How to Optimize Your Amazon Listing for more Sales (Amazon SEO)
Today, we’re going to have some fun.
You and me — we’re going to create an optimized selling machine: a powerful, efficient asset that makes recurring income.
So invest 10 minutes now and earn dividends for years.
We’ll be working entirely in the Seller Central product listing workflow. To get there, go into your Amazon.com seller account at sellercentral.amazon.com and go to Inventory > Manage Inventory > and click “Edit” next to the listing you’d like to optimize.
Stuff it with keywords!
I’m kidding. That’s so 2014. The days of “#1 Best Selling Barbecue Grill Glove Premium High Heat Mitten BBQ Grilling Hot Hot Hot Super Mitt Black Friday Sale 100% Money Back Guarantee” are over. That’s barely English.
But I digress.
What we want is a concise and relevant title under 150 characters.
Basics first: length.
Amazon suppresses all listings with more than 150 characters in the title (these things change, so bare with me if you’re reading this in 2018 and things are different). If you’re not making sales on a product, your listing could be suppressed. If this is the case, it should have a “suppressed” badge next to it in the SellerCentral “Inventory” section. If you decrease the character limit, the badge disappears and your item appears in search results once again.
Verify that your product is indexed by searching for your keyword on Amazon and seeing if you pop up.
Still there? Cool.
With that said, use these 150 characters to the fullest!
Let’s pick up on our 0 to 1000 follower Instagram case study, and pretend we’re the fictitious Dog Owners Only LLC and we sell shoes for dogs.
So at this point, I’ll assume that our main keyword we want in our listing title is “shoes for dogs”. I don’t know for sure that that’s where the money is; that’s just a guess.
What if our listing title is just “shoes for dogs”? That’s under 150 characters, so I’m fine right?
Let’s compare this against the 5 elements of the perfect title that we use to help HonestFew Amazon sellers.
“Shoes for Dogs”
[ ✓ ] Under 150 characters
[ ✓ ] Accurately represents the product
[ ✓ ] Grammar and spelling are correct
[ X ] Hits 3 main keywords with good search volume
[ X ] Contains our brand name
It’s accurate, but doesn’t take advantage of the 150 characters that we have. So, let’s head to the Google Keyword Planner and give our title some muscle.
A funny thing just happened. When I type “shoes for dogs” into Google Keyword Planner Tool I see… really low search volumes. Like, really low. 2900 searches per month.
I click the “Keyword ideas” tab. When I scroll down, it turns out I’m wrong about the main keyword.
This is a first. My apologies. Sorry mom.
Google shows me that “shoes for dogs” isn’t where the money is. It’s actually “dog shoes”, at 18,100 monthly searches. So, a little pivot is in order. Here are the screenshots from Google’s “Keyword ideas” and “Ad group ideas.”
With some of these keywords, I construct this title. Also I throw in our fictitious brand name, Dog Owners Only.
“Dog Shoes by Dog Owners Only — Protective Booties for Dogs and Puppies that Perform in Water, Winter, and Snow”
Let’s put this title against HonestFew’s 5 criteria:
[ ✓ ] Under 150 characters (it’s 110, so I’ve got more room to maneuver if I need to)
[ ✓ ] Accurately represents the product (the buyer won’t be disappointed at what they find after clicking)
[ ✓ ] Grammar and spelling are correct (I used a hyphen and a few conjunctions to string the keywords together in a way that makes sense and prevent it from looking too “stuffed”)
[ ✓ ] Hits 3 main keywords with good search volume (“dog shoes”, “protective booties for dogs and puppies”, “water, winter, snow”)
[ ✓ ] Contains our brand name (I didn’t put this first. The main keyword should always go first. It does help for Amazon SEO reasons that our brand name has the word “dog” in it, though)
That’s more like it!
