Not all Amazon hacks are created equal. Amazon is notorious for catching on to grey hat or black hat tactics and making changes overnight that affect all sellers.
It seems like recently Amazon has been making frequent changes and updates to their policies in order to keep the marketplace safe for consumers. At Evolved Commerce, we have seen a LOT of changes over the last 6 years of managing accounts for sellers. Below are a few of the big ones we still see being implemented by sellers, and agencies, that actually end up doing more harm than good to your brand.
If I want to rank for a lot of search terms, all I have to do is stuff them in the search term field, right? WRONG!
The Search Terms field was reduced from five fields to one in order to improve the quality of Amazon Search results. Previously, it was possible to add up to 5,000 bytes worth of Search Terms but it generated a lot of spam and irrelevant Search Terms. The reduced quota of Search Terms helps sellers focus on only using relevant words to describe specific products.
Amazon now limits the length of the Search Terms attribute to less than 250 bytes. The Search Terms limit applies to newly-registered as well as existing ASINs. The big thing we still notice today is that people are not going in and adjusting those fields down to 250 bytes. Amazon is actually not indexing them for any search terms if they violate this policy and it can lead to serious loss in rankings and sales.
Targeting Competitors Brand Names
This one has a lot to do with Search Terms as well but also applies to Product Titles, Bullet Points and Descriptions. Many sellers try to feed off of the popularity or traffic of a top competitor by targeting their brand name in search terms and content. This use to work really well…until Amazon decided it was misleading and unfair to the brands that had worked so hard to build that brand equity. As for search terms, Amazon specifically states in Seller Central, “Don’t include your brand or other brand names in Search Terms”. Doing so will actually negate your terms and you will lose rankings and waste precious bytes of data.
Another key area where we have most recently been seeing issue with this is in Product Titles. Sellers who use big name brands as part of their titles to catch the consumers eye and lure them into purchasing have caught the eye of Amazon. We recently met with a client who had all their listings shut down because they were using a popular watch brand in their title. They sold an aftermarket accessory for that watch but Amazon deemed the title misleading because it was positioned as a branded accessory instead of the “off-brand” accessory. It took nearly 2 weeks to re-instate the listings and we had to update all the titles before they could be sold again.
The More the Merrier (Long titles, BP, Descriptions)
More does not always equal better when it comes to Amazon optimization. We still see sellers trying to stuff as many keywords into their content as possible. Not only is this hard to read and robotic but it also just plain looks bad! Take this product title example below for instance:
Did you make it past the 2nd line before you had to take a deep breath or blink? It’s such a jumbled mess of words that you have a hard time focusing and have to go back to the beginning of each line in order to remember what you’re trying to buy! We, along with Amazon, recommend a title between 50-80 characters. This mostly has to do with the fact that Amazon will only index that many characters, but it also has a lot to do with mobile optimization. Anything over that limit will be truncated and not appear to mobile shoppers…who, by the way, make up a fast-growing portion of consumers.
The same rings true for bullet points and even product descriptions. Don’t stuff them so full of search terms you can’t accurately portray your product features and benefits. Your conversion rates will skyrocket if you keep it simple and provide the necessary details without overcomplicating the buyer experience. Consumers come to Amazon to make a quick purchase and be on their way. If they wanted to read an owners manual, they would visit the manufacturer’s website.
Reviews for Hire
Paying for reviews seems like a no-brainer but we still see it all over Amazon. It seems like every other week a new review club or website pops up with a new tactic for avoiding Amazon and getting a lot of reviews on your products. Sure, it may work in the short term but Amazon will soon catch on and remove those reviews from your products. Once they are gone, so are your rankings and revenue.
The following are examples of prohibited activities according to Seller Central policies. This is not an all-inclusive list but a good example of the ones we see most often:
- A seller offers a third party a financial reward, discount, or other compensation in exchange for a review.
- A seller offers to provide a refund or reimbursement after the buyer writes a review (including reimbursement via a non-Amazon payment method).
- A seller uses a third-party service that offers free or discounted products tied to a review (for example, a review club that requires customers to register their Amazon public profile so that sellers may monitor their reviews).
- A family member or employee of the seller posts a review of the seller’s product or a competitor’s product.
In the end, it pays to do things right and within the Amazon Terms of Service. If you are looking for a long-term, sustainable business model on Amazon then make sure you avoid the common pitfalls above. Evolved Commerce is always happy to do an analysis or audit of your current Seller or Vendor Central account and provide recommendations, tips and tricks to take your campaigns to the next level.