Looking for actionable information about how to write effective product descriptions?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this 4,000+ word product description guide, we’ll take a look at:
What Is A Product Description?
A product description is the most important, high-touch marketing copy that helps your online store visitors understand whether a product is for them and will influence the outcome of their purchasing decision. Product descriptions provide the perfect opportunity for you to showcase who the product is for and who it isn’t by not only presenting product features but also the pain points and value proposition, in such a way that it will compel your ideal buyer persona to make a purchase.
Sadly, product description writing is often overlooked and kept very simple or stuffed with generic blocks of text that just describe a product and not only harm your reputation but also affect your website’s ability to rank for a particular keyword.
The great thing is you can do something about it.
While we can’t promise that this guide will help you write the perfect product description for your eCommerce site or your clients’ eCommerce businesses, it certainly the best starting point. The truth is that you’ll only learn by actually putting everything in this guide into practice – so make sure all your reading doesn’t go to waste.
The Step-by-Step Process of Writing A Great Product Description
Before we dive into some product descriptions examples, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned by taking a look at some of the eCommerce success stories in the world.
1. Put Yourself in Your Ideal Buyer Personas’ Position
If you would be your target customer, what would you want from a product description?
The best advice that anyone will be able to give you without knowing your situation or saying “it depends”, is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself the following what would I want to know if I’ve never heard of [BRAND] and [PRODUCT]? Always think this way when you write product descriptions.
2. Focus on the Main Product Benefit Not Features
When you write product descriptions to the customer base as if they’re already 100% sold and just want to know more about your product is not a great way to produce a good product description.
Most, if not all, won’t be certain that they need your product once they land on a product page copy. Make use of the product description as an opportunity to showcase why people need your products, by presenting product quality benefits, not product features.
- Noise Removal
- Chatbot integration
- Built-in pockets
- Speak without the noise – be heard by call participants. Remove all background noise.
- Automatically responds to your customers’ questions (and actually sounds like a real human)
- Safely store your phone, keys, and credit cards while you run
Notice the difference between features and benefits of the product descriptions that sell?
3. Get Advantage of Social Proof in Product Descriptions
If you were about to purchase a product, wouldn’t know that you’re in good company put you at ease?
Never fake social proof such as customer reviews in your product descriptions, any blog post, or other sections of your e-commerce sites.
Not only is this highly unethical for a business owner, but it’s also extremely unprofessional. If you don’t have people happily using your product, don’t mislead people into purchasing them by making product descriptions look like you do.
If no one hasn’t given your eCommerce business direct feedback in the form of testimonials or social media reviews there are still alternative ways to improve the credibility of your product descriptions. One of which is the popular “as seen on” or “already with us” section that is common on a lot of websites.
You’ve seen it before, almost all store owners use it for their site functionality.
Knowing you’re in good hands makes you comfortable.
The use of social proof on the Rank Math homepage
No surprises here, the WP FeedBack homepage also has it.
The use of social proof on the WP FeedBack homepage
And so do thousands of other successful, highly-converting websites.
And one final example of social proof on the ContentKing price point page.
Another slightly different approach is case studies. No, I’m not talking about the kind of SEO case studies you’ll find here on Gotch SEO. To support and add to your product descriptions being able to showcase how you’ve been able to help current customers, just like Servebolt does is another great, and perhaps even more effective, way of incorporating social proof on your website.
As for how this ties into product descriptions, I would personally recommend writing a small outtake that includes all of the most important information for each case study. This will allow you to link to the full case study for those who want to learn a lot more about exactly what you did and how it was helpful.
4. Make Your Product Descriptions Easy-to-Follow
Don’t make it hard for your customers to find a product feature that really matters to them and make it easier for them to see the bullet points you really want them to.
While the content of your product description is important, on its own, it can’t make a huge impact if your page layout makes information hard to read and hard to find.
Poor product pages that likely can’t be considered helpful will have blocks of text, no images and information that hasn’t been arranged in any logical way. Of course, ensuring that your product description’s content is fairly good, but ensuring that it’s structured and organized well is equally important.
5. Leverage Product Data To Acquire Rich Snippets for Better Search Rankings
As we’ll look at later on in this post, Amazon uses structured data for its best practices. Often as Schema markup – to display additional product information in search engines. It’s extremely effective in some product descriptions because it helps your product titles stand out among other eCommerce sites – increasing the chances a searcher will click on your result.
The Rank Math WordPress SEO plugin is the perfect way to add advanced product details. The good news is that whether you’re using their full suite of SEO tools for your WordPress eCommerce websites or not, you can still leverage their WooCommerce SEO functionality in combination with any other SEO plugin for your product descriptions.
