Information about ranking optimization on Amazon
Nowadays, hardly anything online would work without SEO. Billions of websites are displayed to internet users as a virtual universe with countless worlds. While in the past SEO was barely talked about and had little influence on web searches, in the past 10 years a lot has changed among the most important search engines. Search engine optimization, or simply SEO, is turning more and more into a science with each passing year.
Deciding algorithms – with both Google SEO and Amazon SEO
Today there are hidden algorithms which determine the ranking of a website. The influence on ranking has developed into an industry unto itself, and without it website owners would not do well at all. And it’s no different with Amazon, which offers almost all the consumer goods available in the world on its virtual store shelves.
Amazon – a virtual cosmos full of consumer goods
In addition to televisions, vacuum cleaners, spare rips and the many other consumer items, the retailers are listed, where the consumer goods can be ordered online. For example, those who search for a mobile phone on Amazon and also enter this search term will receive a long list of cell phones of all brands and with all sorts of functions. Again, there is a ranking. And this is not unlike that of Google. Both search functions allow relevance to the ranking. The more relevant a website or consumer product, the better the ranking. While website owners buy high quality content for an improved Google ranking, Amazon SEO behaves differently. Authentically written texts alone are not enough for an Amazon ranking optimization alone. Although they also play a role in Amazon SEO, but not only. Why Amazon SEO differs from Google SEO lies in the intent of both operators.
Google vs. Amazon – similarities & differences
While Google wants to sell advertising, Amazon offers consumer products to buy. Customers on Amazon have two opportunities to buy: either directly from Amazon or from one of the retailers selling their products on Amazon. Since customers don’t want to spend a lot of time searching, retailers profit from better rankings. As on Google, the ads (products) on Amazon with better rankings get more clicks than those not ranking so high. Retention time is important for ranking on Google. But for Amazon SEO, sales take priority. Searching – buying – maintaining is a good method for improving your ranking with Amazon SEO. If you want to be listed at the top on Amazon, you should know how Amazon SEO functions. Here we’ll show a few tips for online sellers to make better use of the Amazon platform.
Amazon Ranking optimization – it all begins with search behavior
Have you heard of Amazon on-page optimization?
If you’ve ever been involved with Google search engine optimization, you may remember the on-page optimization. According to SEO specialists, this is the basis for every ranking improvement. Specifically, it has to do with the quality of information – so with Amazon SEO, it’s the product information. It might sound simple here, but in practice there are complications. Amazon on-page optimization encompasses text, lists, and images. The right performance begins with the correct product title. Features can be laid out clearly and informatively with bullet points. It’s important to assign the right keywords to the bullet points. A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is also true with Amazon SEO. Image perspective and resolution are important; to guard against a customer seeing a pixelated image, the resolution should be at least 1000×1000 pixels. The product description should be to the point. Text for the Amazon Ranking Optimization should be meaningful and easy to read. Writing clearly and descriptively also helps with search behavior; customers like product descriptions with simple, understandable wording. Essentially, for good performance and simplified search behavior, everything must be done as though it were part of one small web shop. The only difference between Amazon and a small web shop is the size. Just as with Google SEO, Amazon on-page optimization is the first step to better ranking with worldwide online retailers. Simply put together a list with the points mentioned above, and go through each of your products offered on Amazon point by point. Sometimes small corrections are enough to noticeably improve your ranking.
Actively make an impact on Amazon search results
Instead of waiting for Amazon search results that rank at the top, you can actively influence the results, positively contributing to a better ranking through Amazon ranking optimization. The great thing about this is that the effect on the ranking will be noticeable quickly. With Google you have to wait months to see results, but with Amazon it only takes minutes. Good placements are an absolute must for online retailers and can determine the survival of your business. It should be your goal to appear in the top three in the ranking. Almost all customer clicks go to the first three sellers. The seller at the top shouldn’t give this position away easily! The large number of sales you make is your best opportunity to further solidify your dominant position. But as always, use on-page optimization for every product as much as possible. You mustn’t forget this service, which is important to customers and is often the deciding factor in getting recommendations. And it’s true the other way around: top placement won’t happen without corresponding performance.
