In today’s article I discuss common misunderstandings when selling on the Amazon marketplace. 1.
1 After optimizing the product listing, my product will appear on the first page.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that some Amazon merchants seem to assume that the exclusive optimization of product listings ensures placement on the first search result page. Of course, a listing optimization based on the most important search terms is by far not sufficient to be displayed on the first search result page for the main keyword.
The standard search results page contains 16 organic rankings. However, since the range of products in almost all product categories exceeds 16, there are several search result pages on which products are displayed.
For the search term „watches for men“, for example, there are more than 70,000 results competing for the top positions.
In order to understand why an exclusive listing optimization is not enough, we have to deal with Amazon’s A9 search algorithm. The search algorithm works in two steps: In the first step, it determines relevant products on the basis of the search query entered. This is done by comparing the search query with the product listing (title, backend keyword, bullet points and product description). If the search query occurs in the product listing, then the product is considered relevant for the search query.
In the example of the search query „Wristwatches for Men“, there are more than 70,000 products that are considered relevant for the search query. Once the search algorithm has determined which products are relevant, it then determines the products with the highest purchase probability and sorts them accordingly. The purchase probability is determined by a multitude of features – for example, existing sales data and performance factors such as shipping costs, product price, ratings, prime shipping and many more.
When a new product goes live, it cannot even have existing sales data (with a unique ASIN) and thus cannot be displayed in the top organic rankings. Therefore, in addition to optimizing product listings, it is also necessary to generate first sales in order to send sales and signals to the Amazon algorithm.
2. If my product is not on page 1 for the keyword „x“, I will not make any sales
Again and again, I see Amazon merchants desperately trying to land on the first organic search results page for a generic search query on Amazon. Instead of concentrating on one generic main keyword (e.g. mattress), product differentiations and the associated different search queries should be used to be represented among the first organic search result places for longtail search queries. Since the competition for generic queries will always be higher than for specific queries, it ultimately takes longer to achieve a good ranking there.
The search term „Matratze orthopädisch 90×200 h3“ produced 186 results (see image).
For the more general search term „mattress“, on the other hand, there are more than 5,000 competing products.
For this reason the following advice: Don’t despair if your product doesn’t appear on the first page for generic search terms. You’d better focus on specific searches, because here customers already know exactly what they want, which ultimately leads to buyers and sales.
3. Top sellers from the range also become top sellers at Amazon
When online retailers sell their products through multiple channels, they also know that the volume of sales per product depends on the distribution channel. Retailers who previously sold exclusively through their own online shop and who are now joined by Amazon regularly wonder why the actual top sellers on Amazon do not sell as well as other products in the range. There can be numerous reasons for this, from the intensity of competition to the search characteristics of the customers.
When looking after customers, for example, I notice that the volume for personalized products via Google is much higher than on Amazon. Just because Amazon is the largest online retailer in Germany doesn’t necessarily mean that Amazon is looking for exactly these products. For this reason, a portfolio approach is recommended when selling on Amazon, so that merchants do not become too dependent on some products. 4.
4. Customers search on Amazon just like in Google
Another misunderstanding that frequently occurs when selling on Amazon is the assumption that the same search queries are made on Amazon as on Google, so that no special Amazon keyword research is carried out. However, this is not the case at all: at Amazon, only transaction-oriented search queries are submitted, as product purchases are imminent. On the other hand, Google delivers three different types of search queries: 1. navigation-oriented search queries, 2. information-oriented search queries and 3. transaction-oriented search queries. This makes Amazon-specific keyword research indispensable for successful sales on the Amazon marketplace.
Example: the most frequent search queries on the topic „Vitamin B“ on Amazon vs. Google
Search queries on vitamin B on Amazon:
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B complex high dosage
Vitamin b 12 high doses
Vitamin b loges
etc. Search queries for vitamin B
Search queries for vitamin B on Google:
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B foods
Vitamin B Food
Vitamin B deficiency
5. With my own products/brands I always have the Buy-Box
A special feature of selling on Amazon is that identical products have to share a product detail page and not, as on eBay, each product has a unique detail page. The buy-box or the „Add to Cart“ button is also a special feature of Amazon. New Amazon merchants often wonder why their own products do not have the „buy box“ when they start selling, but only a reference to „All offers“ is displayed. Just because a retailer sells a product exclusively does not mean that the retailer receives a buy box for that product. It is rather the case that every seller must first convince Amazon that the product and the seller deserve the buy box. Here you can find out which criteria have to be fulfilled for the buy box to appear. Existing products that are distributed over a longer period of time can also lose the buy box. Therefore, the buy-box percentage per product should be checked regularly.
