Amazon.com Inc., like Google Inc., doesn’t share the formula it uses to determine what products show up first when consumers type in a search term, but executives whose success depends on showing up high in search results have figured out strategies that work.
Anna Nason, online marketing manager of data feeds at flowers and gift e-retailer FTD Cos. Inc., for example, shared tips with attendees of the Amazon & Me workshop at the 2016 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition today.
Feed optimization is key. This relies on merchants creating product listings that are complete and well-matched to the terms consumers enter when they search for a particular product. “Text matching is the heavyweight in this algorithm,” Nason said.
She pointed out that Amazon limits the product name field to 200 characters—that’s more than what eBay or Google allow—and merchants should use the extra space. Also appearing above the fold on product pages are five fields for bullet points, which Nason says merchants should use to describe product attributes and benefits. “The more relevant your bullets are the better your ranking on the results page will be,” she said.
Merchants also can enter keywords, up to a 1,000-character limit, that they think consumers will use to look for the product. Nason recommended searching for products on Amazon, seeing what terms it autosuggests and including those among the keywords. She showed a search example, entering “Captain America socks.” The autosuggestions that appeared in a drop-down window included the term, plus “with wings” and “with capes.” “Those are keywords you want to include if you are selling Captain America socks that have wings,” she said, adding that merchants can also make use of their Google AdWords paid search advertising keywords to find relevant terms to include.
Other fields to fill out when relevant to the product include tagging special occasions that may be associated with the product, such as holidays like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day, the target audience field (men, women, kids/baby), and if a merchant is selling a product with a specific attribute, such as a cream for dry skin, select that attribute as well. Amazon has product templates by product category with these fields available.
Beyond text matching, Nason said feed optimization also means pricing a product so that it’s competitive and ensuring inventory is available to fulfill orders, as well as having the selection and sales history.
FTD is No. 116 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide. Amazon is No. 1.Favorite