Amazon Listing Optimization Is Crucial (skip this if you are advanced)
Why bother with listing optimization? Is it even worth it? And if it is, to which extent?
To answer these questions, it's crucial to understand the basics of success on Amazon. Amazon is working mainly as a search engine. Not many people are searching through categories without typing keywords into the search bar, meaning people with buying intent are looking for specific things by what they type.
Having this in mind, the goal of every Amazon seller should be to rank as high in search results for as many relevant keywords in search results as possible.
For simplicity, let's remove ads from the occasion.
Your Organic Rank for a Particular Keyword Is Improving When Someone:
- Searches for that keyword
- Visits your listing
- Buys your product
You'll get sales velocity for that particular keyword.
To Get the Sales Velocity Organically (To Increase an Organic Rank for a Particular Keyword), Three Things Must Happen:
- Someone has to type the keyword into the Amazon search bar and click search
- They have to find your listing and click on it (metrics = impressions & click-through rate)
- They have to buy the product (metric = conversion rate)
- Impressions + clicks + sales = sales velocity
- Sales velocity leads to keyword ranking
- Keyword ranking leads to more sales, which means more profit
This all works like a snowball because once you get more sales, you get a better ranking, etc.
The purpose of listing optimization is to get more impressions and increase click-through and conversion rate.
Impressions are hereinafter referred to as “I”
Click-through rate is hereinafter referred to as “CTR”
Conversion rate is hereinafter referred to as “CVR”
Before I get to the actual optimization stuff, just a short disclaimer. Listing optimization truly is paramount to success on Amazon in 2021, but not even professional lifestyle images and videos from a 25k photoshoot won't save you if you poorly manage your inventory and get out of stock. So don't focus on listing optimization INSTEAD of fundamental business needs such as inventory management, focus on them SIMULTANEOUSLY. If you don't want to divide your focus or have too much work with the fundamentals, hire someone from outside to do the listing optimization for you. It's easily outsourceable.
What Contributes to an Optimized Amazon Listing?
Now, to influence these metrics and get the ball rolling, it's crucial to focus on the following (more or less in order of importance):
- Brand Patterns
- Main Image
- Secondary Listing Images + Video
- Bullet Points
- Back-end Keywords
- A+ Content
Brand Patterns – Consistency Across the Brand
When it comes to branding, all the elements described above should ideally follow the same pattern. This helps you with brand recognition (people will easily recognize your brand) and brand legitimacy. This won't help you increase any of the metrics overnight but it is insanely valuable in the long run.
The main image is arguably the most important element of a product listing on Amazon. Both CTR and CVR are highly dependable on the main image. If your main image sucks, the probability that someone is going to even click on your listing, let alone buy your product, is fairly low.
Rules for main image optimization
Hold on to these three principles:
- Distinction from competitors
- Consistency across your brand
- Visible brand logo
If your main image looks the same as those of XY other competitors who have more reviews and sell at the same price as you do, you’re most likely screwed because most people won’t even click at your listing. Conversely, an impactful, unique main image is the way to a great CTR and CVR — therefore, more sales.
Anyway, keep in mind that the main image is also the element most regulated by Amazon policies (e.g., only white background, etc.), and as many experienced sellers know, violating Amazon policies is like playing with fire.
Price has always been the most important decisive factor of the buyer, but nowadays, we can see a slight shift from this trend. It's no longer true to the same extent as in the past, and many people gladly pay a premium price for (what seems like) a high-quality product.
Price also influences both your CTR and CVR. Generally, the lower the price, the higher CTR and CVR you experience (there are exceptions to this rule, e.g., Veblen or Giffen goods). The thing is that, by lowering the price, you're lowering margins. Although you would experience more sales, it doesn't mean your profit would be higher. Ideally, you want high CTR and CVR while maintaining/increasing your prices.
Yes, this is possible!
I stopped counting how many times I saw a post on Reddit complaining about market undercuts (most often done by Chinese factories). It usually tells a story of how great it was a few years ago, selling with high margins before the Chinese came and started selling the identical product significantly cheaper. Usually, sellers complaining about it are thinking about whether or not they should try to match the low prices.
This is rarely a good idea!
Rather than lowering prices, you should focus on branding to protect your margins. What exactly should you do? It's an oversimplification, but basically, you have to position your brand as a premium, high-quality, homemade… whatever. Not just by including premium into your title, but also by significantly increasing the quality of your images, videos, and copy. To charge the same/higher prices while maintaining/increasing your CTR and CVR, you have to level up your brand presence on Amazon.
The title is at least as important as the main image and it influences all the three key metrics — I, CTR, and CVR.
It serves three key purposes:
- For the buyer - it has to be appealing to the buyer (CTR, CVR)
- For the Amazon algorithm - including a particular keyword in the title is a strong signal for Amazon that the keyword is relevant for a particular product (I)
- For the Google algorithm - generally the same as for Amazon apply (I)
Rules for title optimization
Basically, you have to analyze the most promising keywords and cleverly include them into the title while avoiding keyword stuffing. Stuffed titles may be great for Amazon and Google algorithms, but are definitely not appealing to the buyer.
I personally use the Helium10 scribble feature for all text optimization — title, bullets, back-end.
For more detailed information on how to do this, watch this video. I am not their affiliate or anything like that!
Note: If you are launching a new product and don't have sufficient data, it's generally wise to avoid highly competitive keywords (although these have most likely the highest search volume) and to focus on keywords with lower search volume and less competition. By trying to rank for highly competitive keywords, you are most likely to compete with big sellers who have more reviews and bigger ad budgets than you. Not saying this is a universal rule, but it works for me.
