Content Advice For Amazon Sellers

Sellers on Amazon are by now very familiar with Vendor Central and Seller Central, Amazon’s separate designated platforms for first- and third-party sellers, respectively. Vendor Central is an invite-only platform used by manufacturers and distributors, while Seller Central is for merchants who use Amazon as a marketplace to sell other company’s wares.9-8-14-Crowell-sample3

Amazon Vendor Central allows for the use of A+ modules to create enhanced content, while Amazon Seller Central does not. As a result, people using Seller Central often ask us what they can do to improve their pages. Even without the ability to add A+, there’s plenty Seller Central users can do to optimize their content to make their pages look better and function more effectively.

So what’s the most important thing to succeeding on Seller Central? Pay close attention to your basic content.

Here are the four things you should do to improve your basic content:

1. Audit Your Content Across All Your Online Channels

Performing a content audit of all of your online content, not just Amazon, is essential for making sure that your pages aren’t full of unnecessary or outdated information. Like going through an old filing cabinet and finding papers that once seemed important but are now essentially junk, simply looking at your existing content will reveal what information can be deleted, what needs to be updated, and what can be reorganized to function more effectively.

How deeply you decide to delve into auditing your online content is up to you: Are you going to finally clean out the whole garage, or just make the path between the car and the door to the house a little wider?

If your audit shows that your content is lacking, put together a strategy to clean it up across all channels at the same time. It may be inconvenient in the short-term, but in the long run it will save you time and money.

Regardless of how thoroughly you audit your content, these aspects should not be ignored:

Is Your Content Well-Written? Take the time to write thoughtful, informative descriptions of all your products. Does your content thoroughly explain the product’s features and benefits? Is it written clearly and concisely with proper full sentences? Does it refrain from using clichés and vapid marketspeak? Giving customers the information they need is essential to finishing the sale.

Is Your Content SEO Optimized? Even if you haven’t invested in an outside party to fully optimize your content, there’s plenty you can do to make sure both Amazon and Google are properly indexing your products. Your product copy should always include primary keywords like the company name, product name, and model number if applicable, and secondary keywords that explain what the product does or is. So, primary keywords would be “Apple 32GB iPod” and secondary keywords would be “portable MP3 player.” Varying the way the product is described using relevant, applicable terms throughout your copy is essential for good search engine optimization.

Is Your Messaging Consistent? If you’re selling similar products, or multiple variations of the same product, consistent messaging is essential to preventing customer confusion. This is also important if you’re selling on other marketplaces in addition to Amazon. Offering consistent messaging across all channels, and internally within each individual channel, ensures clear communication with your customers and reduces abandoned sales and returns.

Is Your Content Retailer-Specific? Make sure your copy reflects what is actually being sold on that site. Do your descriptions of colors, product sizes, and pack-sizes accurately match the website is selling? Contradicting information on the product page reduces customer confidence in buying.

2. Clean Up Your Content on Amazon

Basic content on Amazon consists of titles, bullets and paragraphs. For something that seems so simple, it’s amazing how many sellers on Amazon make a mess of it.

Titles

A good product title should list the company, product family, specific product, and color, size, or version that applies to the specific product being sold. A product title should not contain an entire paragraph of text explaining what the product does. Here is an example of what not to do:

bad-title-screenshot_2

 

This title is visually off-putting, and frankly, comes across as desperate. The page immediately loses scannability, and the use of full caps lock makes it seem like you’re being yelled at. People aren’t going to buy your product just because they read the title…but they might not buy because of it.

Technically, Amazon doesn’t allow “company information and sales messaging” in the title section, and adding this information there, or cramming the title with keywords, could result in your page being pulled. Though some argue that ignoring Amazon’s warning and adding keywords actually improves your listing on the site, Amazon is very clear that keywords should only be added in the five Search Keyword fields they supply when setting up your products, and doing otherwise can result in your page getting pulled.

Bullets

Located beneath the title and usually above-the fold on the product page, the bullets section is your chance to give customers a detailed yet concise breakdown of exactly what your product offers. Though bullet points are at-a-glace sets of features, try to avoid sentence fragments, and make sure each feature mentioned is followed by the benefit of that feature. Multiple sentences per bullet should also be avoided, as the bullets lose scannability and tend to look jumbled. Amazon also clearly discourages this practice, outlining in their rules for Seller Central, “This is not the place for paragraphs,” and suggests 80 characters per bullet.

Like titles, the bullet section is also not meant for cramming with tags and keywords, or “Keyword Bombing.” In addition to breaking Amazon’s rules and running the risk of having your page pulled, it looks sloppy and offers no usable information to customers already on the page. Here is an example:

list-of-tags

While it is very important to maximize your SEO keywords on Amazon for better rankings and searchability, use the five Search Keyword fields Amazon offers to do so instead of Keyword Bombing. According to this article on “5 Things That Could Get Your Products De-Listed,” “While not everyone is getting warnings about these violations, changes have been put into place and more are on the way.”

We recommend using best-practices when writing your bullets, and only offering your customers pertinent and succinct information about your products.

Paragraphs

Seller Central is bare-bones, offering no HTML and no visual display options for bold, italics, line spacing, or bullet points. Your words are going to have to paint the picture here.

What matters most is that you offer your customers a detailed and thorough description of your product. Think about whom your target demographic is and tailor your writing to them. Employ basic English 101 fundamentals: Don’t tell, show. Well-written product copy lets customers know exactly what they’re buying, allowing them to feel comfortable buying it.

3. Understand Amazon’s Style Guidelines

As stated in this helpful Seller Central forum, it is imperative that you familiarize yourself with Amazon’s rules for Seller Central. Just because you can do something on Seller Central doesn’t mean you’re actually allowed to do it.  Though it’s easy to find examples of people clearly breaking Amazon’s rules, not following them can have serious consequences.

One practice that Amazon prohibits, yet then strangely sometimes enables, is uploading large, single images with embedded text in the Product Description area, as seen here:

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Intended to mimic A+ content on Seller Central where it is not allowed, these large images may be visually appealing, but are ultimately a bad idea. As we’ve written before, when you embed informational text about your product in an image, you make vital functions of a proper webpage impossible, including:

  • SEO – search engines can’t read your text
  • Accessibility – software for the visually impaired can’t read your text
  • Mobile usability – giant image don’t work well on a small mobile screen
  • Page load times – large images will slow down browsing

In addition, Amazon routinely takes down these images, often without informing the manufacturer.

The pros are often short-lived and don’t outweigh the cons. This and other practices like Keyword Bombing may seem like smart ways to game Amazon’s unendingly porous system of rules and regulations, but do so at your own peril. Slightly elevated listings for a month aren’t going to offset getting your pages suspended for indefinite amounts of time.

4. Improve Your Content Outside of Amazon

If your company sells on other sites outside of Amazon, you probably have additional options for enhanced content. Seller Central might offer limited layouts for product pages, but you might be able to create better-looking pages on Walmart.com, Costco.com, or other sites.

The Takeaway:

Third-party sellers on Amazon don’t have access to enhanced content, but they can still create great basic content.

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