Posts tagged well

Bing: It’s Unlikely That We’ll Take Search Share Away From Google

Microsoft’s Director of Search admitted this week that Bing isn’t likely to put a significant dent in Google’s search market share. Stefan Weitz appeared Tuesday at the Web Summit conference in Ireland, where he told attendees that Bing instead wants to focus on making its search…



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How To Rank Well In Local Search: 3 Leading Experts Weigh In by @mattsouthern

At Pubcon 2014 in Las Vegas the SEJ team was able to catch up with three experts on the subject of local search. Below you will find videos of Brent Csutoras interviewing Brian Lafrance Authority Labs John Rampton interviewing Kris Jones of LSEO.com, and Kelsey Jones interviewing Mary Bowling of Ignitor Digital. Each of these experts provide actionable tips that businesses can use to rank well in local search results. Tools For Improving Local Search: An Interview with Brian LaFrance Organic Local SEO & Understanding Google Pigeon: An Interview with Mary Bowling of Ignitor Digital How Small Businesses Can Increase Their Google […]

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You Might As Well Get Used To Twitter Messing Around With Your Timeline

If you didn’t like Twitter’s recent move to throw random tweets into your timeline, you’re going to hate the future. Twitter is still struggling to make the service more accessible to the masses, a point underscored by its third-quarter earnings report—and that means more tinkering with things like the timeline Twitter fans have grown accustomed to.

See also: Twitter Is Officially Mucking With Your Timeline

While Twitter continues to grow, particularly on mobile, it’s not growing fast enough to make investors happy. Twitter now has 284 million monthly active users, up 23% compared to the year-earlier quarter. The majority of those—80%—access the social network on mobile. Timeline views reached 181 billion, up 14% compared to a year earlier. 

But the microblogging service’s user growth slowed over its previous quarter, and Wall Street was not impressed. Investors knocked down Twitter shares roughly 10% in after-hours trading.

Growth, Growth, Growth

Twitter otherwise turned in an unexceptional quarter. Its revenues more than doubled to $361.3 million compared to a year earlier. So did its losses, which expanded even faster than revenue, to $174.5 million from $64.6 million a year earlier. Those losses, however, weren’t larger than expected.

Twitter, which wants to position itself as a real-time information and discussion hub, remains small by the standards of major social-media networks. Its 284 million active monthly users are dwarfed by the billion-plus on Facebook, for instance.

In order to appeal to a broader audience—one that isn’t already familiar with the quirky and not completely user-friendly argot of tweeting—the company will have to make it easy to better understand how and why people need to use it. That may well current Twitter addicts who are happy with the way things are.

See also: Twitter Demystified: How To RT, MT, #FF And Fave Like A Pro

The company has made some significant changes in recent months, including dumping suggested tweets into your timeline. These posts might include favorited tweets from people you follow or tweets from accounts your followers follow. It might seem convoluted from that description, but the aim is to help newbies find interesting accounts to follow and, eventually, figure out how people and brands tweet.

Twitter said on Monday that new iOS profiles—a complete revamp of the Twitter profile that makes it easy to navigate by putting tweets, photos and favorites in three separate tabs, and the profile bio clear and up front—accounted for an 83% increase in “profile impressions.” That means people looked at other users’ profiles almost twice as much as they did before.

So What Will Twitter Do?

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo laid out some vague plans for change, some of which echoed what he’s been telling investors for the last few quarters

That includes improving things for new users by providing a “high-quality” timeline when they sign up for an account, likely by suggesting tweets and accounts to follow by forcing tweets in the timeline. That could also include an upgrade to Twitter’s direct messaging function, which has been in a dire need of an upgrade for years.

Costolo said Twitter will continue to “innovate on ways to better organize content to deliver best experiences.” Translated from the original Martian, that means more experimentation and continued shuffling of the timeline.

Anthony Noto, Twitter’s CFO, reiterated those expectations. He said on the third-quarter earnings call that while Twitter will continue to be a real-time social network by showing tweets in chronological order, it will begin to distribute tweets and updates that might be hours hold, but that the user might find helpful. Hello, algorithm-based feed!