If your eCommerce website uses WooCommerce, which is a highly flexible platform for creating complex stores and have installed Rank Math, just head to your product page.
And then click edit on the specific product title that you’d like to edit and scroll down to the meta box and click Rich Snippet. This will then let you enable the Product Rich Snippet to show searchers additional product description information without them clicking through to your website.
Disclosure: I do work with Rank Math but am an avid user of their plugin – and recommended their tools – long before doing anything together.
6. Use Language That Sells: Power Words Not Keywords
While keyword stuffing used to work well on Google back in 2011, (thankfully) those days are over. Google has gotten a lot better at understanding what users actually want (search intent) and catching out people who are trying to game the system.
Here’s what you should focus on instead.
Nope, it’s not time to go and shave. This is a screenshot of one of the examples that we’re going to be taking a look at later. They use power words in product descriptions to evoke emotions and develop a connection between their potential customers and their product.
This is the time to let your product shine, don’t just paint the picture by telling a descriptive story, use powerful, convincing and specific words so your customers will understand exactly how good your product is.
7. Use a Great Product Video and Images
I’m not going to lie, this isn’t easy to do for physical products especially if you’re on a budget. The good news is that if you’re selling digital products and courses, producing aesthetic and appealing images isn’t actually that difficult. There’s a lot of photo editing software available and the key is keeping designs simple.
Physical products are a completely different story. The example of Dollar Shave Club that we’re going to look at later on is a great example.
You want your images to be true to life and realistic but you also want them to look good enough to be on your website.
How difficult producing images like this really depends on what the product actually is. In any case, images should:
- Be visually appealing (in terms of color and angle)
- Be realistic (set reasonable expectations)
- Be high-resolution – this not only looks more professional but also makes it easier for potential customers to zoom in and see minor details before purchasing
- Capture the important aspects of your product (effectively portray sizes)
One creative example of this for a clothing brand would be to have the model try all various sizes of a t-shirt or hoodie so that the customers can see how the fit varies as this will help them make a better choice for themselves.
Bonus: Templates To Help You Write Better Product Descriptions
Obviously, I must preface the product description examples below with the fact that they’ve been written for a very general and non-specific course and follow the templates almost exactly. The truth is that you shouldn’t need a template to follow word-for-word, even though these are great guidelines when you have no idea where to start.
Template #1: The “Ideal You” Product Description Template
Have you ___________________________? (struggle)
Learn to _______________ (key takeaway to overcome struggle)
without _______________ (pain and/or challenge).
(Product name) ______________
is ______________ (product benefits).
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Template #2: The “Perfect For” Product Copy Template
Perfect for ___________________________ (ideal situation),
these _______________ (product name)
can be/will _______________ (tell a quick story).
(Product name) ______________
are ______________ (top features)
to _______________ (product benefits).
No more _____________________ (pain and/or challenge).
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Template 3: The “I’ve Been In Your Shoes” Pain Point Template
I created _________________ (your product)
when I was ________________ (describe yourself before you created a solution)
and ______________________ (pain or frustration).
I wanted _____________________ (best case scenario).
That’s why I created _____________________ (product name)
with ___________________ (top features).
Now I _______________________ (product solution)
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Great Product Descriptions Examples
AppSumo – originally founded back in March of 2010 by Noah Kagan – is a deals marketplace for digital products and online services. They are extremely well-known for offering lifetime deals on SaaS products or subscription products that you would typically have to pay for every month.
As you might’ve seen if you follow Nathan Gotch on Twitter (@nathangotch) which I highly recommend you do, you’ll know he isn’t a fan of fake scarcity and urgency.
One #onlinemarketing trend I would love to see go away forever is fake scarcity/urgency.
Leveraging scarcity is one of the most powerful weapons of persuasion. But you don’t need to do it in an unethical way.
Is an extra 5% conversion rate worth sacrificing your ethics?
— Nathan Gotch (@nathangotch) September 8, 2019
The truth is, however, that AppSumo’s model doesn’t rely on fake scarcity because once a deal disappears, it really is gone unless the company decides that they’d like to resurface the deal for a second time. As you’d expect, this use of scarcity is effective. Just like Snapchat, where messages and images are ephemeral the concept just psychologically encourages action and faster purchases.
Urgency and scarcity are now widely used across marketing campaigns to increase engagement and boost conversions simply because it works. I personally (and I’m sure Nathan himself would agree) don’t like the general concept of overusing it and would carefully consider doing something with a client or on my own site that uses scarcity.
