Guest blog post by Paul Johnson, Co-Founder of Seller Labs

We all know the spiel: “You gotta stuff your product listing with as many keywords possible so it will be searchable on Amazon.” Please tell me you don’t still believe this?

Product search has evolved and there are much more effective methods to get your product noticed in search results that don’t include keyword stuffing. We’re going to present them to you with thorough examples and logical explanations.

For much of this post, I’ll be paraphrasing Paul Johnson’s presentation: Amazon Search Secrets.

To start, I want to be clear about what this post is NOT. It is not a gimmicky Amazon hack piece. It does not give information that will jeopardize your Amazon account. It will not change things overnight.

It will, however, GIVE you a roadmap of tactics you need to be implementing into your selling strategy. It will help you extrapolate information from your known sales data and give you a better idea on how to focus your efforts.

1. People perform more product research on Amazon than Google

The world’s biggest search engine and most popular website has its work cut out when it comes to people doing product research. Did you know Amazon gets 3 x more product searches than Google?

When searching for products, people would rather go to the most convenient source. Amazon is always my obvious stop when researching a product. You can read more about it here and here.

Amazon is relevant and your listings need to reflect that.

2. Amazon has a team of problem-solving brainiacs

Amazon started a subsidiary company called A9, which is based in Silicon Valley and has offices throughout the world. A9 employs some of the best search algorithm computer scientists and is dedicated to solving the issues around showing the most relevant search results from a catalog of hundreds of millions of items.

A9 developed a product called CloudSearch that allows other programmers to build upon the same technology that powers Amazon’s product search. This is a highly technical tool, but by reading its documentation and tinkering around with it, we have been able to understand how it works, and some possible data points that Amazon has available to refine the results.

3. Meticulous keyword selection rather than keyword stuffing

Less is more. Choose your keywords wisely and make them relevant. Well-chosen keywords increase a product’s visibility, among a number of other things. But let’s just focus on keywords at the moment. The number of product detail page views can increase significantly by adding just one search term. So what does that mean for you? Do your homework. Be specific. Try the rifle approach opposed to the shotgun approach.

4. More than one factor determines your products’ search results

Just as beneficial as keyword selection is, the price, availability, selection and sales of a product is imperative to its search relevancy.

  • Price: The Latin writer Publilius Syrus said, “Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.” With that knowledge, you need to be aware of a product’s utility to a consumer if you’re the only one selling it. If you’re not the only one selling a particular object, then look at the price of your competition and what people are willing to pay for it.
  • Availability: Understand your demand and make predictions. Lack of product will dramatically hurt your search rankings within Amazon.
  • Selection: If your product has, or can have, multiple variations then make them available to customers under a single parent ASIN. Include parent-child listings of your product. Let’s say your product comes in multiple colors and features, then create separate ASINs for each variation. This shows Amazon there is a larger selection of products available. Amazon loves product selection and tends to favor products where customers are most likely to find what they are looking for.
  • Sales: Products with more sales are ranked higher in Amazon search—simple as that. But is it really just that simple? Kind of. The more items you sell, the more Amazon views you as relevant to shoppers. Specifically, more conversions for a given keyword will make your product rank better for that keyword. And recent sales have more weight than older sales.

5. Search Relevance & Conversion Rate

Important factors come into play that will help your products’ search relevance and conversion rate. Paul Johnson compiled a list of criteria to help you gauge how important these factors are. As well as how they correlate with each other. Relevance and conversions are rated on this scale of five factors: none, low, medium, high and critical.

  • Title
    • Search relevance: high
    • Conversion rate: critical

Obviously an accurate title will help Amazon to determine your product’s relevance as well as the customer conversion on the page. And don’t forget the 200-character limit for titles.

  • Search Terms
    • Search relevance: high
    • Conversion rate: none

Shoppers don’t see the search terms you enter, but they are one of the primary means by which the search algorithm determines if your product is relevant for a search term.

  • Images
    • Search relevance: high
    • Conversion: critical

Customers love high-quality images on the product detail page, and high-quality product images are critical to making your product stand out amongst competitors. Amazon’s search algorithms likely take image quality into account to put higher converting products closer to the top of search results.

  • Price
    • Search relevance: medium
    • Conversion rate: high

It should go without saying that price is a critical factor in a customer’s decision to buy. The search algorithm takes this into account by placing lower priced items near the top when other factors are equal.

  • Fulfilment channel
    • Search relevance: medium
    • Conversion rate: medium
  • Description
    • Search relevance: medium
    • Conversion rate: medium
  • Bullet Points
    • Search relevance: up for debate
    • Conversion rate: medium
  • Reviews
    • Search relevance: high
    • Conversion rate: critical

6. Additional tactics to help get your product noticed

Besides having a great product, high conversions, exceptional search rank and stellar reviews, there are a few extra little things you can do to help get your product noticed.

  • Customer service: This should be obvious, but we all need reminders. Your customer service should be going the extra mile—especially if you have a product that’s converting a lot. Keep the momentum going and make sure every single customer is satisfied from when the package ships, arrives, and after they have started using it. Great customer service will help you get better seller feedback and avoid negative product reviews because of poor customer experience: this ultimately will help you improve your search relevance and conversion rates.
  • Email: You need to be emailing every customer at least once. Customers should feel like you’re present and real. We recommend sending a minimum of three messages per order: shipment, delivery, and follow up. Even if your emails are trashed, you’re still providing a channel for customers to respond if needed.
  • Leave a note: This is definitely going the extra mile. A note can be anything from something you print for each order, or something that is handwritten; it gives a nice personal touch. Be aware though of Amazon’s Conditions of Use. Your note can’t be used for marketing or any other promotional material. Just keep it simple and personable.

7. Is there a seventh point that needs to be discussed? Sure.

Now that you’re more informed about the facts of getting a product noticed on Amazon, it’s time to start working. Create a plan of action.

How do you want others to perceive your company and products? How do you want to communicate with your customers? What other resources can you use to get to where you want to be? And how much of your resources can you invest to get traction with your products?

These are all questions you should be asking.

About the author

paul-johnson-150Paul Johnson has been an active e-commerce entrepreneur since 2008 when he began his first online store selling musical instruments. He co-founded Seller Labs with Brandon Checketts in 2012 with a focus on creating software solutions for people selling on Amazon.

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