Today’s Amazon Product Optimizations may seem long, fancy, and complicated. However, you might’ve noticed something interesting. Top ranking product listings are often not complicated or long at all.
Working on Amazon as a full time marketing consultant, I’ve been in the business of learning what makes products rank #1.
My clients always want to know where they should really spend their time.
This blog post is going to give you some very simple solutions to high level problems. I’ve used this technique myself to get my clients top rankings in tough categories without spending more on advertising. I call it The Clean Technique
So how do you get ranked on page 1?
I have good news for you! It’s not complicated to do.
No Amazon listing expert would ever want to tell you this, mainly because the industry is built on the idea that there are “secrets” and that creating a great Amazon listing is complicated.
There are many Amazon listing optimization tools, optimization services, softwares, training courses, and mastermind groups set up to help you make your listing optimization more complicated. The data will look fancy and advanced, but it will mostly be unnecessary.
I found early in my career that I could single out listing problems better than people who were in the business for years. I had a knack for finding simple solutions to fix listing problems.
In almost every case I see, the top ranking product in a category is doing just a few simple things right that anyone can learn.
Not fancy, not a bunch of time spent, not expensive advertising. The Clean Technique will get you 85% of your results.
1. Think Simple
If you’ll start by thinking simply you’ll be in a different league than most Amazon sellers.
Most of ranking on Amazon product optimization is understanding how the algorithm finds value in a product. There are 2 main considerations:
- How often does the product get clicked 2. How often do those clicks turn into a purchase
That’s literally it. Every other data measurement in the algorithm is based on that. That’s all you need to know to understand Amazon.
Here is an example of Amazon product optimization simplicity. I searched for “keto creamer.” The first two listings here are advertisements and the #1 rank is actually 3rd on the page.
Notice anything? The top product is called Keto creamer.
This product ranks #1 because so many people find it highly relevant when they’re searching for Keto creamer. This product doesn’t have to be the best Keto creamer out there, it just has to be good enough to not suck.
Big, bold, and relevant lettering goes a long way on Amazon.
If you’re going to be developing a face cream to be sold on Amazon, you should probably design your label with a callout in big bold letters “face cream” or “eye cream.”
You will also notice here the top Keto creamer has a shorter and less keyword stuffed product title than its competitors. In this case, the algorithm doesn’t care about the keywords, it only cares that the product gets a lot of click engagement.
You’ll see on the product page their bullets are super short.
Wait, does that mean that those 300+ character keyword stuffed bullets people are doing don’t work?
Well, sometimes they work. It depends on the product. Maybe you need to do a lot of explaining or outline a lot of specs. Not so for Keto creamer.
For the most part though, I see examples like this over and over. The top ranking product listing will be simpler and more streamlined than its competitors.
We understand this essential thing about selling on Amazon: Amazon wants to maximize net revenue per minute. That means the quicker they can turn a searcher into a customer, the better.
Products that convert customers quickly will always be shown on the page before products that convert slowly or less often. They’ll get more PPC ad impressions, more page ranking spots, and more product comparison features on the competitor’s product page.
2. Do a Basic Good Job
Get the most important information in there with a few good key phrases.
I want you to internalize this: keywords are not magic.
The truth is that Amazon’s algorithm will index your product on most of the top search phrases in your category if you’ve done a basic good job at getting relevant keywords in there.
Amazon knows that most people aren’t going to have fancy tools that help them find keywords, so they designed the algorithm in such a way that it’ll still find the keywords without you.
How does it do this? Advertising and compared products. If I advertise this product on this related phrase, does the customer click on it? Also, which product does the customer usually click on after they visit this product page?
Just for fun I decided to check this hypothesis against our Keto creamer example.
Using the magic of Helium 10’s Cerebro I pulled the top 20 or so competitive keywords and checked the listing for indexing.
You can see that this listing was indexed for every single phrase, even though it’s not particularly full of keywords.
Also important on your Amazon product optimization is to have the basic information. If you sell a consumable, you better have the ingredients list prominently displayed.
If you sell speakers, you might need to have the max volume measurement or wattage output listed.
Anything you can do to help a customer make a quick decision will get you huge ranking points on Amazon.
3. Finding Keywords
More good news here. You don’t need to use any paid tools to get the basic things done.
There are a lot of tools that will claim to be free. In my experience, you won’t get any of the good functionality out of the FREE Amazon keyword tools without paying fifty bucks or so.
Some pretty cool SEO keyword tools do exist truly free for Google though. Google and Amazon searches are very different because Amazon is purely purchase driven. You won’t find any “how to do ‘this’ or ‘that'” on Amazon.
However, Google searches can have some good suggestions for you and will give you a ballpark on whether your keyword ideas have good search volume.
