Google is NOT the only search engine. It’s arguably not even the #1 product search engine. According to some statistics, Amazon is.
My guest today has estimated kitchen products, for example, get upwards of 30,000 searches per month for one keyword. So … who cares if Amazon or Google is #1 in product searches? That’s a TON of search demand with purchase intent.
And I believe with the rise of voice search and personal assistant technology like the Amazon Echo, it’s only going to get more important (and just more competitive with Google).
Danny McMillan is an expert seller on Amazon. In this episode, he breaks down Amazon ranking factors, how to set up your page, how to drive awareness and sales and tons more!
This is a must listen for anyone interested in ranking and selling in Amazon – OR if you have clients that want to leverage the power of Amazon.
Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and never miss a new show (one per week!)
- Moz Post of this episode (coming soon!)
- Venturebeat article on Amazon
- Danny’s Breakbeat Production
- Danny in the Wiki for Nu Skool Breaks
- Record Mirror
- Seller Sessions
- Seller Sessions on YouTube
- Fulfillment by Amazon
- Ali Baba
- John Lee Dumas Interview (Book Selling)
- Sistrix Amazon Keyword Tool
- Amazon Vendor Central
- Amazon Vendor Express
- AMS Ads
- AMS Headline Ads
- Amazon Business Reports Help
- Optimizing The Amazon ‘Backend’ Keywords
- Amazon Sponsored Ads
- My Episode/Interview on Seller Sessions
Danny’s Background as a Breakbeat Producer
Selling on Amazon
- What is FBA?
- International Selling & Translations
Ranking In Amazon
- Ranking Factors
- How to run test and important metrics
- Creating visibility
Keyword Research for Amazon
- Finding Keywords
- Figuring out search volume
- Determining difficulty
- Tracking rankings
- Store setup tips and requirements
- Mobile optimization
- On page Rankings factors and best practices
Amazon vs Your Own eCommerce Site
- When to move to your own domain
- Conversion rate considerations
Promoting Amazon listings outside of Amazon
- Deal sites
- Ranking Amazon listings in Google?
New! Full Transcription of Interview
Dan: Hey everyone! Welcome to episode 68 of Experts on the Wire. In which I am super excited to be doing this with a new, sort of live-ish recording setup. So very fitting I have a former music producer, DJ here with us on the line which we’re going to chat about real quick, Danny McMillan. But first I kind of want to set up to today’s show because platform SEO is becoming something that’s super interesting to me and a lot of people out there in the SEO world. When I tweeted that I was going to be doing this episode I got a ton of interest and Moz actually had a ton of interest in us creating an article off of this episode which you can find on MOZ at some near point in the future. And today we are going to be talking about specifically Amazon and leveraging their platform for SEO. And I think a lot of people are interested in this because some studies have come out lately that have shown that more people are starting their product searches in Amazon than google so we’re going to get some stats around that very shortly but first as I’m getting used to my stuff here. I play this little drum beat when I talk about my email list. So you can go to evolvingseo.com/wire where you can sign up on the email list to get all the show notes, links, resources right in your inbox. You can write back I will reply to you, we can chat. And so again go to evolvingseo.com/wire for the email list.
Alright let’s get into today’s episode, Danny how are you?
Danny: I’m good. Thank you for having me.
Dan: How was that intro? Pretty smooth, not too bad, right?
Danny: Yeah, Yeah. It sounded good, sounds good.
Dan: (slight chuckle) Aha. As I mentioned I’m speaking to a former breakbeat producer and I wanted to bring that up first cause a lot of musicians have transitioned into online marketing. But can you give us your quick back story. What, what were you doing involved with breakbeat producing and then how did you get into online marketing.
Danny: Okay so we’re going to go back some now. Um, if you I’m coming up to 42 this year. I started young in the music industry. But where it really popped off for me was around ‘98, ah there was this thing called musical breaks. And um the people within that, it’s dance music. So it’s pre, so around the UK garage-ish time, yay, ah early UK garage but it was before Dubstep. So it was in between them. So you had your drum and bass and so it was call Musical Breaks. If you go to Wikipedia I think there’s still an entry discussing the history of Musical Breaks and mentions a lot of compilations I did with Rennie Pilgrem called musical breaks which helped to (set up?) the name of the scene then it was (like that determined?) the CD at the time along side Adam Freeland who is now based in the US who’s an English DJ. Um, so yay, I kind of got involved in them. Funny enough it was because I was working in the music industry, I was working at a drum bass label, we went over to Miami for the Winter Music Conference ‘97 and I got blown away by like the West coast style breakbeat. Yay know the Florida sound, the DJ IC? And stuff. And I hadn’t heard that properly before. And there was more the commercial end but there was also the underground, gritty side of things as well. And when I got back to the UK I was writing for ahhh Record Mirror. I used to do record reviews for DJ Magazine and Record Mirror Music Mag when that was around back then. And um I got back to London and I met Rennie Pilgrem and I met Adam Freeland and it all kind of kicked off. You could put us all in a fun box and luckily enough I ended up being on (kiss?) for 2 years DJing and on there I was producing, doing lots of collaborations, run my own labels. I got signed to a major at that time for a single. Done a joint venture with a mini major and I’d done a lot of tours over in the U.S.. So I spent a couple years going every few weeks out to the U.S.. Um so it was a fantastic experience.
Dan: That’s excellent. I’m going to link to some of those names and your music in the show notes at evolvingseo.com/wire so the listeners can check that out. I do have a certain amount of audience members that are into music, I’m a musician myself as you know. So
Danny: of course
Dan: Yeah. So how did that, how did you then transition to online marketing? Did you like land a job somewhere, did you just kind of doing it for yourself? How did you get into online marketing?
Danny: See towards the end, so around 2007/2008 so we are moving on to around 10 years and when it kind of exploded to me. (And so just way before?), so it exploded and then we were selling vinyl and we were making good money from selling vinyl releases and then 2001 kicked in in terms of downloads and that kind of affected things. So then you’d end up blending what you were doing. So it was music and then it was engineering and then I was teaching in all the engine schools in London. Teaching mix engineer and mastering and all these different types of things at the colleges. And I met a guy there and he, we got on very well and he said, “look, do you want to setup a music site?” And so we did. And I had no experience, that was 2008, and so we set up a platform. It was featured in like Tech Crunch and stuff like that but it was a complete baptism of fire. And after 2 years we burnt through a few quid and learnt a lot of lessons, yay know? And then that’s basically how I got in to doing. I’d gone from the music business to music tech to then getting that baptism of fire. We basically got to that stage where we was trying to make the platform work we kept pivoting and our final rendition was a ticketing platform for primary and secondary market ticketing. So it was a safe haven. So people would go by there and compare the prices.
Dan: Kind of like Stubhub or like a?
Danny: Yay but we would use the (feeds?) from like Stubhub and all these different companies. So they wouldn’t buy from us they would just price compare it from us.
Danny: But we would get the ones where it’s been um at the time they were recorded as a safe place to buy secondary tickets. Because the thing is not everyone wants to buy secondary tickets but they want to know where the safe places are to buy them. And there are cases where the secondary market will sell at face value or below. So with the comparisons you got deals. But we’d gone to far with that where we’d had some movements we started off as a social network, into a magazine and finally commerce. But what that did was that gave me a massive learning curve. (Dan check this one- hard to understand at times)
Danny: That’s where I cut my teeth. So I had to go on zero knowledge. Even my first conversation with the investor is like, “what the hell do I know about online?” And he went, “Don’t you worry you will learn.” And that’s literally how we got off to a start. Which has then brought me to where I am today but you learn some lessons and they were very big lessons but huge amount of knowledge. In that 2 years is like 5/10 years of compressed knowledge that you get because you’re fighting fires all the time. You’re always, your backs against the wall. So.
Dan: That’s right and so now tell us what you’re up to today. I know you have Sellers Sessions which I was on last week.
Danny: That’s right
Dan: It’s your program helping Amazon sellers. So tell us quickly what Seller Sessions is and what else you might be up to currently.
Danny: Okay, so Seller Sessions is basically my way of giving back to Amazon FBA seeing. You know there’s a lot of people doing Amazon FBA.
Dan: And for, just real quick for the listeners, FBA stands for what?
Danny: Fulfilled by Amazon. So you become a seller
Danny: A private label seller.