The company is also working on improving the number of people that use Twitter that don’t actually have a Twitter account. That includes where tweets appear on third-party services like news websites or in applications. According to Twitter, the “logged out” audience, or people who see tweets outside of Twitter proper, is easily as large as the “logged-in audience”—and perhaps as much as twice that size.

Lead photo courtesy of Twitter

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5 Things We’ll Miss About the iPod Classic

<em>Editor’s note: This post was originally published by our partners at <a href=”http://www.popsugar.com/tech/iPod-Classic-Discontinued-35721961#photo-35722526″>PopSugar Tech</a>.</em>

It’s a sad, sad day for everyone who grew up in the 2000s. The iPod Classic, the most highly coveted MP3 player amongst your classmates, is no more. Apple quietly discontinued their 12-year-old iPod (it’s come a long way) some time last week. TheWhich iPod Are You? page only shows the Shuffle, Nano, and iPod Touch. Sad.

The original white iPod brings back so many memories of swapping our Walkmen for a little stainless steel-backed, music-playing brick. Read on for all the things we’ll miss about the iPod classic.

It was the first MP3 that could be used with just one hand

The iPod was the size of a deck of cards! Its 3/4-inch hardware seems gargantuan today, but, in 2001, being able to play, pause, and browse through your music with just your thumb was incredible. Nothing will ever replace the feeling of the first time you held an iPod.

It could fit a LOT of stuff—not just music

The iPod Classic used a hard disk drive, just like your old laptops, which is why you could hear whirring from the inside of the device. There were actual moving mechanical parts inside of the iPod Classic, unlike the fancier iPod Touch of today. The main advantage of this was a ton of storage.

Sure, back then it could only fit 1,000 songs. But the iPod Classic of 2013 was available in a 160 GB size, which could hold 40,000 songs. The new generation of iPods only offer up to 64 GBs.

And the original iPod wasn’t just portable storage for music; you could use it as an external hard drive by dragging and dropping any type of file over the iPod icon on your desktop. Sigh, the good ol’ days.

The silhouette ads were cool then and are still cool now

There were over 20 dancing silhouette ads featuring songs from your childhood like “Hey Mama” by the Black Eyed Peas and celebrities like Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Coldplay, and U2 (who, apparently, still exist!). It was an iconic campaign, solidifying the white MP3’s place in product-design history.

The clickwheel was so satisfying

Click … click … click … never has scrolling through playlists or playing Pong ever been so fun.

It had fitness features way before fitness features went mainstream

Apple’s has been partnering with Nike for a long time. The iPod has included activity tracking and running data collection that could be synced with your Mac long beforewearable gadgets took over tech.


Watch Steve Jobs’s original iPod announcement!

Ah, so much nostalgia.

More stories from PopSugarTech:

 

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Publishers To EC: We Want More From Google Or We’ll Sue

As we discussed last week, the current Europe-Google antitrust settlement is dead. This is a surprising turn of events considering that it was once described by European regulators as essentially a done deal. Outgoing European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia confirmed last week in a talk…



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The Google Nexus Line Is Alive And Well And (Maybe) About To Birth A Phablet

Not only is Google not ending its Nexus line of “pure” Android devices, as Google exec David Burke told us last month, it may well be expanding it. Two reports indicate that the tech giant and ex-subsidiary Motorola have been cooking up an all-new Nexus phablet.

See also: No, Google Isn’t Going To Kill Its Nexus Devices

Over the weekend, Android Police reported that, after trawling through the code base at the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), it found references to a mysterious 5.9-inch Nexus gadget codenamed “Shamu.” The Information (subscription required) checked with its sources, who confirmed it. 

In fact, “people familiar with the matter” said it was great timing: The companies may have started their work when Motorola was still under Google’s wing, but now that it belongs to Lenovo, the two companies won’t have to suffer accusations of preferential treatment. They can work on this massive device in peace. 

We’re Going To Need Bigger Pockets

The codename would be fitting for a giant Nexus phablet, so called because it’s basically a smartphone the size of a compact tablet. If it exists, Shamu’s 5.9 inches would top the Galaxy Note 3—arguably the leading phablet on the market—and its 5.7-inch screen. 

