Today we’re going to break down the anatomy of a listing and talk optimisation and what role the different listing elements play in conversions and in PPC.
I want to focus, not just on the basic elements, but on some backend parts, keywords and how you make sure you set everything up to get the best chance of conversions.
Your images are one of the most important parts of the listing, hands down – especially your main image.
When thinking about your main image, you want to think about how it will look at a smaller thumbnail in the SERPS when people search, also, you need to think about how it looks when compared to your competitors.
You need to do everything you can to stand out in some way and catch the attention of a customer’s scanning eyeball, even disrupt it for a second (which you can do by changing the angle of the image, for example).
The best way to pick a main image is split testing and for this, you have two options: drop some cash on Splitly – a piece of amazon split testing software (owned by Greg Mercer, the creator of Jungle Scout). OR, a cheaper option, run facebook ads with images and test your image that way (I have an article on how to do that here).
You want to make sure you have at least 6-8 high-resolution images that look good, either taken by a pro or, if you’re doing it, in a lightbox with a good quality camera. To make the images look even better, uou can improve the image and saturation levels, add drop shadow and stuff on Photoshop, or rent a man slave from Fiverr to do it.
Your other images shouldn’t just be pictures of the product from multiple angles, they should include maybe some copy-enhanced images (highlighting, if applicable, things like size dimensions, weight etc) and lifestyle images showing the product in use by representatives or your target audience.
For this, you don’t always need a model, you can get stock photos and, again, use photoshop, or, just hint at the product benefits. For example, if you sell toothpaste, a simple image of a smiling lady/man with pearly whites is enough so people get the association. It’s like the classic hot women + sports car image.
Your title is pretty important for a few different reasons and the first one, is because of keywords. Keywords in your title carry the most weight by far so it’s important to do good keyword research (which most people don’t) and then seed those top-traffic keywords into the title in a non-spammy way. Also, where possible, add in line about the benefit the product has too (less time washing dishes etc).
When you get the keywords right in the title, you will see a big difference in your PPC impressions and, if you like to test things, you can set up a PPC campaign and watch the impressions jump for certain keywords or long tail keywords when you move them closer to the start of the title.
A good formula I like for titles is:
MAIN KEYWORD (size/weight info) + Benefit – Keyword Variation great for ….
This might look something like this:
Large Bamboo Chopping Board (10 Inches) With Deep Drip Groove – Extra Hygienic Surface for Safer Food Prep – A Thick Organic Wood Cutting Board – Perfect Size for Slicing, Cutting Meat, Veg and More
Size info or things like how many tablets in a bottle, grams in a sachet are key bits of info when people are looking to make a decision and buyers like to see it quickly (especially if you have a PPC ad in the right sidebar).
Shameless plug alert, I have a very in-depth section on keyword research in my PPC course and also have a 30-minute over-my-shoulder video on how to write a nice, optimized title.
I’ve been writing listings and managing PPC accounts for 2 years, so I have tested my concepts on all kinds of products and marketplaces.
How many characters to use?
For most categories, the safest bet to avoid any potential suppression issues is to use 199 or less, but some categories, like beauty, are much stricter and you might only be allowed a measly 50 characters.
To find out how many characters you’re allowed, you can check Amazon’s style guide – which you can find here.
2 things NOT to do with titles
1) DON’T waste time putting your brand at the start of the title (or something like Chopping Board by Brand X) – nobody knows about your brand and nobody is searching for it, so don’t waste precious character space on it – your main keyword should go first!
Also, amazon displays the brand name right after the title anyway, so you don’t have to worry.
2) DON’T use other brand names in the title or hint at other brands as it can get your listing suppressed! Even be careful mentioning other private label brands in the customer search section as, more so than big brands, fellow private label sellers are always searching their own product and brand name, and when they see other people pop up, they’re far more likely to report you.
As you probably already know, those sweet, sweet golden starts are a big conversion factor, and, they are the hardest part of any listing – because we don’t have much control over them.
As of late 2016, amazon banned incentivized reviews (which was the main tool for generating reviews after launching), so now, we’re basically left with list building, which you can learn more about here and the standard follow up email software (you can read a breakdown of them here).
Keep in mind that, if your product visually is very similar visually to other products, potential buyers will quickly note how many review stars you have Vs the competition and unless your pricing is different or image more appealing, will probably click the listing with more reviews first.
This is why, when I do product research, I focus on products with low reviews and good depth or, look at things with higher reviews, but with the possibility to bundle or differentiate (design or otherwise) – anything to not be exactly the same.
