Here’s an old joke: How do you write 1,000 unique product descriptions? One description at a time.
Or maybe you prefer this one instead?
Aside from the obvious, here are some tactics you can use to write 1,000+ unique product descriptions.
Tactic: Use Text “Spinning” Software
Pros: Fast, easy, cheap
Cons: Low quality, generally ignored by humans and search engines
One trick that many ecommerce websites use is “spun” text. Spinning works like this: First, write a generic product description with variables. The variables represent product name, part number, etc. Something like this:
“This is a [part type] from [brand], part number [part#]. [Brand] is world-renowned for product quality. When you buy a [part name] made by [brand], you can expect exact fitment and reliable performance.”
The brackets  represent your variables – [part type] would be something like “alternator” or “brake pad.” [Brand] might be someone like “AC Delco” or “Brembo.”
Next, after you have your initial version you start coming up with word substitutions. You might change the words “world-renowned” to “well known.” You might change the words “reliable performance” to “reliability.” You’d end up with something like this:
“This is a [part type] from [brand], part number [part#]. [Brand] is well known for product quality. When you buy a [part name] made by [brand], you can expect exact fitment and reliability.”
As you can see, the text is mostly the same. But if you’re clever – and if you use software – you can make a lot of unique text this way.
But here’s the catch: Spun text has little or no value to humans, and search engines are pretty good at ignoring it too. Therefore, spun text has little or no practical value.
Still, if you need lots of unique content for the lowest possible cost, this is an option.
Tactic: Use a Content Service
Pros: Affordable, fast
Cons: Lots of administrative work, quality is a challenge
Content services like Textbroker, iWriter, and Hirewriters can produce thousands of unique product descriptions quickly. English-speaking writers all over the world work on these sites, and they can fill a large content order fast. Costs can be low too – these services boast pricing as low as $1.50 per description.
However, if you want decent quality content written by someone who is a native English speaker, you’ll end up paying quite a bit more than $1.50. And even at this higher price, writers often don’t know anything about the product they’re describing (and it shows).
Also, “wrangling” the completed content can be a challenge. If you want to review each description for quality, you’re going to be doing a lot of reading. Then, once the descriptions are complete, someone is going to have to get them into the website.
These content services are a big step above “spun” content, but quality and cost are a moving target. We’ve found that Textbroker works well, provided we have an experienced editor oversee results. However, the cost per product description is quite a bit more than $1.50, and our editor ends up doing quite a bit of rewriting.
Tactic: Hire A Team of Freelancers
Pros: Decent quality, fair cost
Cons: Lots of management, inconsistent output
Hiring a team of freelance writers for a big content project is straightforward (at least in the USA). Put an ad on Craigslist, explain exactly what you need and what you’re willing to pay. Vet all the applicants and put together a team of freelance writers, and off you go.
Of course, there will be questions. Assignments will get lost or forgotten. Content will need to be re-written. Some writers will burn themselves out writing descriptions and quit the project in a week or two. Others will grind along, turning in lower quality content over time.
As you might imagine, managing a team of freelancers isn’t easy. It requires a great organization, an exact process, and patience. Of all the tactics you can use to get descriptions written, this is the hardest.
Tactic: Hire An Agency
Pros: Good quality, Easy
Cons: Process can take weeks or months, high cost
An agency will write hundreds or thousands of product descriptions, and they’ll guarantee quality. They’ll also take care of all the details so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
However, agencies usually charge 2-3 times as much as a freelancer for a product description. What’s more, an agency usually works with a small team of experienced writers, so turning over 1,000 descriptions is going to take a while. Still, there’s a lot to be said for outsourcing a project like this.
Tactic: Hire an In-House Content Person (or Team)
Pros: Excellent quality
Cons: Process can be difficult to define, slower speed, financial commitment
Finally, we come to the best way to create product descriptions: hire someone to do it in-house. This is the best option for a few simple reasons:
- You have total control over the final product
- An in-house person can take photos, talk to the manufacturer’s rep, and learn the ins and outs of every product
- Customer questions or complaints about a product can be used to revise or update product descriptions as needed
Of course, an in-house content person (or team) is a financial commitment. Most potential hires aren’t going to be interested in a short-term job. You’ll want to find a way to keep the in-house person on staff after the product descriptions are complete.
The person you hire will need to invent a process for getting all the descriptions written, checked, loaded on the website, etc. This will take some time to iron out.
Still, if quality is the primary concern, in-house is the way to fly.
Do Quality Product Descriptions Matter?
You’ll notice that this article puts a lot of emphasis on content quality. This is because we’ve found quality content to important. Consumers – particularly auto part consumers – are sensitive to inaccurate or incorrect information in a product description. This is because this information is often critical to understanding a part’s fitment and/or function.
What’s more, many of the people buying parts online are going to install the parts themselves. This means they are know quite a bit about the products. If the description for a lift kit describes a spring or suspension component incorrectly – for example – that will give many buyers pause.
Finally, there’s the question of authenticity. Consumers can spot a fake or “BS” product description. This can cause a consumer to lose trust in the retailer, and that usually costs you a sale.
Product descriptions are important. But quality has a price, and descriptions take time. For many etailers, it’s impossible to create unique product descriptions for everything they sell.
Instead of investing in writing 1000’s of product descriptions, many etailers choose to:
- Focus on top selling products. Many retailers focus on writing descriptions for their top 10%. This makes it easier to invest in quality.
- Focus on photos. Many etailers find that photos have a better ROI than product descriptions. After all, humans are wired to respond to imagery, and a great product photo is often just as effective as a great description.
- Write product round-up blog posts. A “round up” blog post that compares and contrasts a group of products is often the same price as 1 or 2 unique descriptions. These round-ups help consumers select the right product, and search engines tend to love them. If you go this route, be sure to link to the round-up from each part’s description (and vice versa).
- Create a “wizard” or product finder. A wizard is a tool consumers can use to find the right product. A wizard asks the consumer a series of questions, and based on the answers recommends specific products. Check out this nifty Dog Collar Advisor to see one of these wizards in action.
Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep perspective. Product descriptions of just one of dozens of factors that impact a consumer’s decision to buy. Before you invest in unique descriptions (or photos or anything else), it’s a good idea to survey your customers. You might find that you can make more money fixing some other aspect of your site first.