TAS 417: UPDATE – Product Listing Strategies to BOOST Sales and Rank Higher in Amazon with Karon Thackston

One of the most important aspects of running a small business is to never get caught being complacent. Many entrepreneurs can find themselves losing sight of the energy and drive that pushed them to start their own business. Don’t fall into that trap! Make sure you are on top of your game and look for new ways to challenge your thinking and your predetermined strategies. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott welcomes back guest expert Karon Thackston. Karen goes over key listing strategies, why you should stay patient in the process, the importance of focusing on relevant keywords, and much more! You don't’ want to miss this helpful episode!

Navigating Trademark Issues

What is the best approach when you are trying to get into a product category that so specific and niche that it serves as an accessory to a trademark named product? Is it even worth it to take the risk and use the trademarked name as one of the keywords that you rank for? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott sits down with keyword expert Karon Thackston. As usual, when it comes to legal advice, they suggest that sellers like you reach out to an attorney. Having said that, they do advise caution when using a trademarked name in your product listing. If you’d like to hear more about this topic and other great insights from Karen and Scott, make sure to listen to this episode!  

Utilizing Bullet Points in Your Product Listing

One of the best ways to optimize your product listing is to focus in on your bullet points. Too often sellers neglect this aspect of their product listing or they go overboard! On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Karon Thackston as she breaks down a helpful approach that sellers like you can use when it comes to utilizing bullet points to the fullest extent. Karon emphasizes that it’s worth your time to make sure you go over your bullet points and make sure they make sense from a customer's perspective, not just from a keyword optimized perspective. Learn more about this topic on this helpful episode!  

Focus on Relevance

Do you have the most effective keyword strategy possible? When was the last time you took the time to evaluate your approach? Are you just using any keyword possible that will get people to click on your product listing? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Karon Thackston goes over the best keyword strategy and how sellers like you can optimize your approach for the best results. The main point that Karon drives home is how important it is for sellers to make sure that they aren’t just stuffing attractive keywords into their product listing but that they are using relevant keywords. Are you using keywords that are relevant to your product? If you’d like to hear more on this topic, make sure to listen to this episode!

Stay Patient!

As a small business owner, you like to get things done and see results, right? One of the most frustrating things about building an ecommerce business is letting strategies and processes take their course. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from guest expert Karon Thackston as she and Scott highlight the importance of submitting to the process and letting things you’ve put into motion play out. No one said it would be easy but it is the most effective way to accomplish your goals and see your product thrive. Make sure to listen to this episode to hear more helpful insight from Scott and Karen!

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER

  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
  • [3:00] Karon joins the podcast.
  • [4:30] Karon gives her take on Amazon’s keyword policy change.
  • [14:30] The most important aspects of a product listing.
  • [22:00] Scott and Karon break down a product example.
  • [29:00] Using trademarked names in your product listing.
  • [31:00] How to utilize the bullets on your product listing.
  • [41:00] Be patient when making changes to your product listing.
  • [50:30] Parting advice from Karon; make sure you are aiming for relevance!

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TRANSCRIPT TAS 417

TAS 417: UPDATE – Product Listing Strategies to BOOST Sales and Rank Higher in Amazon with Karen Thackston

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 417 and today we've got an update for you. I've invited my good friend…

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…Karon Thackston back on the show and she's going to talk all about product listing strategies to boost sales and rank higher on Amazon. The reason why I invited Karen on if you guys are long time listeners you know I'm good friends with Karen. She actually does this as a service for a lot of sellers. She needs to stay current, she also has a way to test certain things and she gets to see across a lot of different brands, so why not really dig in and pick her brain in a sense and get her in the show.

That's what I really wanted to do. I selfishly do this for myself because I want to know, and rather than me just have this conversation with her without it being recorded, I said, well let's just jump on a call and let's dig in. You can get me up to date and we can go through this stuff. We're going to be talking about ranking, indexing, terms of service changes, split testing, all of that stuff and after we got done with this conversation I always walk away and I say couple of things.

Number one, man I'm glad I know people in this industry like Karen that can actually help me and help us with this stuff and help break things down but then also I walk away with a ton of different things that I want to implement. The one thing that we focused on in here is really not doing everything. You're going to get the framework, you'll have the different points or the different components that you'll want to work on but really understanding what drives the ranking and what the difference is between ranking and indexing, which there is a difference and all that stuff. For me I walk away excited saying like, “Okay, what can i do next to work on my listing?” The one thing she also talks about is you're never done. You're never going to set it and forget it.

[00:02:02] Scott: You're going to want to tweak it but there's also ways that you're going to want to tweak it without over tweaking. That's a lot of tweaking there or references to tweaking. Anyway, I wanted to give you guys the show notes link because you're going to want to definitely download the transcripts, the show notes, all that stuff can be found at theamazingseller.com/417. The other episodes that she was on, the more current ones is episode 155 and 245 but this one right here will be the most up to date and really the one that's going to give you the exact same thing in those other ones but more up to date and also some more strategy.

You're going to be walking away with a lot of things that you can do and also understanding this process. I'm going to stop talking now so you can enjoy this conversation I had with my good friend Karon Thackston. Enjoy.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:02:57] Scott: Well hey Karon, thank you so much for coming back on the show. Long time no chat, what's going on?

[00:03:03] Karen: It's great to be back. What is this number four? Do I get a prize?

[00:03:09] Scott: You may get a prize. I'm not sure how many people have actually come back on four times as of right now. That may be a trophy of some kind. We'll have to come up with something.

[00:03:22] Karen: Well, you know you and I only live about an hour and a half apart now. You could just take me to lunch one day.

