The word category, like many other important words, is a Greek word that means “phrase” or “property/structural unit of a language”. In fact, we are dealing with a particularly important word, because the purpose of category is to inform us about the meaning of an object, an idea, or a philosophy, and to classify it into our value system. But don’t worry – the information in this article isn’t about complex philosophical terms – we will be solely focusing on your business success.
Category descriptions are meant to classify and describe the different types of products in your online shop. We are assuming that you have more than one specific product to offer. But even if you are offering just one single product – for example a ballpoint pen – this product must be described and presented in detail for the benefit of your customers. If additional stationery is added – such as pencils, fountain pens and other related accessories including refills, ink cartridges, etc. – these should be placed in separate categories for a better overview.
Creating categories and corresponding subpages in web design is nothing new. Nevertheless, many businesses are reluctant to write category descriptions or don’t know how to use them correctly. The reason for this is probably the misconception that the huge effort involved in creating useful and meaningful descriptions about the product has no favourable relation to the actual category text.
This perception is simply wrong, because category descriptions are just as important for content marketing as blogs, guides and group forums. They are great for boosting your website’s search engine rankings and improving the visibility of your products on the web. More importantly, quality category descriptions pave the way for conversions and make your goods sell faster. Incidentally, content marketing is just as important for small and medium-sized businesses as it is for the international firms.
The main focus of this informative page is to help you create powerful content and the importance of category descriptions for your business success.
What you will learn on this page:
Do you even need sophisticated category descriptions?
If you want to succeed in e-commerce and sell more than one specific product or group of products, then the answer is yes. You need good-quality category descriptions. When describing product categories, it’s about helping your customers keep track of your products and discreetly guiding them through your online shop.
But it is not enough to just feed your online shop’s visitors with superficial descriptions saying: “These are great products, they are green and yellow, big and small and please buy them now”. Your customers want to buy what they really need. Therefore, they attach great importance to being informed about the exact specifications of a category as well as the characteristics and benefits of the products offered. Category descriptions are more important than the description of the products themselves. If a customer does not find meaningful information about a particular product in the category description, they are not likely to click on it and will move on to another shop. It’s very easy to provide a whole range of search results about your products in Google, but once the customer clicks on the link, they will leave right away.
If, on the other hand, you can shine with category descriptions that offer detailed information with added value and even stand out with facts and interesting tips, which can only be found on your website, the users will stay. Yes, sometimes the results will be even more positive for you. Because satisfied customers, who are guided by helpful and engaging texts through your categories, often decide to buy things that they do not even need.
Ask yourself: “What makes a good online shop?” Would you rather fill your virtual shopping cart in a store that offers you an informative added value and takes your problems and requests seriously? This is especially true when it comes to items that you do not know much about and you would be happy if the seller clearly defines what you can do with those items. The product category description virtually replaces the consultation that you would have with customers in your store. Although no purchase takes place on the category page, it is the initial step to your product descriptions and the button “Buy Now”.
In the modern world of online marketing, the principle of sales pitching no longer has a future. Buyers are barely impressed by offensive advertising promises or colourful pop-up banners. The excessive attempt to attract customer attention has even led some firms to be boycotted by the public. Instead, the Internet users are on a customer journey during which they choose an online retailer that they trust the most.
If Internet users happen to find their way to your online shop, they have made this choice themselves. Word of mouth, your SEO or just pure chance will lead them to your site. All you need to do is make sure that they stay and buy your product by creating powerful category descriptions.
Today’s consumer buying habits: e-commerce is changing
Various studies have shown that most consumer buying habits have adapted strongly to the possibilities of the online world. For example, in 2018 there was a published study on the new buyers’, which sheds light on the preferences of today’s consumers.
One of the most important findings from these types of studies were: The trade from bricks and mortar shops and department stores continues to decline. Meanwhile, almost 100 per cent of customers under the age of 50 prefer to shop in online stores. After all, around 80 per cent prefer shopping on the web in the age group of up to retirement age. The retail sector is still seen in a positive light as it offers the possibility of trying on the goods before buying them and consulting with the salesperson beforehand. For this reason, furniture or cosmetics, for example, are still preferred to be purchased in brick and mortar stores. However, clothes that could be tried on in shops are now often bought online.
Most importantly, retailers should also be able to offer digital services in their brick and mortar stores – for example, product codes that can be scanned via smartphones – in line with the modern online world. Younger consumers in particular now expect this.
Many consumers find the long queues at the checkouts annoying. When shopping online, there is no queuing or waiting to be served. There is no more walking to the shops, all you need to do is turn on your computer and connect to the Internet. However, online shops have their own problems. For example, the item might be out of stock, the shipping terms are unclear or the delivery costs are too high. All these can be frustrating factors for consumers. Not all website owners offer clear communication and, unlike the in-store cashiers, the online sellers/points of contact are often hard to pin down.
Online retailers should, therefore, strive to make their shops as clear, user-friendly and informative as possible. Answer as many customer questions as possible in advance. High-quality product category descriptions are perfect for this purpose.