Danny: And you sell on Amazon. Most of the people. I call it a scene. You know how you have the SEO scene? Well Amazon’s got it’s own niche if you like, where there are people out there that are doing podcasts, they’re doing webinars, they’re doing public speaking. There are facebook groups that help other Amazon sellers because it becomes a community. And when you are working from home, from your computer, it is nice to get together. And some of us have masterminds? where other sellers get together and share information. So Seller Sessions is about giving back, paying it forward, you know? So I wanted to create with my partner, we wanted to create something where we can provide really good, up to date, technical marketing information for both on and off Amazon for Amazon sellers.
Dan: I see
Danny: So we are a very niche what we do. (check this – you were talking over him so hard to understand)
Dan: Yeah. And so, ah, you mentioned that this is your way of giving back so I take it it’s not a large income stream. What is your day to day? What do you do for your major source of income?
Danny: I’m an Amazon seller. That’s
Danny: That’s, I have another business but my main business is selling on Amazon, having a private label. Selling in the UK, U.S and Europe.
Dan: Are these your own products? Or what types of things are you selling on Amazon? Does it run the whole range?
Danny: We don’t discuss those kind of products that you sell because obviously when you go into markets and you’re having successful products people are likely to copy you. So
Danny: It’s the unwritten rule. You know it’s like, it’s not like you don’t give away your secrets and stuff but you don’t just sit there and go I’m selling that because you’d be surprised, you’ve got twenty people hijacking your list and then selling similar products to you just by copying. Because it’s easier to copy than it is to put in the research. So I’ve got a couple of brands. I also diversified into doing wholesale as well. So I do wholesale in the UK. And I’ve also moved into doing the grocery category in the UK. Because I like to experiment with different areas so.
Danny: I’m working in the pets field also and home and kitchen.
Dan: Ahh. Interesting. So it is a bit of secret though. That’s, that’s interesting. Ah. So I want to get into actually selling on Amazon. And then as you know a lot of the audience are SEO minded people. They’re interested in search, in how things rank like I said. In not only google but in these big platforms like Amazon. So first of all can you set up, what are the pros on selling on Amazon? So, ya know is it that it’s cheap and easy or like is it good for exposure? What would be the benefits to selling on Amazon?
Danny: okay, that’s a very big question but let’s try and break it down. So if you’re doing Amazon FBA, okay, you’ve got their facility centers where you’re storing your products. So you don’t have to have warehouse space, you can work from your home and send 2,000 or 1,500 units (? not sure what he said here) you got into Amazon. They do have long term storage fees, but generally the cost of storing at Amazon is a lot different to storing at your own warehouses. And they spread it across different facility centers. So that’s one thing. On Amazon FBA they take care of the customer service so you’ve not got to do the lip service all day long. Yes, you have to deal with customers once or twice a week depending on what you are doing. If you’re only starting out and you’ve got a handful of products it might be once or twice and then it becomes daily. And then you might get a VA to do a bit more. But generally, on the whole, you don’t have that full scale customer service so it’s easy to scale it up and build upon it, right. You got the logistics, they’re getting the products to the customers and they’re doing it fast. Amazon has very high converting customers. Now I’ve done. I’m not as involved as I once was with offline commerce like running my own Shopify sites and stuff but from memory, ya know between 5 and 2 percent conversion rate is good. On Amazon you’d be (gutted?) if it’s less than 10 percent. Some people go as far as 25, 30 sometimes a bit higher depends on the sessions coming back. So you’ve got high converting customers
Dan: Wow Just to stop real quick. Does that mean 20 percent of people that land on your product listing could buy that product in cases?
Danny: You’re talking about a conversion rate you could go up to 20 percent
Dan: Wow. That’s incredible
Danny: Yeah. It’s because it’s Amazon’s platform. They are Amazon’s customers. They’ve got some of the greatest marketers in the world. Technical marketers in the world working for them. You know I don’t know any of the guys personally but you know think about all the other platforms out there. I mean Ebay doesn’t get close to Amazon. Most platforms are chasing Amazon. They’re constantly measuring, they love their customers. And don’t forget they’ve got Prime as well. So people will buy. Their Prime customers are very loyal, so they’re high converting.
Dan: I see
Danny: When you sell Amazon FBA then you get access really to Prime people because of the free shipping are going more than likely select you over another person where they got to pay for the shipping which is (can’t understand?).
Dan: I see. Interesting. So and then you were going to mention, I think, also there’s an opportunity to scale with Amazon. Is that right?
Danny: Yeah. I mean if you think you can launch a product, let’s say I could launch a new product in the UK. The I can roll that out to Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Keep them in the UK FBA centers, increase the price for the cross-border slightly and sell across the UK marketplace. In the U.S. I could sell on Amazon U.S. and then I look to venture out into Canada and into Mexico if I wanted to on that platform. If I want to you sell know there’s the opportunity to sell in Japan. And now they’re starting to grow out in India. And they’re starting to add different territories, I think they’re launching in Australia soon. So you’ve got tremendous opportunities to scale. So if you want to launch in the UK and then go across Europe you can order your stock from China or wherever it’s coming from, allocate in the UK FBA centers and then sell it across Europe.
Dan: Now do they handle the translation, I would imagine, for you?
Danny: no you do. They can but they’ve got auto translations but it’s very poor. You’re better off going and getting a translator to translate your UK listings for each of the territories. Now it’s not, you know, ideally want to get super professional guys to do it, right. And I wouldn’t normally suggest that but you’d be surprised if you look at something like Fiverr now I know it’s cheap but what you end up doing is you could actually find the 4 marketplace; Spanish, German, Italian and whatever it is I can’t remember the other one. But you could actually employ a few of those people to cross reference each listing. So you could pay one to do a listing and then get someone to proof it and get another one to proof it and it still only costs you say $20/$25 bucks per marketplace.
Danny: But it goes through that filtering process. It’s a bit of work. Or you do it properly and then you go and get translators who will do it because as (optimizes?) you got to think about the context of conversion. You got to think about the context of conversion copy. Have it relate to the people. The toughest thing you that got to deal with when dealing with dialect and order and intonations of language, haven’t you. That becomes difficult, so that can be a challenge. So it be either very expensive or you can use those little hacks to you under way. If you start selling in those territories then you can go “well I can invest properly in this”, and then find someone who’s based over in, say, Germany. Find an optimizer, pay them accordingly to do the listing properly to take it to the next level.
Dan: So this is all super interesting. And it funny because we have a little bit of an agenda here. But I do want to bring things back into context for the listeners just for one second. So we are going to do how to rank in amazon, all the details of that. But you know it’s funny as I’m sitting here looking at the questions, the one thing that in conversation that I would love to ask is like; what does it take to, what do you need to have to be an amazon seller? Do I need my own product that I’ve created and invented? Can I sell somebody else’s product? Do I need to be thinking that I’m going to have an ecommerce store at some point? Like what do you actually need or what is required to be an Amazon seller?
Danny: The thing is Amazon is a market place. So there’s different opportunities on there. You could be a wholesaler, wholesalers sell wholesale, selling other people’s products. You can do retail (??) where you’re listing against listings, which is not very scaleable. And you can do private labeling, where you can go onto (??) go to the factory and you can say, “I like this product. I want to modify this, I want to put my brand on it, I want to change the color, I want to change the material”. Which then becomes your own product and then you launch that onto Amazon. Normally the margins are better if you’re doing private labeling as we call it. Some people call it white labeling. But the normal term or general term is called private labeling.
Dan: The one situation I’m aware of, I had John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneurs on Fire on the podcast a little while ago. And he’s selling his own book on Amazon. And he said that, he spoke to the the ah, it’s really I guess low cost to advertise to sell his book on there, which we might get into a little bit soon. But that’s the only like, I have very little awareness about what the Amazon marketplace is all about. So thank you for being patient with maybe basic questions.
Danny: No, no. It’s fine
Dan: So can you speak to some cons of selling on Amazon? I imagine there’s not all upsides.
Danny: There’s plenty. Yeah. There’s plenty. Okay, first things first Amazon is customer centric, yeah, they work back for the customers, they love their customers. Which means they do not give a damn about you. You could be the biggest brand in the world. With the biggest profile and you’d still get banned on Amazon or you still get suspended. Or you still have a customer complain about something and they issue a suspension. It doesn’t matter. Amazon, the big risk of it is that you feel as a seller you get treated poorly. There’s over 2 million sellers, I think the data said last year, selling on behalf of Amazon because it’s their marketplace and we’re third party sellers.
Danny: You’re talking about a conversion rate. It could go up to say 20%.
Dan: Wow. That’s incredible.