[00:03:26] Scott: That is a good idea. Maybe we should definitely do that. I didn't realize we were that close. We're an hour and a half, I thought we were a little bit farther but hey even two hours that's not bad. A good Sunday drive would be nice. We'll definitely have to do that. We'll get lunch. I'll treat. A lot of things have been happening and I'm not going to go through all the stuff that we already talked about although we will be addressing some of that stuff because some of the things have changed a little bit as Amazon is changing. Just give me a little bit of an update and then we can start drilling into ranking, and keywords and indexing and balance and all of that stuff. Where do you want to start with this discussion because I know can go on a 100 different directions.

[00:04:08] Karen: We could go in a 100 different directions and I'm sure that everybody that's listening to the podcast is probably already heard and read and seen videos and blog posts and whatever from everybody that has their own opinions about the 250 so why don't we go ahead and start with the 250 and get my take on that out of the way. I saw it coming a mile away when Amazon first switched from the original 250 where you had to hard stop at 50 characters per field way back years ago and went into the 5,000 characters. I put up a blog post shortly after that and said ‘big mistake'.

This is going to turn around and bite them in the rear and it did. One reason that Amazon has come out and said that they were going back to the 250 with some slight changes was because everybody was just shoving any old keywords in there. They were not relevant, people wanted to attempt to rank for anything that had anything to do with the product that they were selling. While most people think that going broad is a good thing because you cover much more territory when it comes to things like keyword research and writing copy that's not necessarily the best way to go because it will actually begin to deteriorate your rankings because your conversions begin to fall.

So, for example, one of the things that I like to use is a real life example from someone that came to Marketing Words, we looked at what they had and they wanted to use terms that had everything and anything to do with plastic containers.

[00:06:09] Karen: They were showing a plastic lunch plate, the kind that's divided by three with a lid on it and blah, blah. They had plastic cereal containers and the keyword they had plastic coffee containers and whatever. Oh, if you just take a look at the two of those, you could put your lunch in the plastic cereal container but you probably wouldn't want to because it's shaped like a cereal box and it's all just going to dump down there in the bottom. So, if they managed to show up on the search for plastic lunch plates and somebody didn't notice the picture by chance, was an entirely different shape and they clicked on it, they are going to take a look at the listing and go, this is not what want, and leave.

The more bounces you get, the lower your conversion rate is, the lower your conversion rate is the lower Amazon is going to show your listing on the sales search results page because they only want to show the listings that are selling well. They are in this for the money. When you do that, you put the extremely broad search terms in the back end. It was just deteriorating the search results for Amazon, customers were complaining that when they typed in ‘plastic cereal container' they were getting pictures of lunch plates and vice versa and what not. Relevance is key and it is what I have been jumping up and down and screaming about since Amazon made that switch.

Still there are people that are under the impression that the best way to handle the 250 bytes or characters or whichever you want to refer to it in the back end now is to put the most prominent keywords and phrases in their copy and then put all the other stuff like the plastic cereal containers and plastic coffee containers in the back end. You still don't want to do that. You don't want to waste that space on something that isn't what you're selling. If you could not substitute a product with the key phrase that you're thinking about putting in like the plastic cereal container, if you couldn't substitute that product for the one you're selling don't use it as a search term.

[00:08:22] Karen: Don't use it as a search term unless it's maybe, there are a couple of exceptions. If you got something that's compatible with that that you need to relate to it or something along those lines it would be okay but for the most part, 99% of the time you would want to use search terms that are extremely relevant and applicable to the exact product that you're selling.

[00:08:50] Scott: That all makes a 100% sense because again, Amazon is a search engine, let's face it. They are a search engine but for products and people need to understand like Google has been doing this for years. They have been refining, they've been always wanting to deliver. I know when I'm searching for something on my phone and it's on maybe on a Google Chrome, whatever, I'm looking on my phone, I'm searching for something, I want something really quickly, like last night I wanted the Yankee games score. So I go on there, I didn't go to my app, I just went there and immediately Google has the score before I even finish typing in Yankees it's giving me the score because it knows that's what I'm looking for.

If someone was to just put something up there that was not even related to Yankees but they got the traffic, who cares? It's not what I'm looking for. But some people think well, if I can get like thousands of searches there's going to be a handful of people that are going to want it. That maybe true but I look at it's like this too, years ago in direct mail my father's company we used to direct mail, that's what we lived by. Direct mail. Back then it was like send out 20,000 booklets, those little coupon books to everyone in your area that is in this certain zip code.

Now, we don't know if they are interested in new windows or new doors or new siding but there's going to be a handful that are. The only thing is the algorithm isn't going to hurt me if I don't find them but in Amazon or in Google, that is going to hurt you.

[00:10:18] Karen: Exactly.

[00:10:20] Scott: It's a bigger deal now because we only want things that we're looking for. I'm saying us searching. If I'm on Amazon and I'm searching for something… I had someone ask me the other day, they go, “Scott, how do I deal with a competitor that's showing up on my keyword better than I am but I'm not showing up there, I'm showing up lower but they are showing up but it's not really the same product.” I'm like, don't worry about it because number one you're still on that page and if someone is looking for your product or a product similar to yours, they are going to click on yours and not theirs.

That's common sense but anyway, it's just really important for people to understand that just because you have opportunities to put more keywords in, doesn't mean that you necessarily should.

[00:11:05] Karen: Amen, there you go. Absolutely and what you were talking about just now with the difference in doing direct mail and the whole thing being a numbers game, if we just send out enough but with Amazon they micro track every single solitary piece of data. Just because you're thinking well if I can pay enough for PPC ads or I can send enough traffic that's not good enough because Amazon is looking at the conversion rate, at the click through rate so just because you've sent ten million people to your Amazon listing and you think you're doing a good job of making sales, Amazon is seeing that your conversion rate is .0002 which is pitiful.

