Strategies of Amazon Listing Optimization
It is the biggest question for any brand owner or private label: how do you properly optimize your listings to increase sales on Amazon? There is no simple answer, and it is never just “one thing.” Success on Amazon involves doing a multitude of things correctly, all working together to strategically generate long-term sales. In this article, I will provide not only the strategies but also the specifics surrounding listing optimization and how Amazon sellers can leverage these to achieve their goals, regardless of size or scope.
The Amazon Flywheel
When it comes to strategy and Amazon, it is essential to understand that listing optimization is only one part of the puzzle. So before we go any further, let’s discuss the most critical factor that we call, “The Amazon Flywheel.”
When you consider listing optimization, it is the same as creating a beautiful landing page on a website. It can have all the right copy, beautiful images and calls to action, but if no one ever visits the page, you will never make a sale no matter how good it is.
Amazon Launch Strategy
For listing optimization to make an impact, you have to follow it up with an effective launch strategy. This involves driving internal traffic using Amazon campaigns as well as external traffic to the listing. External traffic can be anything from paid social media traffic to affiliates, partnership marketing, blogs, and even general brand awareness. For all marketing efforts that take place off Amazon, there will always be a halo effect of sales on the Amazon platform (provided they can find the product; we will cover that in a minute.)
Analyzing Amazon Listing Optimization
Once you drive traffic to the listings and generate sales, it is time to begin analyzing the results. There are typically four things we look at when effectively analyzing an Amazon listing:
- Sessions | Number of visits by Amazon customers in a 24-hour period
- Unit Session Percentage | Number of units purchased compared to Sessions
- Sales | Overall gross sales of products compared to previous seasonal periods
- Product Reviews | Customer reviews regarding the product and their experience
Taking all of these into account will give you a holistic view of how your listings are doing, instead of just examining a specific element that may not accurately paint the whole picture. For example, as you increase marketing to a broader audience, you may find that your conversion rate (or Unit Session Percentage) decreases as more people are exposed to the product, but that your overall sales go up. This is normal and should be taken as a sign of expansion; more people see the listing, less of the new audience members are interested, but overall more people are buying.
Organic Keyword Ranking
Brand owners, manufacturers and private labels may have different strategies and goals, but ideally one of your goals should be to rank organically in the top 3 spots for your most highly searched and relevant keyword. Organic ranking of your products over time is one of the most significant factors of long-term success since you are generating sales simply based on Amazon’s use as a search engine. Currently, over 55% of all product searches start on Amazon, so if you can leverage the platform and the A9 algorithm that determines those rankings, you will be able to expand your audience and sales organically.
The Amazon Trifecta
That leads us to our second strategic principle for success that I have termed, “The Amazon Trifecta.” The concept here is that for Amazon to produce your products as search results, Amazon’s A9 algorithm has to first be able to discover what your products are and what terms customers might type in that are relevant. This is known as Discoverability: a customer’s ability to discover your products.
Once a customer finds your product by typing in a relevant search term, we move on to the second factor in the Trifecta, Buyability. This simply denotes how “buyable” your product is, meaning how likely the customer is to purchase the product once they click on it. Buyability is a combination of listing optimization, fulfillment method and price as well as the number and quality of product reviews.
For now, we will focus on the listing optimization component, and touch on the others at the end. Once a listing is optimized for Buyability, you can begin to see how Discoverability + Buyability = Rankability. If a customer enters a search term such as, “Salmon Jerky,” or “Kids Math Games”, and discovers your product and buys it, that product will then rank higher organically over time for that specific search term.
It is important to remember that keyword stuffing is not a strategy. Products rank not just on Discoverability but on Buyability, so even if a listing has dozens of keywords in the title features and description, if it doesn’t result in a conversion, it won’t rank for those keywords. Stick to a solid strategy, and you will do better in the long run.
Amazon SEO Keyword Research
You have probably realized by now that the key to Discoverability is Amazon SEO Keyword Research. (Read my previous SEMrush article on Amazon SEO). In brief, Amazon SEO Keyword Research has to do with researching the terms customers might enter to find your product and determining the most highly searched relevant terms and then strategically implementing them into the listings. In this next section, we will discuss how we recommend doing this.
Amazon Listing Optimization
There are a few aspects of Amazon listing optimization that make it more of a work of art than pure science. The first is that you need to abide by Amazon’s policies regarding your listings while paying attention to the protocols as described in the Category Style Guides. These Style Guides are specific to each category and should be downloaded and reviewed before getting started. Here Amazon will lay out best practices, policies and Do’s and Don’ts regarding your listing.
Next, you will want to strategically implement the primary search terms into your product title, features, description and search terms for Discoverability as previously discussed. Lastly, you will need to appeal to your customers wants and desires, questions and concerns by conveying your unique value proposition as well as the lifestyle the customer can expect to enjoy by using the product (while showing them how easy it is to use). While this is no easy feat, it can be mastered and the continual refinement over time will lead to a well-optimized listing that remains in line with Amazon policy and best practices.
