What Is Better for Product Pages & SEO: Content or Backlinks?

This week’s Ask an SEO question comes from Andrzej in Poland. He writes:

“I work in an online store selling art supplies and I’m standing at a crossroads deciding what to do with product descriptions (which at the moment are in many cases below standards – sometimes just one sentence). I see two options:

  1. Create a separate platform that will aggregate information about these products along with tests (links to YT videos, blogs etc.) and customer reviews found on the web (links to pages with opinions, aggregate numbers, sentiment analysis, common pros and cons etc.). Then make link from those pages to appropriate product pages in the actual store.
  2. Forget the new platform and focus on making descriptions in the store as good as possible but without all the bells and whistles (no tests, reviews, text mining analysis – all those outgoing links would be too harmful to conversion).

So I believe the question is: From [an] SEO perspective, is it better to have good, appropriately long product descriptions in a store (without any links to product pages from other websites) or short/mediocre product descriptions in store and links from other domain filled with the best content possible (but with no domain authority as of now)?

Please, take into account that in comparison to the store, such a platform would have much bigger potential to be linked to from other websites, blogs etc. and possibly rank high in Google.”

Great question!

Instead of thinking about it from an SEO standpoint, think about your customers and also think about why someone would give a backlink to a product page at an art store.

Backlinks do not naturally occur to product pages unless it is a hot topic product and you are the manufacturer.

The only other time is if it’s the most in-demand product in the world “hand sanitizer” or “This year’s big Christmas toy that is sold out.”

Then you’ll find lists giving backlinks directly to the product page in product roundups.

But before we jump into why user-friendly content is more important than backlinks for product pages, let’s talk about common myths like word counts and long descriptions meaning better SEO.

(TL:DR, skip to the bottom section where we go into content writing, this is where it gets good.)

Word Counts & Long Descriptions Do Not Impact Your Rankings

If someone tells you they do, they either do not know what they’re doing, or they have not actually asked what type of page you have.

The studies that show longer word counts bring more traffic and longer time on page are skewed.

  • They are not taking your specific problem into account.
  • The study may be including detailed instruction pages, medical journals, and resource papers or documents
  • Resource pages may get read longer because they must provide a full education, same with how-to pages, the person is on the page and watching the video because they need to complete a project. This equals a longer time on site. Your product pages should not have long times. Long times during a checkout means you are not providing the customer with the answer that your site has their solution or you have a confusing checkout process.

The relevance of the copy to the search query is what matters.

If the query you are trying to rank for takes 50 words to give the best experience, then it is 50 words, don’t make it 1,000 to meet some rumor from a “guru” or an “expert”.

Also, make sure you display the 50 words in the best format including tables and bullet lists, paragraphs, and video.

Bonus Tip

Now ensure you have:

Lastly, check your site structure including breadcrumbs, internal links, navigation, and your sitemap.

These are all important for products you want to rank in search engines.

Above is what matters when you want to rank a product page.

Not a minimum amount of words.

Now, Let’s Go Into Your Question…

If a customer makes it to your product page, you now have the chance to make a sale.

Think about what will give them the best experience.

(Please remember I’m leaving out technical aspects, the page’s design, helpful vs. non-used images, trust factors, and conversion tricks.)

The answer is your copy!

Focus on your end-user, not links to pages that are not link-worthy for the reasons above.

Product page copy should be about the end-user.

Talk about the supplies and how they will benefit them.

  • What types of art can the supply on the page be used for?
  • Are there creative ways this supply can be used that the potential shopper hasn’t thought of?
  • What does the customer need to know about the supply’s compatibility with other mediums or techniques?
  • Is there a shelf life for the product?

This is what matters!

If the product is chalk…

  • Can it work on brick, paper, and canvas?
  • Will it stain clothing and is it safe for kids?
  • Does it have toxic materials and do you need gloves when using it?
  • How can you make it stick permanently to the medium and not blend when it comes into contact with other surfaces?

Think about the needs of your customers and then begin building your content.

Step 1: Writing the Product Description

Here’s an example of a good product description.

Are you looking for chalk that your kids can have fun with drawing on the sidewalk and that you can use in the studio? You’re in the right place! XY brand will let you create A and B types of work while not staining your kids clothing if they decide to take it for a test run when you’re not looking.

XY chalk can be cleaned off of hardwood and tile by using a blue widget. 12 and 34 fixatives are perfect for making it a permanent feature on its own, and you can combine it with purple widgets so it doesn’t run when combined with paints and for 123 projects. This makes XY chalk the most versatile and perfect for all of your most important projects.

Have questions about XY chalk? Look below to find the answers!

Step 2: Provide Answers

Finding questions people are asking is easy and can bring you new traffic and sales.

The first two tools I use are AnswerThePublic and search engines.

Type the main phrase like “chalk” into the box on answerthepublic.com or open an incognito window in your browser and type “chalk” into your preferred search engine.

AnswerThePublic gives you a huge selection of questions when it finished compiling your query.

When you type the word or phrase into a search engine, the search engine provides you with auto-suggestions as you’re typing. These could each be a good question for the page FAQ.

Depending on the modifiers you use, the search results will also have “people also ask” in them.

Use these on your product page but only if the questions are directly relevant to your product and not other products.

If they are relevant to other products you’ll want to use them on a category page instead.

Step 3: Format & Publish

Now, it’s time to look at the text and format everything properly.

  • If you’re comparing chalk types or kits, an HTML table might be the best option.
  • If you have a list of colors included, an unordered bullet list could be the best solution.
  • If it is how to use the chalk to perform a task, ordered lists could work.

Basically, you do not always want to use a paragraph. It may not be the best user experience.

When you do the above you create an amazing experience for your end-user and this in turn makes your product pages great for SEO.

It has nothing to do with word counts.

It is all about the experience and making sure it is a complete one.

From there you can get more advanced with site structure, code, image compression, etc.

But this post is about the text itself so I’m leaving that out.

I hope this helps!

Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by . Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

More Resources: