Friday, January 13, 2012

The Importance of Having A Product Page For Each Tea

This is the first post of a series I hope to write on best practices for tea company websites. These practices are based on my own understanding of web marketing, and are personal advice, not universal truth. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an expert on web design; a lot of the best aspects of my websites are things that I have needed to figure out myself, by trial and error. One thing I have come to believe through my work on RateTea is the following principle:

It is beneficial to have a specific product page, with its own URL, for each individual tea that your company sells.

The screenshot above shows a product page for a tea from Upton Tea Imports; Upton has over 420 individual teas in its catalogue, and has a specific page for each one.

We all know the importance of having a webpage that is informative and looks nice. Why have a specific page for each individual tea? What if my company has hundreds of teas? Isn't that a lot of work? In this post I will not address the question of how to do this, but I will provide the reasons that I think this is important:

1. People can link to the page when talking about your tea:

If you have a page for each individual tea, and this page is easy to find on your site, people will be likely to link to it when talking about your tea. They may share the page on facebook or twitter, or link to it in their blog, or on a forum. Either way, you get more traffic to your site. You may get new people coming to your website who have not been there before. You may even make sales as a direct result of these links.

These links are especially beneficial when someone writes a detailed review on a blog, and links it to the product page for your tea. These sorts of links are very common: if you read review-centered tea blogs you will see that many of them include such links in almost every case, whenever a product page exists.

Personally, I am much more likely to link to a tea company's website if they have product pages. This is true both of links on this blog and on RateTea, which links the page for each tea to the product page, if this page exists.

2. Having a specific product page for each tea helps you to get search traffic:

If you have a product page for each tea, it makes it more likely that that page is returned in the results when people type the name of that tea into a search engine. The extra links generated because people are linking to the page will also make it more likely that your website is returned in search results, but sometimes, just having the specific page can go a long way, even if no one else links to it and the only links are from within your own website.

If you do not have a page for each tea, and another website does (as is common on sites like RateTea, Steepster, or various tea blogs), you make it unlikely that your own website is the first search result returned. Often, if you send out samples to bloggers, you will end up with quite a few pages on blogs specifically written solely about your tea. Not having a page on your own site is shooting yourself in the may actually lose search engine traffic by not having such a there are dozens of pages dedicated to that one specific tea, and you still do not have such a page on your site.

A large portion of traffic to RateTea comes to individual product pages, and this traffic disproportionately comes from companies that do not have product pages. I also frequently see Steepster pages and pages on various tea blogs ranking higher in search results than tea company websites, and again, this is more likely for companies that do not have product pages for their teas.

3. Having a page for each tea creates a relevant place to land on your website:

If you have no individual product page for each tea, whenever someone types a tea into a search engine, even if the first result returned is your website, if they land at a generic page, such as your homepage, or a listing of multiple teas (such as if you put all green teas on the same page), they will take longer to find what they're looking for. Depending on how patient they are, and how easy to navigate your site is, they may give up. If you have a product page, and they land specifically on it, you make it that much easier that they find the information they wanted, about that specific tea.

Personally, if I follow a link looking for a specific tea and am redirected to the company's homepage or another generic page, if I'm not already focused on researching or buying that specific tea, I usually become annoyed and just close that browser tab.

In summary:

I find that, for tea companies, having a product page, with its own URL, for each individual tea in your catalogue, is a best practice. The benefits of having a product page are increased links and thus increased traffic to your website, including both referrals from other sites, and search traffic, and increased relevance of people when they land on your website, as they find exactly what they are looking for instead of having to navigate to find the information they want.

What do you think?

Do you agree with the advice and conclusions I draw here? Or do you think that sometimes, it is too cumbersome to create individual product pages, or that you do not have enough to say about each individual tea to warrant a whole page for each one? Do you think product pages are as beneficial as I am making them out to be on this page? If you are a tea blogger or just a casual tea drinker, do product pages make it more likely for you to link to a company's website? Do you prefer landing on a page about a specific tea, instead of having to navigate to find it? If you work for a tea company, do you have individual pages for each tea? Have you ever experienced anything to confirm or deny the claims I make on this page?


  1. I agree that a product page is important. In the example you gave - Upton - I find their site to be a bit overwhelming. They have so many offerings I get intimidated navigating through the pages. It also feels cluttered to me. Product page is essential here.

    Teavivre's site I really like the set up, but then again they don't have 420 offerings.

    It does frustrate me to type a tea into Google and not be able to even find the company home page.

    I have not been linking to the product page on my newly started site because often blends seem to come and go. Meaning the product page may lead to a dead link. I may need to rethink this stategy.

    Good article!

  2. A lot of people have expressed to me that they don't like Upton's site. I think I may have strange preferences in websites, but I find it relatively easy to navigate, compared to some companies, but it also isn't the easiest / clearest, and there are some types of searches that I want to do but cannot do. For example, I have to click "black tea" or "green tea" before being able to filter by region.

    This is one thing that I've implemented though over on RateTea...on RateTea you can browse / search / filter teas of a given company by region or by type (including specific styles of tea, not just broad classes). I'm hoping to draw attention to these powerful features in a future post.

    But I also totally understand your comment about linking to the product pages. Some teas do come and go. And in fact, Upton's do frequently...and Upton recycles product codes, something that can become confusing. I actually am planning on writing a future post about this...about leaving pages up for retired / discontinued teas, and/or making redirects so as to retain old links.

    A lot of tea companies shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to web design, on multiple points. But this isn't the biggest or most harmful way companies do this...I'm planning on publishing a post this Friday on the topic of a specific self-defeating choice that a few tea companies (including one very prominent one) make on their website.

    Also, as a blogger and the maintainer of RateTea, I struggle with the question of whether or not to link to product pages when I know the company may take the page down. I have some methods to check for this on RateTea but I am not as good at checking this blog. When I discover broken links, I fix them, but it can be a lot of work. Stay tuned, as I'm planning on writing more on this, probably another friday post in my series on tea company websites.