We Analyzed 3,000 TOP Ranked Amazon Product Listings. Here's What We Learned About Amazon SEO
We recently teamed up with Payoneer, an innovative digital payments company, and analyzed 3,000 Amazon listings across 3 random categories – electronics, beauty, and lawn and garden.
Why you ask?
To see what these listings had in common with each other and how these traits affected their organic search visibility in Amazon’s A9 search results.
In other words, we wanted to see what made these products so great to land on Amazon’s top-ranked product listings report.
Because you see, Amazon has hundreds of millions of products listed on their website.
Some are unique, some are similar, and some are exactly the same, just sold by different brands.
So we got to wondering, how, in a marketplace that is so saturated, can someone stand out from their toughest competition using their product listings alone?
Obviously, Amazon’s list of top ranked product listings were doing something right.
We just didn’t know what.
Which isn’t to say we didn’t have our own preconceived ideas.
Because we sure did.
And while some of them proved to be very true, there were a few surprises along the way too.
That’s why we set out to discover the secrets to becoming a top ranked listing in Amazon search results, and share it with you so that you can take what we learned and use that knowledge to boost your own product’s visibility and sales.
A Little Background Information
Before we jump into our findings, it’s a good idea to start at the very beginning, after Amazon released their list of top ranking product listings.
After all, why would Amazon do this anyways?
They make money no matter which products land highest on search results, no matter what the product listings have in common, and no matter who knows (or doesn’t know) how to increase their rank status.
And honestly, we could only think that maybe by sharing this information with people, Amazon felt it would inspire those looking to become more competitive over major brands to work harder (or smarter) when it comes to their own product lines.
In any case, no matter the reason Amazon decided to share such valuable data with the world at large, we knew we had to jump on it and analyze it for ourselves.
The report listed the top 10,000 ASINs (or product listings) for each of 31 categories.
It included the ASIN, number of reviews, and average rating for each listing.
That’s when we decided to analyze 3,000 of those listings, in the three categories mentioned above, in terms of the following:
- Title length
- Number of featured bullet points
- Number of images
- EBC/A+ content
- Description length
- Number of reviews
We scrutinized the data, looking for patterns, trends, and commonalities to find out why these were the best.
Oh, and one other thing.
We separated our findings into 1P vendor listings and 3P seller listings to really get a handle on what makes a product listing great.
And for those of you that don’t know, 1P vendors sell to Amazon while 3P sellers sell on Amazon.
And in our roundup of listings to analyze, there were 1,774 1P vendor listings and 1,226 3P seller listings.
So, let’s get started!
It’s not just Google that cares about the length of your content’s title.
Come to find out, Amazon cares too.
In fact, product titles are not only important to your ranking in Amazon search results, they help grab consumers’ attention and help boost your click-through rates too.
All in hopes that someone will buy what you are selling.
So, when it came down to what our product listing pool was doing with their product titles, you might be surprised that the results were kind of a mixed bag.
Although the sweet spot for product title length landed between 60-80 characters, taking up 33% of all top ASINs, both the 1P vendors and 3P sellers also strayed to either side of that sweet spot to do their own thing.
For instance, 3P sellers tended to max out their character availability, using up as much title length as they can.
In fact, we found that 40% of seller listings used 120 characters for their title lengths, while only 15% of vendor listings did the same.
However, we quickly found that 68% of 1P vendor listings got the top spots when it came to best-selling ASINs.
And they tended to err on the shorter title length.
Perhaps this is because Amazon favors shorter titles.
Or, big name brands don’t need to hook a customer’s attention like a lesser known 3P seller does.
Or who knows, maybe putting keywords at the beginning of a short title is enough to draw people in to their product pages.
What we do know is that Amazon shortens all titles that exceed 112 characters, and that as the title continued to get longer, the law of diminishing returns started to kick in.
In fact, the highest ranking listings in our study had shorter titles, making one think this is the best way to go.
However, despite our preconceived notions, there are two distinct strategies in place when it comes to title length on product listings.
And both of them work.
After all, we are looking at listings that made it into Amazon’s report.
Number of Featured Bullet Points
In short, 5 bullets points is the magic number.
And, while we could leave it there and let the data speak for itself, we won’t.
Because we like to delve in and give people actionable steps to help them improve their own businesses.
So, it goes without saying that with 80% of 3P sellers using 5 bullet points in their product listings, and 58% of 1P vendors doing the same, this is the number to aim for.
However, you might wonder why vendor listings aren’t utilizing bullet points as much.
Well, for starters, 1P vendors sell to Amazon remember?