My favorite FREE SEO tools:
You’ll need to find your Keystone Keyword. This is the #1 phrase you would want to rank for in the future. It’s usually the most general and high traffic phrase without getting overly general. If you could rank #1 for one key phrase on Amazon what would it be?
Did you know that’s the highest searched phrase on Amazon right now? Anyway, you search for your top phrase and check out your competitors.
Whatever is appearing in the titles on those top products will be the most important keywords in your niche.
We know this because we know that the keywords appearing in the first 80 characters of a title will be weighted most heavily for ranking. This is where people put their big dogs.
To find more long tail searches you can literally type some phrases into the search bar and Amazon will suggest phrases.
You need only repeat this a few times to determine your top competitors, what keywords should be important to you, and possibly some extra long tail phrases.
4. Pricing and Sizing
I have found that lowering your price will not increase sales in the short term but could in the long term.
THE most important price factor I have seen for ranking is overall price.
Coming back to our Keto creamer example we can see that the top spot has the lowest overall price but not the lowest unit price at $10.93 and $1.82/ounce.
This comes right back to The Clean Technique. Think Simple! The customer’s eyes are drawn to the big numbers and not the small numbers.
It also comes back the the simple vs. easy principle. Most sellers will be very willing to spend all day stuffing keywords and doing complicated hacks. They will be less willing to do a simple SIZE CHANGE to make their product more marketable overall.
Maybe the customer might choose a different Keto creamer if they had time to visit all 6 product pages and read reviews, ingredients, and instructions.
Most people don’t have that time. They’re going to look at the picture and the big words. So often in marketing we’re really just catering to the reptilian brain.
Certain categories on Amazon are dominated by bold and beautiful pictures.
Here’s a listing for turmeric curcumin that’s doing a lot graphically.
You’ll see listings like this and wonder to yourself if your success depends on making a bunch of infographics and visual designs. This product is not #1 in its niche btw, it’s #3.
My answer to you is that for the most part you don’t need to do a lot of fancy graphic work.
The work you should do should increase the clicks or the purchases. All other work is really just fluff.
Here is an example of a listing that’s using infographics that aren’t amazingly professional but are highly effective.
How do I know this product is performing extremely well? First of all, it has 1 review but is ranked #44 BSR among other products that have 1000+ reviews. Diaper bag is a very competitive niche so anyone with 1 review that’s ranking high already must be converting.
Here’s their BSR (Best Seller Rank) over time.
The thin line means very popular. The lower the BSR the better on Amazon.
Now, this could also be a product that had an excellent launch strategy. Within 15 days of launch they had already started to take off in sales velocity.
However, my experience tells me that even when you can drive lots of outside traffic and spend tons on ads, a listing that’s not effective will never make spectacular sales over time. If your funnel (your product page) is broken, no amount of money or traffic can fix that.
All things remaining equal like price, features, and keywords, my sense is that this listing owes its success to effective use of infographics. They aren’t spectacularly beautiful, but they help reach the goal.
Any change you make to your images you should ask, how is this going to increase my clicks or conversions?
There are all kinds of analyses online showing that if you position the product photo this or that way, make the product bigger, or show a different label style, then customer behavior improves.
Honestly, though, my experience is that those enhancements may get you 5–10% improvement.
You can get 85% of the results by doing The Clean Technique.
Special Considerations: FBA vs FBM and How to Get Badges
Should you fulfill through Amazon or through your own warehouse?
Pretty simple: If you want to rank #1 you’ll want to be FBA.
There isn’t a huge amount of common sense why this would be, there is only repeated evidence that comes from Amazon’s own search rankings.
Amazon will ALWAYS rank an FBA product before an FBM product. Amazon makes a higher commission on FBA products and so why would they ever allow an FBM product to outrank an FBA product.
I have this cool chrome extension from Junglescout that’ll show me estimated revenue and sales data on every product on the product page.
Just for fun, let’s see where the FBA and FBM products rank for some different search terms. (the list is in order of rank)
If you have the Junglescout Chrome Extension I challenge you to find any search term that ranks an FBM product before an FBA product (this excludes the ads you’ll see in spot #1 and #2)
Post your findings in the comments.
FBA products also just fall in line with Amazon’s larger conversion goals. Amazon FBA listings generally convert better because who doesn’t want free shipping in two days.
Also, Amazon Prime members convert around 75% of the time. When you see AMZ listed as the seller, that means the product is fulfilled through the Amazon vendor program. Amazon buys the product wholesale from you, then they sell it themselves on Amazon.
I myself am not an Amazon Vendor Central expert but if you want to learn more about vendor you can ask my friends at Cartology.
What about SFP aka Seller Fulfilled Prime?
