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Dynamic Description Writing

an exercise in creative grammar and writing for an audience

Christopher Patzner

on 27 March 2013

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Transcript of Dynamic Description Writing

an exercise in creative grammar and writing for an audience Dynamic Description Writing What is this writing stuff for? Arguably, writing is a tool used to communicate feelings, thoughts, and information to an audience.

That audience might be large, or a single person, but as a writer, your goal is to make them feel, think, or inform them about something of YOUR choosing.

Therefore, to be an effective writer, you must know both who your audience is, and what you would like to DO to that audience. It's not that easy is it... It never is.

On top of having to know your audience, there are a number of key pieces that have to fall into place before a product description can be deemed "successful"

To try and get the most out of our product descriptions, we want them to flow, to be interesting to read, and most importantly to be unique. ALL HAIL OUR SEO OVERLORDS! Given that we work for an internet business, search engine optimization is very important to our success. When someone googles "Baldwin Door Hardware," we need to ensure that our sites show up as high in those search results as possible. When someone buys Baldwin, we want them to buy it from us. Titles and descriptions that take advantage of keywords and display unique content help make that happen. Writing for Build.com Who are these people anyway? When writing product descriptions for Build.com, your audience is made up of customers looking to make a home improvement purchase online, and your job is to both inform them about the items they are looking to purchase, and convince them that the product is exactly what they need.

While this seems simple enough, more than one type of customer shops at our sites, and to be an effective description writer, you need to know who is buying what. Put yourself in their shoes Once you have an idea who your audience is, one of the best ways to effectively write to them is to put yourself in their shoes.

Try and figure out what the draw of your particular product is. Do people buy it based on aesthetics or function-- are they looking for a pendant light that will match their kitchen decor, or are they shopping for a water heater that will meet certain code requirements? If you were shopping for that item, what would you like to hear?

Once you can guess at what your customer wants to see, you simply have to put that information in front of them. We bring a wide variety of customers to our website every day, and in order to write an effective description, you'll need to be able to identify which of these customers are the specific audience for your given product.

Narrowing down who exactly your customer is can be difficult, but the good news is that they tend to fall into a few easy to remember categories. Home Owners: Customers who own their home and are looking to make either functional or aesthetic improvements. Contractors: Often hired by homeowners and business owners to do the heavy lifting of a home improvement project--generally involved in larger projects. Business Owners: Often require commercial grade, "functional" products that help their business run efficiently, but can also be concerned with the aesthetic side of things. What do you mean... flow? Sentences and paragraphs that most mirror natural human speech patterns are the easiest for us to read.

So to make sure our descriptions are readable, and in turn effectively understood, we need to make sure our sentences and bullet points flow, without being overly choppy or difficult to get through. Varied Sentence Structure Changing up the grammatical composition of your sentences from one to the next, even just a little, gives a more natural cadence to your description and, in turn, makes it easier to read. Without going into the ugly, technical details... here is an example of what that means. A Tale of Two Paragraphs They were the best of sentences, they were the worst of sentences...


Okay, the following two paragraphs relay the same information. Neither is grammatically incorrect, but one varies its sentence structure, and the other does not. Which paragraph flows better? OR The Yorkshire handleset, from the Elite Collection makes for a boldly elegant addition to your home decor. The Yorkshire handleset is constructed from solid brass. It comes with your choice of interior knob or lever. It features BHMA grade 2 certification. The Yorkshire handleset, from the Elite Collection makes for a boldly elegant addition to your home decor. Constructed from solid brass, the Yorkshire handleset comes with your choice of interior knob or lever, and features BHMA Grade 2 mechanical certification. So... how do we do that? Don't be afraid to turn things upside down... By flipping a sentence around, combining phrases, and generally shaking up the sentence structures in your paragraphs and bullet points, you can add some variety to your descriptions and make them much easier to read and understand.