They are going, “I'm not going to put this up on the search results in a very high position because it doesn't convert well. You've got to look at data and understand the data behind what you're doing. It's not just send as much traffic as you can because that can also turn around and bite you.

[00:12:07] Scott: Wouldn’t you agree as well here, maybe you would, maybe you wouldn't. Wouldn't you agree like the way that I look at it is like there's only a certain… Not only but there's a good handful of keywords that are going to drive most of your sales. There's going to be those long tails as we call them, the three word, the four word maybe even five word and yes you're going to pick up a sale every now and then and yes you do want to discover those and you want to try those but really, for everyone saying like I Just want to put a whole bunch of keywords in there because I want to be able… To me it's more about the concentrated ones.

The ones that I know that are going to be bringing in the sales because those are going to ultimately help me even if it's one keyword that I find that I might get two sales a month, it's still relevant versus getting one that might get 1,000 impressions and one click. That doesn't really work for me.

[00:13:04] Karen: Here's something else that has proven itself repeatedly in all areas of marketing. Not just for Amazon. When it comes to keywords and key phrases, the long tail ones actually tend to convert better. Now, granted, there's not as much traffic for those but because people have gotten further in the buying process, normally when they get to the point of typing in a very detailed or very long, long tail key phrase versus the ones that just typing in '15 inch laptop'. They've got a long way to go. They are just starting their search if they are doing something that broad. While it brings more traffic, it may or may not bring more conversions in sales.

[00:13:49] Scott: I agree 100%. It's exactly that. If you're looking for a 15 inch laptop but what if you're looking for a 15 inch apple Mac pro laptop. That's different. I'm looking for specifically that but in the same breath you can say the people that are searching for 15 inch laptop might be interested in Mac and you're right. If I could get those to be a little bit more narrow, it's going to show that to Amazon especially their algorithm is going to show that the traffic came, it clicked, it converted.

Now, we're going to rank more for that and it's going  to help you in the future but again I look at like those areas that are really important for keywords and let's run through those really quickly just to give people like the different components of a listing and what you feel are the most important for, let's just talk about ranking in this sense as far as, because people are well, I've got the title, I've got the bullets, I've got the description and I've got the back end. That's like what I can tell Amazon my product is by using all of that stuff. What are the different components and their importance that you find?

[00:15:00] Karen: The search term fields are the least important in my opinion and here has been my suspicion. It's just my thought. You and I were talking earlier about Google and the track that Google had taken in developing their search algorithm and how specific it was now and what have you. Amazon has followed a very similar path. It is my suspicion that just like Google, when they completely devalue the keyword meta tag years and years and years ago, decades ago, that Amazon is in the process of completely devaluing the search term fields.

They have already set a numerous places over the last few years that these are optional, that Amazon reserves the right not to use anything that you put in the search term fields. It is entirely up to them, up to their discretion. Now we have search term fields that are optional that do or do not have to be used. That tells me that Amazon doesn't even need these in order to be able to decide where to rank your listing and that their discretionary that Amazon may care, maybe they don't care what you put in there. Add to that, Amazon saying flat out that your most important search terms need to be in the copy somewhere and not in the back end and it really makes sense to me that sometime I don't know I'm guessing sometime in the next six months maybe in the next six years Amazon will just say, “You can put whatever you want in the search term field. We're not even paying attention to it. “

[00:16:36] Scott: Yeah. That's probably, you're right. That's probably going to come, eventually.

[00:16:42] Karen: That's your least important in my opinion. The most important has always been the title and I believe that it still carries the most weight. What we do and what we teach in marketing words is that you need to have your most important key phrase, the entire phrase in the title. Now, you don't have to use key phrases for every term that you want to include in the title. So if you have two or three short ones that you want to include you can do the most important one and we put the entire phrase. Amazon also makes a point and has for a while, of saying in that the degree of match is very important.

If your customer is typing in '15 inch Toshiba laptop' and you have '15 inch Toshiba laptop' all together in one come complete phrase in the title that makes sense that it would be more helpful that having 15 inch in one spot and three words later having Toshiba and two or three words later having laptop and what have you. Our practice and what we've seen works well for is to put the entire most important key phrase in there all together in one place. Then if you want to put things like touch screen or other individual words or shorter phrases that go along with it, you don't have to repeat Toshiba and 15 inch and blah, blah, blah all over again.

[00:18:14] Scott: I was just going to say so to just talk about the phrase real quick then we can go into that a little deeper but if you can put it in as a phrase as you're saying, it's going to be better because it's going to show Amazon that that's exactly what that product is but if it doesn't make sense then you shouldn't just put it in there because you want to show up for that phrase. Then the second option would be to then do the, have the two words maybe another two words that make it make sense when you add the third or fourth word that you want to actually attach to that phrase if that makes sense.

[00:18:50] Karen: I think I know what you're saying. Everything falls under the umbrella of relevance. If 15 inch Toshiba laptop is not what you're selling and that is not a relevant term you don't need to be using in your listing anywhere.

[00:19:04] Scott: Right but what I'm saying is like if there's something like additionally to do that, like I know accessories is a big one. If you have something that's like laptop accessories and that's like one of your big ones or Mac laptop accessories but you wouldn't necessarily put that for a USB connector that's for the laptop as an accessory. You may say something like, USB dongle for Mac and then in your bullets you might say something like, ‘Great Mac accessory' or something like that. Do see what I'm saying? You can't put that in there and have that make sense without it looking like you're trying to game the system.

[00:19:47] Karen: Right. Exactly. Your primary phrases and then those other leftover bits and pieces and what not, those go into your bullets. It's the way that we are teaching to do it. You can put entire phrases in the bullets if it…

Literally what I tell people all the time is put as many keywords and phrases into your bullet as you can without it sounding stupid. Because you never want to sacrifice the quality of your copy for the sake of the search engines.

This rolls into balance. People can get so carried away with focusing on getting as many keywords and phrases into the copy as possible that they completely forget that a human being has to read this too and while Amazon is awesome, and they give you a platform to sell, Amazon itself will never whip out a credit card, go and click the orange ‘Add to Cart' button and buy anything from you at all, unless of course maybe they damage it in one of their warehouses.

So, you’ve got to pay attention to how does this read? Does it sound ridiculous? Does it stop making sense because I’ve put so many keywords and phrases in there that it’s hard to read? If somebody has to stop reading your bullet points and figure out what you’re saying, that’s never a good thing.

The majority of the other keywords and phrases we recommend trying to put into the bullet points and then for your description, because sometimes they are indexed and sometimes they are not indexed, we don’t depend on those at all as far as search goes. Yes, there are keywords and phrases in there because if you are writing about a 15-inch laptop, you’re just going to have to say 15-inch laptop several times in the listings. So, they’re going to pop up naturally in the description anyway but we don’t make a point of trying to get keywords and phrases into the description.

[00:21:46] Scott: Okay, actually as you were talking here I was trying to come up with another example here and actually I shared this on a recent podcast and a recent workshop where we were in the market for buying a Jeep. We were looking at Jeep Wranglers and didn’t realize there’s whole tribe of people out there, craziness, but anyway there are and it's pretty cool but I ran home obviously as someone in the Amazon space and I did it, not that I was going to sell in that space but I wanted to share it as an example.

I go in and I type in Jeep Wrangler, and the first thing I always do is, I see what Amazon is starting to tell me what’s the next thing people are searching for. So right away, it said Jeep Wrangler and immediately underneath it, it dropped down and it said, “unlimited accessories.”

So, Jeep Wrangler unlimited, that’s like the brand of the model and then you’ve accessories. So, immediately on that page, there is a variety of different things. So I may want to rank for that but it’s not specific necessarily to what that person is looking for.

So, I kind of want to just use this as an example. If now I scroll down a little bit, there is these little covers that go over the gas, the gas cap, because the gas cap is just out there and you can unscrew it, this here gives it a cover. So, this person here, and there’s a couple of different things, I’m not going to call out the brand by name but basically it's black style, fuel filler, door cover gas tank cap, four-door, two-door, four Jeep Wrangler JK and unlimited 2007 through 2017 Sport Rubicon Sahara.

[00:23:26] Scott: So, what they are clearly doing is trying to just get there any keywords that’s related to Jeep in the title and that’s not the right way to go about doing it. Again, that’s what most people are dealing with, as far as like us that say, “We want to go above board, we want to do things right.” What would be your recommendation and so if we want to sell this gas cap cover for a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, give us an example like what would we put in there?

[00:23:59] Karen: Okay, well one thing I want to point out first is, I am saying relevant and you are saying specific and those are two different things. So, I’m not saying that it has to be specific to what you are selling but it does have to be relevant so Jeep Wrangler Unlimited accessories while it doesn’t include the words gas cap or something to that effect, is still relevant to what that gas cap is, so that could be used. You could do that, off the top of my head, I love it when people tell me to do this off top of my head, thank you Scott.

[00:24:32] Scott: Hey, no problem but it’s a gas cover for the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, you know what I mean?

[00:24:43] Karen: Yeah, so you could absolutely put something in there that I would start with the part that is the most relevant to it because people are going to be searching for lots of different Jeep Wrangler unlimited accessories. Two different mindsets I guess but I’m thinking that the ones that want the gas cap or the ones that are going to convert the best. So, I would probably make that type of a key phrase in the front of the title and then as you go, you can put in there Jeep Wrangler and you wouldn’t even have to use the whole phrase probably because you would want the Jeep wrangler unlimited in the front of the title.

So, you could put, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited gas cap cover, accessory for, blah-blah-blah, so then you still got all the words in there but you’ve just separated the phrase that had accessory in there.

[00:25:48] Scott: That makes total sense and I’m 100% on board with that and actually we’ve done that with some of our products that we have accessories for because they don’t even have accessories in their title but they are coming up for accessories. Actually, they’re ranking pretty well actually, they’re ranking for Jeep Wrangler Unlimited accessories, right now currently there’s two sponsored ads and they are actually the first. They are ranking number one.

[00:26:13] Karen: Well and some of that would probably have to do with the browse nodes that they are in when they set the listing up. What category they’ve put that in and their other things that they’ve done in the back end, anything to do with the product description that they put in, what type of products it is and blah-blah-blah and there are other things that you can do on the back-end of these that would also lead Amazon to realize that this was an accessory for something.

[00:26:40] Scott: That’s a great point. Like you said, there’s some things in the back-end, we’re not even going to see on the front end that you can put in there that when you are going through your listing, and that’s why it’s important to fill everything out as detailed as you can, telling them exactly who this is for, what it’s for, even right down to, a lot of times they will ask you maybe if it’s a metal type or whatever and you’re going to say that and like you said, an accessory for those things but that makes total sense.

The other thing is too, I'm looking at the listing. They’ve got the bullet points where they have parts next to the bullet points. So, what’s your thought on using those graphics in there, that’s got to be some html there right?

[00:27:23] Karen: They are, unless somebody has found a different way to do it, it would involve html and honestly from a shopper standpoint, I have to say that they do catch my attention. It stands out, it’s a different thing what you see on other pages and things of that nature, but I’m seeing that less and less and I have not heard reports from a lot of people saying that Amazon sent them the email and slapped them and said you have to take that out but because they are not in every other listing that I see.