I didn’t stuff. It reads like a sentence. I could have used the same keywords but neglected phrasing, and it quickly becomes this monstrosity:
“#1 Dog Shoes Puppy Shoe, Protective Booties for Dogs and Puppies, Small and Big Dogs Special Limited Edition Winter Christmas Sale”
Avoid superlatives (#1, Best, Best-Selling) and use proper grammar and spelling. A search engine ranks the listing in search results, but a human buys it. A human! And humans don’t like spammy product titles.
In Seller Central there’s “Your price” and also “Sale price”, which is your chance to create a “deal” feeling. This isn’t for everyone. If your product is in a more austere or serious market, perhaps a price slash is unbecoming.
Whatever your slash, make it look believable.
$200 $10? Ew. What’s wrong with it? No thanks.
$200 $175? That’s better. It’s a respectable product, and I get $25 off if I buy now.
Price slashing is a good incentive in moderation, but make sure the deal doesn’t look trashy or call the value into question.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re doing a giveaway, you’ll want to make sure that the price point is something that the regular, organic buyer would pay.
When you’re just starting out, it’s better to price the item lower. As long as it’s above break-even, it’s better to make sales at lower margins than no sales at all.
Your title gets you found, but your photos make them click on your listing and are the biggest conversion pieces. At the time of writing, Amazon sellers have 7 visible photos they can use.
7 chances to sell them.
What do you do? Here’s the magic distribution:
+ 1 main photo. On white, product fills 85%+ of the frame. More on this below.
+ 3 glamour or detail shots on white. Show off the curves, contours, details, texture. Stimulate the senses, because the buyer can’t be there in person.
+ 3 lifestyle or benefit shots. These include photos of people using the product, written benefits, mentions of your guarantees, etc.
Now, we come to technical specs of the photos. Who better to tell you than Amazon itself? I quote:
- TIFF (.tif/.tiff), JPEG (.jpeg/.jpg), GIF (.gif) and PNG (.png) format
- Image pixel dimensions of at least 1000 or larger in either height or width preferred
- RGB or CMYK color mode
- File names must consist of the product identifier (Amazon ASIN, 13-digit ISBN, EAN, JAN, or UPC) followed by a period and the appropriate file extension (Example: B000123456.jpg or 0237425673485.tif)
Note: Spaces, dashes or additional characters in the filename will prevent your image from going online.
About the main image:
- The image must be the cover art or a professional photograph of the product being sold. Drawings or illustrations of the product are not allowed.
- The image must not contain gratuitous or confusing additional objects.
- The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges.
- Books, Music, and Video/DVD images should be the front cover art, and fill 100% of the image frame. Jewel cases, promotional stickers, and cellophane are not allowed.
- All other products should fill 85% or more of the image frame.
- The full product must be in frame.
- Backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).
- The image must not contain additional text, graphics, or inset images.
- Pornographic and offensive materials are not allowed.
And for all additional images, more of the same:
- The image must be of, or pertain to, the product being sold.
- The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges.
- Other products or objects are allowed to help demonstrate the use or scale of product.
- The product and props should fill 85% or more of the image frame.
- Cropped or close-up images are allowed.
- Backgrounds and environments are allowed.
- Text and demonstrative graphics are allowed.
- Pornographic and offensive materials are not allowed.
That’s a lot of specs. How do we make this happen? With photos, you’ve got 2 options: hire a professional or do it yourself.
Option 1: hire a professional.
As an entrepreneur, it’s better not to spend time learning how to be a photographer. It takes time from your main objective (which is sales) and someone else is better at it than you, so outsource!
Do I have a photographer recommendation? Of course! Friend of HonestFew Michael Goldberg, who takes professional listing photos specifically for Amazon sellers. He’s active in the Amazon space, accountable, knows the ins-and-outs of Amazon’s technical photo specifications.
You can check out Mike’s work at FBAPhoto.com.
Option 2: do it yourself.
Create a DIY lightbox that properly diffuses white light. We built one of these in the office and it works splendidly. It’s just nice to have full control over the angles and composition of your listing photos.
Also, phone photography is improving every second. There are apps like Camera+ than enhance the natural capabilities of the iPhone’s native camera. At this point, mobile photography is sufficient for Amazon product listings.
