Yes, it’s true. With a single mistake, you can alienate people with vision loss, mobile shoppers, your Amazon merchandiser, and Google. Just a single bad move–but one that is becoming increasingly common on product pages controlled via Amazon Seller Central.
Recently, we’ve had multiple inquiries about big images as Amazon A+ content. Instead of the rich combination of text and well-placed images that makes for smart, effective enhanced content, these companies are seeking large, static images that mimic some of the best practices of enhanced content without some of the crucial perks it brings.
Here’s an example.
We had links to other examples in the original draft of this post, but Amazon has replaced them all with plain text. (The product description here used to be in giant image form, for instance.)
Working with Amazon Seller Central and Vendor Central, as we’ve discussed before, carries different advantages and disadvantages. Vendor Central users are required to use the modules to create content, which can seem restrictive until you consider the benefits it brings—chiefly, mobile-friendly content, a crucial element in an age where 44 percent of retail internet minutes are spent on a smartphone. (An additional 11 percent are spent using a tablet.)
Seller Central is a bit of a third-party Wild West. Less governed, sellers are able to produce and publish content with fewer restrictions than Vendor Central imposes, which makes it possible to upload these large, static images in lieu of written content. Amazon’s official stance is that they don’t allow them, but many are uploaded and left alone for weeks or months (a period of time that seems even longer if you happen to be selling, say, a number one product in a very competitive category).
The Many Limits of Images as Product-Page Content
While these images can be visually attractive, if you’re looking at them with catalog content in mind and not the particular needs of merchandising content and the product page, they have severe limitations that any manufacturer with real ambitions should at least pause at. When you embed informational text about your product in an image, you make vital functions of a proper webpage impossible, including:
- SEO, as your text can only be perceived by a human reader
- Accessibility functions, including software for the visually impaired
- Mobile usability (have you ever tried to view a giant image on a small mobile screen?)
- Fast page load times, which are dragged down by large images
- Compatibility with your online retailer—Amazon routinely takes down these images, often without informing the manufacturer
A similar, though less dramatic, problem has started appearing in certain module-based pages too. Though Amazon officially forbids it, some Vendor Central sellers have started uploading images with text into modules.
While these pages at least have the benefit of supporting text in the rest of the modules, it just doesn’t make sense to embed important information in a part of the page that can’t be crawled, is inaccessible to those with vision loss, and will be difficult to read even for people with 20/20 vision when viewed via mobile.
Good, strong visuals are vitally important. Keep images separate from your text so search engines people with different visual abilities, mobile users, and Amazon will all be able to get the important product information they need. Their experience with your products shouldn’t be dependent on whether you work with Amazon through Vendor or Seller Central.
You can get the effect of big, splashy images in ways that your customers will actually like. Here’s how:
- Invest in good content, organized well and written using the vocabulary of your customer.
- Lead with benefits; talk about your customer, not yourself.
- Augment this content with clear, beautiful images of your product alone, your product in action, and your product in the context of your customer’s life.
Easy? Not exactly. But more effective for everyone than something your 19-year-old intern pooped out using Photoshop.