I do a lot of shopping on Amazon, forget what I do for work but just three quarters of the stuff in my house comes from Amazon and the fact that I’m not seeing very much of that anymore tends to lead me to think that Amazon has been sending out emails and saying, “No, no we can't do that,” so I do think it’s helpful from a customer standpoint, I kind of roll my eyes and hearts and little flowers and all the other hokey things that people put but I don’t recommend doing it because you are liable to get…

[00:28:27] Scott: Get slapped at a point.

[00:28:29] Karen: Even if it's temporarily, yeah, they would delist your product even temporarily until you fixed it well. How many days, then somebody has to go back in from Amazon and look at it, and approve it and relist it, how many days are you going to go without sales because you put hearts in your bullet points?

[00:28:40]Scott: Yeah, the other thing that I would like to bring up here and then get your thoughts on, because this is actually a great example, is like Jeep Wrangler, that’s a trade mark name, so we are allowed use it because it’s an accessory to a major brand? That’s kind of how I interpreted it.

[00:29:00] Karen: I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV.

[00:29:05] Scott: Brody is sleeping, I think he did go to law school but he is sleeping right now. We are not attorneys or legal advisors but I guess the worse that’s going to happen is they are going to contact you and say you can’t used it because it’s a trademark name.

[00:29:20] Karen: The worst that will happen is that a Jeep attorney will contact Amazon and say, “They are violating our trademark,” and Amazon will yank your listing until Jeep decides that Jeep will allow you to use it. We’ve had two clients, not with Jeep but with some other trademark issues and again, I know nothing about this other than what my clients have told me that they have gone through. But according to them it is the trademark holder who is responsible for telling Amazon, “Okay, we have resolved this issue and you can now release their listing and allow them to sell it.”

If the trademark holder does not tell Amazon that it’s been resolved, that listing will never go live again. So, you’re just sitting there with 10,000 of your Jeep Wrangler gas caps and you can’t do anything with them.

[00:30:16] Scott: That’s a good point.

[00:30:21] Karen: Before you do anything like that, I would absolutely talk to a trademark attorney or go online and see if you could find something with the US trademark office, whatever that’s called, I don’t what it’s called and I would be darn sure before you invested any money in a private product that you could actually market it as a Jeep accessory.

[00:30:39] Scott: Right, okay, that’s a good point, that’s a definitely good point. I see a lot of people doing it and I’m sure you do too, but if you’re going to play on that brand in a sense to where you are building an accessory, just be careful and do your homework for sure. Then as far as the bullets, let’s talk about them really quickly. Are they indexed, are they helping you rank? Give us your thoughts on that, I know there are some mixed thoughts on this, some people say no, some people say yes, what are your thoughts?

[00:31:21] Karen: The vast majority of the time, I am seeing the bullets being indexed, I have also seen the blog posts and the webinars  and whatever, where people show that only a portion of the bullets are being indexed but so far I have not found a reason for that. I have not seen anybody else that could say that this is indexed consistently while if you do this way, it is not indexed consistently.

We treat all five of the bullets as if they are going to be indexed and we are trying, like I’ve mentioned before, we are trying to get as many keywords and phrases into those five bullets as we can without it sounding stupid because you don’t want to… If your customers can’t figure out what the heck you are talking about, then you’ve lost a sale and it doesn’t matter how high you rank.

The other thing is to clarify quickly that indexing and ranking are two entirely different things and I think the majority of Amazon sellers out there think that indexed and ranked are synonyms. Just like with Google, the only thing that being indexed means, is that Amazon has put you into the database. It doesn’t mean they’re going to do anything with your listing at all. It just means that you are in Amazon's database and you are showing up.

So, you could, prime example, people say, “Well, I’m indexed but I don’t see myself in the search results.” Exactly, just because you are in the system, doesn’t mean that Amazon thinks your listing is worth ranking, it doesn’t mean that you don’t still need to promote it and have good reviews and good seller feedback and you need to have fully optimized listing, an excellent copy that converts shoppers into buyers and all this other stuff. Being indexed is not a magic bullet for anything. So, once you’re indexed, that’s a first step, now you are in the system, then you have to focus on getting ranked.

[00:33:23] Karen: The bullet points, we are seeing very good results with having the keywords and phrases and the bullet points with indexing and ranking. So, we focus primarily on those instead of working very hard on the description, which really kind of, it’s curious to me why Amazon would only sporadically index and rank using the terms in the description because on mobile, where over 70% of Amazon shoppers are buying from, the description shows up before the bullets. So that’s a little curious, I wonder what they are up to with that and I don’t have an answer to it but you would think they would do things differently.

[00:34:17] Scott: Yeah, you would, for sure and they are always messing with layouts and testing conversion aspects of listings or as far as how you display or how you are seeing like you just said, the description comes up first on mobile versus the bullets, and the bullets is technically what’s next in line. Let me ask you this, how much of the bullets do you think people are really reading? Do you think that they’re more for conversion or do you think they are more for getting indexed and getting ranked?

[00:34:51] Karen: No, I think they’re for conversion. Bullets are easy to read and this is another long-term, long been proven marketing technique was using bullets you see them on web pages, you see them in social media posts, you see bullets everywhere especially on ecomm sites because they are so easy to digest.

I don’t think people read a lot of bullets, I am one that even though you sometimes will see that Amazon states the maximum character count for particular bullets is 500 characters I have never ever one time recommended using 500-character bullets because it’s just too much information.

On a webpage, you end up with this giant block of words that nobody wants to have to try to read. It’s very un-eye friendly. If you do that on mobile, the first on a phone, the first three bullets will show up, regardless of length, so you have to literally scroll through three or four or sometimes five screens on your phone to read three bullet points. Nobody’s going to do that.

So much like what you see with bullets on a webpage or something to that effect, most of the time, people are going to read the first sentence.

