Last time, we explored how to write enticing product descriptions. Another keyword bucket worth looking at is category descriptions. Many ecommerce founders create thin looking category pages with little content (or context). But they’re missing a trick!
Descriptive category pages act as a gateway for potential customers to explore products when they are further up the buying journey. These visitors might be category or brand aware but haven’t settled on a product or two.
If you haven’t yet created category descriptions for your ecommerce store, don’t worry! I’ll walk you through the process and give you plenty of tips, tricks, and a basic framework to get you started.
Why Category Descriptions Matter
Not every visitor is ready to buy. They might have an idea of a brand or two they like the look of but haven’t settled on a product. Other visitors might know what product category they’re looking for but have little idea what’s available. Let me explain.
Say you’re looking for a new watch. You might know you want a Swiss timepiece but don’t know what current brands fit within your budget. And so you Google Swiss watch under $1000.
You expect to find a few different options that can start your research. Without these types of landing pages on your store, you’re missing out on capturing visitors, who can be remarketed too.
Another example, you want to buy leather gloves for winter but have little idea of brands or how much to spend. You’re unlikely to Google Dent gloves or Paul Smith gloves.
Finally, you could be looking for a new Ralph Lauren 2 button suit but haven’t kept up with the brand recently. You’re aware they will offer several options but don’t have much knowledge other than that.
Category landing pages are so important and sadly, many ecommerce brands think they just have to add products to them. Instead, they should be treated as a gateway of discovery that’s the first touchpoint in a series for new customers and old ones alike.
Are Keywords Important?
Category pages act as a gateway, so we need to use the broadest possible keyword to capture a wide net of potential customers. So, it’s the opposite of a product page, where you want to pick a narrow keyword that leads to action.
As one of the many keyword buckets in our keyword mapping document, it’s important to know what words and phrases your clients use, as it helps us build effective pages.
It might be good to look at a few examples. Let’s start with a tailor who sells a range of suits. They want to build pages for each product and the overarching categories.
They could create a category page for the keyword Two Button Suit, which gets 110 average monthly searches and has a keyword difficulty score of 36 (data from Rank Tracker).
Next, they could create product pages for Two Button Suit Grey (10 searches per month and a keyword difficulty score of 31) and Two Button Suit Navy Blue (10 searches per month and a keyword difficulty score of 30).
Another example, used BMW cars. The keyword used BMWs for sale gets 11,600 searches per month with a keyword difficulty of 44. While this is a competitive keyword, it could be a good starting point for a category page.
It would be better to create category pages for each series rather than trying to target just the brand. For example, the keyword used BMW 520 only gets 10 searches per month with a difficulty score of 40. However, the intent behind this keyword is more focused on buying.
There’s nothing wrong with creating multiple landing pages to cover different angles (e.g. used BMW cars and used BMW X Series cars). But you want to be careful to avoid keyword cannibalization.
How to write Category Descriptions
As you want to keep your copy short, it’s best to aim for around 150 words. So at best, you can use your keyword once or twice within the paragraph.
Start by imagining what copy you’d like to read when looking to buy a product within that category. I bet you want something educational, to the point, and inspiring.
Don’t try to stuff your keyword or variations of your keyword in the copy as it won’t look natural. Instead, tell a story that inspires the visitor to click on a product or two.
As with product descriptions, it’s best to end with your sweetener. This could be free delivery, 1-hour click and collect, or free gift wrapping. By ending your category descriptions with these, you encourage immediate action.
You Need A Meta Description!
Yes, meta descriptions still matter, and you only have 160 characters. So you need to be short and sweet. Remember to include your keyword and finish with something that inspires action (free delivery etc.).
There is an art to writing meta descriptions, which can only be learned by doing. So if you struggle, practice!
Uploading Category Descriptions To Your Ecommerce Platform
After you’ve written some epic category descriptions for your ecommerce store, you need to add them to the platform. This can present a few issues.
Does your theme allow it?
Firstly, you need a theme that allows you to add text to the category pages. If not, consider either changing your theme or hiring a developer who can edit the back end to make them visible to the visitor.
