If you run an e-commerce website, then the design, content and SEO of your product pages will be crucial to the success of your business, especially if all of your sales are made online rather than through a bricks and mortar premises.
So what is it that makes a good product page? What are the elements that will clinch a sale? And what do you need to know about ecommerce SEO for product pages?
Having worked with many clients to improve their product pages, I’ve put together my essential guide to the 19 elements of product pages that convert.
When people search for a product in Google, they will decide which link to follow in a matter of seconds. Having a properly optimised URL is one way to make your product listing stand out.
What do we mean by an optimised URL?
An optimised URL is a web address that’s easy to read and understand. The searcher and search engines can see from the URL alone that the page it leads to is relevant their query.
For example, if you were to search the Marks and Spencer website for women’s dresses, you would be presented with this optimised URL – http://www.marksandspencer.com/l/women/dresses – which clearly shows that the page you land on will be relevant.
On the other hand, if you were to go on to the Argos website and search for ‘Lighting’, you would be taken to a non-optimised URL. Although the categories of ‘Home and Garden’ and ‘Lighting’ are in there, they’re hidden amongst a lot of extra characters:
The benefit of an optimised URL is that the searcher could even guess the URL they want and have a good chance of arriving at the right web page without searching on Google for it first.
Relevant title tag
As you are no doubt aware, the title tag is the main link at the top of a listing in Google and can also be viewed by hovering your mouse over the light grey tab above the address bar in a search engine (see below).
As with an optimised URL, by giving each product listing its own unique and relevant title tag, you can help searchers to see which search result is most relevant to their needs.
Using the ASOS listing for this Ted Baker skater dress listed above as an example, a searcher would be able to tell at a glance that the link will take them to a Ted Baker skater dress with bow detail. OK, so the colour, length or design may not be obvious but the title tag gives visitors a good idea of what to expect before they’ve even landed on the ASOS website.
Place your product title carefully
It’s worth giving some thought to where you place a product title on a product page. Heat maps and eye-tracking software tend to show that people read a web page in the shape of a capital F or, sometimes, a capital E. This means that they:
- Start in the top left-hand corner and read across the page
- Then skim the information down the left-hand side of the page
- In most cases, people will read the copy across the middle of the page (typically above the fold where you would scroll down to read more)
- They then skim down the left-hand side of the page again
- Some people may read any information along the bottom of the page above the footer
With this in mind, most people agree that the best place for a product title is on the top left of the screen or, if you decide to place the product image on the top left, then the title works best when it’s left-aligned at the top of the screen to the right of the image.
In case all those left and rights have left you dizzy, here’s two different examples:
As we can see, John Lewis features the title on the top-left of the screen above the product images.
Amazon, on the other hand, leads with the product image in the most prominent left-hand position and then has the product title to the top-right of the image.
High resolution images
This is arguably one of the most important elements of a product page that converts. For a customer buying online, they don’t have the opportunity to pick up and handle a product the way they would in a shop so they have to rely on the pictures you provide to give them a true sense of what they’re buying.
On a product page, it’s recommended that you feature an image that’s large enough to show the full product and include the option to zoom in so that they can view the product in detail. You might also want to provide pictures taken from different angles that visitors can click on to view larger versions.
Fashion retailers, Next, do this well on their product pages. The screenshot above shows that you can hover your mouse over any part of a high res product image on the left of the page to view a close up of the picture (the image on the right).
The images are high enough quality to show the stitching and seams of an item of clothing. There are also front, back and close-up images of each item to the left of the main image and you can click on these to see a large, high res version. In addition, there’s the ‘Superzoom’ option, which gives you a full screen view of each image. This is arguably as close as you can get to a product without being about to touch it.
For clothing product pages, you might also consider showing models with different body shapes and dress sizes wearing the same item of clothing to help buyers visualise how the clothing would look on them.