That being said, AppSumo is a different case, their business model of negotiating exclusive deals is successful and their website is also a great place to look for inspiration when writing your own product descriptions.
For the purposes of this breakdown, we’ll be taking a look at Krisp – a noise-canceling application that aims to make calling easier and more productive by removing background noise.
In case this is the first time you’ve stumbled across AppSumo – their deal pages are always very conversational. They make use of creative headlines and tell stories that help customers understand when and why you’d need the product.
AppSumo’s Product Description Model:
- Set the scene, introduce (or re-introduce) the problem.
- Enter [PRODUCT NAME]
Sounds simple enough to replicate, right? Yes, but don’t forget that you still need to give customers all the information that they’re looking for.
So, as you scroll down, the page transitions into an easier-to-digest section that breaks down exactly what you get. This is the section that most people skip to and read.
And towards the end of the page it again reminds people what they’ll get when they purchase the product and how it helps them as well as diving deeper with a demo video and screenshots showcasing the interface.
Apple obviously speaks for itself and needs no introduction.
They can also truly be considered a gold standard when it comes to eCommerce websites. Though keep in mind, Apple’s market share and authority in the industry also means that they don’t really need to go through a lot of the effort that your business and eCommerce website will need when it comes to building trust with potential buyers.
Just keep this in mind as we analyze the way that Apple’s product descriptions work – I really don’t want to say the infamous “it depends”, but I suppose it really does when it comes to looking at situations like Apple’s MacBook Pro line-up. Most people already know that they want to purchase the computer once they make it to the product page so it simply becomes a matter of comparing the different models and specifications with their respective prices to make a decision based on the buyer’s specific requirements.
This also contributes to the logic of having a reverse product description, where instead of being taken to a landing page, a user will see the information that is most important to them – also one of the easier decisions to make – the size of the computer you’d like to buy.
And only then further down on the page are you able to start comparing the base model that you’d like to purchase as is or then customize even further before buying.
This makes sense for Apple, but in most cases won’t for you. Why? Well, easy:
- Apple doesn’t need to convince you that their products are very well built. Everybody already knows this.
- Apple doesn’t need to reassure people that their site is secure and people can enter their financial information.
- Apple also doesn’t need social proof to encourage people to purchase their products.
3. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club is an American company based in Venice, California that sells razors and a sorted array of personal grooming products.
Simply put, they’ve got everything you need to look, feel and smell your best.
They’ve not only managed to build an incredibly successful business but also a website that now generates over 450,000 monthly visitors from search per month – with their brand keywords having search volumes that are far past the half a million mark.
I’m sure you get it by now – enough with the introduction already, right?
The product pages and their respective descriptions on the Dollar Shave Club eCommerce website also serve as a great example of how to present a large amount of information in a way that is not only easily digestible but is also laid out in a way that is easy-to-remember and read quickly. All while still making the product interesting and not confusing or making information hard to find for website visitors so they stay on the page instead of bouncing elsewhere to find the information they’re looking for.
So, without further ado – let’s break them down.
The images on the Dollar Shave Club do a great job of showcasing their products in an extremely visually appealing way. As I mentioned earlier in the article, this isn’t easy to do if you are on a budget, however for some products you may be able to avoid the need to produce “real” images and can stick to using mockups as long as they are true to life and portray your product in an appropriate way.
Just give me the price already
Don’t try to hide any crucial information (such as your product’s price) from people. Show this in an area that is above the fold or give them an easy way to jump further down on a page to the section that shows the breakdown of the price.
Price is inevitably going to be one of the main factors in someone’s decision to buy or not to buy your product so removing it or representing it in a way that makes it difficult for the user and results in bad user experience.
Evoke Emotion and Convey Quality with Power Words
Most SEOs writing product descriptions for eCommerce websites aren’t marketers or copywriters which often results in copy that doesn’t do your product justice. Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #3.
Butter up for an effortlessly gentle, delightfully smooth shave.
Now, be honest with yourself – how does this to compare to:
Buy Our Shave Butter Now For A Better Shaving Experience
While the second one certainly isn’t the worst we’ve seen on the internet, it doesn’t actually describe your product, evoke emotion and help paint a picture in the potential customer’s mind.
*This is not an endorsement of Dollar Shave Club, I have not used their products and do not currently work with them so I cannot comment on the quality. However, given that they have formed a large part of this post, that might change soon 😉
Don’t just shove reasons people should get your product in their face – make them want it.
Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #4. Just underneath the introduction to the product that rolls of the tongue and develops an initial connection/interest with the product – people not only see what the product does on its own.
They see what the product can do for them as well as why and how.