You can’t inspire a visitor to take action if they can’t see your hand-crafted copy, nor can Google better understand your page and rank it higher in the search results.
Where to place your description on the category page?
This might seem like a trick question. You can place your copy under the title at the top or beneath the products at the bottom of the page. There are positives and negatives to both, so it’s worth testing different locations and monitor how visitors react.
You might find that on computers having the copy at the top still allows products to be visible above the fold. While on mobile devices, you might want to hide it behind a drop-down. This way, the user can instantly see the products but can read the copy, if they wish.
Placing this copy at the bottom of the page probably means it won’t get read by humans but will be by Google, which can help search engines better understand the context. However, we want to increase conversions, not only rankings.
Instead of calling them categories, Shopify calls them Collections. You can find the collections section by clicking on the Product tab on the left-hand-side menu and looking at those options.
In this window, you’ll see a button at the top right with the label create collection. Click on this to create a new category page. You can add the title, URL, description, type (automation/manual), and metadata.
Click on Products on the left-hand-side menu and look for the Categories label. After clicking on this, you’ll be able to add new categories or click to edit existing ones.
If you’re used to editing WordPress categories, it’ll look familiar. You’ll need an SEO plug-in (such as Rank Math or Yoast) to edit the meta description. To edit, click on the edit button that appears when you hover over a category name.
On this new page, you can change the title, URL, description, and metadata. Annoyingly, you can’t preview any updates. So, you’ll need to save the update and go back to the top category page to view any changes.
In Magento 2, navigate to Catalog > Categories. Click the Add Subcategory button in order to create a category. You’ll then be able to add the title, URL, description, and metadata. Finally, set the Enable Category toggle to Yes and decide to include it in the Menu.
Remember To Update Your Keyword Map
Category pages are one of our many keyword buckets and act as an important step in the user journey. So, you want to give them the same weight as product pages.
Measuring your effectiveness means having a central document that holds all the information. If you’re new to keyword mapping, start with our short course. With the basic structure in place, you should add another tab on your spreadsheet to handle product categories.
In this tab, add columns for the title, URL, description, meta description, keyword data, and what category it sits under. Leave space to record the keyword position and when you last checked it. Next, add details of every category you’ve created.
It’s also worth recording when you created the page, the last time you updated it, and what you changed. Collecting this data can help you understand what changes lead to better results. From there, you can create best practices to roll out across your entire ecommerce store.
Should You Review Your Category Descriptions Often?
Part of building an effective SEO strategy is reviewing your efforts. As content is a critical part of this, you should review your category descriptions every few months.
Using your analytics package, look at the bounce rate and time on page. If you have a high bounce rate, you’re likely targeting the wrong keyword. So you might want to adjust your keyword plan.
A short time on page means you’re not fully connecting with the visitor. Thankfully, this is easy to fix! Start by rereading your copy. Can you see any simple tweaks you can make that will make it more magnetic?
You can also improve time on page by using quick product view and review stars. So, it’s worth testing these features.
Remember, your market doesn’t stand still and so your product and category descriptions shouldn’t. So keep reviewing every line of copy on your ecommerce store often to ensure they are effective.
Do You Need To Hire A Copywriter?
You should have enough information within this article to help you get started and writing new category descriptions for your ecommerce store. However, you might want to work with a copywriter to polish your copy or write something from the ground up.
Don’t worry if you don’t quite have the budget to hire one. Focus on getting some basic copy written. When you have the cash, hiring a copywriter is a great investment.
They spend years honing their craft. The right copywriter will take the time to understand your business and produce effective copy that encourages visitors to take action. So, it’s worth working with a copywriter to write your product and category descriptions.
Writing Category Descriptions For Your Ecommerce Store
Your next step is to start writing category descriptions for your ecommerce store. Don’t try and do it all at once. Instead, pace yourself. Writing copy is an art form, not a science. So, you’ll need to take your time and revisit and edit your work before uploading it to your store.
As your store grows, you can hire a copywriter to help you craft even better descriptions. But, for now, give it a go and develop your writing skills.
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