6. Once on the first page, always on the first page
An organic placement on the first search result page for relevant keywords is immensely important in order to sell your own products. However, once the first page has been conquered, it often happens that no further optimization measures are carried out because the goal was supposedly achieved. However, this error of reasoning is fatal because the position has to be maintained anew every day. Just because one’s own products have been on the first page for some time, this product should not be neglected. Therefore the following can be said: To reach the first page is difficult, but to stay on the first page in the long run is much more difficult. So don’t rest on your laurels when your product is on the first page. Advertising campaigns and promotions should not be stopped when the first search result page has been reached!
7. Amazon is so ruthless that it copies top-seller products and then sells them itself.
The fact that Amazon is currently investing heavily in its own brands (Amazon Basic etc.) should not be a secret. In the future, Amazon will continue to use the collected marketplace data to promote new products that are already selling well on the marketplace. However, it always amazes me when traders or uninvolved persons accuse Amazon of unscrupulousness, because in their eyes it uses the collected data to promote the development of its own products. I gladly answer these accusations with the question whether Amazon should do without this data and instead develop products according to its own feelings. Furthermore, this is not an Amazon-specific approach, as retailers have been using the collected sales information for decades to develop and promote their own brands. Every supermarket chain and other retailers already sell their own brands, which have been developed on the basis of sales data. In order to get the best possible placement on the supermarket chain’s shelves, manufacturers also have to dig deep into their pockets. Amazon’s approach is therefore nothing out of the ordinary and is part of daily retail practice. The only way to establish oneself in the future in relation to own brands is to develop a strong brand with clear differentiation. In principle, anyone can copy product ideas, but even Amazon cannot easily replicate a brand with a clear USP.
8. The listing optimization is completed after the keyword research and the optimization of the text content
Numerous Amazon agencies sell listing optimization to merchants and manufacturers without really taking the time to think about the listing to be optimized. The blanket keyword research and the subsequent adaptation of the texts (title, etc.) are, however, far from being comprehensive listing optimisation. The optimization of the product listing rather also includes the design of image material, the sales price, the creation of advertising campaigns, the generation of ratings up to a selection of different shipping methods and costs. Unfortunately, I always see product listings which are presented as optimized even though they do not contain any meaningful images.
Also, the optimization of product listings for mobile presentation is usually completely neglected, although the majority of visitors have been searching for products via mobile devices for several years. Furthermore, it should not be neglected how the product snippet is displayed in the search result pages. Does the title contain all important information, does the main image correspond to the Amazon style guides and does the product contain the prime logo? I could endlessly list other items that also belong to listing optimization. The pure adaptation of text content on the basis of search queries has not been done for a long time! 9.
9. When researching products, I only look at the turnover of the top sellers.
When developing a new Amazon business, in my opinion too many people look exclusively at the possible turnover per product that is currently generated on Amazon. However, competition and advertising costs are not put into proportion, which in most cases leads to ruin. That one discovers a product niche, which guarantees high turnovers without much competition, is impossible in most cases (not impossible). It is more worthwhile to be in second place in a small niche than only 24th in a niche that promises very high sales, as customers will continue to rely on established products.
Peter Thiel has also already spoken out in favor of smaller target markets:
„Go after small markets, often markets that are so small that people don’t even notice them, they don’t think they make sense.“
„These very small markets are quite underrated.“
„… a minnow in a vast ocean, that’s not a good place to be. That means you have tons of competitors and you don’t even know who [they] are.“
With this article I wanted to clarify some misunderstandings about the sale on Amazon, which I noticed during the daily work as well as the communication with customers during the last months. Of course, this list is not yet complete, so I will continue to expand it regularly in the future.