Sometimes if the first sentence captures their attention, they will read a second sentence and most of the time, there are exceptions to everything, but most of the time that’s what we recommend and at Marketing Words and it turns out to be somewhere around 150, 200 characters that will also allow you on desktop to get three, four bullets on the layout that has the bullets underneath the picture instead of over to the left and if you have a layout that has bullets over to the left, all five bullets are still easily digestible because it's only two sentences or so around 150 to 200 characters.

[00:36:52] Scott: So basically 150 to 200 characters per bullet?

[00:36:55] Karen: Per bullet.

[00:36:56] Scott: Okay, that’s a good rule of thumb. That’s good and I think that you should be able to figure out what you want to say and put it in there and let’s talk about what to say there really quickly. I know we’ve talked about it before but let’s just talk about it again. What do you put in those first three bullets because I think those are the most important and because those are the ones that are definitely going to be seen? What do you recommend putting in those three?

[00:37:18] Karen: The first one should be filled with something that makes the shopper stop and go, “Mmh, Okay.” Whether that is an exclusive feature that your product has that other competitive products do not have. Maybe yours is patented, maybe you have with the gas cap, maybe yours cute little smiley faces on the cover and you’ve got 15, one has a pink flower and you’ve got 15 variations and the other people’s are just black, they are plain.

So, whatever the thing is, that would make people go, “Oh, okay,” that’s what going to go in your first bullet. The other two would be the other features/benefits, there’s lots of different ways to write bullets, you could do it as a feature benefit, you could it as a benefit feature, you could speak to different segments of your target audience.

People, a lot of the like to go four-wheeling, they like to go mud-sliding, something to that effect, so if you want to talk to the adventure driver when it comes to this cover, whether it’s the design of the cover, maybe you’ve got some outdoorsy, something as a picture on the cover that they could use or maybe there’s some advantage when you are mud sliding to having the gas cap  cover because mud can’t get down into whatever, I don’t know, I’m not that kind of driver, but those types of things.

So, your next two bullets need to include those and a lot of times, what we think will be the biggest draw to our products or services are not what the customers think. You need to test these things. So many Amazon sellers that we see want to put it up and walk away and then they wonder why they are not making any sales or “We’ve made sales for three months and all over sudden they’ve dried up.”

[00:39:26] Karen: Well, then something has changed. So you need to do some more testing, that is probably one of the top five secrets that massively successful sellers have is they are in a monthly habit of testing every single thing.

Six ways from Sunday. There are so many different things to test but I think people either don’t want to, don’t know how to, they don’t get in the habit, they might do it for two, three months and then it just kind of wanes and falls off to the wayside and whatever and they aren’t responsible for doing that or consistent with doing it every month but it is a vital way to improve your listing. Not only your rankings but also your conversions.

So, once you line up those bullets then you may have to go back through and rotate through them or pull a feature out and put a different one in and see if that makes a difference but the last bullet, if you have a guarantee, that should go in the last bullet, unless it’s something that you find has a high return rate or that when you’ve done your research and you’ve gone back and looked and you found that people are suspicious, a lot of times with supplements and things like that. People are, “Where is this made?”

That maybe something that needs to be in the first three bullets, that it’s made in the USA or whatever. They are worried about losing their money on a product or something, then maybe that guarantee when you do your testing, you move it up to the third bullet and see if that helps anything but lots of different ways to write those and don’t, even with your title, with your description with your search terms, the whole listing, don’t just put it up and say, “I’m done.”  You’re never done.

[00:41:19] Scott: Yeah, no you aren’t and the one thing that I would say here is just be careful when you’re testing to number one test and then be patient and wait until you get some data back, because a lot of people I find that they’ll test something one day and then two days later they’ll change it and do something else and you’ll never going to know. Then the other mistake I see people making is doing two things.

You might change the image and the price. Well, you change the image and the price which one was the converting factor like what one was there. So you’ve got to do the picture let that go. The other thing it comes down to is how much traffic you have. You can’t do this if you have three visitors a day.

There’s got to be conclusive data. Greg Mercer I’ve had him on. I know you know Greg he’s got a great tool called Spiltly and actually it’s a 30-day trial. You guys can find it on my resources page or just go to theamazingseller.com/splitly. I recommend definitely doing that, but again doing it the right way which means patience.

It takes time and like you said you’ve done one thing, you’ve tested it over a certain amount of time or a certain amount of impressions or people hitting your page. Then from there deciding what’s the next thing and then doing one at a time and I know that you’re doing a monthly thing now where you’re doing split test.

Talk a little bit about that. I know the last time we talked I don’t think you had this going yet. Talk a little bit about it and maybe if you can either give me a little bit of what’s been happening as far as like that you’re seeing in split testing that we should be aware of?

[00:42:58] Karen: Well, no the last time we talked we did not have this, it’s called listing lab and it is a monthly testing group. I create two tests that are delivered every month because you really, well some people can do more tests than that if they’re doing individual listings and whatever.

This would give you a good basis to start with that you can do on one listing or you can do on 100 listings or what have you. It would work really well with Splitly actually, because listing lab tells you what to test and how to test and why you should be testing it. Then Splitly would be the software that would make it all happen.

Actually, it would work really well in conjunction with that, but a lot of people I’ve found have done that they’ve even said that they’ve gotten Splitly before and they just really didn’t know what to do with it. This shows you what to do and how to do it, but things like we were talking about with the bullets.

There are several different tests that come up across a period of time where I will show you exactly how to write different types of bullets. This by the way let me stop right there and say this is not a product that will teach you how to create a listing or how to write copy.

Yeah, if you want that you need to look at my Amazon advantage eBook or the Amazon product description bootcamp, that’s a video series that I offer. Those will teach you how to write copy and do other things. This is all about testing, but I’ll show you, if you’re bullets are this way then try writing them that way.