Danny: Yeah, and it’s because it’s Amazon’s platform. They are Amazon’s customers. They’ve got some of the greatest marketeers in the world, technical marketeers in the world working for them. I don’t know any of the guys personally, but think about all the other platforms out there. I mean eBay doesn’t get close to Amazon. Most platforms are chasing Amazon. They’re constantly measuring, they love their customers, and don’t forget they’ve got Prime as well. So people will buy… Their Prime customers are very loyal, so they’re high converting.
Dan: I see.
Danny: And so when you sell Amazon FBA, then you get access really to prime people because of the free shipping are gonna more likely select you over another person where they got to pay for the shipping which is fulfill by merchant.
Dan: I see. Interesting. And then you’re gonna mention I think also there’s an opportunity to scale with Amazon. Is that right?
Danny: Yeah, I mean if you think you can launch a product, let’s say I could launch a new product in the UK, then I can roll that out to Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. [Inaudible 00:01:13] UK FBA centers increase of price for the cross border slightly, and sell across the European marketplace. In the US, I could sell on Amazon US, and then I could look to venture out into Canada and into Mexico if I wanted to on that platform. If I want to sell…there’s the opportunity to sell in Japan, and now they’re starting to grow out in India, and they’re starting to add different territories. I think they’re launching in Australia soon. So you’ve got tremendous opportunities to scale. So if you wanna launch in the UK and then go across to Europe, you can order your stock from China, wherever it’s coming from, allocate in the UK FBA centers and then sell it across Europe.
Dan: Now, do they handle the translation I would imagine for you?
Danny: No, you could…well, they can. They’ve got oral translation, but it’s very poor. You’re better off going and getting a translator to translate your UK listings for each of the territories. Now, ideally you wanna get super professional guys to do it, right? And I wouldn’t normally suggest that. But you’d be surprised. If you look at somewhere like Fiverr, now I know it’s cheap, but what you end up doing is that you could actually find the four marketplace, Spanish, German, Italian and whatever it is. I can’t remember the other one. But you could actually employ a few of those people to cross-reference each listing. So you could pay one to do a listing and then get someone to proof it, then get another one to proof it, and it’s still only cost you say 20, 25 bucks per marketplace.
Danny: But it goes thorough that filtering process. It’s a bit of work. Or you do it properly, and then you will go and get translators would do it. Because as optimized as you got to think about the context of conversion. You’ve got to think about the context of conversion copy, have it relates to the people. The toughest thing that you’ve got to deal with, you’re dealing with dialect and all the intonations of language, haven’t you? That becomes difficult. So that can be a challenge, so it can be either very expensive or you can use those little hacks to get it underway. If you start selling in those territories, then you can go well I can invest properly in this and then find some moneys based over in say Germany, find an optimizer, pay them accordingly to do the listing properly to take it to the next level.
Dan: So this is all super interesting. And it’s funny because we have a little bit of an agenda here, but I do wanna bring things back into context for the listeners just for one second. So we are going to get to how to rank in Amazon, all the details of that. But it’s funny, as I’m sitting here looking at the questions, the one thing that in conversation that I would love to ask is like what does it take to…what do you need to have to be an Amazon seller? Do I need my own product that I’ve created, invented? Can I sell somebody else’s product? Do I need to be thinking that I’m gonna have an e-commerce store at some point? Like, what do you actually need or what is required to be an Amazon seller?
Danny: The thing is Amazon is a marketplace, so there’s different opportunities on there. You could be a wholesaler, sell wholesale selling other people’s products, you can do retail arbitrage where you’re listing against listings which is not very scalable, and you can do private labeling. Where you can go on to Alibaba, go to the factory. And you can say I like this product, I wanna modify this, I wanna put my brand on it, I wanna change the color, I wanna change the material, which then becomes your own product. And then you launch that on to Amazon. Normally the margins are better if you’re doing private labeling as we call it. Some people call it white labeling. But the normal term or general term is called private labeling.
Dan: The one situation I’m aware of, I had John Lee Dumas of “Entrepreneur on Fire” on the podcast a little while ago, and he’s selling his own book on Amazon. And he said that he spoke to the… It’s really, I guess low cost to advertise to sell his book on there, which we might get into a little bit soon. But that’s the only…like I have very little awareness about what the Amazon marketplace is all about. So thank you for being patient with maybe basic questions about that.
Danny: No, no. That’s fine.
Dan: So can you speak to some cons of selling on Amazon? I imagine there’s not all upside to this.
Danny: There’s plenty, yeah. There’s plenty. Okay, and first things first. Amazon is customer-centric, yeah? They work back from the customers, they love their customers. Which means they do not give a damn about you. You could be the biggest brand in the world with the biggest profile, and you’d still get banned on Amazon, or you still get suspended, or you still have a customer complain about something and they issue a suspension. It doesn’t matter. Amazon, the big risk of it is that if you as a seller you get treated poorly, there’s over 2 million sellers I think that they said last year are selling on behalf of Amazon because it’s their marketplace and with third-party sellers.
Last year we spent a billion dollars plus I think on sponsored ads on there as well. But Amazon doesn’t cut you any slack. They don’t go, “Ah, well, you’re such and such big brand.” They don’t give a damn. They treat everyone the same, and that can come across quite poorly.
Dan: Why would Amazon ban somebody?
Danny: Well, there’s plenty of reasons why. So you could have a competitor leave a bad review and say something about your product, right? And basically, that can get flagged and then they can raise a complaint or they can pretend that your product is not authentic. It’s like a copy. Or they can say that you’re selling something not as new. And you have to…and then you get a performance warning, maybe then you got issue an action plan to them, but you might then get suspended and then you got fight to get back. And then you might have to pull your stock out. It really depends on what it is. Obviously, there’s people that are doing black hat stuff. You get suspended, that’s your fault. You’ve gotta deal with it. Or you might have a product that you need to recall but you try and sell through the stock, that’s your problem. But that doesn’t stop people on Amazon being suspended by wrong information being sent out or a competitor doing something.
And then it’s not guilty until proven. It’s the other way around. You’ve got to work back to get back in favor. And sometimes you have to spend money on an external team that have worked in Amazon before that know the process to get your account reinstated. Because imagine you’ve got all your stock in there. I know people are doing half a million dollars a month who will get suspended. And so they got all their stock in Amazon and they’re not doing any sales. So losing money hand over fist while still waiting for their suspension to be sorted, which could be anywhere between 1500 to 4 grand, depends on how many rounds you’re doing to get reinstated. So that can be pretty tough.
Reviews, very rarely do they remove reviews. So you can have competitors leaving really bad reviews on there or buyers can leave bad reviews for good reason. If they’ve got a bad review and it’s valid, that’s fine. But some people might say this clearly doesn’t work, but doesn’t tell what they used it for. Do you see what I mean?
Danny: It doesn’t explain anything to the customer. A lot people will leave bad reviews and not articulate themselves. Now there’s been a lot of rap about the review situation, because the people been manipulating and that’s fair enough. You’ve got to work hard to get reviews by doing great customer service nowadays. But it can be unfair that you can get a really bad review, but they’ll tell you that they’ll support you, you’ll go to the performance team and read back their terms and conditions that they send out to you which have recently updated. And then you’ll go…looking at this clause here, it says such and such, such and such doesn’t meet the criteria. This clause here doesn’t meet the criteria, doesn’t meet the criteria.
And you read their terms and conditions back, and they go, “Sorry, we say it feels fit and it’s just cut and paste.” Because there’s a lot of people just cutting and pasting their information. So that can have a knock-on effect. So you gotta look that you can be suspended unintentionally for something that’s happened that’s [inaudible 00:09:39] towards you. And then, of course, you got people that are doing black hat stuff and they should be suspended.
You got bad reviews for good reasons and then you got bad reviews from lack of education of the customer. I’ve even seen reviews where they pasted the wrong review into your listing, and it could be for something else on someone else’s listing. So you then look at their history of reviews and you see a repetitive review. So you might be selling a spatula and it might say the screw driver doesn’t work. It’s really poor. One out of five. And then you can see the review above. It’s actually for the screw driver. Again, so you end up like affecting your reviews there.
So there’s a lot of things that Amazon is poor at and the seller central as well is quite poor. Because you’ve got new…and often it seems like a high turnover staff. So you’ve got this front wave of staff that you will deal with, and they are absolutely clueless about what you’re talking about on the phone. But they won’t put you through to the catalog team or where you need to go. And it’s a constant battle to try and get it pushed up. Because they’ll just read from their lists and cut and paste text. And often you go, “Please don’t take this the wrong way. This isn’t your domain. I understanding that you’re answering the phone here, you are the first wave of defense, and we understand that you’re very busy. And I know you’re just trying to help but you’re not understanding the predicament. No, I mean I know I need to speak to the catalog team. You’re taking information that you’re reading off screen and cut and paste them to me that I can see on the website already, which isn’t helping me or helping you. Can you put me through?” But you’d only have to go for two or three stages to actually reach there and start escalation.