Example #1: Helps reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs
While this isn’t a particularly glamorous thing to talk about in this post, ingrown hairs are an apparent problem. The inclusion of this short bullet point perfectly portrays how the product can benefit people.
Example #2: Helps to fight razor bumps by providing a smoother shave
As for example #1, use your product description as an opportunity to present your product as a solution to your customers’ problem(s).
What is Amazon? If only that question were easy to answer.
Amazon Inc. is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with, Apple (which we looked at earlier), Facebook and Google. They have multiple business models spanning across eCommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, artificial intelligence and more.
There are a few things we notice solely from looking at this search result – mainly the fact that they use the review snippet to enhance their search results.
This has been proven to result in higher click-through rates, simply because it is more visually appealing and stands out from regular/standard search results. Since this is something really easy to configure for your product pages, I highly recommend trying it out using a plugin like Rank Math (the option I recommend) or another plugin dedicated to solely adding structured data like WP Schema which is another popular option.
In describing their product, Amazon also takes this opportunity to showcase other similar products. This can be really useful if you have a number of similar products but each may only be suitable for specific use cases or have certain extra benefits.
It can also be one of your best opportunities to upsell people to a more expensive product or even order bump them to other products and extra add-ons that they may be interested in.
Aside from all of the profit-driven decisions, there are also other reasons to do this though which makes the entire experience more enjoyable for your customers. Seeing the product that someone is about to purchase compared to another similar product not only gives them the opportunity to make alternative choices but it also helps them reaffirm their decision.
Are you really leading the target audience to make the best decision possible?
For the sake of your own product descriptions, this doesn’t only need to be in the form of a comparison to other similar products or that you offer, it may also be a great opportunity to show people how you stack up against your competitors. After all, for most companies and their products, the decision won’t always come down to choosing from one of their products. More often than not, people will be taking your competition into consideration so use this opportunity (since you already have the attention) to close the deal.
When doing these comparisons there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Do not hate on your competitors, give them the praise they deserve for the features that their product does have
- Don’t lie – I sure know a few examples of people who flat-out use this as an opportunity to mislead people which they know aren’t going to do their research anyway.
- Don’t go into so much detail that you lose people’s attention.
Although this is no easy feat, the key is to strike the right balance of SEO and UX. This means you shouldn’t make compromises that sacrifice the user’s experience.
5. Chain Reaction Cycles
For our next example, we’ll be taking a look at Chain Reaction Cycles – an online retailer of cycling goods based in Northern Ireland.
The reason I chose this site is because it is a little bit of a different industry because the products they’re selling are just so different and certain information needs to be presented before cycling enthusiasts or professionals could even consider purchasing from them.
While their website’s design is by no means the most modern out there, they do a great job of presenting technical information in a way that everything is still easy to find.
In the second, smaller box (above) labelled with the number two, you’ll see another easy way of incorporating social proof. While displaying reviews on your own site and adding logos in an “as seen on” section is also popular, it’s also easy to fake. Using the Trustpilot review badge makes their exceptional reputation even clearer to customers.
Beyond this, they also make it easy for customers to jump to other information to answer any questions and doubt they may have before purchasing the product right away.
While, the option to get in touch with support to ask questions should always remain in place, making useful information as easy as possible to access to remove as much friction as possible from the buying experience
Summary: Is Writing Effective Product Descriptions Difficult?
If you’ve been in the SEO industry long enough, you’ll agree that most search engine optimization questions can be answered by really thinking through what it is that the user actually wants.
That’s exactly why this guide has been written to not only help you write better product descriptions for search engines, but also for potential customers. If you’re about to launch an eCommerce store and feel overwhelmed with the amount of small yet important things you need to remember and keep track of, you should read this eCommerce SEO checklist from ContentKing next.
What tips & advice would you share with someone looking to write more effective product descriptions?
Tweet @alexjpanagis or leave a comment below to join the conversation!!
40 + AMAZING Email Marketing Statistics (for 2020)
Do you want to get an overview of what is happening in email marketing right now? Do you yearn to discover what types of emails are most successful, and what the future holds for this marketing type?
Well, then you have come to the right place. Indeed, below you will find statistics on each of the following categories:
- Email marketing and customer engagement
- The impact of emails on conversion rates
- The use of emails in customer support
- Whether customers prefer email to other forms of communications
- The future of email marketing
You’ll also find a brief introduction and summary on each section and a final summing up at the end. So what are you waiting for? Roll your sleeves up, crack your brain open, and get into some seriously sexy email stats!
