Amazon’s search algorithm is the engine that pushes all search results to customers. It takes into accounts a lot of different elements, including things like shoppers recent searches, best-selling products, and recent reviews.
The exact way the algorithm works is a secret and Amazon is also constantly changing it. One thing that we do know is that it scans your listing information to push customers to your products. That’s why it’s important to not just optimize your listing but to put a lot of work into it.
“If you don’t pay close attention to how your customers will arrive at your listing then it’s not really going to be served up to people who are searching,” says former Amazonian Emily Murray.
Emily worked for Amazon twice. First, in the late Nineties in customer service. Then, again in 2011 for a couple years doing product safety. Now Emily works with Cascadia. She writes content for client’s listing pages and optimizes their listings.
“Start at the beginning and think about quality content and to think about the kind of listing that you would want to arrive on if you were shopping,” Emily says.
Before we really dive into how to optimization, you need to understand the difference between creating content for a blog or website and writing your listing page. The tactics for optimizing your Amazon listing are often confused with Search Engine Optimization or SEO tactics for Google. Although there are some similarities, how you actively optimize your product listing is dramatically different.
The key difference is structured versus unstructured data. There are no limitations or many constraints to designing your own web page. Google has to make sense of unstructured data of millions of sites. Amazon, however, is structured data with predefined fields, with maximum character limits. Optimization on Amazon is more regulated by the framework Amazon provides.
This more straightforward approach by Amazon can cause sellers to input massive amounts of data that isn’t relevant to the product, sometimes in the form of keyword stuffing.
“That’s not something that the Amazon customer or the Google customer or any searchers are going to be happy with,” Emily says
Keyword stuffing can also put your account or listings in jeopardy. Amazon cares deeply about their customer’s experiences. If you give customers a keyword stuffed listing trying to trick the search algorithm, not only will it look bad, it will upset customers. If you upset your customers, you’ll ultimately upset Amazon.
To optimize your listings the right way you want to follow four steps.
Write like an expert.
You want to write about your product like you’re an expert on it. For example, if you’re selling a tennis racket, you want your Title, Bullets, and Details to sound like a pro-tennis player explaining the ins and outs of their favorite racket.
“If you don’t know, if that’s not your passion, find someone online who’s writing about tennis rackets or whatever it is and use words that they use to make it appear that you are an expert in this field,” Emily says.
When you first start writing information for your listing, try first writing everything that comes to mind. Essentially, you’re going to just dump all the information into your listing, and then let it sit. Wait a few hours or a day and then come back and start refining the information.
The first part you want to focus on is your title. The title needs to be clear, concise and tell the shopper exactly what you’re offering. You should include things like the brand, the quantity available, size, color. All of that information will be automatically indexed as keywords.
Next, focus on your bullet points and description. Your first three bullet points are the most important. When it comes to your description make sure that the first 30 words give the shopper the most important information. Then all following words and sentences support that information with smaller details.
You want to start with the most important first with both bullets and description because that’s what most shoppers will see either on the computer or a mobile device first. If that information doesn’t draw their attention, shoppers will likely hit the back button and find your competitor’s product.
There are lots of ways to find keywords. A good place to start is to make a list of all the words relevant to your product. Then you can start brainstorming new keywords. Also, put yourself in the mind of a shopper, how might a shopper look for your product?
“The thing you want to use keywords now for Amazon is describing ways, sort of embedding words that wouldn’t be in the listing, that wouldn’t actually show up,” Emily says.
For example, Emily tells us a story about a keyword that came up for a king size chair.
“I was reading a great example online of, they were talking about selling a king size chair,” says Emily, “King size does imply a larger person could use it. One thing that you might put on the back end and this was the article saying it, not me, but it was “chairs for fat people” or something that you wouldn’t actually put in a listing because it’s offensive or doesn’t make any sense or doesn’t flow with things.”
Another way to find keywords, is by doing competitive research, what keywords are competitors using? Remember keywords don’t need to include things that are already in your title, those items are already indexed.
“I don’t think it’s that sellers aren’t doing any work or aren’t doing enough work where keywords are concerned, it’s just that there’s a lot of creativity and a lot of thought that can go into it and those are the most effective ones,” Emily says.
Go over your competitor’s product pages and see what’s working and what’s not. You can gain a lot of insight into your customers by seeing what they are asking about on your competitor’s listings.
“Maybe you write your bullets and write your description and then you go look at your competitors and see what they wrote and see what their customers are asking and see what kinds of ways you can answer the questions that have not yet been asked on your listing before they ever get asked,” Emily says.
Also, look over competitor’s reviews. You can see what concerns or complaints customers have about your competition and you can address those in advance in your own listing.
Update and Change your Listing over time
You probably want to check in every few months and make updates and changes. If your product has some seasonality to it, make sure to update keywords. For example, if you’re selling cookie cutters, you probably want to add in some keywords soon that correlate with the holidays: “Christmas cookies,” “holiday baking,” “cookies for Santa.”
You also want to see if your competition has made any changes. That can help you find new keywords for your listings.
If your product pages aren’t where you want them to be, spend the next couple weeks really working on them, making sure that they’re ready for the holiday shopping season
Big thanks to Emily Murray for her insight on listing page optimization. You can find Emily at thinkcascadia.com