Ars Technica notes that this whale of a device also follows the Nexus nomenclature of naming gadgets after fish. (Technically, it’s a mammal, but whatever. Let’s just call them aquatic creatures.) “Hammerhead” stood in for the Nexus 5; the Nexus 7 was called ”Razor”; and “Flounder” references suggest a possible upcoming Nexus tablet from HTC.

Shamu, described as a Motorola phone with a fingerprint scanner, could launch as soon as November. (Most likely  alongside Android L, the next version of Google mobile software, which is expected to debut in the fall.) 

Google and the now Lenovo-owned Motorola can join hands without accusations of favoritism.

Where that leaves the Android Silver program is unclear. Silver, Google’s attempt to get manufacturers to make more “vanilla” (uncustomized) Android devices—was (again according to The Information) supposed to replace the Nexus line. The program was supposed to be headed up by Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora. But, The Information notes, Arora announced his departure from the company earlier this month.

Lead image of the Nexus 5 by Dan Rowinski for ReadWrite

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Apple’s Ambition Extends Well Beyond The iPhone—As In, To Your Entire Life

On the surface, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last week was all about new developer tools—well, that and some upcoming features in Mac OS X and iOS, its computer and handheld operating systems. Step back, though, and you can see the outlines of something much bigger: a hint of how Apple sees its future beyond smartphones and tablets.

Brace yourself, because it looks momentous. Think of it as Apple’s plan for your new iLifestyle.

Gathering The Clues At WWDC

Some folks already live deep in the Apple ecosystem. But those iPhones, iPads and Macs were just the first step. Apple now looks to be laying a foundation for a much bigger and more pervasive platform that will bridge iOS and Mac OS X, and move outward from there to encompass practically every aspect of its users’ lives.

It all starts with developers. After years of restrictions, Apple offered numerous software changes that will start opening up its tightly controlled operating software in still-limited yet significant ways. It showered iOS developers with 4,000 new APIs (see our API explainer) and new access to long-desired functions. For instance, apps will be able to communicate with each other, reaching outside those limited and isolating “sandboxes”; they’ll also be able to tap the identity-verification functions of the TouchID fingerprint scanner introduced in the iPhone 5S last year.

The changes will make apps more useful and open up possibilities for new app-based innovations. And that process could get a boost from Swift, Apple’s new programming language, which is designed to make building iOS apps fast and easy work.

Meanwhile, Apple also took initial steps toward some entirely new fields—preliminary moves that are easy to discount because Apple didn’t draw that much attention to them.

In a “blink and you’ll miss it” portion of the presentation, Apple offered a (very) brief glimpse of HomeKit, its iPhone-driven foray into smart homes. The company didn’t offer many details at the time, and its developer document on the HomeKit framework is also fairly sketchy. But the idea is to cut through the clutter of scattershot connected-home approaches by providing a common protocol for automated lighting, climate and security systems so that “third-party apps”—i.e., on the iPhone—can direct them.

In a similar way, HealthKit aims to create a central repository for the jumble of data collected by health trackers and fitness apps, one that can be of use to both you and your doctor. 

The big notion in both introductions is “unification.” That word is key to Apple’s plans. 

What Apple Aims To Fix

There’s tremendous opportunity in smart homes, mostly because no one has managed to make them work well for the average consumer. In that sense, the connected-home industry is essentially broken.

Right now, wiring up your home involves wading through way too many complex decisions. Should you do it yourself or let Comcast manage it for you? You have to sort through standards (Zigbee? Z-wave? Insteon?) and weigh other options (hub or no hub? Wi-Fi or Ethernet? Throw in your lot with a single manufacturer or mix and match products?). Further complicating things is the fact that most of these approaches are incompatible, so heading down one path essentially means you have to start all over if you change your mind.

Apple has a knack for stepping into nascent, chaotic markets and imposing order with a streamlined offering that, often enough, turns into a blockbuster hit. It’s clearly betting it can do exactly that for smart homes. As the company put it in its developer documentation:

Home Kit makes possible a marketplace where the app a user controls their home with doesn’t have to be created by the vendor who made their home automation accessories, and where home automation accessories from multiple vendors can all be integrated into a single coherent whole without those vendors having to coordinate directly with each other.