1. Email Usage & Engagement
Anyone telling you that social media has killed off email marketing is sorely mistaken. Indeed, with so much potential to nurture relationships with customers and acquire new ones, email marketing is most definitely still alive and kicking.
Oh, and did you know that email marking is one of the most cost-effective kinds there is? Something that makes it pretty much vital to any successful and on-budget marketing campaign. Yep, that’s right email most definitely still holds its own in the world of marketing, and you can see there are plenty of stats to prove it below:
- 3.9 billion globally used email in 2019 (Statista).
- Global email users will grow to 4.3 billion by 2023 (Statista).
- In only 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received per day. (Statista).
- It is expected that the number of sent and received emails will grow to over 347.3 billion daily emails in 2022 (Statista).
- Welcome emails get opened 82% on average (GetResponse).
- You can boost orders by 69% by sending three abandoned cart emails. (Omnisend).
- 35% of marketers send customers between 3-5 emails every week. (Not Another State of Marketing)
- Over the last year, 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement (Not Another State of Marketing, 2020)
- 31% of B2B marketers report email newsletters are the top way to nurture leads. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
- Over 350 million dollars was spent on email advertising in the US in 2019. (Statista, 2019)
2. Email & Customer Support
There is plenty of noise about live chat and chatbots in the customer service sector right now. However, before you swap all of your customer service provision across to these tools, it may be worth taking a pause. The reason being that the stats show users still want to communicate, interact, and solve their problems via email. Indeed, email is an essential part of the customer service process. Just check out the stats below that prove it!
- Email remains the most used digital customer service channel, with 54% of customers using email customer service in 2019. (Forrester)
- Response within the hour is what customers expect when they send an email to a business. (Toister Performance Solution).
- 62% of customers want to use email to communicate with a business. Beating phone, live chat, and contact forms (HubSpot Research)
- 57% of customers prefer to contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. (Ameyo)
- 45% of executives with web or mobile self-service capabilities report noticeable reductions in phone inquiries, and 39% report less email traffic. (Information Today)
- 81% of retail businesses say reply on email for customer acquisition (Emarsys)
- 80% of retail businesses depend on email for customer retention. (Emarsys)
3. Email & Conversion Rates
While conversion rates for email marketing may not be quite as high as in 2018, the figures and the ROIs show that the email approach is still successful, a great deal of the time. Of course, a more targeted approach is preferable here, with triggered and segmented emails doing best.
- The average email conversion rate was highest in 2018 at 18.49%. (Barilliance)
- In 2020, the average email conversion rate remains high at 15.11% conversion in 2020. (Barilliance)
- Emails accounted for 19.8% of all transactions. Only paid search (19.9%) and organic traffic (21.8%) did better. (Custora E-Commerce Pulse)
- 306% higher click-through rate is what you can expect from Triggered Email Campaigns– vs. non-triggered emails. (Barilliance)
- 36% of total email revenue comes from segmented emails. (Barilliance)
- For every $1 invested, you can expect an average email ROI of $38. That is a 3,800% increase. (Barilliance)
- B2C marketers using automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%. – (eMarketer)
- Conversion rates are used by 60% of marketers to evaluate an email’s effectiveness. – (DMA)
- Click-through rates can be raised by an average of 14% (and conversions by an average of 10%) by using personalized email messages – (Aberdeen.)
- Email has the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message – (DMA)
- Conversion rates rise by 28% when a call to action button rather than a text link is included in an email. (Campaign Monitor)
4.Consumer Preferences With Email
Do customers like emails from your business? That is the critical question here. After all, you won’t want to send them if they will do more harm than good. Of course, the stats show that emails are still a very welcome form of communication from the users’ point of view and that they are associated with a range of other benefits as well, as you can see from the info below.
- 80% of respondents said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention. (eMarketer)
- The type of email with the best customer response rate is Email My Cart at 22.64%. (Barilliance)
- 43% of consumers will choose whether to open an email based on who sends it. (MailChimp)
- 43% of email users will report spam if they don’t recognize the senders’ name or email address. (MailChimp)
- First thing in the morning is the most popular time for consumers to check their emails, with a whopping 58% doing so. (Optinmonster)
- 60% of consumers prefer email over any other promotional channel. (Optinmonster)
- Users check their emails for deals from brands at a rate of 44%. (Optinmonster)
- After receiving a marketing email, 60% of consumers have made a purchase. (Optinmonster)
- Consumers hope for rewards when signing up for marketing emails at a rate of 85%. (Disruptive Advertising)
- Users open 40% of all cart abandonment (SaleCycle)
5. Email Forecasts & Predictions
What does the future hold for email marketing? Well, the answer, as you can see from the numbers below, is many things, including an overall rise in email daily usage. More personalization and better targeting are likely too. At the same time, marketers are likely to show more respect for customer privacy. Perhaps most notably, email marketing shows the potential further to increase business ROI by a massive 22%!
