It’s what sets sellers apart from non-sellers. Winners from losers. Cats from kittens. Thors from Hawkeyes.
Quite simply, it’s how you boost conversions, increase sales, drive your paid ads, and succeed organically on Amazon.
So, what are you waiting for?
Let’s optimize the heck out of your Amazon listing.
Why Amazon Listing Optimization is so Important
A recent study found that 49% of US internet users typically look for products using Amazon search.
Even more telling, the same study found 58% of people who normally shop online, start their search on Amazon.
So, if you’re an e-commerce brand ignoring Amazon search, you are missing out.
Because just like with other search engines, if your product listing doesn’t appear right away for the right queries, you will get overlooked for those who do.
How do you make sure that doesn’t happen?
With some well-strategized Amazon listing optimization.
What is Amazon Listing Optimization?
Amazon listing optimization is the process of improving a product page’s organic rank and visibility on Amazon.com. In other words, it’s how you get your products to appear at the top of Amazon search. The better optimized your Amazon listing, the higher your traffic volume, click-through-rate, conversion rate, and sales will be.
In brief, Amazon listing optimization involves:
- Enhancing keyword discovery
- Optimizing product titles and descriptions
- Optimizing images and video
- Utilizing Enhanced Brand Content and A+ Content
- Generating more (and better) reviews and Q&As
If you know anything about search engine optimization (aka SEO), then you get the idea. However, optimizing listings on Amazon has its own, unique process that is quite different than optimizing webpages for Google. It also doesn’t have its own cool acronym… until now.
Genius, right? (Where do we come up with this stuff?). Time to call our trademark attorney!
Very often, Amazon listing optimization is referred to as Amazon SEO. But as we’ll see in a moment that doesn’t really cut it. So, it should have its own separate acronym worthy of all it does.
But that’s not all.
On top of standing for “Amazon Listing Optimization,” ALO is a Native American name meaning “spiritual guide.”
It’s also how people in Britain say, “hello.”
The acronym could not be more perfect.
ALO is all about finding the best ways to introduce your products to Amazon users and guide them into making a purchase.
The Difference Between ALO and Amazon SEO
Contrary to what many Amazon sellers believe, it is not enough to just put a product on Amazon. You can’t just use your product name as a title, slap on a generic description, throw some images up, and hope for good things to happen.
That’s not how you compete on Amazon. That’s how you lose out on revenue.
To have any hope of succeeding, you need to design your product page from top to bottom around certain search criteria. But don’t make the mistake of thinking ALO is similar to SEO for Google, Bing, or other search engines. It is far from it.
Amazon is primarily a buying (not search) platform. That’s what sets it apart.
After all, we’re not optimizing pages; we’re optimizing listings. There’s a big difference between the two.
That’s why the term “Amazon SEO” is not 100% accurate.
Everybody uses the term because most people are already familiar with SEO, and optimizing for Amazon does share some similarities with optimizing for the likes of Google. But it’s important to realize that ultimately, they serve different purposes.
People perform all kinds of different searches on Google for all sorts of different reasons, such as informational and navigational searches. However, nearly every Amazon search is transactional.
Which boils the difference between SEO and ALO down to this:
- When you develop a website, you need to optimize for a lot of items to improve your chances of people finding your site and the content you provide via SERP. That’s SEO.
- When you develop a product listing, you need to optimize a select few items to improve your chances of people buying your product on Amazon. That’s Amazon listing optimization.
Notice how one requires “a lot of items” versus the other requiring only “a select few.” There are supposedly over 200 different ranking factors that go into how Google determines SERP positioning. (Bing says they use 1,000 ranking factors.)
For Amazon, however, there are far fewer.
Two, to be exact.
What are Amazon’s Organic Ranking Factors?
Where your listing ranks is ultimately judged by a clever algorithm named A9. The A9 organic product ranking algorithm collates a number of direct and indirect factors to match product search queries with product listings.
While a lot goes on behind the scenes when someone runs an Amazon search, thanks to A9, product ranking primarily boils down to two factors:
- Relevance – The measure of how closely Amazon believes your product matches what users are searching for.
- Performance – A tally of metrics, including CTR, CVR, and sales velocity.
Previously, you could rank well for product queries just by including relevant keywords in your product detail page. That was the full extent of “Amazon SEO.” But things have changed.
Thanks to some recent earth-shattering algorithm updates, Amazon now looks at performance-based metrics too. This change caused a huge drop in ranking for many products that previously ranked very well, requiring a new approach to selling on Amazon.
Goodbye, Amazon SEO. ‘Allo, ALO.
How to Rank Highly on Amazon Using ALO
Okay, enough chit chat. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Because let’s face it, you’re not here to debate semantics, look at memes of Sean Bean, and revel in our ability to make up obvious acronyms. You’re here to sell better on Amazon.
So, let’s do that, and start optimizing your listing.
Creating a product title sounds simple enough, right? Just use the name of your product. What’s so tough about that?
Your product title should not only convey the name of your product, but it should also accurately describe your product and its key features.
In other words, tailor your title to Amazon search.
