An inside look at how we’ve increased sales with Amazon listing service optimization
“How do I get my Amazon listing ranked to the first page of search?” We get asked this question by group members, new course members and by our podcast listeners literally on a daily basis. That’s because it’s a good question. It’s also a question that we were asking ourselves not long ago. So what’s the answer? More reviews? More giveaways? An Amazon listing service?
Maybe. But focusing on those methods alone will only get you so far. That’s because ranking your products in search and STAYING ranked in search are two different things. You can’t just have an epic launch – you have to stick the landing too.
However, that’s not how most sellers are approaching Amazon at the moment. If you spend anytime in the Amazon catalog, you are bound to see what I’m talking about. Amazon listings that are selling well but that have HORRIBLE pictures. Titles that are just a long stream of keywords stuffed together. Bullet points that are completely uninspiring.
Yuck. Instead, you are left wondering why your listings are ranked for many keywords, or why your conversion percentages are low.
And so it wasn’t until we committed to having amazing Amazon listings BEFORE using additional launch and ranking strategies that we really started consistently ranking above our competition and staying ranked.
Liran Hirschkorn, creator of the PPC Blueprint Course, Keyword Muscle Course and multi-million dollar Amazon seller, has ran with this idea. In fact, he says that his decision to become an expert at keyword research & listing optimization early in his private label career has been a large reason for his Amazon success.
“In early 2016, I entered a product niche dominated by Chinese sellers. I had been hearing the rumors that “Chinese sellers were going to take over Amazon”, and their prices were admittedly lower than the ideal margin. That being said, the niche wasn’t over-saturated so I decided to pursue it. There was another reason why I felt I could compete against these sellers: their listings were awful! Let’s just say that every listing had the equivalent of “HOT PRODUCT SALE – BEST QUALITY” somewhere in their bullets or product description. Not only did I bring a quality product to the market, but I made sure there is no comparison between my listings and the others. I’ve already sold close to $1 Million of this product niche/brand in 2017 – just one of my brands.”
So how did he do it?
Why you shouldn’t wait to optimize your Amazon listings
Similar to Google, Amazon uses their own search engine algorithm that determines the order that listings should appear in search results. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t provide us with their exact search ranking formula, but we do know that sales and sales history plays a major role. That’s why having an effective product “launch” is so important.
However, what many sellers don’t realize is that if you don’t optimize your Amazon listing with the right images, keywords and copy prior to your launch, you are totally missing out.
There are 2 major reasons why:
1) One, because every time a listing gets a sale, any indexed keywords for that listing gets a little bit of a boost in rank power – even if the customer didn’t specifically buy your product by searching for that keyword.
2) And secondly, even if you rank high in search after a product giveaway launch, if your listing’s images and copy are not optimized, there is a good chance you won’t convert. If you don’t convert, you will quickly lose the rank you worked so hard to achieve (and paid so much for!).
Let’s avoid that. Below we are going to look at 7 Amazing Tips that you can use to optimize your Amazon listings and dominate the competition.
The tools, tricks and tips we use to supercharge our Amazon listings
Tip #1: Make sure your photos look Amazing
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, on Amazon it is potentially more like thousands of dollars! Pictures are one of the best ways to make your product stand out on Amazon. While there is only so much that images can do to get traffic to your listing, they can play a vital role on the conversion side once customers are there. If you are willing to spend hours of your time looking for products and thousands of dollars bringing them to market, but you can’t spend $150+ on pictures, you aren’t doing things right.
So let’s look at some of the rules around images and then how you can stand out with amazing images and strategies.
According to Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS), main images should have all white backgrounds, not include models (in most categories) and only include the item(s) that is for sale. Unfortunately, this is pretty limiting in what you are able to do. That being said, not all main product images are made equally – some definitely still stand out.
As you browse the Amazon catalog, you will notice sellers who have added badges, text and non-white backgrounds to their main images. Is this allowed? No. What will happen to those sellers? If anything, they might get their listing suppressed until they provide an image that does meet TOS. You’d probably have to be a pretty bad repeat offender to have anything worse happen as of right now.
A fairly common misconception is that secondary images (those that are only visible when on the product detail page) have the same guidelines as the main image. Not true. Amazon’s TOS clearly states that lifestyle images and text are allowed on secondary images as long as it is accurate, relevant and doesn’t create unnecessary confusion. Basically, you have much more flexibility.
