The Future of Amazon 2019: 22 Sellers and Thought Leaders Share Their Predictions

For brands and entrepreneurs selling on Amazon, 2018 was a whirlwind of change with increases in competition, old success tactics becoming obsolete, new Amazon programs, and so much more. If history is any indicator, then we can expect even more of these changes in the new year. But what sorts of changes should we expect? How will these changes impact your Amazon business? And what steps should you be taking to prepare for these changes to best get ahead of the competition?

Here at Viral Launch, through helping drive more than $7 billion dollars in Amazon sales, we’re equipped with a vast amount of insight and data. This experience working with thousands of brands (from small private label sellers, to $100m+ 3rd party sellers and world renowned Fortune 100 brands) has enabled us to predict some of the biggest things to come in 2019. And we want to share them with you so that you can prepare for what’s ahead this year.

Not only that, but we teamed up with more than twenty 7, 8, and 9 figure sellers and Amazon thought leaders to get their unique perspectives on what to expect and how to prepare for success in the coming year. So, here are 11 predictions for Amazon in 2019 to inform your business decision making, formulated by Viral Launch and informed by top industry experts.

Click Here to Read the Experts’ Predictions

1. Major Brands Get Smart About Amazon Organic Ranking & Sales

We are predicting there will be more major brands that get smart about Amazon success tactics, putting even more pressure on Amazon sellers!

The reason third-party sellers (the small private label sellers) have had the opportunity to become ecommerce giants (we have a couple private label customers and personal friends that surpassed $100m on Amazon in 2018) is because when Amazon changed the ecommerce game, they changed the necessary tactics that drive success.

In a lot of ways, the primary tactics used in traditional retail – such as paying for shelf space, good in-person packaging, and branding – gave way to lower prices, organic keyword ranking, and pay per click/direct response advertising.

Amazon third-party sellers have been able to drive massive success because their only chance of driving sales among such established players was to become students of the new paradigms of retail success tactics. These sellers have worked diligently to understand the key drivers of Amazon organic keyword ranking and conversions, which has led to significantly greater visibility than their household name competitors.

Major brands continue to use deprecated success techniques, leaving the door wide open for third party sellers to reap the benefits of their Amazon expertise. Major brands typically only pay attention to Amazon PPC as their most impactful lever of driving sales. However, in general, only 15-40% of a product’s sales potential comes from Amazon advertising, while the remaining 60-85% can be found in the organic search results. It’s within this uncontested 60-85% space that third-party sellers have thrived and grown.

We are seeing more of these larger brands realize that there is far more potential beyond just Amazon advertising sales. They are beginning to hire successful Amazon sellers and/or software providers as consultants in order to help them become experts, much like successful third-party sellers. This is causing them to shift their focus from the 15-40% of sales potential to 100% of sales potential.

2. Amazon PPC Becomes Less Profitable But More Important

We are predicting that advertising on Amazon will see an increase in efficiency, significant increases in cost, and a significant increase in importance to success for brands on Amazon.

As Amazon increases their dominance in ecommerce and retail, brands are forced to move more of their budget to Amazon advertising. Significantly increased demand, combined with inefficient spend of untrained brands, will absolutely result in increased CPCs (cost-per-clicks). We’ve been observing this trend for quite some time in many markets, but we expect it to increase in velocity and ubiquity. It’s hard to go more than a week without seeing a new post in the media about Amazon’s advertising platform. With that said, we do think that while costs will increase, efficiency will improve.

Viral Launch still sees significant inefficiencies in general Amazon advertising campaign management, largely due to the limitations of Amazon’s in-house advertising tools and programs as well as a lack of sophisticated ad management and automation alternatives. However, we expect new tools/improved sophistication and functionality in Amazon advertising tools and programs will allow for an improvement in advertising spend efficiency. We also expect Amazon to continue improving their ad targeting technology with new programs and tools which will help brands improve overall spend efficiency.

Additionally, we believe that advertising on Amazon is and will continue to be increasingly more important to being competitive on Amazon. With more ad placements per page, we expect advertising to continue increasing the share of an individual product’s sales potential versus organic sales potential. Advertising can also be an important tool in affecting organic sales. Brands that have been using purely organic traffic to build their business will be forced to become experts at Amazon advertising in order to remain ahead of the competition.

3. The Reign of Building Brands Off Amazon

We are predicting that more Amazon sellers will focus on building brands off of Amazon as the effort/reward ratio continues to improve relative to the ratio of focusing solely on Amazon.

Up until 2018, Viral Launch has been a major advocate for focusing on Amazon and delaying true brand building until you crossed the $10m mark on Amazon. While we had obviously seen a few brands build success using a multi-channel strategy (selling outside of just Amazon), it was extremely rare. Much more frequently, sellers hit 7 and 8 figures ($10,000,000+)  while focused almost exclusivelyon selling on Amazon. Opportunity cost is a powerful metric for optimal decision making, and for the vast majority of sellers, the opportunity cost was too high when focusing off of Amazon. The reason was because selling on Amazon still presented a lot of low hanging fruit and provided revenue growth rates you could hardly ever reach anywhere else.

As selling on Amazon has become increasingly competitive, we feel that the scales of opportunity cost are shifting to point to true brand building as the greater opportunity. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more people spending more money than ever on Amazon. The opportunity is greater than ever, but the cost and effort of seizing the opportunity is also greater than ever (in most markets).