- By the end of 2022, over 347 billion emails per day will be sent and received. by the end of 2022. (Statista)
- By 2023 global email use is predicted to reach 4.4 billion. (Statista)
- By 2021 email clients such as Gmail will readily accept video, and it will be commonly used for email marketing. (Jarrang)
- Expect to see an increase of personalized images in emails in 2021, such as live-data weather reports. (Jarrang)
- Hyper-targeted emails will become the norm. (Campaignmonitor)
- Interactivity and animation are set to become the next significant trend in email marketing. Designmodo
- In the coming years, marketers will focus more on subscribers’ privacy, embracing privacy laws like GDPR or CCPA (Litmus)
- In 2020 and beyond, email personalization and segmentation will be increased and boost ROI up to 22%. (Litmus)
Despite the rise of newer forms of marketing, emails still have an essential role to play. Indeed, they continue to promote engagement in healthy numbers. Not to mention that they help to foster quality connections with potential customers.
Customers also prefer email contact when it comes to customer service, which is, of course, a massively important aspect of customer retention that shouldn’t be ignored. Indeed, providing the most positive experience for your customers by communicating with them in the form they choose is just good business. The reason being that you are much more likely to be able to present them with additional buying opportunities later on.
Target and segmented email continue to show excellent promise for high rates of conversions too. This means that if it’s an effective marketing strategy you are looking for, email is the answer.
Customers also continue to like emails over most other forms of communications. That they continue to open and respond to them, and they enjoy deals and rewards delivered via email. However, privacy is a significant concern for most users, and businesses need to respect this if they are to optimize their email marketing results.
Finally, things seem bright regarding what we can expect from email marketing in the future. Indeed, we can expect developments such as integrated video and personalized images to be commonplace, which will only make email marketing even more effective than it already is!
Role of featured snippets in website traffic boost
- Featured snippets account for a 35.1% share of all clicks.
- The featured snippet and knowledge panel SERP give a better click-through rate together.
- Users click on featured snippets that seem “informative”.
- Users who prefer the regular search results listings don’t click on featured snippets.
- “People also ask” boxes are an unpopular choice showing the lowest amount of clicks.
- 24% of users consider a featured snippet as an ‘Ad’ and don’t click on it.
Featured snippets are probably the first thing people see when they perform a search query. Acquiring the position ‘zero’ on the SERPs, the featured snippets dominate the page and immediately capture the attention of the viewer.
However, does it make an impact on the visitor? Do the featured snippets get more clicks when compared to the top results? How does the audience perceive them?
To answer these questions and more, we at Engine Scout recently conducted a study and analyzed how featured snippets influence searchers’ behavior and overall experience.
The methodology applied for the featured snippet study
In our study on featured snippets, we collected data from 3552 testers, who were asked to look at four different SERPs with snippets. They were required to make a search on Google related to a specific keyword and make a selection from the results.
To collect an unbiased opinion, featured snippets were not mentioned anywhere in the survey.
There were three choices for the testers to choose from: Ads, featured snippets, and regular result listing.
They were later asked which section they clicked on to estimate the Click-through rate (CTR).
What is a featured snippet and how does it boost website traffic?
The featured snippet is a summarized extract from a post that answers the user’s ‘search query‘ most accurately. It is placed above all the Google search result listings, occupying position zero.
This means no matter what your website’s ranking for a certain post if Google chooses a featured snippet from your post, it will appear on the top.
According to Ahrefs, it is 99.58% true that Google will only consider your content for a featured snippet if it is already ranking on Page #1. The other 0.42% pages that Google considers account for their ‘People also ask’ box SERP feature. This feature only receives a total of 6% click shares, for the same reason.
The ‘concise and direct‘ nature of these featured snippets motivates users to click on them. According to our study, they account for 35.1% of all clicks which translates to getting ‘extra traffic‘ to your website.
Optimizing a post to rank for a featured snippet can be tricky. Any content can be worthy of becoming a ‘Featured-Snippet,’ including a paragraph, a list, table, or even a video.
Try these three quick strategies to win more featured snippets that get clicks to your website.
1. Include direct answers to a search query in a paragraph snippet
Paragraph snippets account for 82% of the total featured snippets.
These snippets give the most relevant response to a query in a paragraph form. They usually also display a pertinent image alongside or above the text.