Currently, Amazon alone has managed to provide extensive product category descriptions. However, even without these texts, the online giant’s market power is so vast that we can safely consider Amazon as the exception to the rule. To stand out from the mass number of sellers on the world’s largest trading platform, we recommend that you also write category descriptions for your Amazon store if you operate as a merchant there – appealing content also plays a decisive role in the Amazon environment .
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What a product category description should achieve
In a nutshell: A category description should make your products sell. But as already mentioned, it is not just about direct mail. Your USP or Unique Selling Proposition – if not your products, then at least your special offers – must be clearly defined. In addition, it is important to provide comprehensive information that’s relevant to your customer. Here are some of the factors that should be taken into consideration when creating category descriptions:
The well-known AIDA principle can essentially also be applied to writing category descriptions. Since you’ve already grabbed the attention attention of your customers through SEO, meta description, word of mouth, and other advertising methods, they should by now be reading your category descriptions. Only through detailed and useful information will you engage your customers’ interest.If you include all the relevant details and tips into your category description, satisfied readers will develop the urge (desire) to take action.
Before you can even start planning meaningful category descriptions, you need to define your target audience. Who are the people who primarily use the products that you offer? Which social demographic and age groups do they come from?
In order to write optimised descriptions for your target group, you should use the same language as they do, but without the use of informal words. Only descriptions for categories that are clearly aimed at young people can be casual. If your products are not typical for the mass market, but are more familiar to a smaller, specific customer group, then your buyers will be familiar with technical terms and expect to read them in the category and product descriptions. By the way, you can also explain the technical terms you use to your readers.
The category descriptions are also about proving your competence as a seller and expert in the products you are offering. Therefore, any information that enables the readers to use your products more effectively, safely or sustainably is valuable to your category descriptions. You must assure your customers that they are in good hands.
Under no circumstances should you copy / paste the descriptions of product manufacturers or even steal texts from competitors. Not only will you harm your search engine optimisation (see below), but you could also face prosecution.
How long should a category description be?
For the sake of search engine optimisation, it makes sense to maintain a certain text length in order to incorporate relevant search terms .
More importantly, your text must be long enough to include all the information that will convince your customers to buy the products in that category. If you sell products that require complex explanations, the category texts should reflect the length. Don’t worry if your category text for such a product type is 1,000 words or even over 2,000 words long.
In fact, many online shop owners make the mistake of keeping their texts too brief or just a few lines long. The visitor to the shop will be left uninformed, unless they already have prior knowledge of your product range. Of course not all topics require long texts. However, you should be able to write 200 to 300 words in virtually any category.
It may be useful to introduce specific products in the category description. So you can just select one or two of your top sellers and outline their features and benefits as an example for the rest of the range. A little care is needed here so as not to write too little or too much. Mention the product only as much as you need to explain the category. As far as individual products are concerned, their advantages are explained in detail only in the product description. The category description should include all the information that is important and interesting for the entire product range.
SEO is crucial for category descriptions
If you want to successfully sell goods on the Internet, you should optimise your special offers to appear on the first page of Google search results. We have already mentioned the customer journey above and explained that today’s customers prefer to use their own search methods to find products.
In order for potential customers to find your online store in Google Search, you should enrich your category descriptions with relevant keywords and use additional on-page– and off-page optimisation measures to increase your reach. Of course, to include a sufficient amount of keywords, it is advisable to maintain a certain length of text.
Unique Content creation is a must for successful SEO. Duplicate content leads to a poorer SEO ranking.
Headings and subheadings are not only used for better readability, but are also read by Google. Use H1, H2 and perhaps even H3 headings. H4, however, is too small for category descriptions.
In the H1 heading, the identified main keyword should be included. Google recognises the inflection of terms. Example: Our main keyword for this landing page is “category description”. In the H1 heading, we have incorporated it as “category descriptions”, so it’s in plural. The rest of the text is followed by H2 headings, which can each be subordinated to H3 headings for further inclusion of a paragraph. Make sure you follow this order, as it is important for a clean display of the category overview in the page navigation, like in a vertically arranged menu. Furthermore, browsers read the HTML tags and use them to display headings in various sizes and lengths. After all, it would look very odd to have a tiny heading over a category, followed by large headings above the sub-categories.
Incidentally, categorydescriptions that are carefully optimised for search engines increase the visibility and reach of your entire page auf Google und Co. on Google and other engines. Therefore, we recommend using the WDF * IDF principle for your categories. The focus here is on use of relevant and meaningful keywords in your category descriptions.
Furthermore, you are strongly advised to use images and name them correctly in order to get the most out of search engine optimisation from your category texts. Google’s search robots are now so smart that they can recognise content and tagged images or graphics, then evaluate whether they fit your content. So don’t write “ladiesshoes1.png”, instead say “red-ladies-shoes-with-heels.png”. Of course, the manufacturer’s name can also be included in the image name. Small tip: A browser can not detect spaces – use hyphens instead. Use Alt attributes to describe the image. Browsers also use ALT attributes to explain the content of images to visually impaired users. You should also use title tags to include the relevant keyword in the image.