What are the Amazon ranking factors?
If you want to improve your positioning on Amazon, you have to directly confront the Amazon ranking factors. If you’re interested in knowing, there are parallels as well as differences between Amazon and Google. With the Amazon ranking factors, Google’s rules can be put aside for the time being. For the online retailer Amazon, ranking comes exclusively from sales and satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are those who keep the product they buy without returning it. If customers also leave a positive buying recommendation, from Amazon’s viewpoint everything has gone perfectly, and the customer will presumably return to shop again on Amazon soon. With these criteria there are three important points for customers: does the customer see the desired product or information in a search query? Are the purchase price, shipping cost, and delivery time acceptable for the customer? What are the opinions of other consumers who have already bought the product, about the product itself and the service?
Each of the three criteria can be treated individually. These are designated as factors later.
The Amazon on-page factors
There are different ways to improve your ranking with the Amazon on-page factors. Over the years, successful SEO experts have worked out the most important Amazon on-page factors, searching for opportunities for improvement. Among the most important are:
Getting to the point and not beating around the bush. While in speech, sentences are simple and concise, it’s often different in written language. Instead of simply stating facts, we search for complicated terms. This is true unfortunately also for product titles. It’s also important to use suitable keywords in connection with the product title. According to SEO experts, the title should not exceed 200 characters. The brand, product features, and selling points can be packed into these 200 characters. If the text is less than 200 characters, that’s OK. Keep in mind, it’s better to keep the text short than to drag it out unnecessarily. On the other hand, you should not leave out anything important, and avoid being overly short. Comparing with other titles can help with your formulation. The title is what people actually click on Amazon. So a crisp, inviting title has better chances for a higher CTR, or clickthrough rate.
When Amazon offers the opportunity to list bullet points, you should take advantage of this offer. Amazon allows a total of five bullet points per article. The algorithm is programmed so that the bullet points are given considerable weight in search behavior. So all five should be used as best as possible in order to improve search results. Different keywords can also included here. What people often overlook is the fact that more keywords can be used here than in the product title. But you have to remember not to repeat keywords. Playing games with singulars and plurals doesn’t produce the desired outcome with search engines. Instead, you should simply create a list of keywords and add them. The keywords feed not only the search engine, but also the visitor, who can quickly lose interest if the words and their order are unclear. So always keep in mind the customer’s objective. And it remains true here that sometimes less is more. A combination of title and features proves to be ideal. Finally, all details of interest, like color, weight, size, etc. should be entered clearly.
Search terms – invisible keywords
Invisible keywords, like the meta-description, stem from past times. But these invisible keywords are important, particularly for ranking in Seller Central. Every seller can enter invisible keywords in their account for each product individually. The keywords are only invisible to customers, even in the source text. For invisible keywords (search terms) Amazon offers (varying by category) up to five lines with 1000 characters each per item. But since the A9 algorithm update Amazon has been ignoring the search terms if more than 250 characters are entered. See: Amazon A9 Algorithm Update – initial findings after four days.
As in the preceding paragragh, it’s also true here that this offer from Amazon should be used liberally. Likewise, you should avoid repeating keywords here as well, for the same reason as above. It is advantageous to use combinations of keywords connected with hyphens. The keyword combination coffee-cup gives the results coffeecup, coffee, and cup. It saves space to omit the hyphen and instead separate the individual keywords with a blank space. You can then easily determine the influence of the keyword combinations on the ranking.
You can say a lot by letting a high-resolution photo describe many of the product characteristics. In this day and age of inexpensive, good-quality cameras, taking high-resolution photos is no longer an issue. The resolution should be 1000×1000 pixels at a minimum, though higher resolution is of course better. But a resolution of 1500×1500 pixels is generally considered the upper limit. The number of good photos is also important. Between six and eight photos per item is generally recommended. What can be seen and clarified in the photos naturally depends on the item. You should ask yourself what the customer would be interested in knowing, and what they would like to see in the photo. Which details would interest them?