Here is an example of how Google shows a paragraph snippet when asked about ‘What is SERP?‘
2. Make the best use of keywords in your paragraph
Attaining the first rank in Google for a keyword requires quite an effort.
Enriching your optimized content for featured snippets with the right keywords increases your chances of that ‘Position Zero‘ in the SERP.
Try to include question-oriented keywords in your content. People find search results with keywords resonating with their question as “trustworthy” and “informative.” This is the primary reason why they prefer a featured snippet over all other organic results.
Take a close look at your competitor’s featured snippets for some inspiration. Make a list of keywords that have triggered a featured snippet for them, and make your content surrounded by these keywords.
Several online tools can lessen your workload by retrieving information and keywords from the competition’s snippets. You can use them if you find it time-consuming to manually optimize your content for featured snippets.
3. Include a knowledge panel in your content marketing strategy
A box with information relevant to a search query appearing on SERP’s right panel is called a Knowledge Panel.
It only appears when the search is about an entity, for example, business, person, or location. The information inside this box lets the reader know about the entity and gives them a way to reach out to it.
Featured snippet alone offers a close competition to the organic listing for the total click share.
But pages ranking for both the featured snippet and the knowledge panel outperform the organic listings for the CTR. A double featured snippet leaves behind the CTR of organic listings, getting 42.1% of the total click share.
Therefore, it is an added benefit if you strategize your featured snippet to trigger a knowledge panel.
For reference, check out this post to see how Gennaro Cuofano structured his featured snippet with his Amazon author page reference. Google considered this reference and used it to display a knowledge panel alongside his featured snippet.
The other side of the story
Featured snippets can sometimes work opposite to their intent.
According to our study, 24% of users confuse featured snippets for Ads.
Therefore, merely optimizing content to target the featured snippet doesn’t ensure a high CTR.
Google keeps altering its interface to make the Ad label on the paid search results barely noticeable.
As featured snippets also acquire the top position on SERPs, it is very natural for someone to get confused and not click them.
According to Dr. Pete Meyers, the Marketing Scientist at Moz:
“The lesson for SEOs is that we can’t just target a feature — we need to understand query intent, what our buyers expect from that feature, and how they perceive that feature.”
Try to make your content look like a straightforward, quick answer to a query with images for references to appear very different from an ad.
Google introduced the featured snippet to make it easy for searchers to find relevant answers quickly. With voice search technology becoming a common search tool for half of the smartphone users, featured snippets catered to the trend and enabled users to read the answer out loud.
To make Google identify your content worthy to pick snippets from, you have to optimize your content so it’s relevant and appropriate for voice search SEO, so it helps to bring in more traffic to your site.
What you need to know and five steps to prepare for 2021
- Google page experience metric goes live in 2021.
- Rewarding pages that offer a better user experience.
- The signal measures a site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness.
- To prepare for 2021, get a fast web hosting service, optimize your content for mobile users, and install security measures (firewall, SSL, etc.).
- Avoid pop-ups and whole screen banners that restrict the visitors’ access to content.
The newest search ranking benchmark that’s cooking in Google’s development lab is the Google page experience metric.
In short, this upcoming metric aims to measure (and rank) the overall responsiveness and user experience of websites that show up in Google’s search results.
Google plans to introduce this metric alongside the current ranking factors. However, there isn’t an exact date announced when this metric goes live.
As Google’s developers officially state in their blog:
“The ranking changes [Google page experience] described in this post will not happen before next year , and we will provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.”
You still have plenty of time to react. However, we suggest planning ahead and implementing some of the best practices as soon as possible.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect from this ranking update and how you can prepare your site from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) perspective.
Elements of the Google page experience metric
Google is mainly building the new metric upon the Core Web Vitals that their Chrome team launched earlier this year.
The overall goal with Google’s page experience metric is to ensure the Google Search users are getting a mobile-friendly, safe, and straightforward browsing experience.
Let’s look at each element that contributes to the page experience metric.
1. Core Web Vitals
Google developed the Core Web Vitals because the average user enjoys fast and seamless web surfing. They also created a Chrome User Experience Report, which you can use to evaluate your site’s current performance according to these signals.
The Core Web Vitals consist of three separate signals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – quickness of the largest content piece’s loading time.
- First Input Delay (FID) – responsiveness to the user’s clicking, scrolling, and typing.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – visual stability of the page.
To tick a box in each of these signals, your pages’ LCP should be below 2.5 seconds, FID below 100ms and the CLS score less than 0.1.
2. Mobile-friendly site
Google already favors sites that are optimized for mobile users, and rightfully so.
