Product Names Can Spell Success (or Failure) For Your Retail Site

Feb 15, 2018 10:15:00 AM

by Virtucom Group Team

What's in a name? When it comes to online retail, more than you might imagine.

While a product name won’t change the actual item for sale, the way the item is presented to the customer via the product name can affect whether or not they decide to buy from your site.

Much can be said about the creative process brands and manufacturers go through to devise attention-grabbing, creative product names for their unique items. As a result, brands will often attribute proper or even made-up names to mundane items – such as Ikea Billy bookcase – that don’t offer much actual product knowledge beyond a persona-like characteristic.

As a consumer reads this product name, they're left wondering. How many shelves does the item have? What is it made of? What color is it?

This is why online retailers need to follow their own consistent, optimized product-naming system in order to give browsing customers the best shopping experience possible.

Let’s take a look at the different places where customers view product names to explore how this basic piece of information greatly affects the online shopping process and how it may determine which online retailer gets the sale while others are left behind.

Product Names at the Category Level

We recently touched on the connection between normalized product data and product naming consistency. Without consistency in product names across your site, customers will have a difficult time navigating category-level pages that offer comparisons between different items of the same product type.

At a very basic level, product names are easily-referenced pieces of information that tell browsers what the product is. However, product names should also offer attribute-level information to aid in comparisons, such as brand, color, size, quantity and any other product-type-specific information customers are looking for.

Product name consistency at the category level, which is best achieved via a formula built from linked normalized attribute values, offers browsing customers an easy way to navigate to the product page for an item that meets their requirements. If your category-level pages are filled with inconsistent, disorganized product names for similar items (read: bad product data management), customers will become confused and frustrated.

The result: shoppers may never see your product pages. When this occurs, all your high-quality images, videos and product descriptions (and your investment in them) are wasted. If you want to earn sales and customer loyalty, it's crucial to keep product names consistent and complete with relevant product information.

Product Names on the PDP

While it’s wise to include key attribute-level information in the product name, it’s also essential not to pack the name too full of details that can be found elsewhere on the product description page (PDP). Keep it simple and concise to make a great first impression. After all, consumers look to the product name for fast, easy reference – not to find all the information they need about the item.

The product name serves as the main title of the PDP, setting the stage for the rest of the information to come in the product description, feature-and-benefit statements and attribute values. Since browsing consumers likely ended up at the PDP after they referenced the product name, it’s important that all product information found on the page supports and builds on the basic information found in the product name. Include any errors or discrepancies, and customers will likely become confused and navigate away from your site to a competitor instead.

Product Names in Search Results on Your Site and on the SERP

Image of a laptop displaying a Google search page

In order for your product pages to be found at the top of the SERP (search engine results page), it’s essential to make sure product names include relevant search terms and keywords your potential customers are using. There are many resources you can utilize to understand the best keywords to use in your site’s product names to attract consumers interested in products for sale on your site. While it’s also important to make sure keywords are used throughout the PDP, it’s essential in the product name, which will most likely appear as part of the search results.

Product names also need to be unique in order to be found at the top of the SERP. If you’re using the manufacturer-supplied product name verbatim on your retail site, chances are that exact product name will be found on competitor sites as well. While Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content, it does filter duplicate content and it rewards unique content that provides added value to the page.

Product names are similarly important for your site's internal search function. When customers search within your offerings, strategic use of keywords within product names can make the difference between quickly finding relevant items and leaving in frustration after a fruitless attempt.

Retailers who don't use normalized product data to create consistent product names do a disservice to consumers. Offer customers a better shopping experience with clear, consistent, easy-to-reference names that support informed decisions and an efficient, frictionless purchase path, and you'll see conversions grow and brand loyalty expand.

Delivering a premier shopping experience isn't easy when you're forced to depend on manufacturers' source content. If you're not sure where to turn for help, consider our managed item onboarding system. Virtucom Group provides dedicated data cleansing and quality control to help ensure every product name attracts the right kind of attention from potential customers. 

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