18 February 2019
By Jon Akass
Jon is a Product Owner at Volo, and writes about how retailers and brands can improve their ecommerce performance.
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Amazon captures something like 50% of product searches online, and so it’s becoming increasingly vital for brands and retailers to be present on the marketplace in order to stay in front of the right shoppers.However, Amazon’s listing structure has some unique elements and the channel as a whole requires a different set of optimisations and skills to your typical website product listings. This tutorial will take you step-by-step through the most important product listing fields for Amazon and help you to get the best out of your listings. That means optimising for search ranking and conversion so that your target market can find your products, then be convinced to purchase them.
The title of your Amazon product listing is the first thing a shopper is going to see, and it’s heavily weighted in Amazon’s search engine ranking, making it perhaps the most important single attribute to get right.
When you’re adapting your listing titles for Amazon, you should try to foreground the most relevant and compelling information first in the title. This will vary depending on the product and target audience, but often it will include informative elements like your brand name, gender, material type; as well as language designed to be more persuasive, such as examples of ways to wear or use the product.
For example, a black dress might be titled:
“[Brand] Classic Lace Little Black Cocktail Dress – Perfect for Nights Out – V-Neck, ¾ sleeve”
Amazon listing titles are limited to 150 characters – this example is only 92 characters and has plenty of extra space to be improved, but it illustrates the idea. You should be trying to include lots and lots of information about the product in your listings. This will include any distinguishing features, like “V-neck” in our example. This should help it rank and to reassure customers that it’s the item they’re looking for. You should also be adding snippets of copy to the listing title that help to sway undecided buyers. Here we’ve done that by inviting them to consider a situation where the product would be useful for them.
Of course, the primary things you want to convey about your product should be your keywords, and these should go into the title, ideally front-loaded. In this case, we are probably trying to rank for keywords like “little black dress”, “cocktail dress”, “V-neck dress”, “black dress” and other similar search terms. We’ll talk more about keywords below.
As the example below shows, a shopper’s eye is naturally drawn to the bullet point section upon clicking through to an Amazon listing, so it’s the next crucial stage to focus on when optimising Amazon product listings. It's the first serious space for copy after the title.
This is the place to summarise the benefits and features of the product, and each bullet has a 255 character limit which actually offers a lot of space for copy. You can think of the bullet point section of an Amazon listing as a short and snappy brief for the description, which should expand on the ideas, features and benefits introduced in the bullets.
The best way to write a compelling description is to think about your target audience. What do they want this product to do for them? How can the product improve their life or make them feel better? What might stop them from buying and how can you ensure that they don’t have to worry about that?
An important factor to consider is the competition. What makes your product better than others? Highlighting your strengths (without directly calling out competitors) is a great way to help increase conversion on your Amazon listings.
This example does a poor job of using the available space to really sell the product, though it does call out key features and suggest one benefit.
Remember, while you’re answering all of those "how does this product improve the customer's life?"-type questions, you should be frequently using and referring to your keywords and the product itself. The shopper isn’t the only audience, because the search engine that powers Amazon ranking will be reading this description too. Finally, on mobile the description is actually shown above those bullets, but is cut off by default after 200 characters, so make that start count.
We’ve talked about them in a couple of sections already, so let’s explore what makes keywords so essential. A keyword is just a term that you expect your customers will search when they want to buy the type of product that you are selling.
These form the basis of the copy you write on your listing because you want to tell the customer that you’re selling the product they’re looking for, and because you want the ranking algorithm to know that that this product matches those search terms.
In a practical sense, Amazon product listings each have a 255 character keyword section. You don’t need to repeat individual words – so in our black dress example, we would not be writing “black dress”, “cocktail dress”, “little black dress” et cetera – Amazon understands already from analysis of your product description and other data that this is a dress. Keywords here would be “black”, “cocktail”, “night out”, “party”, “V-neck”, “chic”, “classic”, “lace”, and so on.
This section of the listing is not displayed to customers but is absolutely vital to fill out, as it helps Amazon to understand where your product is relevant and display it to shoppers who are entering relevant search terms.
At the most basic level, the more images the better. Amazon recommends you use images which are at least 1000 pixels on each side, which enables users to zoom in on details. Your product listing should contain images shot against a plain background, with multiple angles of the product showcased to maximise how much a customer can visually understand about your product.
Additionally, if you’re emphasising specific product details or features in your listing, having a close-up shot which demonstrates or highlights these is a great idea. As you can see in our example here, the images are high enough quality for Amazon to use the "Roll over image to zoom in" feature which allows the user to easily magnify different parts of the image.
The technical specifications section of an Amazon listing might seem dry and not particularly important to customers, and while this might be true for many browsing your listing, there are some for whom it will be crucial to their conversion.
This is partly because the technical specifications section is used to generate comparisons between similar products, and having blank sections here will push customers towards the product which has more information about it.
It might seem like an easy and obvious point, but getting your product into the right category in Amazon’s taxonomy will boost its search performance. The reason this can be surprisingly difficult is that Amazon has thousands upon thousands of subcategories. Picking the right one will mean you get to put the most appropriate technical specifications in your listing, are compared against the right products, and appear for the right search terms.
Once your listing is live, it’s easy to forget that there’s still more to be done. Potential customers can ask questions via the Amazon interface, which you should answer as clearly and helpfully as possible. This reassures not only the individual asking the question but any other shoppers with the same question in mind.
Additionally, this user-generated content will help your Amazon product listing to rank well on Google, as Google’s algorithm prioritises user-generated content.
Once you’ve optimised your listing with great product data, you should consider how you launch it to your market. If your fulfilment operation is slick, you might be able to offer seller-fulfilled Prime to get that crucial Prime badge on your listings. If not, consider using Fulfilment by Amazon to get the Prime badge and the resultant boost in sales. Many Prime subscribers will automatically discount or actively filter out non-Prime results from their searches.
Amazon also offers a cost-per-click promotional service called Sponsored Products. This works much like Google Adwords in that you bid for relevant search terms in order to appear in the results. Sponsored Products placements are on the first row of results, which is great for exposing a listing which has not had time to rank there organically. Over time, as sales history grows and Amazon's search engine can understand that your listing converts and delivers what buyers are looking for, the organic rank will improve, and you can lower or remove spend to focus it elsewhere. This is a great method to use to boost new products when listing to Amazon.
High quality Amazon listings rely on high quality product data being available to your listing team in the first place, and then they need the time to shape it into great listings. There are several ways to set up your team for success. One is to centralise product data, so that you can work on it without worrying about having to pull together data from many different systems and sources to try to piece together the right elements. Secondly, investing in automation to take away some of the manual spreadsheet work frees up your time to optimise and enrich your listings, which in turn makes a real difference to your bottom line.
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