Amazon. Otherwise known as the world’s biggest and most popular online marketplace, with over 200 million daily visitors and 5 million marketplace sellers around the world, helping to generate over $118.57 billion in product sales in 2017, alone! Despite only being present in 12 of the world’s online marketplaces, the eCommerce giant has become its own search engine, with millions of searches being made each month, and the site is set to get even bigger. It’s fair to say then if you’re an online trader or looking to boost product sales in your company – Amazon should be the first port of call!
Whilst it may seem like a simple process to add products to Amazon Marketplace and watch your business grow, Amazon has been busy creating internal algorithms to help them understand what their users are looking for. Their focus – much like search engine giant Google – has been user-based, and they have been inadvertently making it harder for sellers to get their products ranked.
We explore just what it takes to successfully optimize Amazon products and ensure product listings don’t get lost, as well as look at an Amazon-style SEO approach, in our ultimate guide to optimizing Amazon product listings.
This guide aims to explore the following topics:
Firstly, Let’s Explore Amazon’s Algorithm
Perhaps one of the many reasons Amazon has become so successful for both buyers and sellers is the amount of time the company has invested in focusing on what the consumer market is searching for on their site. Despite often holding their cards close to their chest when it comes to ‘cracking the code’ to success on their platform, Amazon has made no secret about their continual analysis on user data and traffic patterns, to understand their users and what they want.
Referred to by Amazon as the A9 algorithm, the predictive text style search employs a variety of potential search parameters and looks to predict the search query made, displaying the most relevant products first. By creating their own form of artificial intelligence, the A9 algorithm, Amazon looks to determine the products that are most ideal or relevant to the search query and list these first – similar to how Google create their search results pages.
Whilst it is rather guarded by Amazon, there are a few key elements that sellers can use to understand what exactly the A9 algorithm is looking for. We explore these below:
Relevancy is one of the most important features – if your product listing doesn’t focus on relevant search phrases, the algorithm won’t understand or recognize the relevancy of your listing meaning your listing won’t show.
Sales velocity; the measure of a product sale as well as the number of products a seller has sold in any given month. The algorithm also considers stock availability within sales velocity, ensuring customers only see items that are available first, before listing out of stock products.
Price is also a factor the algorithm takes into account – whether your listing is appropriately priced compared to others and if customers have expressed a difference in cost vs. quality of your product.
Good reviews! Something that often makes headlines for all the wrong reasons – having solid reviews as a seller can make all the difference to your products ranking well, so make sure you are delivering a solid user experience, provide high-quality products that match the description and request reviews once customers receive their products. However, there has been an increase in sellers buying fake reviews in order to boost their rankings on Amazon. Make sure you don’t fall down the same trap – authentic reviews are far more valuable in the long term.
High-quality imagery is also a big factor in whether your listing will meet the algorithm’s requirements, so make sure the imagery that features in your listing is as high-quality as possible, displays the product clearly, and helps set expectations for potential buyers.
The similarities with Amazon and Google using their own algorithms to serve the most relevant results to users means when it comes to ensuring success in your listings, the same optimization approach needs to be applied, to ensure your products rank at the top. Much like Google, the search results in Amazon are a mix of paid adverts as well as organic listings, saturating the results even more and emphasizing the need for sellers to understand what is required of them to get their products seen. There are two ways for users to see results in Amazon; the list view which displays around 16 products or the gallery view which shows around 25 products in the first page and both options need the same approach to optimizing.
When you look to create an Amazon listing there are a few elements that can be optimized to ensure a listing has the best possible opportunity to rank highly in results. ‘Amazon SEO’ is a fairly new concept that is applied to each listing to ensure it has a fighting chance of meeting the algorithm criteria and appearing high up the search results list.
Like any good SEO strategy, it all starts with analyzing what users are looking for first and targeting these phrases and key terms within the pages, or in this instance products. The best way to get an understanding of what users are searching for is to conduct keyword research, which leads us onto the first part of optimizing Amazon product lists – conducting keyword research.
Why Conducting Keyword Research is Imperative
Keyword research looks to find out exactly what type of phrases people are searching for, attributing an average monthly volume as well as a competitive score for each term. Again, much like creating a solid SEO strategy for a website, keyword research forms the base that all content should be created around, looking at the most popular and common phrases and terms used by users and creating listings that use their language and familiar phrases.
The seller will need to establish what exactly people are typing into Amazon when they are looking for products similar to theirs. Keyword placement in both web pages, as well as products, are important for indicating to the search bots that your page or list is the most relevant to answer the query – giving it the best chance of appearing above others that aren’t targeting the same terms. Before writing any listing, make sure to use a keyword finder tool and research the most relevant phrases people are using to look for products like yours.