Of course, if you’d rather outsource there’s good sense in that. Photography is key for Amazon conversions, so investing in good photos will earn you more money in the long run.
(4) THE 5 BULLET POINTS
We’re so close to making that sale.
The buyer finds your product on Amazon based on the keywords in your title.
They click on your listing because of your excellent main photo.
They’re on your listing, and the rest of your photos are good.
But they need some convincing, so they start reading your bullets and ask the universal buyer’s question. Do you know what the universal buyer’s question is?
Don’t read ahead. Think about it.
The universal buyer’s question is “what’s in it for me?”
If they value the perceived benefit of your product more than they value their money, they’ll buy. But how do you convince them that this purchase is worth more than their money?
Simple. Pitch based on human biological desires.
Here’s the timeless strategy to sell anything: the “Life Force 8” from Drew Whitman’s book Ca$hvertising. They’re 8 biologically-programmed desires that everyone has. If you appeal to these in your Amazon bullet points and description, customers will be motivated to buy and they won’t necessarily know why. They are:
(1) Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
(2) Enjoyment of food and beverages.
(3) Freedom from fear, pain and danger.
(4) Sexual companionship.
(5) Comfortable living conditions.
(6) To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
(7) Care and protection of loved ones.
(8) Social approval.
I’ll give you an example: perfume and cologne, body fragrances.
Really? Magic scented water that you spray on your body for $100 a bottle? That’s not necessary for survival!
But that doesn’t matter, because the fragrance industry sells using the Life Force 8. The market is worth $28 billion dollars annually.
Fragrances aren’t sold like this:
This fresh-smelling cologne comes in a modern 30mL bottle that dispenses a scent other people love.
Yes, that’s what it physically does. But those are features, not benefits! It doesn’t reach you on a biological level.
Fragrances are sold like this:
This cologne will send luscious, sexy girls flocking to you. Don’t buy it if you can’t handle the attention! In just minutes, you’ll have other guys wondering what your secret is.
In this biologically-infused example we see:
(LF8 #1) Enjoyment of life (“attention”)
(LF8 #4) Sexual companionship (“luscious, sexy girls”)
(LF8 #6) To be superior, winning (“your secret”; notice how this article opens with telling you a secret?)
It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a promise of fast results with the phrase “in just minutes”.
That’s stupid, you think. Of course I wouldn’t write copy like that first example.
Yet, 95% of sellers are writing their Amazon listings with a list of features instead of appealing to biologically-programmed benefits.
(5) THE DESCRIPTION
The description must (must!) be infused with the Life Force 8 as well, but we’ve already covered that. So now, we’re going to talk about something unique to the written description, which is formatting.
How do you create high-converting product descriptions?
Use HTML (hypertext markup language), defined as: “a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on World Wide Web pages.”
A product description with HTML is easier to read. It can be used in description, but not the bullet points above. Keep that in mind.
Here’s a screenshot of a listing description for a vegetable spiralizer. These are notoriously competitive, which calls for optimized listings. I wasn’t disappointed.
Look at this beautiful product description that uses HTML!
And here’s another description, also from page 1 of the search “vegetable spiralizer”. The writing’s fine, but it’s one block of text because it doesn’t use HTML formatting.
No bullet points, no bold text, no spaces. Just a block. No one’s going to have the patience to read this. No offence to the seller, of course, it looks like a great product. I’m only talking about the listing in terms of the HTML in the description.
So we have one description with HTML, and one without.