Let’s look at some ways the Magic Image Service makes photos look great:
Highlight Features Of Your Product
Your secondary images are a great place to highlight features of your product. Many people would rather look at a visual representation of product features than read through the listing.
Show Your Product In Use
You want Amazon shoppers to imagine themselves using your product – so make it easier for them! Using models in your photos is a great way for you to differentiate from your competition. Some people aren’t even quite sure how the product is used, so if they can quickly see a photo of your product in use, it helps make their buying decision easier.
Isn’t hiring a photographer, models and creating the right scene for products expensive? It can be. But it also doesn’t have to be. There are ways to digitally enhance plain, simple images and turn them into lifestyle images. Below are examples of what our image service – the Amazing Freedom Magic Image Service – did with some boring, basic images.
Turn Images Like These…
Number of Images
This should go without saying, but you really should utilize all the image spots that Amazon provides.
I always shake my head when I see a private label Amazon listing that has NO secondary images, or only 1 or 2. Many people go right to looking at the images before they even read any of the text on the listing.
There are 7 images spots that are directly visible on the product detail page of most categories. We highly recommend using all 7 of those spots.
One strategy that you can use on your images is to highlight a running promotion on your listing. This will be a public promotion that is available with a general coupon code. See image below for an example of the type of image that you might want to use on your Amazon listing to highlight a promotion:
Standing Out At The Holidays
This doesn’t have to be during just Q4/Christmas time (although it probably works the best then). Update some of your secondary images to have a theme related to the current sales period. This can work for the different seasons of the year as well.
There is nothing quite like professional photos, however, which is another strong option. That being said, professional photography with models and great lifestyle settings will definitely cost you more. There isn’t really a right or wrong option for your Amazon listing, but if you are bringing a new product to market, having digitally enhanced photos might meet your needs until you have a proven winner.
Your title is arguably the most important section of your product detail page when it comes to keywords. Although we can’t be sure exactly how Amazon’s A9 search algorithm works, we do know that keywords in the title play an important role.
That being said, it is difficult to know how to make a great title. Here are some guidelines that we personally feel will help:
Let’s be clear here – Amazon does not want you to “keyword stuff”. Keyword stuffing is the practice of stringing together as many keywords as possible, whether the title makes sense or not. Don’t do that.
But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get as many of your most valuable keywords into the title as possible. So what should your title look like? First we’ll list some of the “guidelines” that Amazon lists on Seller Central, and then we will look at what our personal recommendations are for your title.
The following guidelines are directly from Seller Central:
- Capitalize the first letter of each word
- Do not use ALL CAPS
- Conjunctions (and, or, for) and articles (the, a, an) should not be capitalized
- Don’t capitalize prepositions with fewer than five letters (in, on, over, with)
Numbers and symbols:
- Use numerals (2 instead of two)
- Spell out measurements ( 6 inches not 6″ )
- Don’t use symbols, such as ~ ! * $ ?
- Don’t use Type 1 High ASCII characters (Æ, ©, ô, etc.)
- Include the size and color in “child” ASINs for variations
- Don’t include price or promotional messages, such as “sale” or “free ship”
- Don’t use subjective commentary, such as “Hot Item” or “Best Seller”
- Your merchant name for Brand or Manufacturer information should not be included, unless your product is Private Label
Maximizing Character Limits
Following the guidelines above will set you up for a good title. However, there is still one important question that everyone asks. How long should the title be? The answer for that is a little less cut and dry. Amazon states that a “general rule” for max title length is 50 characters. Let’s be honest though, that’s really short. Amazon allows up to 200 characters for the title in most categories, some having shorter max character limits. We personally like to utilize the space that Amazon provides with keyword rich titles that explain our products in a clear and concise way. You’ll typically find that an Amazon listing service will provide you with a title that maximizes the character spaces available.
Including Benefits Others Don’t Have
We’ve already covered how important keywords are in your title and for driving traffic to your listing, but what about when the customer actually reads your title? This is where most Amazon sellers fail to stand out. In fact, your title is a good place to highlight your product’s best feature!
Here we see a listing for a “Tactical Flashlight” that is selling pretty well on Amazon. However, the title leaves some room for improvement, in my opinion.
