Digital marketers have to adapt to the fact that with Amazon conversion rate drives everything. More conversions mean more commission money for Amazon. In contrast, Google aim to give users the best experience when finding what they’re looking for. Happy users keep returning and Google keeps cashing in on advertising dollars. For this reason you need a heavy focus on user engagement and relevance alongside conversions when working within Google. With Amazon it’s all sell, sell, sell!
Here’s an example: when I first started optimising Amazon listings at the company I’m currently working for I added a couple of keywords to a best selling product and was able to immediately boost its rank for those keywords from around 50th (page 4) to 6th on the first page.This shows the incredible power to make big changes to Amazon rankings quickly and with little cost.
I also have experience working on listings that are pretty good sellers (but not great) that I’ve taken great care over, ensuring they meet all the guidelines and are well optimised Amazon-SEO-wise. I even pulled out some highly effective rank-boosting hacks but I still couldn’t beat listings that were, on the face of it, really awful. So why is it that’re at the top of the rankings? Simple: they sell… a lot!
Search Rank vs Conversion Rate
The search rank factors are mostly related to the content of your listings and can be likened to on page SEO on a website. But as we already know Amazon is mostly concerned by purchases, so no matter how much time and effort you spend on optimising your product pages, you need solid product performance to back it up. The same is true of your website: you can be well optimised for the relevant keywords but you need external trust factors (link juice) that show Google that your website is somewhere worth sending people to. At Amazon the juice is product sales performance as well as sales and customer service performance of the seller’s account.
Focus your efforts in the area most beneficial to you
- Products with high buy box ownership and high conversion rate – boost traffic by improving search rank.
- Products with high buy box ownership and low conversion rate – boost conversion rate by improving the usability and clarity of your listings (or sending more highly qualified traffic to the product page.)
- Products with low buy box ownership – Improve your account rating.
Note: Amazon search rank and conversion rate have a close relationship with each other and can form a virtuous circle: improving conversion rate will improve search rank, which improves conversion rate etc.
The next section is mainly aimed at people with high control of the buy box whose efforts at improving the listing will have a high ROI because the benefits aren’t shared with other sellers.
Amazon Ranking Factors
|Search Rank||Conversion Rate|
1 – Title
It’s universally accepted that Amazon’s search algorithm gives more weight to the words in the title than any other. They are also a very important factor for conversion rate because customers will be heavily influenced by the quality and relevance of the titles of products shown on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Amazon Title Guidelines
- Start with product brand where appropriate
- Keep it short but include critical information (e.g. brand, product line, key ingredient, colour, size, quantity, model number)
- Capitalise the first letter of each word
- Use numerals (“2” instead of “two”)
- Titles that work fine in that setting might not be optimal when they have to compete against all the other products on the SERP.
- Whilst you don’t want to overload with keywords, it’s very important to include the priority terms for which you want your products to appear.
- You can use up to 500 words and stuff it with keywords but this might put people off. Be sensible and find the balance between usability and optimising for search ranking.
2 – Search terms
The way Amazon keywords work is different to standard PPC advertising. Your product can show for any combination of any of the keyword, which means that you should fill the fields with as many unique words as possible. I asked an Amazon rep if the order of the words mattered and they told they don’t but I’m still dubious and continue to add the priority words first.
Here’s how not to do it
And here’s the correct way
- It’s not necessary to repeat words
- No punctuation is required
- You don’t need to include common misspellings but do include synonyms
- Make use of all the space in the fields (5 x 50 characters)
- All the words in the product title are searchable so there’s no need to repeat them.
3 – Fulfilment channel
People prefer buying stuff that’s Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) with all the benefits that brings, and Amazon prefers showing stuff that’s FBA.
I experienced the power of this first hand when listing a new product that hadn’t been sold anywhere before. We initially listed it as Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) and it ranked 92 for our highest priority keyword. Two days later once we had the shipment ready to send to the Amazon warehouse we relisted it as FBA and it immediately jumped to 45. We hadn’t sold a single unit during those two days.
In the CPC strategy Amazon Virtual Summit 2015 Shmuli Goldberg of Feedvisor estimated that FBA sellers can put their price up around 10-15% vs the nearest competitor (all else equal) and still win the buy box.
4 – Price
Obviously price is a huge driver of conversions in an environment such as Amazon where products can be so easily compared and in many cases people are competing for buy box ownership.
For this reason there’s no doubt the Amazon search algorithm places importance on the price. Note that Amazon looks at what they call ‘landed price’, which includes delivery.
5 – Images
Amazon can check things like the number of images for a product and their size and quality but images don’t have much impact on search rank. I’ve seen enough high ranking products with really poor images (even images that blatantly don’t adhere to the guidelines) to know that they don’t carry enough weight to override other factors.
However good images will give more prominence to the product alongside the others on the SERP, leading to higher CTR and conversions.
Amazon Image Guidelines
- Images must accurately represent the product and show only the product that’s for sale, with minimal or no propping.
- Main images must have a pure white background
- Main images must show the actual product (not a graphic or illustration), and must not show excluded accessories, props that may confuse the customer, text that is not part of the product, or logos/watermarks/inset images.
- The product must fill 85% or more of the image.
- Images should be 1,000 pixels or larger in either height or width. This minimum size requirement enables the zoom function on the website, which helps to enhance sales. The smallest your file can be is 500 pixels on the longest side.
- Amazon accepts JPEG (.jpg), TIFF (.tif) or GIF (.gif) file formats. JPEG is preferred.
- Product must not be on a mannequin.
- Product must have good depth of field, i.e. the image is completely in focus.
- Product must be clearly visible in the image (e.g. if on a model, the model should not be sitting).
6 – Bullets and Description
Bullets – The product features/benefits that appear at the top of the product page.
Description – The long description below all the product details. Don’t leave your listings with an ugly wall of text that nobody will ever read! Although most HTML isn’t allowed but you can add clarity to your listings by using the following:
<br/ > - breaks (new line) <b></b> - bold • - bullets (alt+7) * - stars
The consensus is that the description definitely has less impact on keyword optimisation than the title or ‘search terms’. Some people suggest that the bullets have no impact on search ranking at all but it’s still worth using some keywords here because they will show in the SERP when triggered.
The bullets and description will definitely have an impact on conversion rate of people who arrive on your product page. This is your chance to sell to qualified traffic! From a usability point of view you want to get across all the benefits and unique selling points of the product quickly and clearly – you really don’t want to lose these people at this stage because you didn’t do a good job of describing your product.
Remember revenue and conversions are key to thriving in the Amazon environment. This means that conversions and search rank are closely related (strive for that virtuous circle!). The first places to optimise for your keywords are the title and the search terms, but if your product doesn’t have the performance to back it up you will struggle to compete.
In my next blog I’ll go through the 5-step Amazon SEO method I have developed and refined for planning, executing and monitoring Amazon SEO efforts. I’ll talk about how to select the right keywords and how to measure the effect of your changes.
Alongside with my experiences working on Amazon inventory, these resources were invaluable to all I’ve learned about selling on Amazon: