When writing copy for your products, you have two audiences to satisfy: your target customer and Amazon’s algorithm.
97% of people click on search results within the first page, so it’s crucial that your product appears there. Shoppers who don’t find what they’re looking for within the first few pages of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) are more likely to alter their search query than to continue searching through pages and pages of results.
Then, once a customer has landed on your page, copywriting is a powerful tool for increasing conversions. Harnessing the strategy and art of copywriting is a universal key to getting noticed and driving sales, no matter what products you have to offer.
How can you convince a customer to choose your product?
What not to do
First of all, it’s important to know what to avoid, to skip the time-wasting process of trial and error and keep your account compliant with Amazon’s terms of service.
Reserve the bullet point space for features and benefits only, rather than being tempted to boast sales volume, reviews, and so on. This feels inauthentic to a customer, and wastes your opportunity to share important information. A strong product with a number of useful qualities should give you plenty to talk about.
It’s also smart to eliminate subjective terms— don’t describe your product as the best, #1, and so on. Amazon specifically advises against it, as “most customers don’t use subjective terms in their queries.”
Finally, do not include competitor brand names in your copy. Amazon places this practice under the umbrella of “providing misleading or irrelevant information,” a violation of their terms of service that will get your listing removed and account suspended.
We’ll get into how to structure your copywriting to be favored by Amazon’s algorithm, but ultimately, it should be written with the end user in mind: your customer.
Keywords are an important element that should be included in your copy, but avoid “keyword stuffing”— filling all of your copy with any keywords that may be vaguely relevant to your product in order to appear sooner in search results. Smart shoppers can easily detect this cheap technique, especially since it results in choppy, unnatural-sounding copy. To be truly convincing, your copywriting must be crafted with a customer’s interests in mind— not solely an algorithm’s.
The bullet points need to highlight benefits in a compelling way. Don’t just list a feature. Describe the feature with vivid language, then go on to explain how it can benefit a customer. You can also personalize your bullet points with lifestyle uses: giving suggestions as to how customers can use the product in their lives.
Another powerful strategy for your bullet points is to determine what problems your product solves. Alternatively, you can identify what issues similar products have, and explain how and why yours is superior.
Shoppers have largely moved online for convenience and price-motivated reasons, but one of the greatest advantages credited to brick-and-mortar shopping is the ability to see and touch exactly what you are purchasing. Parallel an in-store experience by using sensory language. Encourage your customer to imagine holding and using the product by describing its look and feel, as well as its utility. You will only have to do a fraction of the convincing this way— your customer’s imagination will do the rest.
It’s a craft that requires great skill and a significant amount of time and effort. However, the results that excellent copywriting generates for your listings are well worth the investment.
How does the algorithm work?
Producing copy that answers to the needs of your customer is one step of the process. Next, you’ll need to satisfy the complicated preferences and requirements of Amazon’s algorithm.
Amazon’s algorithm relies on the logic of purchase likelihood to sort its search results. It is designed this way because the sole intention of those using Amazon’s search feature is to make a purchase— as opposed to Google, for example, where people are mostly searching to gather information. In fact, Amazon receives almost three times more search volume for products than Google. Amazon wants to maximize sales potential, so takes two groups of factors into account when ranking product listings: performance factors and relevance factors.
Performance factors consider the success rate that a product has enjoyed so far. These include the click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and sales volume. Products with high performance in these metrics will rise to the top of search results, as Amazon can assume that they are tried and true.
Relevance factors decide how closely a product aligns with a search query. Keyword use and positioning mainly determine the relevance of a product, which is why it is so important to identify and incorporate only those keywords which are most directly related to your product. Amazon wants to make sure that it is showing customers exactly what they are looking for when they make a query.
How do I use keywords?
Keyword research is a significant step in copywriting for optimizing your product listings. It’s important to not only find the most powerful terms related to your products, but to understand where and how to incorporate them into your copywriting.