Half the words/numbers in the title don’t really even mean much to me, and no awesome features jump out to me.
In comparison, this listing for meal prep containers give a lot more benefits for why I might want to purchase them. This title doesn’t just tell me what this product is, it tells me that this product is reusable, microwave, dishwasher & freezer safe, and is good for other things.
Better title alone doesn’t mean better selling product, as demonstrated by the examples above. But how much better would the flashlight sell with an improved title? We can only guess…
Tip #3: Optimizing Your Title For Mobile
Back in 2015, it was reported that 70% of holiday shoppers were using mobile.I can only imagine that number has only gone up since then, and not only during the holiday season. Not only that, but mobile users like to scroll quickly!
What does that mean for you and me? Speaking from a customer standpoint, as an Amazon Prime shopper myself, if the title doesn’t clearly describe what I am looking for on the search result s page, I usually am not clicking.
Here we can see the title differences between my view on a desktop and on the Amazon shopping app on my iPhone.
The mobile title still shows a good amount, but you definitely want to make sure that your most important keywords are showing up there.
Tip #4: Bullet Points That Sell
The bullet points of a listing are often where customers go to find out the details of a product. What does that mean? It means they matter! The bullet points are another area where most sellers do not maximize the space that is given to them. You don’t need to stuff a bunch of unnecessary information here, but you do want to merge valuable keywords with good sales copy. Here are some starting points:
Features and Benefits
One of the simplest and most effective methods for approaching bullet points is to provide the feature followed by the benefit. How do you best write out the features and then benefits? This one little trick made it much easier for me. Follow the specific feature that you list with the words “so that”. Yep, those 2 little words will help tremendously as you write out your bullets.
“These barbecue gloves protect from heat up to 800 degrees so that you never have to worry about burning your hands!”
Most people don’t have too much trouble writing out the features of their product – it’s the benefits that get skipped over. Using “so that” makes it so that you have to explain why your product’s feature is valuable to the customer! People don’t want to just know what the product can do, they want to know what it can do for them!
Skimmers Vs. Details
Are you a skimmer or someone who likes to read every word? You will get both types of customers to your Amazon listing, so it’s nice to appeal to both! One way you can do that is by making some of the main features of your product stand out in the bullet points.
One way that you will see many sellers do this is by putting the feature of each bullet point right at the front in all capital letters like this:
DOUBLE-LAYERED PREMIUM SILICONE – These barbecue gloves protect from heat up to 800 degrees so that you never have to worry about burning your hands!
This way someone who just likes to skim through the listing quickly can still view some of the main features, and those who read every word get the detail they need too. Win-win.
Call To Action
Do you include a call to action in your bullet points? You probably should. A call to action is where you “call” the customer to buy the product. This might look something like this:
“Buy your premium silicone barbecue gloves now to start experiencing a whole new way of grilling!”
In order to take advantage of mobile shoppers, you should place a call to action early on in the bullet points. On mobile, often only the first 3 bullet points will show up unless the shopper clicks to see more details on the bullets. You definitely want to put your most important information in the first 3 bullets.
Tip #5: Lifetime Guarantee or No Guarantee?
“Lifetime guarantee” is pretty strong language, no? Most sellers are hesitant to put this wording on their listings because, well, a lifetime is a long time. So instead, you will see many people put “30 Day Money Back!” (which is basically the default Amazon return period whether you like it or not), or perhaps even “10-year money-back!”. The trouble with putting a limited guarantee is that the customer instantly associates that with how long the product will last.
Isn’t that how it works? If you have a car warranty, home warranty, TV warranty – whatever it is, it always seems like something happens right after the warranty expires.
That’s why putting a “lifetime guarantee” on your listing can really add some confidence to help convert your product. Besides, how many people will really remember that guarantee on your listing even a few months down the road? Most people won’t bother with it. Now if your product is horrible quality and there is no possible way it will last past 2 months, then OK, you might not want to use this strategy. For the most part, however, the lifetime guarantee strategy appears to have more upside than downside.