The product description – an often neglected factor in good CTR
For a high CTR you need a good product description. It doesn’t carry quite the weight that the photos do, but in any case you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the product description for a good CTR. Also, you have the opportunity here to include the most important keywords once more. The seller can speak to the emotional side of the potential buyer. Simply stating the product features would be out of place in the product description. Instead it should be written in vivid detail. An exciting description can itself incite the viewer to buy. The customer’s inner wishes can be addressed here. Always structure the text properly so the reader doesn’t get lost in a tangle of emotional speech.
A low price isn’t enough to make a sale. And Amazon doesn’t always offer the lowest price for an item; you will find many products for a lower price from other mail order companies. This is easy to see by looking at price comparison portals like geizhals.at or geizkragen.de. So you can clearly see that the price of a product on Amazon isn’t always the lowest. Sometimes Amazon is even at the high end of the prices for an item. This comparison offers the opportunity as a seller to adjust your selling price according to your competition.
Customers can often be impatient and want to hold their newly purchased product in their hands. The excitement of a new product is sometimes referred to among experts as the user experience. And so the availability of a product is very important; customers really want to know whether the item is in stock and immediately available. They also want to know how long it will take to ship to their address. You can only hope to make a sale when both of these questions can be answered satisfactorily.
Factor hipping cost
For a good CTR the shipping costs are also very important. Research shows that not indicating shipping costs leads to more sales. The reason is that customers are trying to save money. If the final price is a little higher due to shipping costs, this seems to bother customers less. The deciding factor for the sale is obviously the price on the product description page. And so retailers should either not specify the shipping costs, or show the price with shipping costs included.
Factor seller performance
Sometimes when making a purchase in a store, the enjoyment of a friendly interaction exceeds the enjoyment due to the product itself. This is also true of online purchases. A purchase is often steered by questions, so friendly, competent knowledge is often the basis for a business transaction. It’s also important to quickly respond to questions. If it takes too long to get an answer, the customer may go to the competition, who will gladly take their business. So seller performance is likewise decisive in your ranking.
Factors sales rank and categorization
Sales rank plays an important part here. This includes the proper categorization of an item, which is important because Amazon assigns codes to your products. If an item is bought often, it is promoted as a Bestseller through its Amazon codes and ranked close to the top. The sales rank and categorization function to inform customers about the purchases of other customers. The reason lies in human behavioral psychology – people prefer to buy what other people also buy. Fashion is a good example of this.
Factors Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Amazon Prime
The small Amazon Prime logo is meant to suggest to customers that they will get their order more quickly than will other customers, though in practice there is little difference whether the customer buys through Amazon Prime or not. But Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is important for conversion and thus for ranking on Amazon. The reason lies in the commission Amazon is paid, which is higher with FBA than with an ordinary purchase. For small sellers with relatively low sales figures, the more expensive Fulfillment by Amazon is not really worth it. It’s generally only worth the expense for sellers with large numbers of sales.
Factor product rating
Product reviews are written by customers and are intended to serve as information for others. So in this way they are more than simply customer opinions. Interestingly, potential customers give quite a bit of importance to the individual opinion of another customer. Customer opinions about a product can thus be helpful or harmful. There are many reviews written by people who have not actually bought the item. They might already own the item and are simply giving their opinion on Amazon. Situations like this are not very important. More important are the reactions to reviews that other customers leave. Ideally this is when many people are interested in a product and so there are many reviews for it. The more opinions that are given for an item, the more that visitors get the impression that the item is in demand. This creates momentum which is particularly valuable for search engines. This in turn improves the click rate (CTR) and thus the ranking.
Factor seller rating
As a seller on Amazon, selling is one thing – making sales is what you do. Very few sellers are in the advantageous position of selling exclusive products, those items that no one else is selling. Usually sellers have to compete to win the favor of customers. This is easy to see with a search query. For instance, if you search for a smartphone, you’ll see the desired model and the prices of various sellers. The list begins with the words “New from”. If you want to escape this list, you have to be in the Buy Box, where you appear as an active seller. Apart from the sales price for a product, the seller ratings play an important role.