Likewise, Apple wants to bring together the piecemeal information gathered by health and fitness apps and make sense of it all. There’s a lot of data from step trackers, heart rate monitors, smart clothes and such, and not all of it lines up.

In Apple’s vision, the iPhone will match up the metrics and fill in gaps where it can. Actually deriving meaning from all that data in ways that are useful to healthcare providers is a trickier proposition. So the company partnered with the Mayo Clinic and other healthcare centers for their expertise.

It’s not a stretch to think Apple will pull together its health and smart home initiatives. You can easily imagine HealthKit collecting data from connected health gadgets around the home, like digital scales and blood pressure monitors. That makes it a short hop from automating our lights to managing our health and wellness.

Take things just a step further, and Apple’s systems could learn our behaviors and anticipate what we need before we know it ourselves. Lights might change to a soothing color when the system knows I’m tense. My devices could power off automatically because bedtime is near. Diet notifications might land on my wrist as soon as I open the fridge between meals.

Now extrapolate just a bit farther—after all, Apple probably has. A few months ago, it got behind the wheel with CarPlay, its first attempt at pushing iOS into the automobile dashboard. A few months from now, CEO Tim Cook is expected to introduce a new wearable device. So instead of relying on other companies’ electronics, there may soon be a sweep of Apple products all plugging seamlessly into the iLifestyle.

What Apple Gets In Return: The New iLifestyle

Supposing Apple does unify the car, the wrist, the pocket and your desk to manage your home and your health, there’s no way around the fact that it’s going to know a lot about you. An awful lot. And if that’s Apple’s end game, there’s no doubt it will set privacy advocates on edge.

That’s where TouchID—currently, the iPhone’s somewhat gimmicky fingerprint scanner—might alleviate some privacy fears. So far, most talk about this biometric authentication has focused on whether it could be used for mobile security or payments. (PayPal is reportedly exploring that very notion.) 

But TouchID could also easily emerge as the guardian of your digital lifestyle by requiring biometric proof of your identity before unlocking your health data or home controls—even your car. (That might be an especially compelling proposition should Apple mount the scanner on an iWatch.) The likely consumer message: You can trust the system because your literal hearts and homes are safeguarded by your own fingerprint.

None of this will happen overnight, of course. But Apple has laid down a serious iLifestyle foundation. Now all it has to do is deliver on it—and convince people that an Apple-branded way of life is what they wanted all along.

Images courtesy of Flickr users Jon Rawlinson (Apple store logo), Mackenzie Kosut (Apple home with view), Fauzan Alfi (Apple gadgets), Philipp Zumtobel (iWatch concept), Blake Patterson (Tim Cook in motion). Carplay image courtesy of Apple.

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How to Rank Well in Amazon, the US’s Largest Product Search Engine

Posted by n8ngrimm

The eCommerce SEO community is ignoring a huge opportunity by focusing almost exclusively on Google. But Google is the biggest search engine, right? Actually, if you are in eCommerce, Amazon should be far more important to you than Google, because it has roughly three times more search volume for products.

In 2012,
The New York Times reported:

“In 2009, nearly a quarter of shoppers started research for an online purchase on a search engine like Google and 18 percent started on Amazon, according to a Forrester Research study. By last year, almost a third started on Amazon and just 13 percent on a search engine. Product searches on Amazon have grown 73 percent over the last year while searches on Google Shopping have been flat, according to comScore.”

When researching this post, I searched Moz.com for already-published material about ranking in Amazon. All I found was a
single Q&A with five responses and little information. Conversely, there are many, many questions on Moz about how to rank your Amazon product pages in Google. It’s all very Google-focused.

I joined DNA Response and the eCommerce vertical from the world of education lead-gen where most of our traffic came from Google. I empathize with the Google myopia from which most SEOs suffer. My goal with this post is twofold:

  1. First, I want to convince all of the eCommerce search marketers to spend a lot more energy optimizing Amazon.
  2. Second, I want to provide marketers with a basic understanding of Amazon’s organic ranking algorithm.