So it can be very difficult if you’re starting out on Amazon if you don’t know much about Amazon in the beginning. To go and work with the customer support, sometimes you get three different answers. So you can raise a ticket three times for the same thing. In theory, changing the word slightly, get three different answers back from three different team members. So it can be very frustrating. It’s amazing, Amazon, but it can be very frustrating at the same time.
Dan: So I wanna get into actually selling in Amazon, how rankings might work. You mention this is a big question to tackle, so I do wanna break this down into steps. But sort of like starting at the beginning, can you start to touch upon how ranking works within Amazon’s platforms? So I’m selling a spatula, like you said I wanna rank number one for spatula.
Danny: Okay, so let me just start by saying, like your audience and like your agency, you do SEO right?
Danny: But you’re not sitting there with the Google algorithm in your back pocket, and I don’t have A9 in mine. So a lot of the stuff we deal with is observations and the test that we run. And seeing through the information that comes out from Amazon and what other people are doing. And so when I talk about the rankings, I am only doing my interpretation of it. But I’m hoping this information will be enough for you to pick to pieces and piece it back together. So when you run your own tests, you can see the relevance of it or not so. So…
Dan: That is the exact disclaimer I give when I talk about SEO rankings. Go ahead.
Danny: You know you’re gonna get murdered if you don’t put your disclaim. Okay.
Danny: So what we’re to believe is conversions and sales velocity matter pretty much the most overall, right? But it’s not just the overall conversion rate. It’s relative conversion rate to specific keywords. So the next step is that you’ve got the frequency of conversions which is equal to your sales velocity. Your sales velocity stimulates BSR which is your best seller rank. So they’re the steps…it’s quite complicated but if you understand those I’ve broken down.
So let’s just say I got a spatula, yeah? And I wanna rank for spatula. If I file [SP] for a listing up onto Amazon and I go in and look at that market, way too competitive, right? So for me, I’ve got look at on page 1, position number 5, these guys are probably doing hundreds a day. So then can you go…you have no conversions, you’ve got no visibility. So if you want to go into these markets, this is much very much like SEO. You have to do your research and find where their niches are, because some markets have one, and you will never gonna achieve those kinds of results. So when you’re thinking about you’re gonna list your product on Amazon, you’re gonna sit at the bottom in the Amazon jungle where you’re not ranking anywhere, right? And so then when you look at then, you go, okay I need to create visibility.
Now one of the key ways on Amazon to create visibility is to use sponsored ads, or you can use AMS which is Amazon marketing services which I’ll get to in a minute. So to make it simplified, Amazon sponsored ads, think of it as PPC, an auction engine. It’ll appear on the Amazon search pages at the top, and the right rail, and the bottom, depends on where they’re optimizing for. So the idea would be is that you’ll create that visibility, your stock converting on relative to the keywords, and then you’ll start to rank organically on those keywords, because of the sales conversions happen on those keywords. It’s not an exact science. But I’ve done a video a couple of years ago where I put three different products up, and I went, “Here are the keywords I’m using, here are their rank and positions.” So I run this software and it says minus 300. They weren’t even in those top pages anywhere. And then what I did is I took those PPC keywords and then I started making sales on those keywords, and I’d list the same keywords for organic ranking, and you would start to see those climb.
So there was a correlation there, but you don’t have the exact science of it. So you can start taking a keyword, you start creating sales in it, and it gets to a certain position. So once you can start to get to a certain position, you might find that’s not enough to get to page 1. So you’ve got to stimulate more. So you might start running some discount codes and start running some coupon codes to again stimulate sales that way.
Dan: And those discounts and coupons, that’s a service within Amazon as well?
Danny: Yeah, so basically you can set up promotions. So you put percentage of discount codes. And then you can start driving external traffic that way into Amazon to try and generate sales and stimulate like sales velocity that way. So it’s not very easy to explain without showing you some visuals, if that makes sense.
Danny: The idea is that conversion seems to matter the most, yeah, in terms of people are gonna visit your product page and so you want to make sure that you’ve got a good conversion rate there. Then it’s gonna be the frequency of those conversions relative to the keywords that you’re using. So if you wanna start ranking on certain keywords, you might have one keyword that you’re selling on organically and running from the PPC ads. So what happens is eventually the PPC becomes a percentage of your sales, because organic sales start to take over because the contents of your listing is indexing, so you’ll start to rank on other keywords as well. So they will start to grow in some power.
But it’s always a big risk, because you don’t know how much it’s gonna cost you to convert and what your cost per click are gonna necessarily be up front. You can get an idea of it, and you don’t know whether your product is actually gonna communicate well enough with the market. You might not get the product market fit right, your product might be too expensive. So there are so many moving parts involved. It’s not straightforward, very much like SEO. So you can work on…like we invest money in a product, bring it over, spend free months trying to rank it. Products can fail, products can be successful. And sometimes you might need to spend a bit more to stimulate the rankings through sales velocity by doing more giveaways or dropping the price and ranking higher on your PPC by paying more per click on your PPC cost.
But you also got to look at the fact that there’s a lot of relevant now involved with the keywords Because as Amazon system gets more sophisticated, it becomes better recognizing what is relevant. So there are people on Amazon that are bidding 15, 20 bucks because that’s what they’re doing to get positions. And then Amazon has changed that over a period of time, is that you gotta have relevance. So ideally, you’re gonna want your main keywords in your title because that’s where the relevance come. And then it’s gonna be relevance by your category, what category you’re in, what the keyword is, and what the content is of your product page, and what is indexing for will go into make up the relevance. Again, we’re outside, we’re not inside. I test the keywords well. I can’t get any impression on. And it don’t matter how much I throw it, 10, 20 bucks, pounds, whatever denomination you use or…
Danny: Currency. It’s down to, what we found through research, is always down to relevance at the end of the day.
Dan: So I do wanna get into some on page, quote, optimization things for Amazon in just a moment, but let’s talk search volume. And we had an interesting discussion after our seller sessions. And I think one fascinating thing to me is that Google provides the public search volume because they want people to advertise through AdWords. So we know for example that men’s shoes has 100,000 searches a month. But in Amazon, that’s not an easy number to get to. Is that right, to get search volume?
Danny: Yes, definitely. You don’t get… All the third-party tools that are out there we use, their algorithm’s guessing. So they’re using tools where they’re harvesting data and they’re using an algorithm to guess what search volume is. Often, it’s completely wrong. But what you can sometimes get…well, not sometimes, but mostly in most cases what you get is obvious keywords. You can look at the pages, you can get an idea of how competitive that category is. And get an idea, well, that’s probably gonna be quite high in search volume judging by what these tools are saying and the information that’s coming back. Now what I have found which is I use as a little hack which doesn’t give you actual search volume, but it’s Amazon data, whereas in Amazon, if you on vendor central or vendor express where you sell into Amazon, you’re not doing it for your FBA account. You can sell via the Amazon platform via the vendor express where you are a vendor and vendor central. Part of that is something is called AMS. So when you look on Amazon, you can see a headliner. It’s at the top of the page, so at the banners. And when you click through to the product page on the [inaudible 00:21:24] below the buy box, you got banners there as well.
So they’re what’s called AMSX [SP]. Yes, so you can advertise next to your competitor or you can advertise at the very top of the search page. So where everyone else is battling down below on like the right row at the top of just above the organic results, depends on how the page is laid out. You can get premium position but you have to be a vendor to achieve that by selling some product through the vendor program.
Now what I do is that I can go and setup what’s called a headliner. Once you set that headliner, you don’t have to run it, but you can start typing keywords like Google predictive text as you type in at the top. It’ll give you an idea of keywords. What AMS does with the headliner ads, as you start typing your keywords that you wanna use, it will show you where it’s high, medium, or low.
Danny: And so they’re using the real data there. So I’ve come to the conclusion… I went through all my AMS campaigns in the UK, in US. I looked at all the keyword data that I had. Everything that said high was high, everything that was medium said medium, everything that was low said low. And it was relative to the category, of course. So I use that data now as my kickoff point.
Dan: Do you have a sense for it? Can you give us an example of what you might think or your best guess is at actual search volume for a particular keyword, or like just give us a relative idea? Because like I said in Google we can go to the AdWords keyword tool. I think if people had a sense of just how much volume there was in Amazon of search, that might pique their interest a little bit more.