Research conducted by Statista reveals that there are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users this year, with this number growing to 3.8 billion in 2021. It’s safe to say that sites that aren’t mobile-optimized will miss a lot of traffic.
Therefore, it makes sense that Google only wants their search to display mobile-friendly sites.
Google puts a lot of emphasis on security and weeding out potentially harmful sites from their search results. After all, if the top search results harm users, it won’t look good on Google at all.
One of the signals with the upcoming page experience metric concludes if the indexed site contains any malicious or deceptive content. Some straightforward examples are malware, spyware, social engineering scams, and false information.
To get a sense of how this works, check out Google’s Security Issues report. You can also scan your website to see if any issues pop up at this time.
Following the security topic, Google also prefers secure sites with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Visibly, the difference is between http:// and https:// (where the latter is SSL secured) in the website’s URL.
The SSL certificate’s job is to encrypt any data that travels between the user and the servers. Even if a cyber attack occurs, the hackers are unlikely to make sense of the data.
If you’ve used the Chrome browser, then you might have come across a security warning with a suggestion that the connection is not secure. This is mainly due to the site missing an SSL certificate.
5. No intrusive interstitials
Last but not least, Google aims to punish sites that aggressively keep the visitors away from quickly accessing the content they are looking for in the first place.
The main culprits here are the pop-ups that cover the entire screen, are difficult to dismiss, or keep popping up while consuming the content.
However, disclaimers, cookie usage information, age-sensitive content confirmations, login dialogs, and reasonably sized banners aren’t going to affect your ranking.
Five steps to optimize your site for 2021
Google’s new page experience metric isn’t going to substitute the current ranking elements. It becomes an additional ranking factor, but the most essential part from an SEO perspective is still the quality of the content.
Still, since the page experience metric IS going to affect the ranking results, it’s a great idea to know what you can do to prepare.
Here are a few steps you can take to get your site ready for 2021.
1. Get an excellent web hosting service
Your site’s performance is already one of the key ranking factors today. Either you have a server in-house or using a hosting service, it’s wise to make sure your site is fast and responsive.
You can analyze your site’s responsiveness with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or use a website performance monitoring tool such as Pingdom.
Additionally, you can check out sites that gather and share performance data on web hosting providers.
2. Keep your page’s size lite
Images go hand-in-hand with today’s websites. However, overstuffing your web pages with visual content is going to make your site slow.
There are a few ways to approach this problem, depending on the nature of your site.
You can optimize your images and make them weigh less by using an image compressor such as ImageOptim. If your page is already content-heavy, consider spreading the largest items to multiple pages within your site.
Alternatively, you can use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) such as CloudFlare to cache your content closer to the visitor’s access point.
3. Optimize your site for mobile
As we proved earlier, the world is heading rapidly to mobile. It’s not enough for your users to access your content with their smartphones; they also expect your site to adjust to the smaller screens.
Therefore, your site needs to be mobile-optimized.
The good news is that most modern website creation platforms, such as WordPress, already have mobile-friendly templates that don’t require extra coding efforts.
You can quickly test if your site is mobile-responsive by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly testing tool.
4. Install security measures
Website security definitely deserves a separate article to cover all the bases, but let’s only focus on Google’s perspective.
First, don’t knowingly add any malicious scripts or deceptive content to your website.
Secondly, protect your site from malware and other hacking attempts by adding a firewall. While it’s not clear yet if Google will check your site for a firewall, you should have one in place either way.
And finally, install an SSL certificate that encrypts your data since Google is already keeping tabs on if a site is secure or not. However, most of the modern hosting services already include an SSL certificate with their plans.
Overall, investing in website security is worth it for peace of mind and from the SEO perspective.
5. Tone down or remove large pop-up banners
Google considers anything that keeps its users from accessing the content they search for as a nuisance.
Therefore, a piece of straightforward advice – don’t put a giant banner on your site. Make the promotion more subtle, and you won’t have any problems with Google.
As a reminder, cookie information, age-restriction policies, and login dialogs are the exceptions. Although, please don’t go overboard with these either for the sake of user experience.
Google’s page experience metric will become one of the search ranking signals in 2021, but there isn’t an exact launch date yet.
Still, you can start preparing your site for the upcoming changes. Even if it’s unclear how much weight this new metric has on the search results, offering your visitors a great user experience is a substantial value on its own.
Start by testing your site’s performance, security, and mobile-friendliness. The results give you a pretty good idea of what to tweak and add to your site.
However, remember that the most important ranking factor is still the quality of the content.
Gert Svaiko is a professional copywriter and mainly works with digital marketing companies in the US and EU. You can reach him on LinkedIn.
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