Due to the lack of existing content on this topic, I felt the need to be somewhat comprehensive. I will address several conceptual problems I encountered when switching from a Google-focused niche to Amazon then share everything I have learned about Amazon’s ranking algorithms.

(Side note: I would like to apologize in advance that many of the links in my article require an Amazon Seller Central login to view. Amazon requires a login for most of their seller resources.)

Table of contents

Key Differences Between Amazon and Google

This section is mostly theoretical. Amazon is a fundamentally different search engine than Google so my thinking necessarily evolved when I made the switch from optimizing websites in Google to optimizing products in Amazon.

Conversion vs. user satisfaction

Google built a search engine so they could sell ads. Amazon built a search engine so they can sell products. That creates a basic difference in how each measures success. Google is successful when you find your answer quickly because you will return, perform more searches, and click on ads. Amazon is successful when you to find a great product at a great price and buy it because you will return and buy more products. Google’s search success metrics will revolve around dwell time, click-through-rate, search refinement rate, etc. Amazon can measure success by revenue or gross margin per search. If Amazon can sell more products by rearranging their search results, they will do that.

Because the two search engines measure success differently, the metrics you analyze to predict rankings success change. When optimizing for Google you focus on improving user engagement metrics and building external trust factors, because those factors tell Google that the users it sends to your website will be happy. Happy users equals more money for Google. When optimizing for Amazon,
focus on improving conversion rates. More conversions equals more money for Amazon.

Structured vs. unstructured data

While Google has been encouraging site owners to add more structured data to their websites, the data in Amazon’s index is already completely structured. Here’s a screenshot of the page where a seller enters data about a product. Every field has a name, a definition, and sometimes a defined list of valid values:

Now compare that to the basic way to build a web page.

Site owners have a blank slate where they can express… anything. In Amazon, you need to give Amazon exactly what they want in the format they specify. Because Amazon has already determined the type of information you can give them about your product, spend time providing accurate and complete product data.

On-page vs. on-page + off-page

With Google you spend a lot of your time optimizing your off-page signals. You build links, manage a social media presence, and encourage brand mentions because Google is measuring those signals to calculate the popularity and trust of your website. While these activities may have secondary effects on a products ranking in Amazon (greater brand awareness creates more branded search leading to a higher sales rank and conversion rate leading Amazon to rank you higher), building a link to your blue widget page on Amazon will not directly improve its ranking for the search term “blue widget.”

On Amazon, that leaves you with optimizing for conversions, which can be frustrating due to the sparse user behavior data. Here’s all the data you get about user behavior on your listings.

Compared to an analytics package like Google Analytics, it’s nothing. You can’t even view a product’s page views or conversion rate over time without downloading one report per day, week, or month and combining it in Excel.

Compelling vs. unique content

When I first started working with online marketplaces I thought, “We need to write a unique description and bullet points for every marketplace we sell on or else Google won’t rank us well.” I didn’t realize that the bulk of our search traffic in Amazon comes from internal site search and Amazon doesn’t care if your listing has the exact same title, bullets, description, and images as another website. They just care if it converts their searchers into purchasers.

(By the way, I’m not saying that compelling and unique content are mutually exclusive.)

Results Page Mechanics

To properly interpret what a ranking means, you should understand the anatomy of a search results page. Like Google, Amazon’s search results pages can have several different looks depending on what type of search you entered.

Anatomy of the results page

Amazon has two formats for their results: a list view for searches in all departments and a gallery view when you search within a specific department or category. The list view contains 15 results per page (sometimes there are 16 results on the first page). The gallery results have 24 results per page.

List view

Gallery view

Some other important elements of the results page are the filter fields in the left sidebar. When a user clicks on a filter, they will see a subset of the original search results. This is one reason why it is so important to complete as many fields as possible when you create a product in Amazon. For instance, Amazon will not know that a blue widget is blue if you don’t fill out the color map field, which means it will be excluded when a user filters to only show blue products.

Finally, there are sponsored products. These are pay-per-click results that show up on the bottom of a search results page. In my experience, if I would like my ad to appear for a specific query, I must include all of the words in the query somewhere in my title or bullet points.