This means that Amazon maintains control over the actual product listing.
Amazon makes a ton of money and probably doesn’t feel like investing a lot of time in things like bullet points for their vendor’s listings.
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After all, these are bigger name brands, they shouldn’t need extra marketing.
And the bullet point that really counts is the first one, no matter how many you have after it.
Your listing’s first bullet point should be the hardest hitting one.
You have to think that if anything, your potential customers will read that first bullet point before moving on.
And while they may never see the other four that follow it, that first one will sink in and convince them to buy – if you do it right.
So, put your best bullet point first, place all the important information at the beginning of every bullet point to account for skimmers, and never exceed 150 characters, because that’s when Amazon starts shortening it and people won’t see it all anyways.
Much like Google, Amazon is searching for and indexing product listings according to keyword.
And any little help you can get makes a big difference.
Number of Images
Imagery is everything in the world of eCommerce.
After all, people can’t physically touch the products you’re selling when they’re on Amazon.
Instead, they have to rely on your product descriptions (which can say anything really) and your product images.
This is the best way people can see whether what you’re selling is what they’re looking for.
So you better make them good.
In our analysis, we saw that 3P sellers love to max out their image use, which is 8.
If they didn’t, 62% of them had at least 5-8 images for consumers to view.
In fact, 3P sellers were the best at maximizing available real estate on their listings with images, which might be one reason they made it on Amazon’s top ranked report.
And even if it’s just because they need to outperform big name brands by using more images, it’s still a valid strategy.
And one that’s working.
After all, if you want to make it to the top, you have to be willing to do what it takes.
EBC (Enhanced Brand Content)
Amazon offers sellers two ways of adding creative content to product listings:
- Amazon A+. This premium program is for sellers that want a guarantee from Amazon that not only will their product detail pages have visuals and enhanced marketing content added to them, but that they will see an increase in sales by 3-10%. Adding multimedia content like descriptions, rich images, video, comparison charts, and even narrative copy, Amazon A+ aims to help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
- Enhanced Brand Content. This free service offered by Amazon helps improve the content and display of your product’s information to boost traffic, conversion rates, and sales. It doesn’t come with as many features as Amazon A+, but it does come with the ability to add images in the description and design functionality like subheadings, paragraphs, bold, italics, and more.
Sounds great right?
It sure is.
And yet, the research we did shows that the top 3P seller listings are plain, and not enhanced, which threw us all into a state confusion.
Optimizing your content for more traffic, higher conversions, and increased revenue is a good thing right?
But, just like we saw with title lengths, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy.
In fact, sometimes it’s the perfect combination of strategies that make your brand stand out amongst the competition.
But just so you know, 1P vendor listings do make more enhanced pages, which is probably helping them to be successful too.
There’s not a lot to say about product descriptions except that each seller, whether a 3P seller or a 1P vendor, has their own idea of what works.
And since they are all on the top ranking ASINs list, they should probably stick with whatever it is they’re doing.
That said, despite the law of diminishing returns creeping in with long product descriptions, 36% of all listings we looked at have 1,100+ characters in their descriptions.
This is even after finding that the sweet spot is 400 characters, which a whopping 51% of listings have.
However, keeping it short and sweet is helping rank status with Amazon, is getting the point across to prospective customers without losing their interest, and is making use of the available real estate on the product detail page.
Not to mention 1P vendors are still letting Amazon control their detail pages.
And with big brands that don’t need a lot of introduction, and Amazon not caring enough to curate solid product descriptions, vendors end up with short descriptions whether they like it or not.
Number of Reviews
Ahhh customer reviews.
Sellers love ‘em and hate ‘em all at the same time.
And while securing more reviews on your product page is a great thing (if the reviews are good of course!), you’ll be surprised that quality not quantity is the way to rank well with Amazon.
In fact, there is a huge disparity between the number of reviews the product listings we looked at have.
To start, 27% of the product listings had between 500-1,500 reviews left on them.
Adding to that, Amazon had ASINs with as low as 70 reviews, and ASINs with upwards of 5,000!
Even the popular brand Anchor had a product listing with a mere 12 customer reviews on it.
And yet, it still made the list.
This just goes to show that there are a lot of factors that play into how your reviews will help you in both search results and success.
In fact, at about the 400 mark, that pesky law of diminishing returns shows up again and you start to see a decline in sales despite the additional good reviews that are being added to your product page.
In addition, the ratings your reviews get play a role in how you’ll appear in search results.
After all, if every review left on your product listing is bad, why on earth would anyone buy from you?
More than that, why would your listing end up on an exclusive list like the one Amazon created?
