Optimizing Online Catalog Copy for the Search Engines

It only makes sense. You have an e-commerce catalog site. You want lots of visitors to come to your site and buy. The best (and most cost-effective) way to do that is with great search engine placement. However, search engines are text machines, and most catalogs don't have a lot of text, so herein lies the problem.

The obvious answer is that you need more copy on each page. However, the pictures of your products are just as important as the copy, so they can't be removed to make more space. That doesn't leave a lot of room in the product description area, does it? Maybe not, but who said all the copy had to go in the description area? Who said you have to create a site the same way a paper catalog is created?

Sometimes we view our site's pages with a very narrow vision. This causes us to have an "it's always been done that way" mentality. While direct mail catalogs may be sorely limited on space and require short sections of copywriting, Web pages have infinite room for copy.

Your Home Page

Most often, online catalogs have a home page that is almost exclusively graphic. There may be short blips of copywriting here and there, but not much. Since your home page is the most important page to have optimized for the engines, you'll want to include a minimum of 200 words of SEO copywriting there. Don't panic? it doesn't have to all be in one place.

You can create a short section of keyword-rich body copy as an introduction to the site. Then, under a graphic of your new spring additions, include some SEO copy explaining why your visitors will just *have* to have these products. You can then add a sentence or two of copy under the graphics in your sidebar. Lastly, give the highlights of your customer-service program or money-back guarantee and an invitation to click further into the site to shop around, and you're all done.

Obviously, where the copy goes is dependent on your site's layout, but you get the idea. Spread the copywriting around. You don't have to put it all in one lump in the middle of the page.

Category Pages

What traditionally happens with online catalogs is that you click from the home page to a "category" page. That category page usually just has links on it to other individual product pages plus perhaps a picture or two. That's a shame because category pages are another perfect place for SEO copy.

Since keyphrases are often highly descriptive of products (i.e., crew neck sweaters, six-disc CD players, etc.), they work wonderfully on category pages. Because category pages are selective (they only show products within a certain category), they are exceptional arenas for SEO copywriting.

Let's say you have a catalog site that deals with interior design accessories for the home. One category might be Tiffany lamps. Because the phrase Tiffany lamps is also a wonderful keyphrase, its inclusion in the category page copy comes quite naturally. This means you can create SEO copywriting for the top or middle of the page (just a short paragraph or two) and also write blips of copy for each product description. For example:

===================================


The Tiffany Lamp - A Timeless Masterpiece


===================================

Tiffany lamps have long been considered icons of style. While certain characteristics are constant (that's what makes a Tiffany lamp a Tiffany lamp), there is also tremendous variety. From Tiffany lamps for your floor to those made to adorn your ceilings, you'll find one reflective of your own personal taste and style.

Next you could list all the individual products (floor Tiffany lamps, ceiling Tiffany lamps, desk Tiffany lamps, etc.) and give brief, keyword-rich descriptions of each one.

Product Descriptions

When you get to the product description level, you'll want to include enticing, keyword-rich copy with each listing. However, you'll also want to include more text on each product page.

Consider that most people shopping online don't have the benefit of being able to touch, feel, smell, taste, or see the actual products. Use the lack of human senses to develop more descriptive information for your visitors.

You might also want to include any technical information you have for your products on the same product description page. Contrary to Internet myth, people don't mind scrolling one bit *IF* there is information they want to see on other parts of the page.

By reconsidering your catalog-copywriting techniques when it comes to the Web, you can get your e-commerce catalog ranked highly in the search engines. It just takes a little open-mindedness and a willingness to break free from the ways of the past. When you do, more customers and higher sales levels are bound to follow.

Karon Thackston © 2004

About The Author

Copy not getting results? Let Karon provide search engine copywriting, catalog copywriting, or other types for you. Just visit http://www.marketingwords.com. You can also learn to write your own SEO copy that impresses the engines and your visitors at http://www.copywritingcourse.com.

In The News:

SEO myths busted by an ex-Googler  Search Engine Land
How to Make SEO Happen in 2020  Practical Ecommerce
Is SEO dead? -  VENTS Magazine
Managing Successful SEO Migrations  Search Engine Journal
10 Best SEO Podcasts to Master the Art of SEO  99Signals - Tech News, Tech Hacks, & More
How Does SEO Work?  JumpFly PPC Advertising News
What Does It Mean to ‘Do SEO’?  Search Engine Journal
5 Easy SEO Wins with Powerful Results  Search Engine Journal
My experience with SEO  Practical Ecommerce
Can SEO Be Made Predictable?  Search Engine Journal
How to Create Content for SEO  Search Engine Journal
How to Avoid SEO Misinformation  Search Engine Journal
The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO  Search Engine Journal

RSS Feeds - a Website Owners Friend in Disguise

We've all heard about it-it seems like all the buzz... Read More

Marketing to Search Engines AND Humans

When you were just a young and precocious student of... Read More

Work With The Search Engines - Dont try to Outsmart the Search Engines

Contrary to the claims of high-priced SEO firms, optimizing your... Read More

Going To Market: Keywords and Backlinks, Part 1

As I waded into the 'Make Money Online' waters on... Read More

Directories and Their Importance for Search Engine Rankings

About directories:A directory is simply a web site that contains... Read More

Getting Your Site Seen By Search Engines

Is your website listed on search engines? When people search... Read More

Even More Tips For Getting A Top 10 Search Engine Ranking!

I have spent some time discussing the 5 different options... Read More

How Real SEO Analysis Works

If you're serious about SEO, you need to know how... Read More

Optimize your Search Engine Placement Five Easy Ways

If you are like me, you created web site metatags... Read More

The Power of Topic Specific Search

What are Topical Search Engines?Simply put, topical search engines are... Read More

Search Engine FAQ

Why shouldn't I use a submission service that submits my... Read More

SEO -- Tips to Optimize Your Webpage to Compete for a High Ranking

Search engine optimization (SEO) is very important to websites. If... Read More

Search Engine Optimization and Submission Tips

Bringing visitors to your site from the main Search engines... Read More

So, Where Has Your Search Engine Been Today?

Visit Google, Yahoo, MSN or one of the lesser search... Read More

Search Engine Marketing 101 For Corporate Sites

When most people want to find something on the web,... Read More

Feed me - Satisfy the Search Engines and Your Sites Visitors With Keyword-Rich Content

Search engines love content. Graphics may make your site look... Read More

A Link From An Ugly Duckling Website With A PR=1 Could Give You 10 to 80 Times More PageRank

Whether you want to start a business and sell on... Read More

All About Links -- Interview With Link Building Expert , Bob Gladstein

Julia: Welcome Bob. Thank you for taking the time to... Read More

Does The Number Of Links On A Page Affect Ranking?

Lots of research has focused on inbound links to a... Read More

All You Need to Know About Your Website Traffic is Contained in 5 Key Stats

You built that content rich web page optimized for your... Read More

How To Find Good Keywords

Good keywords are frequently searched for (high demand) but not... Read More

DMOZ: Rotten To The Core

I knew things were bad at DMOZ. But I guess... Read More

Guide to Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization?Search Engine Optimization or SEO for... Read More

How and When Should I Submit My Website to Google?

As soon as you register your domain name, submit it... Read More

10 Things to Expect from Your SEO Copywriter

From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing... Read More