Danny: Yeah, I mean it can be anywhere, depends on how far you wanna go and what category in. You could go in home and kitchen, and some keywords 20, 30, 40,000 searches.
Dan: A month?
Danny: Yeah, on the US platform. Some of them are even bigger. But I don’t operate there because I’m gonna go into a niche there. Because that’s like you’re gonna go into a gunfight with a knife there. Do you see I mean? Unless you’re one of the big guys, you start going into electronics and try and sell cables, or you try and sell things like garlic presses, you’re gonna have your backside handed to you if you’re not careful unless you got plenty of money to spend. So the idea is you look for niches, but where you got to be aiming for is you don’t wanna aim too low. Because the thing is you can go into a battle and spend money on PPC and drive awareness whether it’s external traffic or whatever, but if that market is too low and there’s no one making sales, and if you’ve become the top of nothing, then you’re not gonna do any units a day, then it’s a waste of time because all you’re gonna do is tie your money up in stock.
So what you’re looking for is you’re looking to find places, depends on who you are and what your strategy is, if one has different strategies. Some people wanna do 25 units a day per products, seven days a week. Make five or six dollars a unit, they’re happy. Some wanna do a hundred a day and have less SKUs, and go into battle and spend a fortune on PPC and ranking and awareness. So I would say is that you’re gonna…the bottom end of the market, you’re gonna wanna look to see that your keywords are getting a few thousand searches a month, and you want a handful of those. You want at least three keywords doing that and you wanna more importantly know… And then we’re talking about the bottom-end now, not the high-end. You wanna know that you can sell X amount of units and you need to know your numbers, because there’s no point doing two units a day with three per margin. Does that make sense?
Danny: You wanna be doing…you wanna make $10 a unit and selling 10 a day as $100 a day for that SKU. And then you move on to the next one. You keep doing that, that can build into good money, and then it starts to stick.
Dan: Now you mentioned…I think you mentioned a few minutes ago tracking your organic position. Can you track Amazon rankings somehow?
Danny: So what people do, which as far as I’m aware is against terms of service, but there are softwares out there where they do…like they harvest information from Amazon. So you can track it. People use either web apps or there are some desktop apps out there, which obviously sends out a crawler. I know that there’s some for PPC which they do on Google. Similar kind of things. So you can do it. But I don’t think there’s any that are official with in terms of service to do that through the API.
Dan: I see.
Danny: But might need to be corrected on that, but yeah there are people selling those as services.
Dan: I believe all ring tracking in Google is against terms of service as well, but everyone does it. So once you rank and you are starting to get exposure on something that has 20,000 searches a month, is there a way to tell how much then traffic you’re getting on your product page from that?
Danny: Yeah, because you look at the session data. You’re going to reports, business reports filtered by SKU, and you can work out what your session [inaudible 00:26:25]. Amazon’s report, and it’s pretty poor. So you’re gonna find out in terms of velocity on keywords, you’ll find through running sponsored ads, as long as you’re relevant and you’re using the right match type, then you’re gonna get data coming back. And as long as you enter the auction, you get an idea of the search volume based on those keywords.
Now, what [inaudible 00:26:48] happens, so this is where it can become risky where you gotta try and predict with your crystal ball. You’ve gotten research product, then you’re gonna spend two months getting it from China to territory that you’re going to. Then you’re gonna launch it, you’re gonna reduce the price, and then you’re gonna turn on your PPC. You’re gonna set up your email sequence campaign to follow up on sales to try and stimulate reviews from your customers or feedback to your account. But you can definitely get that wrong. So we use these tools to get an idea, but as time’s gone by, there are couple of things that you can do. Like if you use what I said about AMS, although it doesn’t give you exact numbers, you can start looking at the page and see what products are on that page.
And you can work out whether you can make a den on that page in terms of the products that you can sell, that you can get them in a good enough price that you can compete with those people in that page. And then you can look at those tools and you go, well the search volume is X on this. So what you wanna hope for in those keywords, if they’re out by 100% either way that’s a judgment call that you can make. It’s like that does 10,000 searches a month. Well, great. If it does 20,000 or it does 5,000 I can live with that because at least I’ve got enough…what’s the word for it I’m looking for? At least you have enough…
Dan: I’d help you out but I’m not sure what the word is.
Danny: Yeah, no. No, I’m just trying to…it’s search volume, sorry. The search volume, yeah. You wanna make sure there’s enough search volume behind the keyword before it becomes…. Because you can’t do anything with a product unless it’s got search volume behind it. Because if no one’s searching for it, you can’t make any sales. There’s no way of doing any stimulation. You’re better off finding the right market to go into first. But that’s where it does become tricky. So you can use those tools. But I found the safest bet now, and it’s only a recent discovery is that by using the AMS data, that is Amazon’s own conversion data and the data that they’re using, they’re suggesting to the vendors these are the keywords you should be advertising on. Whereas they don’t seem to give out the same kind of information. And if you’ve already been running AMS ads on all your other products, when you go look for your AMS report, you can see on the keyword there’s a column where it says high, medium, low or very low. And then you can look at the impression value next to it, and you can basically see. So that’s where I’m judging from now and I think that’s safer than the tools. But you can also look at Google Trends and you can then use these tools, but there is no real exact way of you finding out until you go in and launch. That’s the danger.
Dan: One thing I always thought would be super interesting would be to somehow compare Google search volume with any degree of search volume that you might be able to get in Amazon. I always thought that would be interesting to actually try to see how much activity is going on in one place versus the other. I don’t know if there’d be a way to do that but that would be super fun I think. And by the way, so I am planning on turning this discussion into a post on Moz [SP]. So for the listeners, as a reminder again, it’s probably gonna be a few months out after this publishes, but I’ll make sure to go back and link to it or mention it or you can find it on Moz. So what I’m leading to there is we’ll probably have some screenshots I would imagine of some of these things we’re talking about. Danny, if you would be able to provide a few, that would be excellent for that post.
Danny: Yeah, of course.
Dan: You’ll get a nice mention in Moz too. So I imagine for the listeners, they’re in one of two scenarios. So a lot of the audience being SEOs, maybe they have clients that are already selling in Amazon. So in a moment, we’re gonna get to maybe giving them some ideas for how to optimize Amazon listings. But for some listeners out there, a lot of people are entrepreneurial minded. Can you just tell us like sort of the basics of setting up your Amazon store for somebody that maybe is thinking of trying this out?
Danny: Yeah, sure. I mean the best method is to sign up for an Amazon FBA account, get started there, add your business information, and then determine your listings and products, and then you can start to set up your listings on Amazon. And then you can then package your items up and you can send them, in use the Amazon… Generally, we use UPS. So it depends if you got in on pallets, but generally if you’re starting out, you’re gonna be using cartons. UPS is normally suffice. You request them to come pick up your products, you label them up, you send them in to Amazon and then off you go. That part’s not very difficult. As long as you know how to package things up, you know how to create your shipping plan and label things correctly. It’s a bit of learning but most of that stuff is you can find on YouTube or on like the Amazon blogs and stuff to sort that out.
Dan: Is there an upfront cost to all of that?
Danny: Well, you got the cost of your product. You research tools, whatever you decided to use. But yeah, from memory, mine gets taken off the deducts of my sales. But I think in the US is about $38 a month for a professional account.
Dan: So not too out of reach then. That makes sense. All right, let’s get to one of the parts that I’m sure a lot of listeners are waiting for. So actually, optimizing your Amazon product pages. We’ve got a bunch of elements to talk through here. So what are the basics of getting…so you list a product, what are the basics of setting up their product page and optimizing it to be visible?
Danny: Right, so let’s start from the very top of the page and go down to the bottom. So try and put these in some kind of an order. So let’s think about the URL. For the canonical URL, which these guys would be familiar with, is that what we’re trying to do is that with Amazon there are some variables in it, but we tend to try and use our main keywords in the title in the first few words. Because it seems the first four to five words will then be implanted into the canonical URL when there’s a hyphen set before it. So it could be four to five words, hyphen, then the rest the title. And parts of those key words, some of them not necessarily in order, and sometimes it’s only a handful of them and something else will go into that URL. Not everyone knows about that.