Tip #6: Product Descriptions That Convert
While your Amazon product description is typically not as important as your images, title or bullet points, it is still another area for you to provide information to potential customers. The product description appears lower on the page, so it isn’t the first thing shoppers see. That being said, here are a few powerful ways to make your description better than 95% of descriptions on Amazon:
CREATE AN FAQ SECTION
One of main reasons customers will even look at your product description is that they are looking for more information. You haven’t been able to sell them with your images, title or bullets, or you haven’t answered some question they have yet. The product description is your chance to do just that. You can essentially create your own FAQ in your description. This can be based on questions you think customers might have, or it might be based on questions you actually get frequently asked. This is a great place to help your customer find an answer they are looking for so they feel more confident to buy.
CALL TO ACTION
Start off with a call to action right at the beginning. If you have a general promotion running, or a sale price that you have your product set at, tell the customer to add the product to cart and take advantage of the promotion.
TELL YOUR BRAND STORY
If you don’t have access to Enhanced Brand Content (see below), the product description can be a good place to tell your brand story. This might not necessarily hit additional keywords for your listing, but it is a good way to build your overall brand awareness. If you have a particular goal, mission or cause that you are supporting through your business, then you definitely want to utilize this section to tell that story. Depending on the product, some customers feel more comfortable buying a product they feel has a positive background – even if it’s just supporting a small business owner.
Your primary/most important keywords should have been used in the title and bullets of your listing. If they were, you don’t need to repeat them anywhere else for keyword ranking/indexing purposes. Once is enough. However, if you have “secondary” keywords, or those that get less search volume but are still important, you can drop them into the description. There aren’t many downsides for getting more relevant keywords on the front-end of your listing.
TO HTML OR NOT TO HTML
By default, Amazon’s product description field is pretty plain. Basically, your product description will just look like a block of text if you have a decent amount of words in it. The problem is that this isn’t really easy to read and most people won’t take the time to read your description. So what are your options? Well, you can just use the default text spot available when creating your listing, or you can use HTML. Using page breaks and bold is within Amazon TOS, but we don’t recommend going crazy with it. Here are a few you may consider using:
- Using <br> will bring your text to the next line. This is probably the most helpful HTML to use as it allows you to breakup your text from appearing as just one large text block.
- <p>Paragraph text</p> Is another way to break up your paragraphs/sentences.
- <b>Bolded Text</b> turns into – Bolded Text
- For bullet points, the easiest way is to actually copy and paste a bullet point symbol into the text box: • You can copy that symbol, place spaces afterwards, and then end your bullet point text with the <br> to go to the next line.
At any point Amazon could make additional changes to how they handle HTML and their rules, so have a non-HTML product description on hand if needed. If you use an Amazon listing service, they will typically provide you with both HTML versions and non-HTML so that you can decide.
Tip #7: Using Enhanced Brand Content (EBC)
Enhanced Brand Content is robust way to showcase additional images of your product and text. The really valuable part? EBC now shows up on mobile before the bullet points.
With EBC you can choose between 5 different templates or layouts:
We personally like to use template 4 to provide a good mix of additional images and valuable text.
Your Brand Story
I mentioned displaying your brand story in your product description above. Displaying your brand story with EBC is even better.
So how do you use Enhanced Brand Content? First, your brand needs to be brand registered. Getting brand registered has a number of benefits and is pretty straightforward as long as you have a trademark – that’s the challenge for most.
Final Thoughts: How Do You Become An Expert At Listing Optimization?
What’s the secret to becoming an expert at optimizing listings? Like most things – time and practice. You might decide that you are going to make becoming an expert at listing optimization a priority. You might also decide that your time and energy would be better spent elsewhere, and an Amazon listing service is the perfect solution for you. The decision is based on you and where your business is at today.
Here are the steps to optimize your Amazon listings and boost sales:
- Images are essential. Pay for professional photos that look amazing or use an affordable, easy solution like the Magic Image service.
- Understand the importance of keywords and how to find them. Your most important keywords should appear in your title. Optimize your title for mobile.
- In your bullets think “features and benefits. Use a call to action, a lifetime guarantee or other copy to help make the customer’s decision easier.
- Improve your Amazon listings but don’t make too many changes. Changing your Amazon title & bullets around too much could actually have a negative impact on your search rankings.
- Use the Amazing Freedom Amazon Listing Service to take the stress and headache out of creating listings. Yes, you can become an expert, but do you have the time? Listings aren’t something to mess around with.
- Rinse and repeat. Keep bringing new products to market. Keep making new listings. Keep selling!
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