Amazon allows around 200 characters for product titles, depending on the category. As a rule of thumb, try to use all of it. Since the first 80 characters or so appear on mobile devices, make sure your main keywords appear first.
But remember, you’re writing for humans, not bots. So above all else, make sure your product title provides potential buyers with enough information to decide if they want to click your listing. A good rule of thumb is to include the brand, sub-brand (if applicable), model number or SKU, product type, and then finish out with details like color and features.
Just be sure also to follow Amazon’s formatting rules:
- Capitalize the first letter of every word (except ‘and’)
- Don’t capitalize every single word
- Don’t use ampersands (‘&’) unless part of brand name
- Write numbers as numerals, not words
- Spell out units of measurement (‘feet’ instead of ‘ft’)
- Don’t mention pricing
- Avoid promotional messages like discounts and sales
- Avoid marketing speak (e.g. ‘best product ever’)
- Don’t use symbols
You can include up to nine images with your product listing. There are two types of images used. They are:
- Featured Image – The featured image is the first image displayed by Amazon to customers in both search results and on your product page. There are certain size and content requirements for this image depending on your category, so be sure to review those when uploading. They include using a white background and not including any unnecessary text.
- Supporting Image – The supporting image(s) accompany the featured image. They are used to give a better understanding of the product, and can include text. A good rule of thumb is to use:
- 2-3 photos showing details of the product
- 1-2 photos of the product in use
- 2-3 photos showcasing features
- 1-2 graphics demonstrating scale and size
Make sure you use only high-quality photos. Nothing says “don’t buy me” like poor pixelation.
Remember that time when we talked about how the best way to amplify your digital strategy is with video. Well, the same applies to Amazon listing optimization.
If you’re a brand registered seller or vendor, you can add videos to your product listings. Which is great news considering that 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions, and landing pages with video increase conversion rates by 80%.
Amazon (and it’s users) like videos that are informative. So, your video should discuss your product, show its features, demonstrate how to use it, and share its benefits in a not-too-commercially of way.
Please note, not all products require a video.
For example, the feature photo for this Black T-Shirt from Hanes pretty much says it all.
It’s a T-Shirt. For men. In black. No video explainer needed.
However, what this Multifunction Pen 7 in 1 Tech Tool Pen does is not as obvious.
A video showing every amazing thing this pen does would go a long way toward making a sale, and making a Transformer jealous.
We recommend keeping your Amazon videos 60 seconds or under.
Product Features and Description
Every Amazon listing includes bullet points highlighting your key product features. It’s the first place someone will look to learn more about what you’re selling.
Amazon allows 500 characters for featured bullet points. Vendors get ten and sellers five bullets to use. Use it all up.
To improve readability and impact, start the bullet with a few prime words in all capital letters, or separated by a colon. (Unlike product titles, all caps are allowed in product features.) Then the rest of the bullet can read as usual, championing why the feature is so great.
Further down the page lives your product description. Use this space to give more details on your product and wow your audience.
Amazon allows around 2,000 characters for product descriptions, depending on the category. Use as much as you can to expand upon your bulleted features.
Overall, when crafting products and features, take a two-pronged approach:
- Include the most important and relevant details about your product
- Incorporate target keywords in a way that makes sense
Enhanced Brand Content and A+ Content
Ever heard of them? No? Well, you’ve definitely seen them. And liked it.
Enhanced Brand Content and A+ Enhanced Marketing Content are the razzmatazz of Amazon product detail pages.
Each offers very similar content and benefits. Namely, they provide the ability to combine descriptions, images, and graphics into a more visually engaging presentation. The main difference between the two is who can use them.
- Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) – Available to sellers
- A+ Enhanced Marketing Content (A+ EMC) – Available to vendors
You must also be a registered brand to use them.
Trust us; you’ll love the results. Amazon touts that pages with A+ content increase sales by 3-10%. But we’ve seen product detail pages using EBC and A+ improve conversion rates by as high as triple digits.
Like we said, razzmatazz.
Product Keyword Targeting
Another difference between regular SEO and ALO lies with keywords. (Which Amazon officially refers to as “search terms.”)
Compared to SEO, keyword targeting is at the same time less important, and more important when performing listing optimization on Amazon. Confusing? Stick with us. It’ll all make sense in a moment.
There are two areas of focus on Amazon for keyword targeting:
- Frontend – Keywords included in on-page product listing fields like title and descriptions
- Backend – Keywords implemented behind-the-scenes of Seller Central
Let’s look at the latter first.
Amazon Backend Keywords are hidden search terms that can boost visibility. Hidden, as in they are invisible to users. Visible, as in Amazon’s algorithm can scope them out.
These backend keywords typically include colloquial terms, similar products, and synonyms or common misspellings of certain keywords. They are often the keywords you wouldn’t want to use in your title and description because they don’t relate directly to your product or fit naturally into your messaging, but they still relate to your listing.
Take the Yosager.
Sure, it looks like some demented torture device, but it does wonders on knots.
While the Yosager’s product title and bullet points target keywords like self massager and trigger point massage and knotted muscles, there are several other important keywords not present.