Now, we know that Amazon has authority online, but no one is building links back to it. So you could be a competitive product and that’s gonna be beneficial in terms of Google searches, but you don’t know how well it’s because you’re not optimizing for Google search engine. So even though we haven’t got solid data on it, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s like if you try optimizing your title, make sure that you get your main keywords within the title or at the front the title. You also want your main keywords in the front of the title as well, because you got to think about the different devices that are on. A lot people are moving to mobile. So you might have a 200-character title. There’s got to have readability, it’s got to have the ability for click through rate as well because people need to see that. But equally your main keywords need to be in the title, and if you can get your main keywords in the canonical URL, then fantastic. So there’s a lot of juggling to do. So in your title, you want main keywords, and then you wanna speak about your benefits as well.
Dan: Is there a title length limit? Sorry to interrupt.
Danny: Depends on the category, but roughly work of 200 characters.
Dan: Oh, wow. That’s a lot longer. Google is like 60 characters.
Danny: Yes, but don’t forget mobile devices, depending on what they are, you’ve got try and think that you gotta make sense for click through rate on Amazon search pages on like mobile devices. They’d got be within say the first 80 characters. So you’re constantly having to think about, well, I’ve got a rank for these keywords, I’ve got readability, I got to think about click through rate, I got to think about the value proposition for the customer for when they’re reading the full title or like the benefits, not just the keyword. And there are so many factors involved in that…
Dan: How sort of click-worthy or creative with your copywriting can you get in the title? Do you find that you need to stick more factual or can you get a little clever and creative with using sort of emotional call-to-action language?
Danny: The thing is there’s no rhyme or reason. You just test and work it out. If you’re getting good click throughs and you’re getting good conversions with that title and you’ve measured them, then you work with that. People that process these long titles which are just keywords, I think that’s starting to phase out now. Obviously, it doesn’t fit Amazon’s specifications for catalogs and their structure for each of those categories. But I tend to find that you get your keywords in, but then you work on the benefits but you’re making your title readable. So that’s the best. But I’ve seen people put smiley faces in there.
Danny: Yeah, in their titles. And some are using…
Danny: Characters. Not emojis, but like a smiley face on the side.
Dan: Unitext or something? Yeah, the Unicode. I don’t know the names for it.
Danny: Well, there’s only certain things you can use that get stripped out of the title. But generally, people can try to be funny, but it might be that your main keyword is say dog brush, right? But you might say I bet this brush can work on most pets. So you could start with your main keywords is dog brush, a brush for all pets is that is a detangler, etc., etc., without harming your pet in any way. I’m just making out my head. So what you’ve done is you got your keyword in there. You basically turn around and say well that pet brush is a multiple use brush as well. It’s not gonna harm your pet and it’s also good for detangling. So if the pet has long hair or short hair, then that way you expanded on your marketplace. You’re selling in the benefits, but you’re also putting in your keyword. Rather than saying dog brush, pipe, cat brush, pipe, horse brush, pipe, and just separating them like that. And it just looks like a load of keywords.
Dan: Sure, sure.
Danny: That’s not gonna give you the clickability that you’re looking for.
Dan: So we’ve talked about title which can influence the URL like you mentioned, now we’re so working down the page. What are some more elements of optimization?
Danny: Images, images. Images do not skimp on images. You know that any people talk about commerce, you get crucified for poor images. Because the thing is people need that walk-in, virtual room. They’re buying online so you need to be able to tell your brand story. So the key thing is that you’ve got to have very good images. You want your main product images. So it’s against terms of service to put stuff in the main image, and Amazon wants them on a white background. So you looking say at… I like to work at 2000 pixels or above. I try and take up as much room with the image as possible because I’m thinking about thumbnails on mobile. So I like to take a product where I show partial shot of the packaging to give that additional values as well if I can get away with it. And if I can get a prop in there, I will, but it’s got to be relevant to the product so people can humanize with it rather than just stare at the product. But people have different approaches to doing that. I then show all sides of the product, because you’ve got eight or nine images that you work with.
But also of the main image, I like to do overlay text to discuss the benefits and props. You know like you see with the iPhone. [Inaudible 00:38:48] got white background and it gives a specification of the materials used, and it looks very nice. You use nice font. So you wanna tell a story that way, but then you want your action shots and use shots. So you want people using this. So if you’ve got a kitchen product, you want someone to buy to sync using it, if it’s a ball and all these many uses and then use the overlay text there.
So what happens is you’re creating a visual story. They see the product image, and then after that, they see it from different angles. And then they go and see all the different uses. And then you’re guiding them with the text information. In some cases, though it works quite well, you can throw them out by having an infographic on the second image.
Danny: So you could have a product, then design an infographic with all of your uses for that product which is bullet point text underneath. So people click through and expecting to see other images, and they stop in their tracks. They go, “Wow, okay. This image is…right, so it does that, it does that. All right, okay. I forgot all along. Oh, that’s the other side of the product, and then the other side. Oh, look. This is what happens when that girl in the image is in use there. And that guy is using it there, and he’s using it that way.” Then straight away you feel a bit more confident. You go on Amazon, I’m on Prime and I can return the product. And it looks to me that he’s ticking all the boxes. So images play an important role.
Dan: And so is all of this essentially leading to that conversion rate?
Danny: Yes, I put a lot of time in images. Personally, I’ve started do my own images, because when I’m doing test products, I like to have full control over it. And I’ve got to a pretty half decent standard now. But what we’ll do is that when I’ve tested those products and I know that they work, I then send them off to the proper photographer who enhances that. But he understands what I’m trying to achieve because technically he’s better than me. But you can’t just throw a product up and put a crappy image because you’re really doing yourself an injustice there. So image are really, really, really important, much like price.
Dan: I see and then you have in our notes here bullets and backend keywords. What are backend keywords?
Danny: So let’s go to bullets first. So you only get five bullets, depends on the cap. Some have 200, some have 500 depends on your category. So you wanna get your main benefits across not your features. So wanna speak of the benefits to reinforce. Normally you’ll see, I think from memory, the top two or three bullets are gonna be important on mobile. So you wanna make sure that you’re gonna get your best information in the first two or three bullets. Don’t forget its indexing as well. So you’ve got the keywords there that you want to make sure they’re woven into the copy. You want really good copy as well that you are obviously selling in the benefits, to let people know about all different things. Is it organic? Was it made by hand?
All these important factors is it made in a certain city and then it’s been harvested for a period of time. All of these factors count because you’ve got the images now. They got the title which they click through on. They search with the keywords, they found who you are through the search organically or through Amazon sponsored ads. Now you are telling the story through the bullet points for the images. And I think people rely heavily on the eyes. So your bullets again, you wanna make sure that you utilize them and you wanna put across the readability and very much so the benefits. Now what you’re then left with is you got the backend keywords as well.
So what you normally do is that you have a tool where you’re doing the title, your bullets. And then whatever keywords you’ve got left over, you can put those in the backend. Some people use plurals, some people actually, like in the States, because it can be contingent the Spanish over there, they use Spanish keywords. But the backend keyword is up for much debate, because originally or the last couple of years, it depend on the current…depending on the category, you’d add maybe one line or one field with say 1000 characters that you could fill up. Then it went up to 5000 characters across five lines, a thousand characters per line. Then they went stuffed the hell out of them. And now in the last few weeks, people are struggling to index about 350 characters, sometimes 400 characters.
People are constantly doing tests so they’re being deindexed. So the people have written Chrome plugins to check if your backend keywords are indexing. There’s also…
Dan: Sorry, just for some context, are these hidden to the user? These are only…
Dan: You enter… They’re almost like tags in YouTube videos?
Danny: In a way, but yeah, they’re obviously rather than tags become a relationship, these are keywords that individual phrases or individual…sorry, individual words. Let me…just to give you a bit on keywords on the back end. So many different things that Amazon’s unconfirmed about, but it’s like you would put individual words. Because Amazon, the way it seems to work is that they’ll stitch words together from your listing from wherever they’re taking it from the elements that are indexing to make up these words which turn into the phrase. So you wouldn’t normally put in there blue spatula, red spatula, white spatula. You’d just have spatula blue, white, black, pink etc. So you wouldn’t necessarily repeat them. So then some people…
Dan: So they merge all of those for you?
Danny: Yeah, and you wouldn’t necessarily need to duplicate them because they’re already appearing in your bullets or title. You don’t need to put them in your backend. But then you ring up center support, and they’d say you separate by comma. And then other people say ignore the comma, don’t separate by comma. So what a lot of people do is they put in individual words. They’ll use tools to break them down to single words. They use their left-over words, because wanna focus in to get their main keywords and information. They wanna get that into their title or into their bullets, etc. And then what’s left over we generally go into the backend search fields. Now what has recently come to light is that some of the biggest sellers…people have been running tests and finding out that some of these big sellers are actually not filling the backend up with individual terms. They’re pointing one keyword phrase per line and that’s it and indexing those.