Only real seller reviews count
As with product reviews, there are also seller reviews by customers. If a seller wants to land in the Buy Box, they need good reviews from their customers. We’ve already mentioned customer feedback about the seller. This includes prompt, courteous contact with customers. Inquiries should be answered immediately and thoroughly. Unlike with product reviews, you don’t want reviews from customers who have not actually made a purchase. These can permanently damage your reputation. The effects of reviews range from a bad ranking to being banned from selling on Amazon.
What if too many goods are sent back?
For merchants whose return quota is particularly high, therefore Amazon earns correspondingly little money commissions. The reason for a high return rate can be in different areas. Dissatisfaction with the product is as well as dissatisfaction with the dealer. In any case, the customer is dissatisfied, which is reason enough for Amazon to lower the ranking of the affected dealer. Any returned goods are therefore rated as negative and lower the ranking. As a dealer, it is therefore worthwhile to locate the products that are returned by customers particularly often. This saves unpleasant returns, bad customer opinions and a falling ranking.
Factor Returns rate
Not every commodity that arrives at the customer finds its favor. Sometimes the customer’s opinion changes, then the shoes are too small or the product actually looks different than shown in the photos. These purchases usually go back to the seller. However, the retail giant Amazon only gets money on a sale when it is finally completed. This is the case if the customer keeps the product. Conversely, this means that a returned goods sent is not a completed purchase and Amazon earned nothing.
Indirect ranking factors – what they’re all about
Online, everything is interconnected. And so Amazon relies on knowing how users behave on the “Amazon” platform. Indirect ranking factors are a source of information about this. The following indirect ranking factors help to determine user behavior:
The abbreviation CTR denotes clicks on a product by customers. Extensive and intensive research has been done regarding customers’ click behavior, to determine how often and under which circumstances a product is clicked on. Normally customers search products in the higher rankings. Sellers who are ranked in the top three places have the best chances. Even in the fourth place, the probability of a customer clicking starts to dwindle. Sellers listed on the following pages have even less chance of a click. Hardly any customers will search through 20 pages to find a seller for a given product. To be successful as an Amazon seller, you have to stay in the top three for the long term. Otherwise you should consider selling on Amazon only as an additional option.
If you’re trying everything to sell a product, you have to figure on a long viewing time by a customer. Customers look at the images and carefully read the text – this translates to a long viewing time. Customers may spend even more time reading reviews of the product and seller. Conversely, a lackluster product presentation on Amazon leads to short viewing times. Poor photos or a skimpy description cause customers to move on quickly or click on a cross-selling ad. To avoid losing customers like this, your performance always has to be customer-friendly. When customers stay on your page for only a short time, this negatively affects your ranking.
What counts on Amazon is your conversion, meaning a successful order and a final sale. Although a long viewing time is positive, it doesn’t mean that a conversion, or order, will automatically follow. If you regularly lack conversions after relatively long page visits, this also contributes to a negative ranking. So online retailers always have to keep their order rate in mind. If customers stay for a long time on the product page but fail to order, you should rework your product presentation. Often something in the product description gives a customer a red flag and prevents a sale.
BuyBox – caught in the price spiral
The BuyBox offers a special position to merchants selling via Amazon. Who creates it in the BuyBox is automatically taken from the list “New from”. This brings clear advantages for dealers in sales. On the other hand, Amazon earns in the form of a commission on the sale of dealers. The commission is not exactly low and can be up to 20 percent. This in turn puts traders in financial distress. By paying the commission, the net yield often falls below a manageable limit. The situation is aggravated by the fact that only those dealers who can offer a low sales price make it into the BuyBox. The price pressure through the BuyBox generates a low sales price. Together with the provision of the commission to Amazon this means for many traders a net income that is no longer worthwhile. One way out is to sell items that not every retailer offers or trade as a mere seller to other stores.
Reviews – how customers view sellers
A retailer can depict their products and services in the most beautiful words and photos. But what counts is what customers think about all this – and this can be found in reviews. Every seller should take their customers’ reviews seriously and react to them. Above all, you should immediately address and analyze negative reviews, since these are expressions of a customer’s dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied customers rarely come back and can also potentially drive away other customers. But even positive reviews are no reason to get comfortable; you should continuously strive to improve your performance. Remember, the goal is to land among the Top Three and stay there. And there are always new challenges to face to get there.