How to Optimize Product Descriptions for Google Shopping

July 13, 2016 in Feed Optimization, Google Shopping

Product descriptions play an important role in your PLA's success. Whether a PLA appears for a search is often a direct result of the information contained within the description field of  your product feeds. For that reason, description optimization should sit very high on your list of to-dos if you're trying to improve your Google Shopping campaign performance.

Why Optimize Descriptions?

When you read about Google optimization tips, you probably see one article after another emphasizing just how important the product title of your PLA is. Titles are one of the most (if not THE most) important pieces of a successful product listing. That being said, let us not forget about another piece of the listing that is often overlooked but can also help you land relevant impressions and conversions:The description.

Here are a few reasons why Google PLA descriptions are indispensable to a successful Google Shopping campaign.

Descriptions Affect Search Impressions

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization

Google crawls your product feed to determine if your listing is relevant for different search queries. The keywords you use in both your title and description field play a role in Google determining that relevancy. That’s why it’s important to add accurate and descriptive keywords to not only you title, but your description as well.

As this process works similarly to SEO, the structure of your description needs to make sense. Keyword stuffing won’t help you come up in those relevant searches. Instead, it may hurt your listing. The content in your description needs to provide value using accurate keywords.

Descriptions Highlight Product Features

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization Highlight Product Features

Besides the search benefits that a good PLA description provides, it also gives you a platform to tell shoppers about your product. If shoppers are taking the time to read the description, they have seen the image and title and are likely interested in learning more about the item. The description gives you the opportunity to list out product features, technical specifications and give shoppers a reason as to why the product can benefit them.

Descriptions Set Expectations

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization and Setting Expectations

Through the Google PLA description, you have the ability to set the correct expectations about the product. This could include sizing, use cases and even washing instructions. For example, if your product is dry clean only, you’ll likely want to add this to the description. Providing this information upfront, before the customer completes the purchase, prevents an unhappy customer and potentially a bad review.

How to Optimize PLA Descriptions in 3 Steps

Google allows up to 5,000 characters for product descriptions. But you and I know that's way more than any shopper would ever read.

And yet too many of us take that for granted, pushing every bit of text in our product pages right into Google Shopping. The result? Messy product listings; unclear selling points; low click-through rates; and, ultimately, weak sales.

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization 145 characters

Forget 5,000 characters. That's fine on your own store's product page, sure. But in Google Shopping product listings, the optimal count for full-length product descriptions is between 500 and 1,000 characters. And even then, most shoppers won't see your descriptions in full-length. That's because most shoppers will only see your product in the product search SERPs, which limit your descriptions to list view (above) and a shortened highlighted view (below).


Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization
180 characters 

If you're going to get shoppers to expand and click through to your product, you'll need to make sure your descriptions are optimized for character counts that will get you the widest reach. Here's how...

1. Establish Information Hierarchy

Google Shopping SERPs only show the first 145-180 characters of your product description so it's important to put the most important information first. If you can fit these key pieces of information within the first 180 characters of your description, even better.

Here's a list of data points you'll want to consider as your lead:

  • Brand
  • Products type (e.g., sandal, computer, fish bowl)
  • Who it’s for
  • Remaining information from the “always include” list below

2. Always Include These In Your Descriptions

These are absolute must-haves. That doesn't mean you can't go well beyond adding just this information, but it does mean you cannot afford to neglect it if it's applicable to your products. Again, try to fit most (or at least some) of these within the first 145-180 characters of text.

  1. Size
  2. Shape
  3. Pattern
  4. Texture
  5. Design
  6. Material
  7. Intended age range
  8. Special features
  9. Technical specs

3. Never Include these In Your Descriptions

Google is serious about the rules. Stray a little and you'll be warned. Stray a little more and you can kiss your AdWords account goodbye. That's why it's so important that your product listings always adhere to Google's guidelines.

Here are some things your product feeds should never have:

  • Promotional text like “Free shipping” or “On Sale Now”
  • A description of your company or brand
  • Details or descriptions of other products or accessories
  • Comparison to other products that you are selling (e.g., twice as fast as X)
  • Links to your store (or other websites)
  • Information on billing, payment or sales
  • References to categorization systems that you use internally (e.g., Computers > Laptops > Touch Screens Laptops)

Finding the Right Keywords

When it comes to Google Shopping PLA descriptions, you want to make sure you are including keywords that help your listings appear in relevant searches.

The keywords you use in your description should highlight the most important attributes of your products. Think like your customer. What keywords are they likely to search? What attributes are most important to them?

Thinking up the perfect keywords can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve listed a few ideas to help get you started.

Product Type

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization with Product Type Keywords

This may be an obvious one, but it’s definitely worth a mention. Make sure you put the product type towards the beginning of the description since it is one of the most relevant attributes. Some product type examples include a tote, beach towels, floor lamps, and ceiling fans.


For those shoppers who love certain brands, the brand of a product can be crucial to them when selecting which listing to click on. That's why you always want to add the brand name into your description field.


The sizing of a product is usually a pretty relevant feature across multiple product categories. Whether your selling clothing or a comforter set, the size is a need to know piece of information for many shoppers.


Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization with Pattern Keywords

Whether it’s paisley, floral, or chevron, shoppers want to know what type of pattern your product comes in.


Is your product smooth, silky, rough? Since the shopper doesn’t get to feel your product in person, you want to describe it for them. For example, if you sell soft sheets and pillow cases, you’d want to add “soft” to the description.


People can be very specific about the actual design of the product that they want. Google uses the design example of “retractable ballpoint pens.” Other design examples include folding chairs, rotating spice racks, three-legged tables, slip-on sneakers, pull-out sofa beds, and a rolling cooler.


Before buying a product, it’s common for people to inquire about the material. Some may want a “leather coat” while others may want a “vegan leather” coat. The description is a great place to be specific about the material your product is made from.

Intended Age Range

If you are selling something like a toy, movie or video game that is only meant for a certain age range, add the age range to the description.

Special Features

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization with Special Features Keywords

Is there anything special about your product that you want shoppers to know? Say you’re selling a beach chair. If it has a drink holder, you’d want to use this feature as a keyword in your description. Another special feature example is a phone case that has a credit card holder attached.

Technical Specifications

Selling a computer or another form of electronics? Add in technical specs so the shopper knows the nitty-gritty details about the electronic they’re purchasing. Technical specs can include the type of processor, RAM and hard disk space, or the model.

Product Usage

Google Shopping Descriptions Optimization with Product Usage Keywords

What can your product be used for? While it’s obvious what a suitcase is used for, it may not be so obvious that you are selling a suitcase that can be used as a carry-on as opposed to a checked baggage. If you sell a blender, list out some foods/drinks the blender can be used to make such as smoothies, soups and dressings.


Well planned, well written, optimized product descriptions in Google Shopping can go a long way toward improving the visibility of your products, boosting click-through rates and preparing shoppers to buy once they get to your product page.

Using accurate keywords in your PLA and framing them in a way that helps shoppers quickly identifies the benefits of your products will make a huge impact on your PLA's performance.

For more tips on keyword research and PLA best practices, check out The Complete Guide to Optimized Google Shopping Campaigns.

Bryan Falla
Director of Marketing
Bryan is a digital marketer with roots in journalism and creative writing. Over the past decade, he's helped hundreds of online retailers develop and implement ecommerce marketing strategies. When he isn't educating retailers on ecommerce, he's out exploring South Florida and stalking local breweries.