Query string parameters

Amazon builds the URL of a search results page with query parameters much like Google. There are many parameters that might be used but I will review the three most useful. To learn more about the parameters Amazon uses, play around with the filter fields available in the left sidebar and watch how the URL of the search page changes.

field-keywords: Your query in the search bar

node: A numeric string identifying a node in Amazon’s taxonomy (category tree). To determine which number corresponds to which category, navigate to the category on Amazon and find the number Amazon uses in the node parameter in the URL. For instance, the node ID for the Electronics category is 172282. The node IDs are also available in Amazon’s Browse Tree Guides (Seller Central login required).

field-brandtextbin: This represents the brand field. This field is very useful if you want to track how well your product ranks among other products from the same brand. It will not return results if it is the only parameter you include in the search URL. To ensure that you see all products from that brand, include the brand name in the field-keywords parameter.

Here’s how it looks when you use each of these three parameters in one search:

http://www.amazon.com/s?field-keywords=blue widgets&node=172282&field-brandtextbin=pioneer

That URL will search for blue widgets in the electronics category where the brand is pioneer.

Ranking Factors

First, let’s see what Amazon themselves say about how they rank products. This is an excerpt from a help file in Seller Central titled,
Using Search and Browse (Seller Central login required).

“Search is the primary way that customers use to locate products on Amazon.com. Customers search by entering keywords, which are matched against the search terms you enter for a product. Well-chosen search terms increase a product’s visibility and sales. The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term – if it’s a relevant and compelling term.


“Factors such as price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results. In general, better-selling products tend to be towards the beginning of the results list. As your sales of a product increase, so does your placement.”

Several statements in those paragraphs are very illuminating. First, search is the “primary” way customers find products. I interpret this to mean that most of the time, Amazon users will perform a search before purchasing. If you want your products to be found on Amazon you must think about search. Second, Amazon mentions some of the data they use to rank products. Specifically they mention the search terms, price, availability (meaning inventory levels), selection (not sure what that means), and sales history.

I will expand on each of these factors and include several more where I have observed an effect on rankings. To further clarify the type of effect each factor has on rankings I separated the factors into two categories:
performance factors and relevance factors. A performance factor improves rankings by showing Amazon they will make more money by ranking the product, a relevance factor shows Amazon that a product is relevant to the search of a user.

Performance factors

Performance factors are pretty simple. Amazon wants to rank the product that will generate the most profit for them at the top of each search result. Each of these factors will indicate to Amazon that a product will sell well when ranked well.

Conversion rate

This is a pretty obvious factor to mention, albeit a difficult factor to improve with confidence. Amazon does share units and sessions but does not provide enough data to run A/B tests or even control for specific traffic sources. To find conversion data in Seller Central, navigate to Reports >> Business Reports >> Detail Page Sales and Traffic. Make sure the Unit Session Percentage column is visible. This is simply the number of units ordered divided by the number of sessions your listing received.

Amazon’s Definition of a session is:
Sessions are visits to your Amazon.com pages by a user. All activity within a 24-hour period is considered a session.

If your offer is competing with other offers for the same product, be sure to weight your units ordered by your buy box percentage. Otherwise, you product will look like it converts more poorly than it actually does. Amazon will show you all of the sessions a listing received regardless of who was in the buy box but they only show you the number of units ordered from your seller account. If you had 50% of the buy box for a time period you probably received half of the total orders for the listing. Therefore the unit session percentage reported should be half of the unit session percentage observed across all sellers.

Images

Amazon strongly encourages sellers to follow their image guidelines. On their image requirements page they encourage sellers to upload images larger than 1000×1000 pixels (the size required to activate their zoom feature) by saying, “Zoom has proven to enhance sales.”

By including images that meet Amazon’s guidelines, you will ensure that your listings are not suppressed (which kills all sales) and possibly increase conversion rates. As Amazon stated on their Search and Browse page, more sales equals better rankings.

Price

Price often strongly influences conversion rates and units sales. If the price on Amazon compares well to the same product offered on other websites and retail stores, comparison shoppers will be more likely to buy from Amazon and vice versa.