I believe that everyone knows the power of social proof so there's no reason to brag about it. Reviews also increase both your CTR and CVR. If you don't use the automatic “request review” feature, you should start using it right away, it's a game-changer.
A great tactic is to cooperate with influencers and let them create a “video review” of your product which can then be used on multiple places on your listing.
Secondary Listing Images + Video
Although secondary images don't have any impact on CTR because people can't see them unless they get to the actual listing, they are crucial for the CVR. They play a substantial role in the decision-making process of the buyer.
Did you ever buy a product that has bad quality images? Maybe you did, but probably because it was one of the cheapest products available. So unless you want to sell at a cheap(est) price, you should get your secondary images right.
Maybe 5 years ago it was possible to succeed with mediocre product images. Nowadays, as competition is becoming ferocious. A combination of product images, lifestyle images, and infographics should be used to maximize the CVR of a product listing.
Rules for secondary images optimization
- Use both product and lifestyle images — in any case, the product shall be the focal point on every lifestyle image
- Use (simple) infographics
- Make them visually appealing — high quality
- Have CVR in mind — each secondary image shall have its purpose
Example of a great structure of secondary images section (7 images at total - 1 main image, 5 secondary images, 1 video):
- Product image + infographic focused on what's in the packaging (including some extras, etc.), some text may be included
- Lifestyle image showing the emotional benefits customers experience once they get the product, a text is not necessary but can be included
- Product image + infographic showing the No. 1 feature the product has/coping with the No. 1 fear the customer has
- Product image - technical image with dimensions, etc. A text should be included
- Lifestyle image focused on emotional benefits. Text may or may not be included
This is definitely not the only way to organize your secondary images section. The best composition depends heavily on the particular product. Sometimes it makes sense to put in 4 lifestyle images (products that are mainly about design), and sometimes you should use more infographics to explain the features (more complex products, e.g., electronics). The same applies to the video.
Anyway, if you adhere to the four rules mentioned above, you should have a solid foundation no matter how you put it together.
Similar to the title, bullet points also serve three key purposes: for the buyer, for the Amazon algorithm, and the Google algorithm.
Although bullets don't have that big of an impact when it comes to both algorithms, they are still an important piece of the listing puzzle.
Rules for bullet points optimization
The same rules as for the title optimization apply — include as many relevant keywords as possible without keyword stuffing, etc. (see the part above).
Tip: Start each bullet point with a WHY tagline in all caps (no emojis unless you want to play with fire).
Example of a great structure of bullet points section (5 bullet points):
- No. 1 emotional benefit customers get once they buy the product
- What makes the product/brand better than competitors? Does it have a unique feature/design competitors don't offer?
- Breaking up the No. 1 customer fear — this can be that a fragile product will get destroyed during the shipment, or that clothes don't fit, etc.
- How it can be used as a gift
- Guarantee — make them feel safe to buy
Back-end keywords can't be seen by the buyer so they don't have any direct impact on CTR and CVR, but they have a substantial impact on I. By including relevant keywords into the back-end of your listing, you are giving a signal to Amazon and Google algorithms that your product should be indexed and ranked for that particular keyword. From what I've discovered, back-end keywords have even a bigger impact on I, than text included in the bullet points section.
Although the same general principles apply as for title and bullets creation, you can use, for example, Spanish keywords here. If it makes sense for your product, this is the best place to do so. Adding Spanish keywords into otherwise English titles or bullets would look horrible and harm user experience. However, by including them in the back-end, you preserve the consistent feeling of your listing while ranking for particular Spanish keywords at the same time.
Last but not least, there is the product description section where sellers with Brand Registry may use the A+ Content feature. Amazon itself states that using A+ Content increases the sales between 3 and 10 percent. From my personal experience, this is way less than that. Still, it's usually worth it (especially for bigger sellers where even a small improvement and small increase in CVR means a considerable difference in the bottom line).
So, the A+ Content has the potential to increase your CVR. Generally, it should also fulfill 3 main purposes:
- Sell the particular product — generally, focus on the design if the product is simple, and focus on feature and usage explanation if the product is complicated
- Cross-promote other products — what other products can customers buy to expand their collection?
- Show off the brand — communicating the brand message with consistent usage of brand fonts and colors
To some extent, a good A+ Content does all three things, but it's wise to define which one is the most important for you and focus on that the most.
DIY vs. Hiring A Professional
Is it worth it to hire a professional to optimize your listing(s)? This depends heavily on the current situation of your business as well as your skills. If you have 50 products, know nothing about graphic design and are busy with forecasting, definitely hire a professional graphic designer (ideally one that also understands the Amazon ecosystem).
Contrary, if you are launching your first product, don't have a huge budget, and know a bit about graphic design (or are eager to invest the time and learn it), you would get better off doing the work yourself.
- Impressions + clicks + sales → sales velocity → keyword ranking → more sales, etc.
- Listing optimization is paramount to success on Amazon in 2021
- You can't focus on listing optimization instead of fundamental business needs such as inventory management — if you have nothing to sell, no amount of optimization can save you
- Brand patterns, main image, price, title, reviews, secondary listing images + video, bullet points, back-end keywords, A+ Content. All these elements contribute to listing optimization
- If it's worth doing the optimization work yourself or outsourcing it depends heavily on your current business situation as well as on your skills