A lot has been said about SEO and Google algorithms. Internet is full of tips and advice to optimize content and make it rank well on search engines. With the eCommerce boom, specific practices to make product content more appealing and increase online sales have arisen.
Product pages are a sensitive step on any customer’s journey. First of all, their content is what attracts traffic and drives sales, with keywords related to the product. Moreover, the information they provide is key to make or break the journey and help brands and retailers land sales.
Therefore, arranging content smartly on your unique product pages has a high impact on SEO and conversions. You can use tabs, chunks of texts, bullet points, flows with images… Every section has its benefits. But is it better to describe key features using bullet points or to articulate long descriptive texts? Let’s see the advantages of adding key features to your product page in bullet points in comparison with long text descriptions.
|Advantages of Bullet Points||Advantages of Text Descriptions|
|Better filtering and navigation||Strengthens brand image|
|Can be used for schema.org markup|
|Optimization for ranking in marketplaces|
|Easily answers FAQs|
A note on duplicate content
Before we even go through the pros and cons, we should address the most concerning topic about using bullet points for product pages: will the use of attributes across my site lead Google to penalize my site for duplicate content?
Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar.
First of all, brief and short content (bullet points) does not represent a substantial block of text. This is the main reason why, for instance, in order to avoid their algorithms to consider copyright texts as duplicate content, Google suggests adding very brief summaries that link to a single page with more details.
Moreover, algorithms are getting increasingly clever and they are to a large extent able to understand the nature of the content.
Google considers store items shown or linked via multiple distinct URLs as a non-malicious duplicate content.
Therefore, as long as the item has brief and precise attributes, a unique URL, different images, different SKU and different product title, etc., it is very unlikely that Google penalizes your site.
You can also reinforce your strategy by applying schema markup—a strategy we will cover below—on your product pages to help them understand you are selling distinct products.
Another thing to keep in mind is that using descriptive texts doesn’t necessarily mean you are saved from duplicate content. Many eCommerce sites and marketplaces carry out a practice that can severely damage SEO—they copy and paste the description sent by the manufacturer or the brand. As you might not be the only one selling that product, other sites could be doing the same. This would lead the sites using this content to competing against and cannibalizing each other.
Advantages of Bullet Points for eCommerce SEO
During an average website visit, users usually read only 20% of the words. This is due to online shoppers not willing to spend a lot of time reading product content showing benefits and features. Product information must be, therefore, easy and fast to read, and that’s how bulleted lists can simplify users scanning process.
But how does this translate into better SEO? Well, first of all, Backlinko published a list of Google Ranking Factors, among which we can find bullet points. Google ranks pages not only based on content but also based on how it is conveyed to your visitors.
Moreover, we know Google’s third most important ranking factor is RankBrain, a machine learning system that ranks search results taking into account how users interact with them. Therefore, as most people who browse for products are “skimmers”—they quickly scan the content—a more user-friendly approach with bulleted lists where they can easily find what they’re looking for will retain users’ attention for longer. This will help you reduce bounces and increase average time on page—two variables Google takes into account for the ranking.
As we’ve seen, UX and SEO are highly interrelated. Attributes can be leveraged to improve your store filters with type-specific details. This will help users narrow down their options and navigate in your online store in a more intuitive way. Let’s not forget that well-structured websites have better ranking as they provide good usability.
Schema is a markup language that is supported by all the search engines. It helps structure data in websites and, in the case of eCommerce, it helps search engines understand different things about the products a retailer or a brand is offering.
Some of the attributes that can be labeled are the product type, the reviews or feedback from shoppers, the amount of stock left, the different color options, the dimensions, the product’s brand and much more. So, what do we achieve with this? First of all, it helps you rank better, as Google is able to actually understand the content. Moreover, some of the attributes or labels (for instance, the ratings) can be already shown in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). This increases product visibility and CTR for your store items.
Making your products rank higher in marketplaces—where others might be selling items really similar to yours—can be difficult. Bullets help you make your competitive advantages stand out. Some marketplaces, like Amazon, actually request brands information in bullet point format, as they believe bullet points help customers in their decision process. Amazon search algorithm easily indexes those bullet points. Therefore, the strategic placement of keywords in bullet points can make your products rank higher.
When organizing important information in bullet points, we summarize the essential content. As most consumers do not really read pages, but instead, they scan them, concise and scannable content like bullet points can help your customers locate the important information. In fact, according to a Gerry McGovern study, only 1 person out of 15 is able to find relevant content when it is not placed in a scan-friendly section on the page. Therefore, placing important specifications in bullet points can help decrease the number of inquiries about product features and confusion among its benefits. It can also help reduce abandonment, one of the important SEO metrics of a site.
Pros of Text Descriptions for eCommerce SEO
Although 55% of consumers spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page, sometimes text descriptions, with the appropriate length and compelling copy, can drive conversions. Although not many take the time to read everything, for those who do, a copy that appeals to their emotions can make a difference. Bullets cannot exactly have that same effect, as they only point out important information.
However, if you go for long descriptions, remember they have to be unique. As we’ve seen, eCommerce SEO best practices recommend to never reuse long descriptions sent by a manufacturer or provider.
Single words in the form of isolated attributes can hardly convey an image or help you build a character around your brand. Using convincing text might strengthen brand image and help you create a unique world for customers where your tone-of-voice is recognizable among other brands.
Should we combine text descriptions with bullet points?
As we have seen, both long text descriptions and bullet points with specific features have benefits in SEO, usability, and conversion.
On one hand, text descriptions provide a more compelling content to convince customers, but they are also likely to be skipped by a large portion of customers who would not take the time to read them. On the other hand, bullet points with key features are more likely to attract customers’ attention and provide them with the information they need, but they miss that human approach and compelling tone only articulated texts provide.
Combining both can be a good approach to increase conversion on your product pages and satisfy the different needs of customers while making sure your content is perfectly optimized for search engines.