Off the bat, it’s good to have your list price set higher than you actually plan on selling for. This will create that nice little ‘you save X’ and have the first prices crossed out.
The other thing to think about, preferably before you even sell a product, is to have a good idea of how much you can really sell the item for. If a competitor is selling for $19.99 but has 500 reviews, you probably won’t be able to command the same price point (and adding premium to the title does nothing – people aren’t stupid).
This is why differentiation and bundling are such important concepts – because when you have something different, you can set your own pricing and be in a similar, but slightly different psychological pricing space as other sellers.
If your product is new, basically looks the same as the other offers and is priced about the same, you have a recipe for shitty PPC and headaches.
I won’t spend too much time on this because it falls more into copywriting territory, but I will say a few things. Firstly, as of this writing, amazon officially index keywords in the bullets so, it’s a place I like to include different long tail keyword combinations (based on my keyword research).
When I write the bullets, instead of referring to the product, I use an XXX as a reference point, then later, when I have all the keyword research done, I come back and substitute each XXX for a different long tail description of the product. I find it helps me cover more bases.
Finally, you really want to stress the benefits of the product, then hitting the features and, ideally, finishing your last bullet up as a guarantee to reassure your potential buyer that they are not risking anything.
For a bit more info on amazon listing writing, you can have a look at this article, it doesn’t mention keywords, but it does do a good job of explaining features and benefits.
All I will say on this is that keywords aren’t officially indexed, but no harm in putting different variations in there.
The copy should flow toward a logical end and call to action and be HTML formatted. Sure, although some people harp on about how this is against TOS, I’ve never once seen any listing suppressed for it and without it, your conversions will be much worse.
Brand Enhanced Content
If you are brand registered, at least on amazon.com, you should have access to brand enhanced content (which you can find under the advertising tab).
Basically, this lets you chose from a set of templates that let you add pictures to your description (which was previously only available to vendor central sellers and A+ sellers).
This will make your listing really stand out and you get the chance to highlight some more benefits to your product.
Right now it’s free, but at some point, amazon has told us it will be a paid feature, BUT you get to keep it for free if you do it now, so get in while the going is good!
For more info writing a good listing, you can check out Karon Thackston's book. She’s quite well-respected in the seller community and has a copywriting agency. I keep meaning to read her book myself but will email blast out a review just as soon as I do.
Generally, if English isn’t your native language or you rarely do any form or writing, I would advise you to pay someone to do this for you from the usual freelancer sites like Upwork and Guru (I wouldn’t use Fiverr for this particular task, though).
I’ve seen more bad listings than I care to remember and, by saving on it, you only sabotage your own chances at success (unless you already write a lot, are a copy writer or want to become a copywriter and develop the skill set).
Backend optimisation stuff
There are a few things you can play with on the backend that, don’t always have much of an impact, but hey, any extra advantage is all good, right?
The keyword tab
For the customer search terms, you are given up to 5000 characters (1000 per field), I put all my main ones in the first two fields as there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from pretty big sellers that more than 2k characters don’t seem to get indexed.
You need to input keywords here separated with spaces (not commas) with no repetition (although you won’t get punished if you do repeat words).
Personally, in the customer search field, I like to take the individual keywords from a keyword inspector report and get them in there, plus all the common misspellings and, in some cases, brand names (but be careful with that, as mentioned above).
I also use different spelling variations there too, like US/UK spelling variations and, in some cases, you could even include Spanish versions of popular keywords (if selling on .com).
Target audience tab
Depending on the product, you might see a target audience option in the keyword tab – well, no harm in indicating your audience here – so If you sell bras, go ahead and select ‘women’.
More details tab
There’s plenty of extra info you can add here that probably helps with the indexing of your product – things like material, warranty description, seasons, special features and more (I always use the special features with cool sounding benefits as I see it as a kind of extra bullet section for people to see).
These aren’t deal breakers, using them can only benefit you.
It can be pretty powerful for conversions when you run various combinations of buy 2 get X off etc. I’ve played with it myself and sales were much higher with some people buying like 14 items.
Another good reason for these deals is that you can use it as a selling point in your copy and, if people buy multiples of your product, it sends a much more powerful signal to amazon’s algorithm and boost your organic rank (because you will be converting a higher dollar amount per customer, making amazon more money too).
I went over quite a bit in this post, but that pretty much covers all the listing elements that you should be thinking about and paying attention too.
It won’t save you if you have a super generic or over-saturated product, but it will give you every chance of success and, with proper keyword seeding, your conversions should improve and PPC should run a lot more smoothly!
So good luck and happy optimising / experimenting!