If your title is like this then maybe you rearrange it and do this and walk you through how to look at the data. What it means, how long you should leave this going and then you come back and you look at them and say, “Okay, when I started this is how many impressions I had, this was the click through rate. This was the conversion rate et cetera.”

[00:45:02] Karen: Then we’ll go by time instead of by impressions then two weeks later you take a look at it and here are the results that we’ve had did it go up? Did it go down? Did it stay level? What’s the situation? You go back and you do a different test. Maybe you do something with your search terms, you pull some out that aren’t working well.

Did your traffic go up? Did your traffic go down? Okay, great we’ll we’ve pulled out some of these other terms that weren’t working very well and traffic actually went up to the listing instead of down. Now you have an idea that these types of terms are really probably not the best ones that work in conjunction with your listings because they were hindering the traffic from coming to your website instead of helping.

Once you can understand what’s going on in the back-end, and how to implement these tests then you can either do them manually or you can use software like Splitly or something else and conduct these tests on a regular basis to be able to see what’s going on. A lot of people take a look at all the data in the back and then go, “What does that mean? Where is all the stuff?”

[00:46:14] Scott: Yeah, 100%, so you break that stuff down so they can actually look at it and then assess what’s happening and also give ideas and suggestions on what to test and then from there you can actually give an example of what you should be looking at. How you should be looking at it and what you should be tweaking.

[00:46:34] Karen: Exactly, and I had one seller that said they tested a completely compliant title, this was in an extremely competitive category against one that they had been using for a very long time that was the 200 characters with all the keywords and whatever and the woman said, “When I set this up…” She was actually using Splitly. “When I set this up I was shaking my head the whole time and I thought there isn’t no way.

There is no way that this is going to improve traffic or conversions with this listing,” compared to the one that she had written, that was all blown out. It did by over 300% and that is not to say that everybody listening needs to go run out and change all their titles to 100% compliant titles because Amazon is not a level playing field and every listing that is on Amazon is not equal to every other listing.

There are too many things going on in the back-end and then PPC campaigns that can seriously tweak and hinder a lot of what you see on the front end. Just because that worked for one listing doesn’t mean… It isn’t going to even work for all the listing she has in that category. It’s that specific, your testing has to be that specific. Some people say, throw up their hands and say, “Forget it I’m not going to all that trouble.” Okay, your choice.

[00:48:06] Scott: Well, yeah and that’s the thing a lot of people they don’t want to do that because they’d rather just go out and try to find another product. A lot of times you can just take the current product that you have and squeeze more sales from it and get better sales velocity and all that.

I’m actually looking at one of our Splitly tests that we did on just price and we ran up for about 30 days with a good number of traffic. We had a price point between $17.99 and then $22.42, it's what it was. It ended up though the optimum price was $21.47. Now, you would think well the lower price would have did better, it would have sold more.

[00:48:48] Karen: Not necessarily.

[00:48:49] Scott: Not necessarily, right so now we’ve locked up price in a $21.47 and that’s our sweet spot right now. We may go back and retest it again but now I’m going to test something else. Now we may test the main image or maybe we’ll test like you did the title or maybe we’ll test the bullet.

There is other things but it will be one at a time and it will be for a certain amount of time with certain amount of traffic. That way there we can say, “Oh wow! Look at this has made a difference and now I’d stick with it and move on to the next thing.”

[00:49:16] Karen: That’s what this one lady was telling me, she’s done similar things with individual bullets and she said, “I do this with every listing I have.” She compares what she wrote against what some other people wrote or maybe she writes two or three different versions of the bullets or what not and puts them in there and goes bullet to bullet to bullet.

It’s a mix and match thing so she might have one bullet that she wrote, she might have one bullet from a listing that her VA wrote or whoever else wrote. She tests each individual one and then pulls the five best out of all the tests that she’s run and that’s the listing that will continue to kick butt and make sales for her.

[00:49:59] Scott: No, that’s great, no I love it, all right well, wow. Time flies when you’re having fun right and then Brody is going to let everyone know that the show is over.

[00:50:09] Karen: Brody, hi buddy.

[00:50:13] Scott: Yes, so like I said Karen I mean there is a ton that we can go into this has been a lot of fun. Is there any last little bits of advice or tips that you’d give someone right now with just listing optimization and ranking? Just maybe just a couple of tips that you would give them.

[00:50:29] Karen: Yes, relevance, relevance, relevance. Make sure that you don’t go too far out in left field when you’re looking at your keywords and key phrases. Balance between your keywords or the shorter key phrases and the long tail key phrases because like we said before often the long tail key phrases are actually going to convert better even though they get lower traffic. Depending on what category you’re in and what product you’re selling you may actually see better sales from long tail phrases than you would from broader short tail phrases.

[00:51:07] Scott: Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:51:11] Karen: Yeah, make sure that you distribute these with your most important key phrase in your title and then your other ones that are going through your five bullets. It’s absolutely fine to put keywords in your product description but it’s not something that we spend a whole lot of time on.

Just as a wrap up keep it level, we’ve actually had clients that we have tested not very many so far but just a couple that have pulled all the key phrases out of the search term fields and it did not do a thing to their listing. Obviously and this was after the 250 everything was legal and up to date with whatever.

Even with less than 250 in there for those particular listings either Amazon was not indexing those terms at all and they were not ones that had great number one best seller and all of the things that Amazon would say they were not going to index or they indexed them and they just didn’t carry any weight.

We put them in there when we do it but sometimes we don’t struggle to put 250 bytes or characters or how whatever you want to say into the back end. We go through and do our keyword research process and then the ones that don’t go into the title and the bullets and naturally in the description end up in the backend. If that happens to be 75 characters then it’s 75 characters.

[00:52:42] Scott: Okay, so you’re not repeating, you’re not putting a key phrase in or that’s in the title into the backend?