So you’re in this constant battle to find out what is indexed and what isn’t indexed. And when Amazon updates our algorithm you might think, well where has all my traffic gone? So your sessions go down, then you check you’re indexing to find that your indexing are broken, like on the backend. Then you have to take out these words, cut and paste them, wait for it to update, and then see if you’re indexed, and do it again. So it’s a constant manual pain. I got to the…
Dan: In the SEO world, we have these algorithm updates. Panda, Penguin, Phantom.
Danny: Of course.
Dan: Do you see that in Amazon as well? Are there like dates when like you just completely lose your rankings? Has that happened in Amazon?
Danny: Yeah, because there’s so many groups out there and so many people are testing. A lot of sellers are marketers as well, but they own products. A lot of people have crossed over from the world of marketing. Some are affiliates, [inaudible 00:46:05] not my world. I’ve always come from a product background and then got into marketing. So they’re very much hot on once you’ve launched your product, a lot your time is spent creating visibility, then stable it, stableability. It becomes stable and you get steady sales, then you’re gonna research a new product, then you launch that and you’re going in these cycles constantly.
Dan: Interesting. So we have a few more elements of how to optimize the page. Can we jump to the reviews portion? I wanna talk about that. So you’re saying that just simply earning reviews might help get the page exposure? does it need to be positive? Like what’s going on with reviews there and what would you recommend?
Danny: Right, okay. With reviews, the people that I speak with and the test that people have done, we can’t see the relevance in terms of the more reviews you have it helps with your rankings. Reviews are validation. So if you’re spending money selling PPC and you got no reviews, you’re more than likely to convert if you have reviews because of the stars underneath. If you’ve got reviews and you’ve only got one, and you got one star and you run your advertising, 9 times out of 10 you’re better off having no reviews. Do you see what I mean?
Danny: So have no stars because people are just saying it’s a visual representation or validation for that product. Now people who are obsessed… And so October 4th I think it was last year, Armageddon came, and Amazon stopped incentivized reviews. Because people were using review clips and they were sending out free products and they were getting five star. They’re literally asking for five-star review. So Amazon…they kicked off Amazon band [SP], and then it was lots of them. Verified reviews, they got rid of them. Now a friend of mine, Tim, that worked inside of Amazon, they had a lot data access, and what they’ve done is they poured this mountain of data down and they worked out that it starts to fall off a cliff post 21 reviews. As long as you got above I think is a 4.4 to 4.6, I can’t remember exactly, consistent, good reviews, above 21 reviews. There’s no need to get 400 because someone else’s got that. And then they would not…
Dan: Diminishing returns.
Danny: You get the diminishing returns of that. But again, that’s not a public report. That’s from discussion with someone who worked at Amazon, who actually was running seller support and built the app. So he knew what he was doing, he was running that team. So he knew the inside information and that’s the data that they used. So I’m quite trustworthy of hearing that data. So now you’ve got a situation where you’ve got to come by review which is very difficult, because you can’t ask customers for reviews in exchange for giving them a product. So again, it’s very gray area that you are working to. So what’s happening now is that you’re relying more so on your follow up sequence. So you would sell the product and send out emails and ask them for feedback on the product to flip into a review, which becomes that much harder.
Now what some people do is they will do giveaways but won’t ask for review in the hope that they get review. So some people might run coupon campaigns, they’ll run Facebook ads, give away a load of products in the hope… Because obviously, there’s a stimulation of velocity by giving away like discounted…depending on the discount, but giving away discounted products. So that will help stimulate the sales velocity, because your giveaway end up being converted into a sale, depend on percentage. I think it’s above 51, at the moment, percent.
Dan: So you mentioned email, sending an email. Is this Amazon controlling all of that and holding the customer’s email address or do you get that and you send it with MailChimp or constant contacting your own platform? How does that work?
Danny: No, what it is, think about email sequences that you do to follow up customers anyway. But you gotta remember these are Amazon’s customers. And so you don’t have access to their email address, but you can communicate with a customer through the Amazon system. So you’ll use a third-party platform that will plug into your Amazon center account by AWS. And then you would create these emails. So what would then do, it imports the orders of when the orders come in, and then you’ll set a timeline of when you want to send these mails out. And then you do the usual thing. You’re looking at open rates, you’re looking at what you can do to optimize your subject to get to improve the open rate. Because obviously, you’re only gonna get a percentage of them opened. And in that is gonna be…you’ll craft in an email to offer as much value as possible and answer people’s feedback to communicate with them.
What some people do is they actually ask for feedback rather than reviews. And when someone posts the review in the feedback sent section on Amazon, they quickly email them, say, “Oh, we noticed that you’ve left us a review in the feedback section. Could you move it to the front in the marketplace but in your own words?” And then flip that over, because in that way at least if it’s a good review, you try and get it over, because you can get destroyed in a row of bad reviews. And it takes a lot to make up the difference to get to good reviews again. One one-star review is gonna take you a long while, a number of five-star reviews to get you up to a sensible level, if that makes sense.
Dan: That’s right. You have the math there or the averages. So you’ve mentioned mobile a few times. Are there any other mobile considerations for optimizing your listing?
Danny: Yeah, I mean you’ve got to think about cropping your image so that…it’s very difficult to explain, but you can…like if you’ve got very long images, it depends on how you chop them but you wanna crop the images as tight as possible and then upload into Amazon. Because you want it to expand to cover the whole of the thumbnail. That’s one decent trick. You wanna make sure that you got your best information within the first 60 to 70 characters. It’s gonna depend on your mobile device.
Descriptions actually make a big impact as well which we didn’t cover. Descriptions are prominent on mobile, so you wanna make sure that you got information in your description like a call-to-action in there. So that can be key as well. Because from I understand I think Q4 for Amazon last year, I think it’s something crazy, maybe anywhere between 40% and 55% maybe were mobile purchases. So you got to think that most Amazon sellers are sitting in their office with their 27-inch iMacs. They gotta think about mobile first, haven’t they?
They’re going, “Why is this not converting?” Well, you’re looking at the wrong device. It’s very important to be working across both devices. So you’re optimizing…so you know that you’re trying to aim for the right market. We don’t have official data with that. Like every year people point out stats. You might need to look it up online, but it was an incredible amount this year for mobile. So it’s important to know what you’re doing is be mobile first where possible.
Dan: In terms of anything else the listeners should know about promoting themselves within the Amazon platform, is there anything that you do that’s not on the page? Like in SEO, we have back links, right? Or in other platforms like social media, you might like leave a comment on somebody else’s post or something. Is there anything like that in Amazon that you’re sort of interacting in the platform itself or is it all sort of like very closed off to your actual product listing?
Danny: See, I touched on this earlier on about AMS. So with AMSX, you need to be a vendor as well through the vendor central platform. But you can run your own ads on your own SKUs. So, for instance, I could have a product…when I launch a product, I’m gonna run standard sponsored ads so I’ll bill at the top of the page or the right row or bottom the page, depends on how it’s been optimized because they’re always testing. I’d also setup what called headline ads. So it appears at the top of the page on my chosen keywords. And then I would out also run ads against my competitors [inaudible 00:54:30] so I can select their product and then run against those as well. And you’re organically trying to rank.
So what happens is that say you’re on page 1 and you’re on organic position number 9, your PPC ad is in position number 3, right? Your competition are in front of you but the very top of the page or running an ad on that keyword there, so they get that brand recognition now. And then when I click through to the product page or say position number 1, your ad is under their buy box. That’s what you’re trying to attain.
So people will catch on to this. And so the whole idea is that people talk about touch points. They don’t necessarily buy straight away and is not necessarily…it’s like subconscious. So they might see your ad and might not click on your organic position but might click on your PPC ad, then scroll down the page and click through to your competitor, and land on the competitor’s page only to see your ad again under their buy box and your price is better. So they click from buy your product, or they can click on really expensive PPC ads run by your competition. It’ll dominate in the number one PPC position and your organic position. So someone clicks on that, but you’re advertising on their page. So they’re doing all the spending expensive PPC ads, but you’re paying a little bit less by advertising under their buy box. So they’ve done all the work to get the conversion. So you can do clever things like that.
Dan: Very interesting.
