Amazon as a marketplace is positively packed. If it was a flea market, it would have booths stretching as far as the eye can see in every direction, and more over the horizon. How can any one seller hope to stand out amongst such a crowd?
Much like Google does with the web, Amazon indexes and allows searching of the products in their database. Their algorithm isn’t as sophisticated as Google’s, but it’s there, and understanding it – as well as understanding how users browse for products – is essential to success as a seller.
You absolutely must bring your best game to the table if you want to compete. Thankfully, though, there are abundant resources and tools available to help you refine that game without years of tedious trial and error.
The first thing to learn is that it’s a buyer’s market out there. Amazon cares a lot more about pleasing their buyers than pleasing their sellers. Once you understand this, you can see the perspective that leads Amazon to make the decisions they do, and you can take advantage of those decisions.
Here are my fifteen tips for mastering the Amazon search engine and selling beyond your wildest dreams.
Go ahead and open up a new tab to Amazon, it’ll be useful for putting some examples into practice. Up in the search bar, type “black light”. See right to the side, above the search results, where it says the number of results? There are over 300,000 available for that term. Now type in “blacklight”. There are only 9,000 available now.
Unlike Google, Amazon doesn’t mix and merge similar terms. It’s a more strict exact match search, and that means you need to think about common variations on keywords for your products.
If I wanted to sell a black light of some variety, I would want to include both terms. The common term allows me to be listed in the high volume searches, while the no-space variation allows me to capture traffic from people who mistype.
Now, you can’t just go listing off keywords in your description. What you CAN do is accidentally make a typo or otherwise use the variant keyword in your copy naturally.
When you’re listing a product, your title is possibly the most important piece of copy. Your title is the only part of your entire listing’s copy that shows up in the search results. You need to include as much relevant information as possible.
What should you include? Add your brand name, the name of the product, and the relevant SKU or serial number. Include specifications – for the black light, this might be wattage, lumens, whether it’s real UV or just a novelty, and if it’s a multi-pack. Round out the rest of the character limit with potential uses. Again, using the black light example, you see possible uses like “spot pet urine stains” and “flood light for clubs”.
The Amazon listing title character limit on desktop is around 100. You see some listings that are cut off; any information beyond those first 100 characters is visible on the product page itself, but isn’t going to help the buyer make their decision to click on the product in the first place.
Incidentally, right sidebar ads for promoted products have a meager 30 characters for their titles, and mobile display cuts you off around 55-60. You need to front-load the most compelling information.
The other major part of your listing to show up in search results is your primary image. The majority of the images on Amazon are white background views of the product, along with essential accessories like batteries. It’s comparatively rare that you see staged photos, photos with models, or other cluttered imagery in the first photo. Other photos can be more elaborate; the first photo exists solely to demonstrate what the product is and compel buyers to click on the listing.
When you click into a listing, you should see a variety of different photos showing you different potential views of a product. This one is a good example.
You have the primary photo showing a few informational icons and the product itself. You have an exploded view showing construction. You have a view with a hand and measurements to show the size of the item. You have an instructional photo for dealing with batteries, and then several photos of the item in action. All of these can help answer a user’s question and convince them to buy the item.
In the same listing above, look below the pricing information and applicable promotions. See those bullet points with various bits of copy? All of those are incredibly important. Optimize those for your high-value keywords that you couldn’t fit in the title. This is where you can use your typo keywords and keyword variants, while also providing useful information for a potential buyer. Expand upon the information in the title and answer questions users have, providing plenty of fodder for the search engine to index.
The above listing is not good at this one, but this listing is. When you scroll down beneath the bullet points, you see what is basically a miniature landing page. It has images of the product in various situations and in action, even if some of them are poorly photoshopped.
It has copy – not text on images, indexable copy – to expand upon the product description and give a description of the company, to help you trust the manufacturer. Each descriptive point is accompanied by more images and copy. This kind of professionally designed description layout makes your listing look a lot more professional than the average listing, and can encourage sales.