[00:52:50] Karen: No, so there was a point where Amazon looked like they were going in that direction and there was actually strong evidence that they were and I don’t know if they actually did go that way for a while and then changed their mind. But now we’re seeing much better results with the individual keywords in the search term section that are not repeated.

Now we will repeat terms that have been in the product description, but if it’s in the title you’ve got the same word… Well, you’ve got one word in the title, you’ve got word number two or phrase number two in the bullets and you also have phrase number two in the description. We don’t count that.

[00:53:31] Scott: Okay, so title, bullets, description anything that’s left over that didn’t get put in there, put in the backend?

[00:53:40] Karen: Right.

[00:53:41] Scott: Okay, yeah that’s really helpful and I think just to get people like just a mindset and it’s what it takes but also I just want to stress this. Something might be working with one listing and then may not be working with the other. Don’t think that you shouldn’t test maybe having your end because I would say to just test this.

If you don’t have anything to put in the backend, test put your thing in the backend and not putting it in the backend and see if that even bumps your rankings. You just don’t know if you’ve got the room for it. They’re not going to penalize you because you have a key phrase in the title and a key phrase in the backend.

Right now, we’re saying it’s a waste thing to do, you don’t necessarily have to do that, but that doesn’t mean if you don’t have anything to put in the backend test something like that and then maybe test it for a week with it and then without it and see what happens. You may be able to report back to us and go, “No I did that and it changed it.”

We’ll be like, okay well, maybe your listing was different for whatever reason because everyone is graded and there is all different things that go on with your listing that’s not just those things and the age of your account could have something to do with your feedback score whatever. We don’t know but there is a whole bunch of different variables anyway Karen.

[00:54:50] Karen: Amazon is not a level playing field at all.

[00:54:53] Scott: No, but I didn’t want to let people know if you’re interested a lot of TASers since I’ve had you on have definitely went through your eBook in your video training course on listing optimizations. I wanted to give everyone the discount that you’re offering which is 20% off.

If they want to check that out, head over to theamazingseller.com/rank and there is a code there that you’ll use. It’s AMZ20 I will leave this on the resources page in the show notes. If you wanted to just go there directly just theamazingseller.com/rank and that will take you to that page.

To get the 20% off you’ll just need to put in that code AMZ20 and you’ll get 20% off. Then the other one which is new, is her monthly split testing and that is theamazingseller.com/lab and I think you’re doing something cool there too. Is that 20% off as well? It’s like I think 13 bucks or something the first month?

[00:55:50] Karen: No, it’s actually, yeah, it’s more than 20% off on your first month you get it for just $13 and then the other months are at the regular price. You get I don’t know what that would be 50%, 45% off on your first month.

[00:56:01] Scott: Yeah, it’s a nice little discount, so yeah, definitely go check that out if you’re interested theamazingseller.com/lab and you can go directly over there and check that out. Karen, as always this has been fun I always love chatting optimization and ranking and all that fun stuff because I know that you’re deep in the trenches with that. Definitely have an awesome day and keep me posted on everything.

[00:56:27] Karen: Thanks, and I appreciate it Scott we’ll see you later.

[00:56:30] Scott: Okay, so again another great conversation with someone that is deep in the trenches in the listing optimization and ranking and indexing and all of that stuff trenches and that’s why I love having people like Karen on, that are actively just really focusing on this one area which is a pretty important area.

Hopefully you’ve got a ton of takeaways and golden nuggets. I know I did, so if you didn’t you might want to go back and listen again or you might just want to go to the show notes and read through everything as well. I know a lot of you do want the transcripts, that’s why we created them for you because you guys requested them.

Go over there and grab them. Just head over to theamazingseller.com/417 if you did want to use her services or if you wanted to download her book, or even go and check out her split testing lab that she is doing. There is two different links number one, if you want to get the listing optimization, eBook or video training head over to theamazingseller.com/rank very easy theamazingseller.com/rank, use code AMZ20 and you’ll get 20% off.

The other one is the split testing group which I think is pretty awesome all right so theamazingseller.com/lab and that will take you over to that page and then just use the code L-A-B, so LAB13. That will get you $13 is what it costs to get access to that for the first month $13 to get beyond the scenes, which looks at some split testing and for her to give you suggestions on what you should split test next.

Definitely go check that out if you’re interested and yeah, I would say just look at every different component on your listing as something that you can focus on but not all at once. Okay, I want to stress that and I know Karen did as well. You want to focus on one area at a time like I said we just recently did a split test on pricing on one of our main SKUs, one of our top selling SKUs and we went from $17.99.

[00:58:40] Scott: Then we had it go in test upwards of let’s say it was $21.99 or maybe $22.99 and it ended up coming out at $21.47 was the optimal price that we were getting most profit and most sales. That’s something that you definitely want to focus on one thing at a time. That goes for anything right in this business. Focus on one thing at a time if you’re launching, focus on that, then optimization.

Then from there pay-per-click, so focus on one area and refine, tweak, get better and just keep moving forward. All right, so that’s it guys, that’s going to wrap it up remember as always, I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you, but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.

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One Comment

  1. Heidi

    Hi Scott,

    I love your podcasts, thank you so much for generously sharing such valuable information. In my former career part of my job was to set up split testing and I am super excited to apply that to my Amazon listings. Do you know if there is a way to account for seasonality? In other words, can I have 2 different versions of the same listing running on Amazon at the same time? I love the concept of testing but can’t get comfy with the fact that differences could be due to other factors if there isn’t a pure test/control environment.

    Thanks!

    1. Scott Voelker

      Hey Heidi, yes if you’re using something like Splitly, it would be rotating through whatever your testing during the testing period (it’s not quite the same as a 50/50 split, but it’s pretty close)

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