The Best Free Keyword Tools to Use
If you’re worried about paying large subscriptions to keyword tools, do not fear – there are a bunch of free tools that can help you identify if your product listing is well optimized, such as Jungle Scout, Keyword io tool and even the Google keyword planner available from AdWords, that will give a good steer to the most popular searched terms as well as a competitive score to give you a hint as to just how competitive your products may be. Create a handy list of phrases and terms from these tools, looking at the competitive score and even the cost per click on average that is given to the particular term as this will give you the best view for budgets, etc. if you decide to run paid adverts on Amazon, too. Once you have conducted the research and analyzed the data, looking for the right terms to target, you are ready to start writing the listing which leads us onto the first element of optimizing products – writing the listing.
How to Create Well-Optimized Amazon Product Listings
Much like a web page, when you look to create an Amazon listing there are a few essential elements that need to be included to ensure your listing has the best possible opportunity to rank first. Amazon SEO is a fairly new concept that is applied to each listing to ensure it has a fighting chance of meeting the algorithm criteria and appearing high up the search results list.
There are six key parts to optimizing a product listing; product title, description, image, rating, features and reviews, and whilst reviews are slightly out of reach for a seller to optimize, there are a few things sellers can do to ensure reviews don’t hold back the overall performance of their listing. By applying the following best practices to a product listing, sellers are ensuring their listing stands the best possible chance to rank high in the search results on the world’s most popular marketplace:
- Product Titles – The product title is the first opportunity to use the chosen keyword, and it needs to lead with keyword phrases that users are searching. Make sure to write a clear, well-written title, using the keyword you want to focus on. Use pipes or hyphens to create spacing if needed. As a web page title, there is a character limit on the title of 200 characters, around 40 words, and whilst there have been countless tests and experiments run on the length of titles making a difference it would seem longer, more descriptive listings perform best.
Tip: Product titles will heavily influence the click-through rate of your listing so focus on creating ‘click-worthy’ titles that entice and engage a user.
- Product description – This is the second opportunity to use your chosen keyword phrase as well as similar phrases. Create high-quality content for the description, avoiding grammar and spelling mistakes as well as highlighting the unique features of the product. The character limit is 2000, which amounts to around 300 words, so make sure to be concise when outlining why your product is better than the others and what unique qualities it has.
- Product Features – This is another good opportunity to use your keyword phrase and other similar phrases relating to your product. The description needs to be well-written and focused on highlighting the unique selling points of your product. These have a character limit of 1000 characters, or 250 words, and tend to be written in bullet points and look to elaborate on the USP’s mentioned in the title.
- Product Imagery– Quality imagery is imperative so make sure your listing contains high-res images of your products and list more than two images to give the user the best impression of the product. Transparency is key to building trust with a potential buyer so make sure the product imagery displays exactly what buyers will receive.
Tip: The better the image, the more likely a user will click through to view your listing so use your best pictures!
- Product Reviews – Whilst reviews are out of the seller’s hands in terms of physically being able to optimize them, the evidence suggests the A9 algorithm uses reviews as a ranking factor so make sure to request customer reviews from every buyer you sell to. Aim to get between 50-100 reviews on each of your product listings, to ensure your products will rank well. DO NOT be tempted to buy false reviews as this will not only cause Amazon to penalize you as a seller and could jeopardize your future as a seller on the site.
- Product Ratings – Again, whilst sellers can’t directly create ratings, they can influence positive ratings by delivering seamless customer service to every customer that buys their products. Ratings are influenced by reviews so make sure to gather as much customer feedback from each buyer, sending automated requests after someone has made a purchase is often the best way to gain reviews, and therefore to grow your rating as a seller
Examples of Well-Optimized Listings
These are just a few well-optimized listings that appear ‘in the wild’ on Amazon that clearly adhere to the elements raised above:
The baby float listing has a high-quality image, a very descriptive product title and the features box aims to address any further queries users may have. They have also gained ‘Amazon’s Choice’ status due to their solid ratings and reviews, meaning buyers are far more likely to trust this seller.
Again, the product title on this listing is very descriptive and accurate to the product. They have used the features element to introduce the chef and more detail about the premise of the cookbook. The 5-star review coupled with the #1 best seller will also help this listing to achieve the top spot for any Italian cookbook related queries.
Whilst this product title is shorter, it is concise and descriptive, introducing the game well. The features section is descriptive and well-written and again, their high reviews and good customer rating has gained them Amazon Choice, the ultimate accolade for any serious Amazon seller!
Whether you’re a seasoned seller or first-timer looking to use Amazon marketplace to help increase sales, it can seem rather overwhelming trying to meet all of the criteria Amazon’s algorithm is looking for, but don’t fear – a large part of their focus is to deliver the best possible user experience so as long as you are also aiming to deliver a solid experience for your customers, there is no reason why your listings won’t do well. If you’re struggling to write compelling, well-optimized listings or want some guidance on what ‘great’ looks like, there is a listings generator available to use for free that can help identify any gaps your listings may have.