Whether you’re going all-in with the miniature landing page or just writing descriptive copy, you need to write as much as you can within Amazon’s constraints. The more information that is available, and the better it is laid out, the more likely you are to get more sales.
To a certain extent, you can see a lot of similarity between optimizing a sales website and optimizing your descriptions. Even if the search engines are different, the techniques used in your copy will be the same. Focus on your keywords, answer user questions, and provide any potential information that can help a buyer make their decision.
There’s a small section beneath the product comparisons and above the reviews labeled Product Details. This is another important section you can use to add more technical information that doesn’t flow well in your more copy-focused descriptions.
The dimensions of your product, the weight, shipping information, product numbers, battery requirements, and any other purely technical information can be listed here. I highly recommend filling out as much of this as possible.
There’s an entire section on Amazon dedicated to users asking questions and other users – or the manufacturer – answering those questions. This is an excellent resource for improving your descriptions, and it’s a great way to interact with your potential buyers. Keep an eye on this section for each of your products and strive to answer questions when you see them. In some cases, a user’s question will bring up something you should mention in your description itself; you can take the opportunity to both answer the question and then add the information into the description.
If you want, you can come up with a few basic sample questions and then seed the Q&A section with them. Get friends or family members – or a paid freelancer – to ask the questions, so you can answer them and get some information up and visible.
The question and answer section has its own specific guidelines, by the way. You can see the kinds of questions Amazon likes to see or likes to avoid written out here.
Entire articles have been written and books have been penned about the importance of reviews and techniques for getting them. You can use all kinds of techniques, ranging from follow-up emails all the way to special cards packaged with the item. You can read all about most of them here.
The only thing to be cautious about is paying for fake reviews. You can get sponsored reviews by handing out products, though they need to be flagged as sponsored. If you’re paying for fake reviews or otherwise trying to get reviews you didn’t earn, you can have your Amazon account suspended, your product listing removed, the reviews removed, and a whole host of other bad repercussions.
On YouTube, there’s a place for you to add keywords that are relevant to the vide, but which viewers never see. The web used to have the same thing, with the meta keywords section, but it was soundly abused and deprecated. Amazon still has a similar system, backend keywords, that allow you to dump all the keywords you want attached to your product but which don’t fit in the descriptions or titles.
There’s a lot that can go into writing backend keywords, so it’s good to do some further reading. Just remember that you don’t need to duplicate keywords to make different phrases; it’s a mix and match system.
This, and the next few tips, are all focused around one thing: selling. There’s nothing that impacts the Amazon search algorithm more than sales. The more you sell, and the faster you sell, the higher you’ll rank. It’s a very self-reinforcing system, and is why the most popular products stay popular. Sell more, even if you have to seed a couple sales yourself, and get that push up into higher visibility.
Believe it or not, there’s often a breaking point where a lower price makes people skeptical of your product. If you’re priced too low, people might expect low quality products or knock-offs. Extremely low indicates a potential scam and drives people away. You need to strike a balance.
Any sort of special deal, special offer, coupon code, or package deal you can offer will help you with the end goal, which is simply to sell as much as possible. In some cases, you can run a special deal for a while and get enough sales to boost you up in the rankings, at which point you should have the momentum to stay there even once you remove the deal. There’s a limited selection of options for these deals, though.
The trick with both the previous tip and this one is to be aware of how much profit you’re getting out of a conversion, versus how much it costs to price lower or run a deal. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself losing money in your quest for a high ranking.
Just sell more. The more you sell, the better off you’ll be. Have you considered just having more customers?
Okay, so this is kind of a cop-out tip, but the thing is, when it comes to product rankings, sales really matter. I mentioned it above and I’m mentioning it again now, because it’s just that important. Keep records of what changes you make, and what impact they have on both ranking and sales. Always keep iterating until you’ve reached a peak.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you with all of the above. Helium10 helps you identify keywords, including those used by competitors. Amazon provides a suite of seller tools you can use. There are a whole host of other options as well.
Be careful to avoid the more scummy black hat tools, which can often backfire and get your seller permissions revoked.