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Splitting Collection Description Content Above/Below The Product Grid

This is an advanced opportunity 🚨

I recommend you work with a developer to implement this.
This requires technical resources and or knowledge of HTML/theme editing.

First, why would you split your collection descriptions above/below the product grid?

Sometimes, people write a longer collection description — article length (a few hundred or thousand words). The goal is to add a bunch of content to a collection page and get the page ranking for many keywords.

But if all that content is at the top of the page, it pushes the product grid down, which isn’t ideal. So the big idea is to split the content. Show a bit (~50 words) at the top with a ‘read more’ link and the rest of the content (~500-1,500+ words) at the bottom.

This doesn’t have a lot of effect on SEO, Google recommends against it, and it can be seen as keyword stuffing.

Stores with examples of split collection descriptions

Here are a few examples of sites that have implemented this approach to their collection pages:

Does splitting a collection description help your SEO?

Maybe a little bit? In all honesty, that’s a debated topic in the SEO world as of writing this article (November 2022). Signs are pointing to “This has some effect on SEO, but not a lot, and Google keeps saying ‘Don’t do this.’”

On the one hand:

On the other hand, Google keeps saying, “Don’t put a bunch of text on the bottom of collection/category pages!”

But SEOs think adding the content to the bottom of the collection pages still seems to work. So people keep doing it.

From my SEO audits and opportunity reports across Shopify stores, I’ve seen dozens of stores implementing split content below the product grid (writing a description, article, or Wikipedia article at the bottom of a collection page).

From what I’ve seen, adding that content at the bottom of the page helps you rank for a few additional keywords but not as many as you would expect.

Google seems to prioritize ingesting text for keyword rankings towards the top and middle of the page.

If you’re adding content to the bottom of the page with the hope of ranking, Google seems to intentionally not pull many keywords from that content.

What Google has to say about adding lots of content below the product grid on collection (category) pages

In 2018, John Muller (Google’s Search Advocate) shared this in a Google Webmaster Central office hours (starting at the 7:18 mark) (emphasis added):

Audience Question: Many e-commerce websites optimize their categories by adding a big chunk of text under the product listings. Nothing except an h1 heading above the fold. I don’t consider this good usability since users need to scroll all the way down to read this. Does Google treat this content the same as any other or would you for improving rankings recommend putting the category text above the fold?

So this is something that that comes up fairly regularly.

One of the reasons why websites initially started kind of doing this this kind of workaround is that it was really hard sometimes for us to rank category pages on ecommerce sites if there’s no useful information on that page, if there’s no context on that page.

I’d try to stick to really informative content and put that in place where you think that users will be able to see it. Especially if it is content that you want to provide for users. And more than that I would think about what you can do to make those pages rank well without having to put a giant paragraph of content below the page.

So things you could do here is kind of make sure that those pages are well integrated with your website so that we have clear context of how those pages should belong the website and what those pages are about. And another thing you can do is when you have that listing of products, make sure that there’s some information on that on those listings that we can understand what this page is about.

So instead of just listing I don’t know 40 photos of your product, put some text on there. Make sure that you have alt text for the images, that you have captions below their images. So that when we look at this page we understand oh there’s this big heading on top that’s telling us like this is the type of product that you have on your website and there’s lots of product information in those listings and we can follow those listings to do even more information so that you don’t need to put this giant block of text on the bottom.

Obviously having some amount of text makes sense. So maybe shifting that giant block of text into maybe one or two sentences that you place above the fold below the heading is a good approach here because it also gives users a little bit more information about what they should expect on this page.

John Muller, Search Advocate for Google, Google Webmaster Central office hours (2018)

In short, Google likes some content on your collection (category) pages. But not a page work of content and not below the product grid in a place where your customers won’t be able to easily find it.

Should you split your collection descriptions above/below the grid?

I don’t recommend splitting collection descriptions above/below the grid.

I think it does help (a little), but not enough to be worth the effort.

Frequently that additional content is better used as blog content with calls-to-action and internal links to products and collections. And your collection pages are better served with descriptions that include ~50-125 words of content at the top of the page, above the product grid.

How to split your collection descriptions above/below the product grid (with code samples)

If you’re set on doing this, I’d rather you do it well than do it poorly.

This opportunity is more advanced, and it involves editing your theme files. I strongly recommend you work with a developer to implement this or reach out to a task-based service like Hey Carson or Task Husky for their help implementing this.

If you genuinely want to split your collection description and DIY the work, here’s how to do it. (I learned this approach via Soar Digital.) I take no responsibility if implementing the following messes up your theme or causes unintentional consequences.

  1. Make a backup of your theme by navigating to: Online Store > Themes > Actions Menu > Duplicate Theme.

    Then, once that completes, you’ll have a backup on your Theme.
  2. Once duplicated, click “Edit code” for your Theme.

    Find the part of your Theme that’s responsible for your collection pages. This varies from Theme to Theme.

    You can track this down by going to the collection.liquid file and reading it to identify the sections used there.
  3. Navigate to the section responsible for your collection page. Once you’ve found it, you’ll want to go to that section in the editor.
  4. While editing the section responsible for your collection page, search for the collection description content snippet. You’re going to delete it and replace it with something else.
    • Search the code (with Ctrl or Command + F) for {{ collection.description }}.
    • Delete that statement.
    • Make sure to leave the enclosing <div> </div> tags. You’ll be adding something new there.
  5. On that newly blank line (inside the enclosing <div> </div> tags where {{ collection.description }} used to be), enter the following:

    {% assign descriptions = collection.description | split: "<!-- split -->" %}
    {% assign upper_desc = descriptions[0] %}
    {% assign lower_desc = descriptions[1] %}
    {{ upper_desc }}

    That gives you the logic for splitting the collection description and outputs the upper description in place of the whole collection description.
  6. Search the section you’re editing for the final closing </div> tag of the product grid wrapper.
  7. Paste the following line right before that final <div> tag

    {{ lower_desc }}
    That will output the lower description below the product grid.
  8. Match the styling and presentation of the lower description to the upper description

    ‘Wrap’ the second description in the same div lass as the first description.

    Copy and paste the classes of the div enclosing {{ upper_desc }} to the div enclosing {{ lower_desc}}.

    Ensure both the upper and lower descriptions are wrapped in opening and closing div tags and have the same classes applied in the enclosing div tags.
  9. Save your work. Exit out of the theme editor.
  10. Go and edit a collection page where you want to implement a split collection description.
  11. Enter a collection description into the description field at the top of the page.
  12. Click ‘show HTML’ in the description field.
  13. Copy and paste <!– split –> into the HTML where you’d like the description to split.
  14. Save the page. Go and preview your work on the front end.

    It might take a minute or two for the changes to be visible on your store.
  15. If everything worked, any text after the split tag (<!– split –>) should show beneath the product grid.

    And if it didn’t work or if your store’s collections are now somewhat broken, you have a backup of your Theme that you can restore to.

What’s the bottom line on splitting collection descriptions?

I don’t think splitting the collection description is worth it. It’s a high effort for a low impact. And you might break your site theme.

You’re better off focusing on other opportunities for Collection SEO, like building more internal links to your priority collection pages or product grid opportunities.

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Product Grid Opportunities

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Picking collections to optimize

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