Let’s take the former example, and see what the text would look like when entered in Seller Central. We’ll be using the following HTML code:
<b> to start bold text
</b> to stop bold text
<p> for the start of a paragraph break
</p> for the end of a paragraph break
Here’s what you’d write in Amazon to display the description shown in the screenshot above:
<p><b>Eating Healthy and Creating Delicious Vegetable Meals Easily with the All-New Improved Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer! Money Back Guarantee!</b></p>
<p>If you love the Brieftons Tri-Blade Spiralizer, you will find there are even more good reasons to love the Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer.</p>
<p>We dissected an already great product and asked ourselves how it could be made better. And the result is a new edition with these integrated features you won’t find in any other competing products:</p>
<p>✓ Comes with 2 additional blades (ultra thin 2mm angel-hair blade and curly-fry blade), for a total of 5 blades to cater for all your spiralizing needs</p>
<p>✓ Ingenious foldable design for the most compact storage and transport (especially useful for traveling)</p>
<p>✓ Reinforced, heavy-duty, stainless steel forward handle (instead of weak plastic forward handles that can break easily). This is something you definitely want to see in your spiralizer if you want it to last for more than a few months</p>
<p><b>What can you do with the complete set of 5 blades?</b></p>
<p>Angel-hair blade for 2mm ultra thin noodles</p>
<p>Fine-shredding blade for 3mm-wide noodles</p>
<p>Crude-shedding blade for 6mm-wide noodles</p>
<p>Flat blade for ribbon-like noodles</p>
<p>Curly-fry blade for 10mm wide x 6mm thick curly fries</p>
<p>Whether it is making garnishes to turn your dinner platter into a gourmet delight, preparing the most beautiful salads to wow your guests, making a healthy raw food pasta or fresh potato chips, you can do it all.</p>
<p><b>Instructions and 3 exclusive Brieftons recipe ebooks are included to get you started instantly.</b></p>
<p>Our guarantee is what we say it is. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, simply contact us for a full refund.</p>
<p><b>For the utmost peace of mind in buying your spiralizer, think Brieftons, and choose the Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer now!</b></p>
It even ends with a little call to action, i.e. “choose the Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer now!” Compare that to just “choose the Brieftons 5-Blade Spiralizer”, and you’ll realize the power of “now”. That’s a little Eckhart Tolle pun for those who are so inclined.
(6) SEARCH TERMS
In Seller Central, go to your listing, then Edit > the “Keywords” tab. You’ll see something like this. Each text box has a character limit of 50 characters. Use all of the space. It isn’t visible to customers, so go nuts.
Don’t use keywords you’ve already included in the title. Repeat words are redundant and don’t grant you any extra ranking power.
Keywords in the backend will powerful search terms that didn’t quite make the cut (or don’t make sense) for the listing. Check out these 2 free keyword-finding resources: Google Keyword Planner Tool and keywordtool.io.
(7) KEYWORDS FROM PPC
Do you run Amazon pay-per-click? You should be!
Aside from allowing you to buy your way to page 1, PPC has a positive side-effect: listing optimization.
Go through your ads. Find your keywords that have an ACoS below 25% and see if you can work them into your listing’s title, description, headline, and backend keywords.
It’s the art of enhancing your listing over time based on fruitful keywords. How beautiful is that?
Use FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) and not FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant).
Aside from handling your shipping and most customer service, using FBA makes you instantly eligible for Prime 2-Day shipping. Plus, there’s colloquial evidence to suggest that Amazon favors FBA-fulfilled listings in search results. And why wouldn’t they? They increase their revenues that way!
We have a complete guide on how to ship using Amazon FBA by air, if you need that.
Imagine you’re an Amazon shopper. You’re in the market for a waffle maker.
Search “waffle maker” and browse on page 1. You’ll see this duo in the first row.
These products have a similar form factor, a 4.5/5 star average, Amazon Prime, etc. but one have 2762 reviews while its competitor has 437. As a customer, which one do you feel better about?
Reviews are social proof. It means that other people have bought it (and if the star rating is good, they liked it too!). It’s popular. It’s a safer choice. It’s been tried and tested. In fact, Presto’s waffle maker is making more sales while being more expensive.
Never play a “race to the bottom” price game. Instead, use HonestFew to get reviews, create social proof, and boost your conversion rate permanently. We help Sellers reach page 1 for their keywords consistently, and we can do the same for you.
Reach out on Skype at HonestFewCo.
Resources moving forward:
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