Rent the Runway is a brand that excels at this. On many of their individual product pages, they not only show different size models wearing an item of clothing, but also a gallery of customer photos and reviews so you can see what the clothing looks like on non-models. Check out this Cobalt Marilyn Gown with 153 customer photos of women of all shapes and sizes wearing it.
Unique product descriptions
From an SEO perspective, in particular, it is important that each product page features a unique and high quality product description. This will help buyers and search engines understand what the page is about, which is crucial to ensuring that the product listing appears in relevant searches.
We would strongly advise that you avoid using manufacturers’ descriptions as they are likely to have been used on multiple sites and could mean your site is penalised for publishing duplicate content. In addition, manufacturers’ description are often quite dry and feature-focused.
When writing your product descriptions – or enlisting someone to write them for you – try to think in terms of the benefits of the product. Look at each feature and ask the question, “So what?” In other words, what advantage does it have for the buyer?
Finding the right length for your product descriptions will be something you need to test. The sweet spot will depend on your brand, the individual product, or its features and benefits. One option is to show the first 50-80 words of the product description with a ‘Read more’ option so that buyers can find out more about the product if they want to.
It can also be effective to feature some ‘at a glance’ benefit-focused bullet points near the top of your product listing page next to the main image, and then some tabs further down the page covering more detailed information such as the product description, technical specifications, refunds & returns policy, shipping or postage.
Give quantity and colour options
If you have a product that’s available in multiple sizes, colours or materials, your best option is to have a single product page with different colour options.
Using Next as our example again, we can see that, on the product listing above, there’s a dropdown menu for the colour options, complete with a small swatch showing each colour. When you click on one of these colour options, the product images change to reflect your colour choice. You can then interact with the new high res images in the same way as on all of the other product pages. People can also choose the ‘Fit’, ‘Size’ and ‘Quantity’ of their order from the same product page. This makes the process of buying a product as simple as possible.
Use product videos
Going back to our earlier point about potential buyers not being able to interact with a product online, product videos often the next-best solution and a step-up from static high res images.
With videos, you can show your product in use, highlight its features and their benefits, show different colours and design variations, and much more.
Bellroy is one company that has been praised for its use of video to highlight the benefits of its slim-line leather wallets or combination phone wallets. The videos are short, styled to reflect the Bellroy brand, and answer common questions about the products at a glance.
Another benefit of adding videos to your product pages is that they will increase the amount of time buyers spend on your website (the ‘dwell time’), sending a positive signal to Google about the relevance of the content.
Electrical retailers, ao.com, have reported that buyers are 120.5% more likely to buy after watching a product video and will spend 9.1% more per order, on average. In addition, people who view videos on ao.com increase their dwell time by 157.2%.
Feature user reviews
In our Definitive guide to online reviews: where to feature them and how to get them, we looked at how user reviews influence buyers. In this article we saw that reviews can be the difference between whether or not someone makes a purchase.
Positive reviews can help to alleviate common fears about buying:
- Will it be money well-spent or will I regret my purchase?
- Will the product do what I want or need it to do?
- Is it high enough quality?
- Will it fulfil my needs?
When people read authentic reviews, it can go a long way towards creating peace of mind.
Vendasta recently published 50 statistics about online reviews that give plenty of food for thought. Some of the key takeaways are that:
- 92% of consumers now read online product reviews
- 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
- Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a product or business
- 80% of us trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews in their buying decision
- The presence of reviews on product pages creates an 18% increase in sales, on average
- 89% of consumers form an opinion after reading up to 10 reviews
- 95% of consumer suspect censorship or fake reviews when they don’t see any bad reviews
- On the flipside, one to three bad reviews would be enough to deter 67% of shoppers from buying a product
- Only 14% of people would consider buying a product with a one- or two-star rating
- If a business can show that it resolves bad issues quickly, 95% of consumers will purchase from that company again
If you don’t currently feature reviews on your product pages, we would strongly recommend that you reconsider.
