- Cory Checketts
- On June 22, 2016
Amazon search is a hot topic amongst third-party (3P) sellers. It’s all anyone seems to talk about these days. It’s no wonder there’s a lot of chatter going on about Amazon search, Seller Central says “Search is the primary way that customers use to locate products on Amazon.” And Eric Schmidt of Google has been famously quoted saying, “Almost a third of people looking to buy something started on Amazon—that’s more than twice the number who went straight to Google.” In an attempt to add some clarity just to what everyone is talking about, I’ve created a list of guidelines to help you understand Amazon search a little better.
Relevance and Performance
Two factors determine how a product is displayed in Amazon search: relevance and performance. Here’s a simple breakdown of what each metric does for a seller’s products in search.
Think of relevance as the keywords and search terms shoppers use to find or describe products. They are found in things like:
- Bullet points
- Product description
Performance is how Amazon ranks products by potential profitability using key performance indicators to determine its placement in a search engine results page. These include things like:
- Sales velocity
- Sales history
- Inventory levels
- Detail page sessions/conversions
- Seller feedback score
- Product reviews
How to Improve Relevance
Titles can’t be longer than 200 characters. That’s right, I said characters—not words! You need to be selective and wordsmith your titles to be as descriptive and keyword rich as possible. Here are some guidelines to help you craft great titles.
- Things to include:
- Your brand name
- Construction materials
- Things to avoid
- Keyword stuffing (you fool nobody by saying your product is the “#1 Amazon Best Selling Selfie Stick”)
- Incoherent titles with no tangible description
- Exclamations points!!!!!
Use all five bullet points. This is important because more people look at the bullet points than the description.
- Things to include:
- Use each point to describe what your product does
- Tell the shopper why your product is so great. Is it easy to use, does it have multiple uses, is it safe?
- Use upper case letters to make your keywords stand out. This will make your detail page easy to skim.
- Include long-tail keywords that describe your product. Research potential terms people would use to search for your product.
- Things to avoid:
- Keyword stuffing
- Making false claims about your product
Unfortunately, product descriptions get buried under Amazon’s suggestions for other products and special offers. But the product description is the perfect place for you to go into detail about how your product works. Here is where you can go into detail about why it’s the best and what it’s made of.
- Things to include:
- Your brand name
- Long-tail keywords to describe your product
- What task or problem your product solves
- What materials your product is made of
- Thing to avoid:
- Keyword stuffing
- Mentioning competing products
Great product photography isn’t something shoppers usually notice. But bad product photography is something shoppers do notice. This aspect of your detail page’s relevance isn’t necessarily calculated into Amazon’s search algorithm but it has massive effects on whether someone purchases from you or not.
Your main product image must have a white background and show just the product for sale. The product needs to fill 85% of the space and it should be at least greater than 1000 pixels in width and height, this will allow for zooming. And one easy thing you can do is use every photo slot available. Amazon provides eight slots but often you will see how few sellers use all of them. More photos give shoppers more to look at, which means they’ll spend more time on your detail page. Take the time to shoot high-quality images or spend the money and have a professional do it for you. Your photos will pay dividends with increased sessions and sales.
How to Improve Performance
Improving your performance on Amazon takes a little more sweat equity than crafting product titles with meticulously selected keywords. This aspect of your business takes strategy, practice and even some tools.
As a seller, you’re probably familiar with sales velocity because it’s mentioned frequently amongst sellers. Sales velocity is the amount of items sold within a determined amount of time. This metric of your business is important to track because it has direct consequences as to how your products rank on Amazon. The basic thing to keep in mind is that you want a higher sales velocity than your competitors. It also is a contributing factor in Best Seller Rank.
Sales velocity is tricky because it fluctuates depending on time of year, number of competitors, advertisements and a whole myriad of factors. It has been believed that a healthy sales velocity is based off of the amount of units sold per day. But in reality, the amount of units sold per hour contributes more into your product’s search rank. If you’re selling more units per hour than your competition, Amazon is going to view your ASIN as a more profitable product and rank it higher. A great example of how this works can be done by researching book sales on Amazon. When a new book is released by an author, it will rise to the top of the best seller list. It’s ranking will fluctuate each hour—not day. The longer a book has been out, the more it will descend the best seller list.