I feel like my clients don’t often understand SFP too well even if they have read a lot about it. SFP on its face is a program that allows FBM products to be sold as Prime even if they are not fulfilled by Amazon. The catch is, you can only sell Prime within a 2-day shipping radius of your fulfillment center.
If your fulfillment center is located within 2 shipping days of some big population centers then that’s great! SFP may be a great option.
If you want to check your 2-day shipping regions here are the links for various services:
Side note- someone once told me that Memphis, TN is the most centrally located place to fulfill any package.
I don’t know if that’s true, but suffice it to say if your warehouse is not within two shipping days of your target customer SFP isn’t likely to bring a significant sales boost when compared to FBA.
There are two kinds of badges on Amazon. Amazon’s Choice and Best Seller.
Amazon’s Choice badges are by far the most common badge.
This badge will show up on the top converting product for a particular search term.
Based on my research, Amazon’s choice badges show up on 1 million or so of the top search phrases. That means there are 1 million Amazon’s Choice badges up for grabs.
To get the Amazon’s Choice badge, simply convert the best of anyone on your search page. This explains why Amazon’s Choice is not always the #1 ranked product. The search ranking is based on many factors whereas this badge is based on 1 factor.
You can use the Amazon’s Choice badge as a smart marketer. Check who’s winning the Amazon’s Choice badge for the keywords you care about. Study why their listing may be converting better than yours.
How about getting the Best Seller badge?
This badge is much more rare because only 1 badge exists in each subcategory. I couldn’t find exactly how many subcategories there are on Amazon but let’s call it around 1000.
You get the badge by being the best seller. That’s it.
Here’s a helpful tip: place your product in the smallest and deepest subcategory you can find. This will make it more likely you’ll be the bestseller in your subcategory.
Choose something like:
Sports & Outdoors > Sports & Fitness > Leisure Sports & Game Room > Casino Equipment > Cards & Equipment > Playing Cards
Sports & Outdoors > Fan Shop > Toys & Game Room > Games
Another great thing about choosing a smaller subcategory in an Amazon Product Optimization is your Best Seller Rating will improve. A product may show #1,000,000 in Grocery & Gourmet but instantly jump to #5 in Fruit Cookies with a few clicks of the mouse.
Some Things I Didn’t Mention
You’ll notice I distinctly left some areas out.
How about the other sections of your Amazon seller central like the description and search terms?
Those matter but they don’t matter huge for a basic Amazon Product Optimization. The description should be used mainly to give more information on the product. If you want you can even create bold headings and section out your content with bullet points and page breaks.
On your search terms, most important would be to stay under 250 characters. Helium 10’s Scribbles can help you understand and track the character limits.
What about reviews?
Well, I honestly find that they don’t matter that much. After you have around 5 reviews, you product ranking will not change much the more reviews you get.
Your ranking will change much more based on click through and conversion, as I outlined above.
Here’s an example in “eye cream”
You’ll notice here that the #4 and #6 product have way less reviews while #2 has 14,000!
Reviews only matter when they’re bad, so as long as you can stay around 4.5 stars your product will be ok.
By the same token, if your listing is starting to die because it’s getting bad reviews you can only fix the problem with good reviews.
Changing keywords, infographics, or ad campaign spend isn’t going to resurrect a listing with a review problem. Get some 5-star reviews instead.
What Do You Do Now?
Are you ready to get your product ranking #1?
Whenever I work on a listing I use my Clean Technique formula.
Every product has different features but the psychology behind WHY a product converts is always the same. Maybe you’ve been working on your ranking for a while but you’re not seeing the results you want.
I know from experience that so much of product ranking is not about amazing writing or amazing SEO. It’s about smart writing and smart SEO. A good amazon product optimization is a simple one.
My formula usually converts around 30% and with optimization over time I can expect 50% or more.
Here’s what an agency partner said of my work:
If you’re looking for something to guide your Amazon product optimization here’s a simple template I made based on my formula. You can purchase once to use across all your listings.
I’ve gotten really good at evaluating Amazon listings quickly and getting results. I’ve become one of the top Amazon product optimization freelancers on Upwork.
I have so many people trying to work with me these days, it’s not so much about whether I can help a brand, it’s about whether I want to work with them.
But I’m not a saleswoman. In fact, there’s nothing I dislike more than sales.
I’m a tech person and a metrics junkie. I’m really good at finding intuitive marketing insights others seem to miss.
If you already have an existing Amazon listing and you’re looking at how you can improve, you may need someone with fresh eyes to understand why your product might be slumping.
You can hire me to pick apart your listing and provide insights similar to the ones you read in this article.
Have you been doing your own Amazon product optimization lately? What strategies have others suggested that have/haven’t worked for you?