Amazon is an expert in shopper behavior, so has designed its algorithm to weight keywords more heavily in the places that shoppers look to first. This means keywords in the listing’s title have the greatest weight, followed respectively by bullet points, Seller Central keywords, further product specifications, and product description. This puts a product whose title contains the search query word in the best position to appear early in the search results.
Finding the most powerful keywords that will give you the most leverage can be a challenge. The best way to approach the task is to use a combination of methods. We recommend starting off by studying competitor listings: what key terms appear there? Focus on the title and bullet points, which, as we’ve learned, are the most favored fields by Amazon.
You can also consider 3rd party programs such as Merchant Words. An expansive international database of hundreds of millions of keywords, this tool offers valuable insights as to how buyers are searching for products online.
What else should I consider?
Fewer search terms for relevance
At the end of August 2017, Amazon reduced its backend search term capacity from 1000 characters in 5 fields to 250 characters.
Amazon’s research found that sellers who exceeded 100 backend keywords were ineffective. Sellers were inclined to fill out all of the indexing space available, so included terms only vaguely related to their product, distant enough to be irrelevant.
When Amazon indexed these irrelevant words, they sometimes ended up showing a product to a customer whose search query included one of those terms. This reflects badly on both the seller and on Amazon. A customer looking for a quick, efficient shopping experience is disappointed, and no sale is made. This means no profit for the seller and no commission for Amazon. Plus, this negatively impacts the product listing by reducing its overall conversion rate. Finally, if the seller was running a PPC campaign and paid for that click that ended up being irrelevant, that portion of their advertising budget had gone to waste.
Sellers using 35-40 keywords performed better in search results, and had higher CTRs and conversions. By limiting the number of keywords for sellers across the board, Amazon is tailoring search results to be more specific and relevant to customer’s needs.
Additionally, the change likely eases pressure on Amazon’s systems. As of August 2017, Amazon has a total of 536,641,219 products for sale. By allowing a total of 5,000 characters’ worth of search terms per product, the character count of terms to index that Amazon was faced with approached 2.7 billion. The update slashed this number to approximately 1.3 billion, much less for the system to contend with.
Optimizing your title
Finally, don’t overlook the title: it’s one of the first places that a shopper’s eyes land while scanning search results. To maximize your title’s impact, you should be including the following information, as applicable:
- Product line
- Material or key ingredient
- One effective keyword
Being cognizant of your title length is an important consideration. Titles on Amazon may show at 35, 76, 115, or 140 characters.
Mobile tablet results show the longest titles of 140 characters.
In desktop or laptop search results, titles will show 115 characters.
In mobile smartphone results, titles will show 76 characters.
Sponsored ads will show 35 characters.
This knowledge can help you craft the most effective titles. Including relevant information about your product at each of these character cutoff points is the best way to appeal to all Amazon users, regardless of the device they are using to search. Keep in mind that filling the length with repeated keywords will not work to your benefit. This does not improve search rankings on Amazon, is likely to be a turnoff to potential customers, and wastes space that could be better used providing extra details and highlighting specific features.
How does copywriting fit in to the optimization process?
Copywriting and thumbnail optimization go hand in hand, especially as customers are transitioning to mobile shopping and spending less time reading bullet points and product descriptions. As focus declines and customers rely more on visual impressions to make buying decisions, it’s imperative to master the art of incorporating copy in thumbnail images.
The main product image cannot have any copy per Amazon’s guidelines, but all of the remaining images in a set present a range of new placement opportunities for short, informative phrases that help a shopper make a buying decision. We discussed this valuable opportunity in more detail when we talked about the importance of thumbnail images.
Effective copywriting plays a vital role in your product’s visibility, conversion rate, and sales volume. It’s an asset that deserves every bit of the time, effort, and skill it requires to be done well. Expertly optimized copywriting can be the difference between a product that gets lost in the wash of search results, and the product that rises to the first page to experience heightened conversion rates and sales.