Danny: You can also run third-party traffic. But there isn’t any real way of tracking. So you can spend a fortune on say Facebook ads. A lot of people will turn around and say that they think that they get [inaudible 00:56:10] from external. We can’t really prove that. But if people’s sales go up because they’re running a load of Facebook ads, and then they turn their Facebook ads and their average sales go down, who am I to argue? But there are other ways of stimulation. Plus, you got like lightning deals where you can do giveaway deals with Amazon where they get displayed in certain areas in the site and promote it for a period a day. You drop your price, that can help stimuli as well.
And then there’s ranking services that stimulate BSR, which again is a contentious issue. But I think generally what people are looking to do is that they wanna get their organic ranking flowing. So by hook or by crook, they’re looking a way to create visibility by using PPC. It can be expensive. They can end up losing money in the beginning until they get to the point where they’re organically ranking, and then they can start to back off a little bit on their clicks. And that might move it down to the third and fourth position, depends on where you’re showing up on the page. PPC is the one to get to kick off visibility.
Dan: So you mentioned Facebook ads, which is a good segue. I actually wanna in our note just skip the portion that’s above that, and actually just point people to your seller sessions, and our episode or your other episodes, to kind of learn more about how it works being a vendor outside of Amazon and inside, and kind of like when to set up your own shop. And I wanna talk a little bit more about ways to promote your Amazon listing outside of Amazon. So you mentioned Facebook ads. Are there any other ways that are really working in terms of doing that?
Danny: Well, it depends. You got to be careful because you got to think about the quality of the traffic. So you don’t wanna send a load of people to your Amazon listing, drive up your sessions to then try down your conversion rates if people are not gonna buy. So you know you can buy poor traffic and people didn’t really…people sell crappy traffic like box and God knows why, and it doesn’t help anyone. So you have to be careful with the quality of your traffic. So some people will funnel them through a landing page before passing on a coupon code to go on to Amazon. So at least they’re warm at that point, they’ll… Fifty percent will drop off, and then the remaining 50% will go to Amazon and execute that code on 20% or something, and then it’s not doing any overall damage.
Some people are now working with influencers. like YouTube influences. They’re paying product placements or run box-ins and send them. But I find with stuff like that, you got be careful because you can spend a couple grand on influencers but only to find that it’s short-lived. Whereas something like PPC, obviously if you stop spending then you’re not gonna rank visibly for PPC on Amazon. But by ranking and optimizing, it’s not sit and forget but you get to a position where it becomes steady, it becomes a bit more clockwork if you like in terms of… That makes up about 20%, 15% of my sales. The rest come from organic. Whereas influencers, you might have to keep running campaigns. You might go, whoosh, like feast and famine. So you have to be careful of that…
Dan: And I feel like a lot of those work for the affiliate or the actual person that runs the YouTube channel. So what’s his name, Marques Brownlee I think. He’s one of the big-on boxer influencers on YouTube. He’s got like 6 million or more followers. For him, I imagine it’s great as Amazon affiliate if he links to a camera he’s unboxing or something. Because no matter what the person…is this correct, no matter what the person buys on Amazon, he gets credit for that affiliate link. Is that right?
Danny: I don’t do affiliate marketing myself, but as far as I’m aware is that if there’s the direct link, and I’m sure there’s something if you look up Amazon’s associates, I’m sure they get…if they move on and purchase something else through their structure for the cookie. As for me, I don’t do it. But I’m imagining that if they’ve driven that traffic there, as long as there’s tracking in place, that will get a credit. Might be reduced commission, I don’t know. That’s something that people are looking to.
But what I do know is that Amazon, you can’t own your own product and be affiliate because there is a conflict of interest. So you can’t set an account and then become an affiliate to only drive your traffic. Now there are black hatters out there who will set up third-party accounts and use the proxies and stuff like that and they’ll find ways of tracking. But quite often they get caught and shut down. So they get an idea what they’re doing with their spend. But that’s not an area that I entertain myself. But to give you a good example where you can use affiliates, if you go on Merch by Amazon account where you are designing T-shirts on Amazon, it’s based in the States, quiet, new as of last year. They are sold by Amazon, so you’re licensed. They’re designed through Amazon and they print. It’s print on demand.
So in their terms of service, you are not…although you own the design rights and they’re licensing it, you don’t own the T-shirt that Amazon is selling. It’s sold by Amazon. So if you wanted to run external traffic, you can have an Amazon affiliate account driving to your T-shirts which is sold by Amazon. Does that make sense?
Danny: So that becomes…that puts the doorway in between you and the ownership of the T shirt. But yeah, it be great if you could stimulate sales externally and therefore tracking. But I don’t know if Amazon will give that up.
Dan: Yeah, that’s clever. So we’re gonna wrap things up in a moment, but I did, just for fun, I wanna sort of discuss the idea which we did on seller sessions as well of ranking in Amazon listing in Google. Now I first wanna ask, does this seem to you like a large potential source of traffic for your product listing? So you’re selling a camera, that camera ranks in Google search drives the traffic to your Amazon stores. Is that a great way to get more visibility to your Amazon listing?
Danny: I think it’s gonna be dependent on the market, but what we discussed and we want we thought right, what about if we were to do this. Amazon is a big authority, right? So you could probably ping some back links to them as long as there are of great value. Then maybe that enhances your ranking. Who knows? I’m not an SEO guy. But I’m just thinking outside the box. I’m thinking someone’s gonna sit there and try and build relevant links to the URL. Why not build relevant links if you can find them, which is tough to find them to your Amazon listing, because they already got the authority. You’re probably gonna get more bang for your buck that way than you would do on your own website that’s just freshly set up the domain and has no traffic or trust. You’re probably gonna get more power in terms of ranking. But again, that’s something that we verbalized. We didn’t go into deeply and got data on.
Dan: I think one thing that’s interesting, and we talked about this before we recorded, was that in Google people will add “for sale” to their search term. But in Amazon, they don’t add camera for sale because they’re already in Amazon buying something.
Danny: Your own platform. You’ll be there…
Dan: Your own platform. So I think it would be interesting to do actual keyword research for Google, but be mindful that in Amazon page could rank for that result. So if this is Fujifilm X12, it’s one of the cameras I have, for sale, get search volume on that, what I would do as an SEO is maybe see if an Amazon listing is already ranking. If not, great. Maybe you can create the first listing that Google will want to rank for that. But if so, maybe the Amazon listing ranking, you go to it and as a seller maybe there’s a way to tell that that product listing is poor. Maybe they had bad reviews or maybe it looks like it’s not a reputable seller or something like that. So I think it be interesting. And if anyone out there listening has maybe experimented or done something with this to see if you could rank an Amazon product in Google and drive results from that, they’d be very interesting.
Danny: It’s about time allocation, because as an Amazon… it’s a focus, isn’t it? So you could go and do Google ads, you could do Facebook ads, you could do Pinterest, you could do Twitter, you could do…I don’t know, Bing ads. There’s so many things that you could do. Or you can go, “Hold on a minute. I sell on Amazon. Amazon has its own sponsored ads platform. The traffic’s already here. Why am I driving them from outside?” So that’s when you gotta weigh out, is there value in that? Can you squeeze more out of it? Or do you [inaudible 01:04:53]. You might go, “Well, I’m doing 10 sales a day or 20 sales a day, and I’m gonna drive external traffic just to get four more sales a day? Am I better off starting with a new SKU, and then get that to 20 sales a day?” Spend the money on platform where you got measurable results and the trust is already built, because they’re already… The search [inaudible 01:05:13] has taken place by the fact they’re already on Amazon.
When you run contextual advertising on Facebook, you gotta then go, “I’m disturbing you. Would you like this product?” “Maybe so. I’ll click on it,” then go to Amazon, yeah, might not buy it. If the person’s going, “Well, I’m not gonna go to Amazon today and I want to buy spatula,” they type in silicon spatula. Then they look and then they choose which one they’re gonna buy. So they’re further down the funnel, aren’t they?
So that’s the other thing that you got a way out. Because the types of mark-in that could be achieved is a bit like social media. It can be quite hard to convert because it got a lot of tire kickers. So there are so many things that you can do, but I think what you gotta do is you gotta find…do you have the time allocation to do so, do you have the skill set to do the job as well, and is it gonna be viable for that product?
Dan: I think that’s an interesting point, because when somebody is in Google searching a product, that’s their home base. And they might go to an Amazon listing, but then they might bounce back from that, because their mindset’s not Amazon. Their mindset is research. And they might bounce back to go to the direct seller of that product or another platform, eBay. So I think that’s a really valid point is that if you rank a product in Amazon, that’s not like this free ticket that you’re gonna automatically easily sell that coming from Google. That’s a very good point.