How do we know?
Because Yosager’s competitors are using them.
Another great place for insight is the keywords that populate under the “Read Reviews That Mention” section.
Both indicate keywords Yosager should target. But how do they do it if not in their product title and descriptions?
The backend, of course!
(Which coincidentally is also an area of the body the Yosager works wonders on.)
So Yosager would be wise to include backend keywords such as myofascial release tool and lower back pain and physical therapy and deep muscle massage. All keywords that weren’t included in their user-visible messaging for whatever reason, but can still help them rank well for valuable search queries.
Amazon is continuously tinkering with their backend keyword search term requirements. As of writing, they require search terms to be less than 250 bytes, which is a very confusing way of saying less than 250 characters. (One byte is roughly equal to one character.) That provides plenty of room to target important searches and eliminates the temptation of keyword stuffing your on-page product listing fields.
Speaking of overstuffing, let’s talk frontend keywording.
In the past, Amazon’s algorithms placed varying levels of importance on keywords depending on where they were placed on the frontend of a listing. For example, the product title carried more weight than the product description. But things have changed. (Remember, the earth-shattering update from earlier?)
Now, product listing fields are weighted equally across the entire page. (Although, product titles influence click-throughs.)
So, don’t get caught up in trying to game the system and overstuff listings with keywords. It doesn’t matter where your keywords appear or how many times you use them, just that they are relevant to your product.
The price you set for your Amazon product is probably more important than you realize. That’s because it plays a huge role in how Amazon determines the rank of your listing, as well as your conversion rate (both real and predicted).
There are three levels of price point on Amazon:
- Higher than similar products
- Lower than similar products
- Competitive with similar products
If your price is much higher compared to similar products in the same category, then Amazon will predict lower conversion rates for your product and be inclined to rank it less favorably. There are occasions when higher pricing may be warranted, but just make sure you can back it up with things like added features or better reviews than your competitors.
If your product is selling for less than similar products, Amazon might assume it is of lesser quality, especially if you have any negative reviews. Again, as a result, you’ll rank lower.
If your product is competitive compared to similar products in the same category, Amazon will predict that your conversion rates will be positive and your product well suited to rank well.
The takeaway when optimizing Amazon listings for price?
Take a cue from Godlilocks.
High prices are too high. Low prices are too low. But competitive prices are just right.
Pay attention to the prices set by similar products, and set your own product prices accordingly and competitively.
Though you might not realize, how much product you have in stock impacts how well your listing ranks in Amazon search. After all, a disappointed customer is a disappointed Amazon.
As such, stock availability is a key component that Amazon algorithms take into account when deciding where to place listings. If your listing says your product is out of stock or low in stock, then your listing could rank lower than similar well-stocked products.
Moral of the story? Keep your product in stock!
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is an immensely valuable resource for sellers for several reasons. One of the many being that it benefits Amazon listing optimization.
In brief, FBA is a service provided by Amazon to sellers that allows them to have their products stored, packaged, and shipped at an Amazon fulfillment center.
When you have your products kept at an Amazon warehouse, it helps you achieve “featured merchant” status. Not only does this help you reach Prime Members and increase your chances of winning the coveted Buy Box (both of which vastly increase sales velocity and conversion rate), but it also puts your products in a great position to move ahead of non-featured competitors in search results.
How Amazon Listing Optimization Benefits Amazon Advertising
Amazon listing optimization (or ALO if you will) deals primarily with organic search on Amazon. But it also greatly benefits Amazon Advertising.
In case you weren’t aware, Amazon Advertising is one of the best ways to enhance your eCommerce strategy. If you’re not using it, you need to start today.
Luckily, the good news is that if you’re performing Amazon listing optimization, you’ve already put your brand in prime position to succeed with Amazon Ads. That’s because optimized product listings drive better ad results by ensuring your ads are shown for your targeted paid search terms.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, as we’ve seen, Amazon cares a lot about relevancy. So, it’s no surprise they like ads shown on their site to be relevant to their customers. And how does Amazon determine the relevancy of a product’s ad? By looking at how well optimized that product’s listing is for organic search.
Typically, Amazon prioritizes ad placement for keywords that are also contained in a product listing. If you’re running an Amazon ad and it shows low impressions for a particular keyword, make sure your product listing contains that keyword.
You can also use your listing’s organic performance metrics to highlight top-performing keywords ideally suited for paid advertising.
All of which lower ad spend and improve the ability of your ads to drive more conversions.
Amazon Listing Optimization: The New Frontier of Selling Organically
The next time someone comes up to you at the supermarket and asks if you’re doing Amazon SEO, you’ll finally have a good answer.
And that answer is no.
You’re in this not to just rank well, but to sell.
That’s why you’re doing ALO, thank you very much.
Or at least you will be in about three seconds when you finish reading this post.
Which …. Is …. right …. about…. NOW!
Still here? What are you waiting for? Go forth and optimize those listings. If you’d like some help with Amazon marketing we are here for you. Just fill out the form below and we can get in touch. Just be sure to answer your phone with your best British ALO when we call.