Make the ‘Add to bag’ option easy to find
Whether you choose to feature an ‘Add to cart’, ‘Add to basket’, ‘Buy now’ or ‘Add to bag’ option on your product pages, it needs to stand out and be easy to find.
There are different ways to create a prominent call-to-action button; you might try using a contrasting colour, changing the size and position of the button, or different wording. WordStream recently published a helpful article looking at some of the most effective call-to-action button designs.
To give you an example, look at how prominent the ‘Add to basket’ feature is on a Firebox product page below:
The black and white button stands out against the predominantly white page, and is given higher priority than even the product benefits or description.
The same approach works well on the IWOOT website – as we can see, there’s no missing ‘Buy now’ button with this design:
Make the price clear
When buying a product, most consumers expect the price to be clear from the outset. If buyers can’t see how much a product will cost, they are likely to leave and look for a website that is more transparent about pricing. After all, what do you have to hide?
As well as clearly stating the price of a product, you should show the cost of postage or whether there is free postage/shipping. In the IWOOT example in point 8 above, we can see that they clearly state ‘Free UK standard delivery over £10’.
Feature the product code
If you send out a print catalogue or marketing emails that give items a product code, then I would recommend featuring the product code clearly on your product listing. This will help people who have been prompted to order from browsing the catalogue to find the right product page.
Here, we can see a screen shot from the Simply Be website. I’ve marked the product code with a red square to show its prominent position on the page:
Add social sharing buttons
As we saw in point 7 above about featuring user reviews, word of mouth recommendations are the lifeblood of ecommerce websites. By adding social sharing buttons to your product pages, you make it easier for people to tell their friends and family about products they love.
After a purchase on Amazon, for example, you’re often given the option to share what you’ve bought on your favourite social media networks. Each social media share acts like a vote of confidence in a product.
Include trust signals
As you will no doubt have noticed, many of the elements of an effective product page relate to building trust and breaking down the barriers to buying. As well as featuring authentic reviews, clear pricing and shipping information, and social sharing buttons, there are other trust signals that can reassure buyers.
Do you offer a no-quibble Returns Policy or Money Back Guarantee? What security measures do you have in place to protect your customers’ financial data? Your customers will appreciate it if you let them know what protection you have in place.
In the snippet from the product listing above on eBay, we can see that before you scroll down the page for a detailed description of the item, you are shown various trust signals. At a glance, we can see that the postage is free, the item will be dispatched within one day, various payment options are available, there is a 30-day refund policy and the seller pays the return postage, and finally your payment is protected under eBay’s money back guarantee. In just a few words, eBay’s product listings go a long way towards reassuring customers about their purchase.
Keep your product pages uncluttered
A common mistake on product pages is to include so much information about either a specific product or all the other product categories, special offers and cross promotions that the page loses focus.
To help make buying a product as simple as possible, I always recommend removing unnecessary distractions from the page and including plenty of white space to help the design features on the page – particularly the product images and ‘Add to basket’ button – stand out.
Another benefit of having an uncluttered product page is that it will load quicker than busy, content-packed pages. As page speed is a positive ranking signal for Google and important to consumers too, this helps streamline the user experience.
Look at opportunities to cross sell/up sell
Although it’s important to keep your product pages uncluttered, many businesses are successfully able to feature cross selling and up selling opportunities on their product pages.
Let’s go back to the Next website.
As we can see from the screen shot above, when you view an item of clothing, Next often gives a ‘Style with’ section where you are shown other products that you could style your purchase with, including shoes and jewellery, to get the complete look showcased in the catalogue. This is a highly effective way of cross selling. It solves the dilemma of, “I love this but what would I wear it with?” by giving easy to order suggestions.
In the screen shot below, we can see that Firebox takes another approach to cross selling by featuring a ‘Related products’ panel. This is ideal for the shopper who looks at a product and says, “I’m on the right track but this isn’t quite right. Do you have anything similar?”