Also consider how your product’s price compares to other products in the same category. My company used to sell a battery-operated vacuum pooper scooper that cost $150. It never ranked very well for searches like “pooper scooper.” I believe this was partly because every other pooper scooper costs between $10 and $20. If customers are used to paying $10 for a pooper scooper it takes a lot of convincing for them to shell out $150. Amazon either observed a low conversion rate and did not rank the product or predicted a low conversion rate and did not rank the product. Either way, the price probably kept our $150 pooper scooper from ranking well.

Relevance factors

Amazon will analyze the following fields to determine if a product is relevant to a search.

Title

The title of a product is one of the most important places to include keywords. Amazon suggests incorporating the following attributes in product titles.

  • Brand and description
  • Product line
  • Material or key ingredient
  • Color
  • Size
  • Quantity

What they do not mention, probably because they want to discourage keyword stuffing, is that you should include an important keyword in the product title. A title is also critical for earning a high click-through-rate and conversion rate by clearly stating what the product is. Since sales factor prominently in ranking, keyword-stuffed titles that discourage users from clicking will ultimately harm your rankings.

As an example of an optimized title, we sell a mineral sunscreen called Brush on Block. In addition to the brand/product name we want to make sure to include the keyword “mineral sunscreen” in the title. It helps users understand what the product is and it’s a valuable keyword. Our title is Brush On Block Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Powder Sunscreen.

Brand

The brand field in Amazon appears here on the product page. It will always link to a search result of more products from the same brand. When you list products, always include the proper brand name. It is very common for consumers to search for products based on their brand name, so be sure to include the correct one. If a product has multiple brand names you could use, use Google’s Keyword Planner to see which brand is searched most frequently.

Bullets and description

Anecdotally, the bullet points seem to be more influential on search rankings than the description. One of our clients has a line of products with a celebrity’s name attached to the product. After doing some keyword research in Google, we found that there were several popular ways to search for the celebrity’s name. There were many books written by the celebrity already ranking for these versions of their name. The day after including the celebrity’s name in the bullet points, our products began to appear on the second and third pages of results.

Search terms

If you are used to keywords for SEO and PPC, it’s easy to use the “search terms” fields on Amazon incorrectly. I’ve even seen articles written by industry experts that provide sub-optimal advice for using these fields. If you have a Seller Central account, the
Search and Browse help page is worth reading. I’ll summarize what they say as well as give some examples share a few main points here. First, I’ll spell out the guidelines:

  • There are five fields that accept 50 characters each.
  • You do not need to repeat any words
  • Commas will be ignored
  • Quotation marks will unnecessarily limit your keyword
  • Including multiple variations of the same word is unnecessary
  • Including common misspellings is unnecessary
  • Order of the search terms may matter
  • Do include synonyms or spelling variations (e.g. include sun screen and sunscreen)

When I first started filling out search terms fields in Amazon, I would have done something like this:


Search Term 1
Sunblock

Search Term 2
Sunscreen

Search Term 3
Sun block

Search Term 4
Sun screen

Search Term 5
Mineral Sunscreen

Applying all the rules above, you actually want your fields to look like this.


Search Term 1
brush on block mineral powder sunscreen sunblock

Search Term 2
sun screen protection spf 30 suntan lotion tan kid

Search Term 3
baby spray face child family natural skin sport

Search Term 4
cream boat women men infant spf30 travel small

Search Term 5
solar defense uv facial sensitive babies

No word is repeated, there are no variations of the same word and I’ve used as many characters as possible for maximum exposure.

The search terms fields do influence ranking on Amazon. As an easy-to-prove example, one of our clients identified a common spelling of their brand name with only a single, outdated result. After adding the term to the Search Terms fields in all of their products, all of their products began to appear for that spelling of their brand name within an hour.

Seller name

I have not seen anything published about Amazon using seller names to build their search results, but I have seen a few situations that lead me to believe your seller name is used in Amazon’s organic search algorithm:


Situation 1
: We sell a line of cell phone cases. There are over 17 million cell phone cases listed on Amazon. I have no idea where ours rank, but it’s nowhere near the top. However, if I search for “cell phone case” + our seller name, I can see all of our cell phone cases close to the top of the results.


