Change Catalog Copy for Search Positioning

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Does your print catalog copy do double duty as your Web site text? Though dual-purpose product descriptions make content creation a snap, they're often catastrophic for top search engine positioning.


Crackling-hot print content usually doesn't gain top search positions. Writing for the Web has different best practices than writing for a print catalog. And if a catalog page doesn't position well for its main search terms, it's basically invisible in the engines, losing potential profit every day.


Search engines index the words on a page. Typically, if a search phrase isn't on a page, the page will not position for the phrase. Flowery product descriptions and imprecise prose aren't searched upon. Precise product descriptions are. For example, if a page for "women's cashmere sweaters" discusses a "touchably soft garment that elegantly drapes your body" - and the words "women's cashmere sweaters" don't appear on the page - your page won't position well.


Three tips will help spice up your site text for sizzling search engine positioning. Also, you'll discover new content opportunities you can leverage to snag searchers during all purchasing cycle phases.


Describe products in additional product-selling detail. Longer text is better text for the engines. Pages written for search engine purposes are ideally 250-300 words. This length lets creative writers easily use the keyphrases sufficiently to gain page relevancy for the term as well as preserve the marketing message.


Depending on the product, it may be challenging to pen 250 words, but even 100 words can boost search relevancy for desired keyphrases while providing customers more benefit-related information.


If you're a print cataloger, that means a text-length paradigm shift. Not to mention that lengthening the copy can seem like a near-Herculean task for a site with thousands of SKUs. However, there is an upside: The more information customers have about a product, the more comfortable they feel buying from you, especially for high-ticket items.


If your pages suffer from short-and-stubby-copy syndrome, don't worry about rewriting all your pages at once. Prioritize the pages that are most important to overall branding and sales and focus on them first. Some products benefit from FAQ information while others need additional benefit-oriented text. Develop a strategy to describe products in more detail while focusing on two or three keyphrases per page.


Does your site have product pages with a longer word count? Sometimes editing your text for keyphrases does the trick. Simply replace generic terms (like "our product") with a more specific keyphrase that you researched (like "our titanium golf clubs"). Keyphrase editing reduces the immediate need for a rewrite while still boosting the page for keyphrase relevancy.


However, some text can't be edited without losing its conversion flow. If inserting keyphrases causes the text to read poorly, rewrite it instead for optimal SEO and marketing tactics.


Gain trust with top-notch product information. People in the product research phase seek information, not the "Buy Now" button. Want to reach people in the early stage of the buying cycle and be considered a trusted resource? Include informative articles on your site and capture consumers at both ends of the buying cycle.


Let's say a customer wants to learn more about the Prada handbag line, and your site sells Prada handbags. Write an article about the history of Prada handbags and place it on your site (linking to your most popular products, of course). If you sell digital cameras, an article about how to buy a camera would help a confused consumer searching for information. Furniture sites can provide home decorating tips, guiding people toward the best chair to fit their room environment.


Articles are powerful search marketing and conversion tools. They give customers the information they crave, can cross-sell products and gain good search positions. Your site becomes a valuable purchasing resource, and customers get the information they need and the product they want from one source.


Revise page titles for keyphrase use and "clickability." A common place that good search engine efforts go bad is around the page title. In search engine optimization, the title is the blue bar above every Web page. It is also the clickable link on the search engine results page. Consider the page title like the title of a book. It should explain clearly what the page is about.


But many sites have the same title across the site such as the company name (Welcome to XYZ.com!). Other titles have only the category name (women's clothes online shop) and aren't differentiated for each page. Search engines rely on titles as a major part of their ranking determinations, so a descriptive, keyphrase-rich title (preferably with a benefit statement) is key.


If you sell books, include the book title in the page title. If you sell electronics, include the brand, make and model number (Banco digital camera DX5445-9). And if you can include a call to action or benefit statement in 50-75 characters with spaces (the best practices length for a page title), even better (Banco digital camera DX5445-9 - free shipping!). Your page will see improved positions from a keyphrase-rich title, and a compelling title can garner impressive conversions from the search engine results page.


Leveraging a catalog site's content for top search positions can mean a tremendous increase in search positions. By tweaking site titles, revising content and providing value-added new content, your site will be visible during all phases of the buying cycle.


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