You’re right, it wouldn’t.
So check it out.
All the top product listings we looked at averaged above a 4.0 star rating, as seen with these popular electronics products:
And when it came to the entire Amazon list, all 31 categories included, the same was true save for two categories: the relatively new category of appliances, which has a 3.96 star average, and jewelry, which has a surprising 2.45 average rating.
So, aim to get a good chunk of positive reviews on your listing page that are above 4.0, and then focus your energy elsewhere to boost your rankings.
Because in the end, reviews in themselves don’t guarantee top spots in Amazon search results, or the title top product listing either.
And Speaking of Bad Reviews…
So, it’s true that having hundreds of great reviews on your product page won’t necessarily affect your rank status, conversion rates, or even sales.
But one thing that will affect your business is bad reviews.
And it just so happens that you might have bad reviews on your product listing because of hijackers.
If you have been an Amazon seller for any amount of time, chances are you already know about hijackers.
But just in case you don’t, here’s the lowdown.
Highjackers are people that sell a product that is either a counterfeit or similar version to your private label product.
And, when they start selling that product on your listing, at just under the price you offer your product at, they end up stealing the Buy Box from you, and worse, your customers.
Check out this example of a hijacked listing:
Highjackers have a bad habit of adding themselves to your listing (the one you worked so hard to create and rank for), take possession of your product’s title, and even change some of the images so customers have no idea they are not the real true seller and buy from them instead.
There are three types of hijackers that can ruin business for you (and we haven’t even explained the bad review part yet!):
- Popup Hijackers. These guys will pop up on your listing randomly, sell for a little bit, and then leave without a trace. They may not even be a part of your industry, or care about the product they’re selling. They’re just out to make some quick cash.
- Opportunistic. These are the sellers that use things like the weekend to take advantage of your popular listings, knowing that you are less likely to monitor activity on what should be your days off.
- Strategic. These are the most dangerous hijackers because they make a living off listings such as yours and know the industry, the way Amazon works, and how not to get caught.
Unfortunately, Amazon is overwhelmed with complaints of highjacking and their response time is pathetic because they simply don’t know what to do about this problem.
That’s why it’s your job to handle it.
Because if you don’t and someone hijacks your listing and doesn’t provide what should have been your customer what was promised, there is a chance they’ll leave a poor review on your product listing.
That’s because the customer may not even realize you didn’t sell them the product.
This poor review hurts your reputation, your ranking status, and of course your sales.
Dealing with a Hijacker
Although hijackers will always be a problem, unless Amazon can figure out a way to stop them, there are some things you can do to help deter them from taking over your listing and hurting your business.
To start, you can try bundling your products.
This makes it hard for anyone to counterfeit what you’re selling because while they may copy your product’s title, images, and even description, they won’t be able to deliver all the products in the bundle because they’ve only counterfeited one.
This also helps should a customer make a complaint that they didn’t receive all that was promised.
Simply show Amazon what you offer and explain it must have been a hijacker.
Package your products using your company’s logo so customers know they have received the real deal from you.
Again, if a complaint pops up, you can show Amazon, and the disgruntled customer, that the product they received could have never come from you because of the packaging.
Use software and online tools to help combat hijackers on your own.
For instance, use Sellics to notify you when a hijacking situation has occurred and on which listing.
This will help you target an issue right away.
For instance, check out this example brought to you by Sellics of what it looks like to be hijacked:
In addition, register your products with Amazon so no one else will have authority to sell your products.
Outsource your account management to a third-party company so you never have to deal with the hassles that come with hijackers.
Just be aware they often ask for hefty fees to do this for you.
Hire an attorney and have them put a stop to it all right away.
Amazon and highjackers often respond quickly and efficiently to threats of legal action, and while this may be expensive, it is sometimes what you have to do to protect your business.
In fact, we ourselves have used an attorney in the past and within 5 days hijackers that had taken possession of 5 of our ASINs backed off voluntarily, and from others too, because they were scared.
In the end, protecting your Amazon listings is a big deal if you want to continue growing your business and maintain a good reputation with customers.
So, avoid the bad reviews, and the damage to your bottom line, by being aware of this serious problem that all Amazon sellers face, regardless of their ranking status in search results.
Making it on an exclusive list such as the one Amazon recently released is a big deal.
However, if your product listings didn’t make the top rankings in your category, it’s okay.
That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the our findings.
If anything, our findings regarding things like title length, image use, and reviews give you a great starting point for improving your own product listings.
But be careful, if you follow these actionable steps and start making changes, you’re going to need some more inventory.