Previous sales contribute greatly to your Amazon search rank. Imagine each sale being worth 100 points toward your ranking the moment it takes place. But the next day that same sale may only be worth 99 points and the next week it will be worth 90 points. The value of that sale decreases over time but it never fully goes away. Prior sales will help your product get noticed but they won’t be what keeps you on top.
Maintaining an ample inventory will also play into how Amazon ranks your product—this is especially true if you are using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). Merchant fulfilled sellers don’t need to be as worried but they should strive to always have product available to purchase. Amazon wants to provide shoppers with the best shopping experience; there’s nothing worse than finding a product you want only to see it’s out of stock.Amazon rewards sellers with healthy inventories by moving them up in search rank.
We’ve all heard the cliche about “the race to the bottom,” but cliches are called cliches for a reason—because they’re kind of true. So how does a seller set their price just right in order to make a healthy profit but not race to the bottom to win the Buy Box? That all depends, and you can find countless pricing philosophies online. We recommend you set your prices competitively and accordingly so you come out in the black. Repricing software is a great way to keep your prices competitive because it will adjust automatically within the parameters you select. Don’t get so hung up on price that you neglect other key factors in getting your products to rank in search.
Detail page conversion rate
What exactly is a conversion rate? A conversion rate is defined by the number of detail page sessions divided by the number of sales. This figure will tell you just how many shoppers are purchasing from you when they land on your detail page. Amazon rewards sellers who have higher conversion rates than their competition. You can influence how shoppers behave on a detail page by testing different titles, bullet points, descriptions and photos.
Seller feedback score
This metric measures the quality of an Amazon seller. Shoppers are encouraged to rate their experience with a seller by leaving feedback based off of shipping and communication. Sellers use the five-star rating system and can write their feedback after a purchase. This metric is extremely crucial to re-sellers because they often compete with other sellers who sell identical products. Sellers with better feedback scores, product reviews and prices tend to win the coveted Buy Box more often. And winning the Buy Box means more sales.
A high feedback score can prevent sellers from being suspended. If your customer dissatisfaction rate consists of 25% negative or neutral feedback, you risk being suspended by Amazon. And a suspended account means mega profit losses and a huge headache to get reinstated. Proactively asking shoppers to leave you positive seller feedback has more benefits than meets the eye.
I saved product reviews for last because it is one of the most discussed topics in the industry right now. In 2015, Amazon started to crackdown on sites offering fraudulent reviews to help boost a product’s discoverability on the site with several lawsuits. There is much discussion happening around how to get honest product reviews and whether or not the means justify the ends. I want to focus on how product reviews help improve your product’s performance.
First, product reviews are at the core of Amazon’s shopping experience. A product review helps shoppers make educated purchasing decisions. Since a shopper can’t physically see, touch or smell the product they’re interested in, they rely on previous shoppers to provide them with that information. This is why a product review is so crucial to Amazon’s success and credibility.
It’s true, products with more 4- and 5-star reviews will sell more than their competition. Product reviews can be the deciding factor between your product a competitor’s. A great way to ensure you get honest and quality reviews is to follow up with everyone who purchases from you. All you have to do is ask. You can send an automated email based off of an order event that simply asks if they’re enjoying the product and if so, to leave a product review.
I’ve dropped a lot of information on you with this post; use it as a jumping off point to further your research and sales strategy. Here are a few quick takeaways to help you improve your sales.
If you’re a new seller you should:
- Craft the perfect product titles using a keyword research tool
- Write detailed and thorough bullet points
- Take high-quality product photos
- Use Snagshout.com to launch your product to get foundational product reviews and initial conversions
- Get set up with Feedback Genius to automate your product review and seller feedback messages
If you’re a seasoned seller you should:
- Optimize your product titles, bullet points and descriptions
- Use Snagshout.com to run special promotions, especially in Q4 and other holidays and events
- Diversify your offerings by launching a product in a competitive category. There are many opportunities for growth if you start branching out