Amazon Product Title Optimization
Your product title is not only one of the first things that customers see, but also the most heavily weighted search field in your listing. That means that any SEO keyword phrase you add here will have more weight than in your product description. Following are just a couple of best practices for title optimization worth mentioning.
Concise titles tend to do better as Amazon is algorithmically penalizing over-lengthy titles and since over 30% of all Amazon purchases are made on mobile devices, they should be optimized with this in mind. It is important to remember to start titles with your brand; it is the first thing customers see and is also required per the Style Guide and helps to increase brand recognition. Remember to include a unique value proposition here as it is the only thing in addition to the primary image that customers will see in the search results while viewing multiple products.
Amazon Bullet Point Optimization
Amazon Product features, or bullet points as they are often referred to, provide customers a brief overview of what your product does, why it is different and how it can make a difference in the customer's life. There are two equally effective styles for this so I will mention them both. The first is short and concise, equating to a single line or approximately 88 characters including spaces depending on the category. This allows customers to quickly and easily read the information necessary to help them make a purchasing decision. The second is writing lengthier features providing more detail and depth but can also run the risk of getting cut off (“Read More…”) which may result in customers not reading the information that may be helpful to them.
The second element to Amazon optimizing product features is to always remember to include the benefit to the customer in addition to the feature. A feature looks like this, “9v 700a battery.” A benefit looks like this, “can stay charged up to 3 days.” It matters less what your product can do, and more what it can do for the customer. Does it save them time? Make their life easier in some way? Alleviate pain? Features and benefits should always be listed in the best order by addressing customers biggest pain points first followed by the additional benefits they can expect to receive.
Amazon Product Image Optimization
Images are becoming an ever more critical component to a product's success on Amazon. We will start with the basics and then quickly dive into the more advanced uses of product images. First, the primary image needs to be on a pure white background. The product should fill 80% of the image and sizing should be at minimum 1000x1000 pixels, but I typically recommended 1500x1500 pixels for a nice zoomable image.
Once you have your primary product image in place, you have plenty of options to fill the remaining image spaces (I recommend using as many as you are given). Additional images can include infographics highlighting features and product specs, lifestyle images (with or without the product), warranties and any other information that may be useful for Amazon customers making a decision.
Amazon Product Description Optimization
Over 60% of all Amazon customers scroll down to read the Amazon product description so while less prominent it is critical that companies not overlook their importance. A well-crafted product description should focus on “helping the customer imagine what it is like to use the product” and can contain anything from product uses to assembly instructions and more.
If a company has Brand Registry you can add Enhanced Brand Content that overlays the product description which, when done correctly, has been shown to increase conversions and sales by 15% or more. Utilizing the additional layouts for images, benefits, and features that Enhanced Brand Content offers can help customers make a better-informed decision and not only increase sales but also customer satisfaction and experience.
Amazon Product Video Optimization
Videos have become one of the most effective tools you can use to quickly demonstrate your product's superiority to new customers, as well as provide helpful information making them more likely to enjoy their product and leave a positive product review. There are currently two places on your listing where videos can go: under the image block at the top (requiring Brand Registry) and below the fold under Related Video Shorts.
There is a handful of types of video you can add to your listing depending on your goals and the complexity of the product. These range from brand videos, unboxing and how to videos, as well as customer testimonials and product comparisons. For most products, we recommend placing a brand video at the top under the image block and additional videos under the Related Video Shorts section.
Factors Influencing Buyability and Rankability
As mentioned briefly, in addition to your optimized listing there are other factors that will influence a customer’s decision to purchase your products, and it's organic ranking by A9 on the Amazon platform. Fulfillment method is a critical one as over 1/3 of all Amazon customers are prime members, with a significant number preferring Free 2 Day Shipping, so utilizing FBA can be essential to achieving both more conversions as well as having Amazon rank your product higher in search results.
Price and Product Reviews are the other two factors that influence conversions and ranking, and while you may have less control over these, there is some strategy here that is important to understand. First, a product with significantly more reviews and higher reviews will almost always outsell a product that has few and poor quality reviews, despite being slightly more expensive (no one wants to buy a cheap product that isn’t going to work).
Second, as you continue to analyze your listings, you can see what customers like and don’t like or may be missing or failing to understand, incorporate those into the listing, and generate more positive reviews moving forward.
Amazon Listing Optimization Summary
As you can see, there are no silver bullets when it comes to optimizing your Amazon listings. However, with the right tools, information, strategies and best practices you can craft the ideal listing, create an effective launch strategy, analyze the listings and continue to make improvements over time. Selling on Amazon requires keen attention to detail, a solid understanding of the platform and willingness to adapt as changes are made. With a great product and a little elbow grease, you can place your listing on the path to become a top ranking product or even a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.