Situation 2
: We sell some workout DVDs. These do not rank very well amongst the 242,000 results for “workout,” but when you add part of our seller name (it’s made up of two words), you can see our workout DVDs on the first page of results.

Both situations demonstrate that Amazon is using your seller name as part of the content they index for search results. It may not be a good idea to change your seller name to optimize for your top keyword, but it will be used in search.

Track Your Progress

Now that you know what factors Amazon is using to rank products it’s time to get to work. Remember to track your progress to see if your changes help or hurt your rankings. There is a relative lack of testing between ranking factors on Amazon compared to Google, so act with care. To track rankings, I made a simple Google Spreadsheet (which can be improved upon, I’m sure),
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsDg…

Here is the process I use to record rankings every day.

Setup

  1. Make a copy of the spreadsheet so you can edit it.
  2. Enter the ASINs you would like to track in column E (Don’t edit columns F through H).
  3. Keep a list of Keywords you want to track in column J.

Daily process

  1. Copy the first keyword from Column J and paste it into cell B1.
  2. Wait a few seconds for the spreadsheet to load the top 240 ASINs returned by Amazon.
  3. When Columns A through C are full of data, you should see your rankings in column G.
  4. In the example spreadsheet, I would highlight columns E3:H5 and copy
  5. To store the data, go to the Historical Data tab and paste values at the end of the table.
    • To paste values only, right click the first empty cell in column A, mouse over “Paste special,” and click on “Paste values only.”
    • If you do a normal paste, it will preserve the formulas and look wrong.

To analyze rankings changes over time, I download the file as an .xlsx, open it with Excel, highlight the table of data on the Historical Data tab and insert a pivot chart.

(Disclaimer: This spreadsheet uses scraped data from Amazon. Amazon may change the structure of their pages at any time, and if it does, this sheet may stop working. If this data is important to your business, make sure you understand the xpath used to scrape Amazon and are ready to fix it if Amazon changes its HTML.)

Other Visibility Systems

Here are a few other factors that may help increase your sales or ranking. I do not have any explicit statements, studies, or experience proving a relationship but they are worth trying out. I would encourage you to study the effect of these fields on rankings and sales.

Filter fields

Next to every search result is a list of attributes that allow users to filter their results. For your top keywords, make sure your product has a value filled out for each category of fields to ensure your product is still visible when users filter by color, size, or any other attribute. The Category, Eligible for Free Shipping, Brand, Avg. Customer Review, and Condition fields are visible on most search results.

Reviews

More reviews and better ratings might lead to better sales. Most products that rank well for broad searches have many reviews but it is difficult to tell if the good reviews lead to more sales or if high sales volume leads to more reviews. You can encourage more reviews by emailing your purchasers and asking them to leave a review.

Sales rank

Amazon maintains
best sellers lists and reports a listings best sellers ranking for relevant categories on the listing page. This can be a quick way to see how your products’ sales histories compare to similar products.

Parent-child products

What if you could combine the sales histories of several similar products into one? Well, maybe you can. If you sell a product with several size or color options you can list them as a variation and combine them into one listing. While Amazon will combine the reviews from all listings onto the new listing, it’s unclear whether this leads to better rankings by combining the sales histories of the different options.

For instructions on configuring your products as parent/child listings, see the
Creating Parent/Child Variation Relationships page in Seller Central (login required).

MPN

We have observed several products with significant search volume for the manufacturer part number (MPN). Check with the manufacturer to make sure you have the correct MPN on your listing.

In Closing

There are so many topics related to selling on Amazon that I cannot possibly cover them in one blog post. I would like to mention that even with the best organic optimization you can still have poor sales for a product if you don’t understand how to win the Amazon buy box, maintain a good seller rating, or keep inventory in stock. There are a lot of good resources that already exist on these topics.

I hope that, as a community, we can continue to study and educate ourselves on Amazon’s algorithm. It’s a more important search engine than Google in the world of eCommerce, and it continues to gain market share in the US. Ignore it at your own risk.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions about your company’s products? Ask away in the comments or get in touch with us at DNA Response.

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