The ‘Related products’ panel looks a lot like an Instagram feed, a style that will be familiar to many shoppers.
The key is to ensure that you only attempt to cross sell products that are relevant to the shopper.
Add a live customer service facility
This may not be the right option for every ecommerce website, especially if you’re a sole trader or only have a small team, but many businesses see an upturn in sales as a result of adding a Live Chat facility.
A recent blog by Kissmetrics about Live Chat brings together some eye-opening stats:
- 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer
- 90% of customers find Live Chat helpful
- 63% are more likely to return to a website that features Live Chat
- 38% of consumers have made a purchase as a direct result of information provided in a Live Chat session
Live Chat has many benefits for both buyers and businesses. From the consumers’ perspective, Live Chat means they can ask a real person questions when they’re relevant without having to queue or pay to speak to a call centre or rely on an email being answered. The person on the other end of the Live Chat is likely to have good product knowledge and may even bring the consumer to a product that would be more suitable for their needs, engendering good will and word of mouth recommendations. Buyers are also able to multitask during a Live Chat.
For your business, Live Chat can save on staff time and costs, as well as reducing the costs of running a call centre. Live Chat also gives your sales staff the opportunity to cross sell or up sell by displaying their product knowledge.
It’s important for customers to feel that they’re talking to a warm, friendly and helpful customer service representative. Live Chat provides a human interaction, which can often feel like it’s missing from online brands otherwise.
Breadcrumbs are defined by Web Bee as ‘links that allow a user to track their path from the page they are currently viewing to the home page of your website. They appear close to the top of your page and reflect the structure of your site’.
Most well-known online ecommerce websites use breadcrumbs to help customers navigate between product and category pages. I’ve highlighted the breadcrumbs on the ASOS website in the screen shot below. It shows exactly what path I went down to get to that product page but, more effectively than Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, it also shows me the path back to the main category pages and home page.
Show stock levels
A growing number of retailers have accurate links between their stock management data and their ecommerce websites, which means that they are able to show, in real time, whether or not a product is in stock.
IKEA is one company that uses this feature effectively. As we can see from the screen shot above, you simply search for your nearest store to receive accurate information about whether a product is in stock there. This is especially important as many of IKEA’s products are only available in store and people often travel significant distances to reach their nearest branch.
Amazon shows stock levels on its product listings, advising people stock is running low. This helps to create a sense of scarcity and urgency in the buyer. For example, parents wanting 2016’s Christmas ‘must-have’ present – a Hatchimal – may decide to place their order quickly after seeing that there are only 13 of this variation left in stock (see below outlined in red):
Think about the SEO of every description
As with all web pages that you want to appear in search results, you should spend some time planning the SEO of every product listing on your website. As an overview, each page should feature a unique:
- Title tag
- Meta description
- H1 heading
- Image alt tags
- Unique product descriptions
- Optimised URLs
When thinking about the keywords buyers would use to find a product, you can take one of two approaches, i.e. opt for a fairly generic phrase such as ‘ladies jeans’ or a more focused long-tailed phrase such as ‘Skinny Jeans Womens Slim Fit’.
The former might attract a higher quantity of searches, but how many of those would be looking for slim fit skinny jeans? With the long-tail approach, you may attract fewer searches but a far higher proportion will be looking for the product you’re selling. You should, therefore, see your sales increase.
You might also want to try using model/product numbers and/or brand names in your title tags and headings to help people narrow down search results to the most relevant products.
Don’t forget to add personality and stay ‘on brand’
So, there you have what I consider to be the 19 most important features of product pages that convert.
Across all of these points, remember that it’s more than fine to inject some personality so that your product pages reflect your brand. One of my favourite websites for this is Lush with its memorable, often cheeky product names, and fun, slightly irreverent copy. There are some other fantastic examples too – check out J Peterman, Firebox, Cartier, and Not on the High Street for product descriptions that stay true to the brand.
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