Since visual information complements text content and makes navigation easier for users, meaningful image elements are rated positively by Google. However, lack of image content or the use of inappropriate images are not.
At this point, we would like to point out once again that you should only use your own product images. Take a photo of the products yourself or hire a professional photographer. If you sell products from external manufacturers, you must obtain their consent before using their images. If you don’t, you could receive a caution or – more seriously – you could face legal action.
When using SEO to sell online, it is definitely recommended to have meaningful links to other categories in your shop unterzubringen. Don’t overdo it, though. Three to five links should be enough.
Remember that SEO measures usually take a little time to take effect. The different crawlers and search robots must first cleanly investigate and index your page.
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Category descriptions and category pages designed correctly
Your category pages replace the merchandise display in a nicely decorated shop window. Accordingly, you should take as much care on the layout and design of your category descriptions as you do on the actual writing. Ideally, your category page should appeal to visitors immediately before they even read the category description. Make sure to use a clear, easy-to-read font with words that are as straightforward as possible and are evenly spaced out. In addition, the line spacing should not be too narrow so as to interrupt the flow of text.
If you use a website builder or content management system (CMS) , you may already have some design templates for your store. For these easy-to-create websites and their own shop plug-ins, countless chic themes are offered online. If they do not meet your expectations, you should consider using a web design agency.
It all starts with a descriptive heading in clear, bold letters. Meaningful subheadings and using several paragraphs also make it easier to read the text. Endlessly long paragraphs quickly become tiring for readers. Important words or paragraphs can be highlighted in bold or italics.
Bullet points also serve to lighten the flow of text. They help summarise important information at a glance and, in combination with hyperlinks, can also be used as navigation elements within the category text.
You can use bullet points for numbered or unnumbered lists. For example, numbered lists are recommended if you want to rank high with your product category description.
In category texts, you can also highlight the product’s important specifications – for example the safety instructions – in bordered boxes. Use this graphic style for highlighting the most important information about your products. Your customers will thank you for it.
Pictures, graphics and videos in product category descriptions
We have already talked about the SEO benefits of graphic and picture elements. In addition, pictures, graphics and videos mainly serve the visual aesthetics and content of your category texts.
Images function as both featured samples of your products as a link to the specific product. Click on it to get access to the respective product description.
Make sure your images and graphics have file sizes that are less than 100 kilobytes if possible. Larger files can slow down browsers. In a large online store with dozens or hundreds of product images, this can quickly lead to long loading times and frustrate your visitors.
Infographics visually prepare the content to make it look appealing through the use of easily recognisable symbols and – often comic-like – stylised graphics. This is particularly helpful for visual learners who can digest the information more easily this way.
In the last few years, it’s been shown that appealing and useful infographics are particularly popular and often shared in social media.
Category page videos are currently seen as „nice to have“. Creating them, however, is more time-consuming than taking pictures of the products, and they are not an essential element to make your product more appealing. Nevertheless, moving images have a special power, which in many cases can lead the visitor to making an impulse purchase in your shop.A video can showcase your product:: You can prove how well a knife cuts, demonstrate the different positions of an elaborate folding table or show dreamlike live footage from one of your rentable holiday homes. Since your category pages also serve to educate and inform customers, videos work as effective visual proof that confirm your claims.
In addition to self-made videos, animated clips are also well received by an audience. Complicated facts can often be better conveyed in a graphically reduced format. If you do not want to hire a professional multimedia agency, you should find inexpensive composition or animation software for amateurs. Just make sure your footage is saved in browser compatible formats. Long loading times have a negative effect on your page ranking as well as wearing out your customers’ patience.
Do you want your category descriptions to be written by a robot?
With the mass number of category texts that appear in some online shops, it might be tempting to resort to content automation. So-called robot writers or robot journalists are still relatively new on the market, but can already create grammatically-correct content. When put to the test, people could no longer distinguish between the human or robot-produced text. Behind the writing robot is an algorithm that searches content stored on the Internet or in other databases in order to create new texts practically at the touch of a button.
However, no machine can replace the intellect or creative power of a human. The biggest problem for robot writers is that they do not have the power of innovation. They do not invent anything new, because they only rehash the information picked up from the World Wide Web. They do not have a sense of humour or know how to trigger the customers’ interest in online shops. While they could describe your categories extensively, robots cannot fill your category descriptions with life.
We still believe that you will have more success when real people write your categories. Now, not everyone was born with the talent to write – as a busy entrepreneur you probably do not write often. This is when it’s best to hire freelancers who will create the text and its layout for you. You can find such writers on a digital content platform, such as Textbroker.
Use category descriptions to achieve success
Well written and informative category descriptions are indispensable for the long-term success of an online shop. It is definitely worth investing the effort here. Since category descriptions not only help your customers, but are also rewarded by search engines, they become even more useful. You can increase your online shop’s visibility, increase visitor numbers, drive conversions and attract new customers..
We wish you every success in creating the category descriptions for your online business.
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