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Is Copy Really That Important On An E-commerce Site?

Is Copy Really That Important On An E-commerce Site?

Posted 01/03/2010 by Gareth Cutter

As a full-service e-commerce and digital marketing agency, we see lots of perfectly good e-commerce sites held back by their use of copy. There's either too much of it and it swamps the reader; or there's not enough of it and the site feels amateurish. Or it's too waffly; too spartan; too generic...

It seems as though people are confused by what role copy should play: is it the star of the show, or does it just have a bit-part?

Firstly, web sites have never been read like books, nor will they be. Prominence on your site should always be given to the following (not necessarily in this order):

  • Navigation & keywords - so visitors can find their way to the product they want
  • High resolution images - so visitors can take a good look at the product you're selling
  • Calls to action - so visitors know why they should buy your product, and how

Shoppers don't read - they scan

Following in the footsteps of this trio, it might sound like copy is going to be a secondary concern, but it's not. People still read the copy on web sites - they just read it differently.

Typically, visitors scan the page for the content that is relevant to them so choose your navigational keywords carefully; make sure they'll grab your visitors' attention. Once you have it, you can take your time describing to visitors the world your products and services will open for them.

Search engines, however, read everything (well, almost)

Visitors are very particular about what they read. Search engines, however, are much less fussy. When they crawl and index your site, they'll notice all the content that your visitors chose to ignore. And if this content is unique and keyword rich, they'll enjoy indexing your site and visit much more often, ensuring you have relevant (and higher) natural search listings.

If your content consists of generic, standard vendor-descriptions and is keyword-stuffed, then you can say 'goodbye' to the Googlebot for a while.

A supporting role is just as important as the lead

Finding a place for copy on your site is not as much of a challenge as you might think. Give prominence to navigation, images and calls to action; use the remaining space on the site to host unique, content-rich copy that uses the same language your target market uses.

This is the best use of copy on an e-commerce site: unobtrusive but supportive, entertaining and most importantly - informative.

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