Try speaking your description out loud (or internalize it if you are the easily embarrassed type), if it comes out jolted, with awkward pauses, and not at all how you would just SAY it to someone, then chances are it could use a bit of re-writing. ...and take a few chances Remember, you don't have to be writing about leopard print cabinet pulls or a lamp shaped like a moose to be creative with your description writing. Get excited about the product you are writing about, because somewhere out there someone is going to be excited to buy it. That person is your audience, and you are writing to them.

That's not to say we need to flower up every part, filter, and replacement shade on the site, but taking chances on your descriptions is a sure-fire way to make them more interesting to read, draw in customers who might otherwise have clicked past your product, and most importantly, make your product content unique.

Speaking of unique content... Keywords? Use of keywords help to define what your page is about to search engines, who then use that information to rank your site against other sites and decide how high up on the results list you should be when a user types a given keyword into a search bar. Most sites utilize multiple keywords and multiple instances of those keywords to try and become the top result when someone searches for, say, pendant lights.

According to Google Adwords, a few common keywords associated with pendant lights would be: Lights, Lighting, Lamps, Light Fixtures, LED Light, Light Bulbs So... I have to memorize all the keywords for every product I put on the site?? Yes, and no.

Chances are if you are writing about these products honestly, and hitting selling points that you believe your audience wants to hear, you will likely use many of the important keywords for your product.

Repeating important keywords like lighting, knob, or faucet will come naturally in the description writing process. Knowledge is power Being more aware of what kinds of keywords are generally associated with your product type can be very helpful.

Look up: www.adwords.google.com

There is a keyword tool you can use at the top of the page under Tools and Analysis.

Go play with it, it's free. However... What was that about unique content? Google favors unique content. A page that displays unique content over content that is shared across several websites will rank higher in search results, even if it takes advantage of topical keywords. It's that simple. Unique content good, copied/shared content bad.

This becomes extremely important when writing paragraphs and bullet points, and extremely frustrating for all the non-writers out there.

There is good news though, it's not as difficult to produce unique content as it might seem. But I have all this info... Whether we are writing bullet points or romance paragraphs, we always start out with a pile of information that the manufacturer provides us with about their product. Websites, spec sheets, product brochures, all of these have information about our product that we want to include, and that our audience wants/needs to see.

We can't use it as written, however, it wouldn't be unique, but that doesn't mean we can't change it and re-word it to make it unique with a few simple tricks. For example... Varied Sentence Structure Remember this? Well it's good for making your paragraphs interesting AND for making your content unique!

You are given a simple sentence with critical information, but can't just paste it into your description as is, what do you do? Well, sometimes just changing the position of the subject and slightly re-wording the sentence is enough to make it unique content! This: Remote controlled solar powered skylight requires no wiring, which makes for easy and cost effective installation. This: With no wiring required, this remote controlled solar powered skylight is both cost effective, and easy to install. Change Words not Meaning When writing descriptions from existing information, the thesaurus is going to be one of your best friends.

Changing how something is worded, without changing what those words mean, is an excellent way to create unique content without changing the message you are trying to get to your audience.

Keywords you'll want to keep, but everything else is up for grabs! This: The solar panel will work on cloudy days and with indirect light. It does not have to be exposed to direct sunlight to function. This: The solar panel operates perfectly in either direct or indirect sunlight, and even functions in overcast conditions. Don't be afraid to add content Adding new content is an excellent way to produce unique descriptions, and since it is created by you, out of thin air, something from nothing, it is already unique. What better way to create a unique description than to add something that no one else has ever seen before.

While particularly effective when you are writing romance text, adding in fresh content can also help to explain a fancy new feature, or expand that two word bullet point that seems to stick out.

Explain it to your audience in your own words. This: Integrated rain sensor This: Includes an integrated rain sensor that will close your skylight automatically on rainy days, ensuring that the wet stays out, and your home stays dry. Can Be Can Be Can Be In conclusion Writing effective descriptions doesn't have to be scary, or even very difficult, as long as you keep in mind who you audience is, and make sure that what you are writing flows, is interesting to read, and contains unique content.

Once you start hitting those marks, you'll find the process just gets easier and easier.

So... good luck!
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