were or how to work with them. Or your original keyphrases may have brought in traffic at the start, but may be not the best, qualified traffic. Again, this is a great opportunity to go back to the beginning and re-evaluate.  You may well discover other keyphrases to focus on and leverage for SEO.

3) MessagingDo you address your prospect’s primary question of what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Revisit your benefit statements: do they explicitly tell your reader what’s in it for them? Are the tone and feel of your site targeted to your perfect customer? Are you bringing out the best benefit statements that you can? This is a golden opportunity to make your site as tight and wired to your customer as possible.

4) What else can you “tweak?” Consider what other elements could be improved to help make you money.  For instance:

  • Do you need to change your page Titles? Probably. See what you can tweak to increase both your ranking and conversions.
  • Could you add customer reviews? This is a great way to build out original content on your products pages.
  • Can you build out different types of content (video, podcasts, other types of descriptive content)? Ideally, your product page content should be unique – not just a reiteration of the original manufacturers’ copy.
  • How can you leverage your blog to help you with sales? Your blog presents an ideal venue to “soft sell” and link to your site’s product pages.  It doesn’t have to be “sales-y,” and in fact shouldn’t be. Written deftly, your blog content can go a long way towards supporting sales.

5) Checking your analytics, determine what your top-performing pages are and start re-writing those first. Look at the top 20-percent of your site’s highest-performing pages, and begin your copywriting do-over with these.

Yes, this website “do-over” does mean an investment of time and money, but the silver lining is that once you’ve gone through the process — taking the time to do it right — then everything else will fall into place:  your site will be well-optimized for the search engines, will better serve your customers, and you’ll see a greater return on your investment!

Thanks for joining us! Do you have a SEO copywriting or content marketing question? Zip it on over to Heather at: [email protected], and she may well answer it with next Monday’s video post!


















Drive revenue with benefit-specific, targeted product pages

Welcome back!  In today’s video post in our ongoing website writing series, Heather Lloyd addresses how to write conversions-driving  product pages.  Last week, Heather discussed the essential strategies for writing a killer home page (as well as the not-so-hot tactics).  Today, she tackles how to write benefit-specific, targeted product pages that will drive revenue.

If you’re new to the how-to series or could stand a quick review, it might be helpful to check out Heather’s previous posts on Features vs. Benefits and Transforming Ordinary Features into Extraordinary Benefits.

Well-Written Product Pages Drive Revenue

Product pages are “money pages,” and if you own an ecommerce company, your product pages present a spectacular opportunity to improve your conversion rates.  You have a fantastic chance to first, improve the overall copywriting itself and second, improve your search engine optimization.  So let’s look at what is great, and what isn’t so hot:

What’s Hot and What’s Not So Great:

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that your #1 Goal is to  Sell the Product

You want your prospect to land on your products page and immediately think, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want and I’m hitting buy now!” With this priority in mind, here are specific ways to help our readers do just that with targeted copywriting for our product pages.

1. Product-Specific Benefit Statements (vs. Feature-Oriented Content)

This is a HUGE opportunity that a lot of companies miss out on.  You may have an incredible amount of product features – color, weight, dimensions, etc. – but key to your conversions is to explicitly highlight and translate the benefits implicit to those features so your prospect says “Yes!” Specifically addressing that “what’s in it for me” is precisely what will sell your product.  (Again, recommended reading are Heather’s detailed posts about features vs. benefits, and transforming features into benefits).

2. Product-Specific Keyphrases (vs. General Keyphrases – or None At All!)

Here’s where you can dig in to your analytics and do your keyword research to figure out the best overall keyphrase strategy for your site, as well as drastically improve your conversions:  look into SKU’s, specific product and category names, and designer search terms.  With this data, you’ve a great resource for discovering those keyphrases ripe for optimizing both your products page and your conversions!

3. Directed and Original Content Written with your Customer Persona in Mind (vs. Simply Uploading the Catalog/Manufacturer Copy)

While Google’s taken steps with its Farmer/Panda update that does not reward mere uploads, beyond that you want to rewrite the generic catalog/manufacturer copy so it speaks to your customer persona.  While refining and honing the copy like this means more time and more resources, know that you don’t have to do it all at once.  You can baby-step your rewriting, focusing on the most important content first.

4. Clear Call to Action (vs. Long, Scrolling Content where the “Buy Now” Button is Buried)

The idea is to make it easy for customers to buy your products.  A clear and visible call to action will go a long way towards improving conversions – you don’t want to make prospects work to make their purchase.  This is where an A/B split test can be applied to see what works best for conversions in terms of the placement of your call to action.

5. Highlighting Overarching Company Benefit Statements (vs. Hiding Them in Copy or Not Mentioning Them At All)

Again, this where a lot of businesses miss the mark.  Specials, discounts, free shipping, and other such benefit statements should be made clear and obvious to the prospect.  You can’t assume the customer knows about your company’s sales or special offers – don’t hide these great benefits in the copy!

6. Fantastic, Benefits-Oriented Title (vs. So-So Title Filled with Product-based Keywords)

The power of a benefits-oriented, compelling title cannot be overstated!  A well-written, “clickable” Title not only improves click-thru rates on the search engine results page, but is far more likely to result in conversions than a Title that merely lists keywords separated by commas.

One company that has product pages down is Brookstone.  Clearly thinking of “search-ability,” the company incorporates a keyphrase into their product name, and pairs it with a benefits statement and product-specific SKU:  “OSIM Comfort Massage Chair.”  Looking at the company’s product page, you’ll notice they’ve also incorporated customer reviews, great content, benefit statements, and answers to customer questions. The Brookstone product page is a good example of how to do it right.

Thanks for tuning in for today’s video how-to!  Be sure to check in next Monday, when Heather will address how to write a killer services page.  See you then!