4. Successful Brands Will Continue to Grow Significantly

We are predicting successful sellers/brands will see unparalleled sales volume on Amazon!

While it’s true that selling on Amazon has become more difficult than ever, there are more people spending more money on Amazon than ever before. This trend will continue into 2019, meaning those brands that are able to achieve/maintain top organic ranking positions, as well as perform well in advertising, will see sales volumes at unparalleled levels. The stakes are higher than ever! It truly is an exciting time to be selling successfully on Amazon.

5. Fewer New Entrepreneurs Begin Selling On Amazon

We are predicting fewer new Amazon seller accounts will be created in 2019.

According to Marketplace Pulse there were 1,200,000 Amazon seller accounts created in 2018 (a good portion never saw a sale). We are expecting new account creation to slow down quite a bit.

There are three primary reasons we expect this to happen.

  • Reason 1) Increased Barrier to Entry: the cost and complexity of driving success on Amazon has increased. While we still believe there is a massive amount of opportunity on Amazon still (see Amazon Product Research in 2019), the opportunity generally requires larger budgets and more complex strategy.
  • Reason 2) Market Fatigue: There are only so many aspiring entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops that are interested in selling on Amazon. We are predicting that the interest peaked in these two demographics in 2018.
  • Reason 3) While we are not economists or fortune tellers, the possibility of a global/US based financial downturn is looming. In the event of a financial downturn, we expect people to have less “free cash” available to start an Amazon FBA business.

6. Major Changes in Reviews and Rankings

In 2019, we think Amazon will continue to improve the security/integrity around many systems/processes including their coveted reviews.

While we have been expecting Amazon to make a major systemic change to their review system, we are guessing (and hoping) that 2019 is the year we see this change come to fruition. In 2018 we have seen some review changes, specifically around review locks, in which receiving too many reviews will trigger Amazon to put a lock on new review activity.

We expect many unforeseen changes to take place, however our greatest hope/prediction is for Amazon to change the review system to a LinkedIn-style review cap presented on search results. By this, we mean that on search results pages, we expect Amazon to begin showing review quantities over 1,000 reviews as 1,000+ (or some similar number). You can check out our Amazon review podcast covering why we think this is necessary to protecting the quality of products purchased and the integrity of Amazon’s review platform for more on that topic.  

In short, sellers are incentivized to achieve the highest review quantity relative to their competitors. A higher review quantity indicates greater popularity to potential buyers. If a product has been selling for 10 years on Amazon, it has a distinct advantage over new, and potentially better, products that have not had as long to generate reviews. Let’s say Product A has been on Amazon for 5 years, has a 4.4 star rating, and 6,000 reviews. While Product B has been on Amazon for 6 months, has a 4.8 star rating with 1,000 reviews and a price point $1.00 cheaper than Product A. While most may think Product B is a better product at a better value, there is very little hope of Product B gaining the sales necessary to acquire the reviews to outperform Product A. Product A could allow the quality of their product to decrease because they have such a large review quantity built up that it will be very difficult for others to catch up. It creates a stale market favoring age over quality and value. Limiting to 1,000 reviews shown in the decision process would allow customers to know that a statistically significant number of other customers have purchased/reviewed the product so that review rating must be legitimate.

While we do not have many specific predictions we feel comfortable sharing, we do expect there to be rather significant shake ups in the key drivers of Amazon’s organic keyword ranking algorithm. As in the past, having access to significant amounts of data around key ranking factors/metrics while constantly testing will be the key to staying ahead of any algorithmic changes. Fortunately, Viral Launch has been able to stay abreast of any changes thanks to our wealth of data and brilliant R&D team.

7. Facebook Begins It’s Path of Becoming The Second Largest Ecommerce Site

We are predicting Facebook begins making big moves in ecommerce by subsidizing sales through their platform for merchants to sell direct through their platform.

For the last couple of years, we’ve consistently considered Facebook to be the entity with the greatest potential to challenge Amazon in the world of retail. We’ve lost quite a bit of hope in Walmart and Google over the years. If you think through the core building blocks to a successful ecommerce platform, attention, data, trust, and web/mobile capabilities/technology are top of the list. With more than a purported 2 billion monthly active users, unparalleled data around it’s users, and significant web and mobile technology, Facebook is more than well equipped to help brands sell their goods directly through their platform at a massive scale.

I’m not talking about Facebook’s peer-to-peer marketplace. I’m expecting a full fledged Amazon competitor, and we’re beginning to see the early stages. In some instances, Facebook is reimbursing merchants $5 for each product sold to cover the cost of shipping with no additional marketplace fees, making Facebook a cheaper place to move product already. We’re expecting Facebook to start making some big moves in the e-commerce world in 2019.

8. International Markets are the New Gold Rush

We are predicting a substantial movement of third-party Amazon.com sellers in offering their products and brands on Amazon’s international marketplaces in 2019.   

Selling on Amazon.com (the US marketplace) still poses massive opportunity if played right, but there is no denying that it is certainly more difficult to grasp that opportunity than ever. We expect the real mad rush for low hanging-fruit sales (Amazon “gold”)  will come in Amazon’s international marketplaces. Viral Launch has been a strong advocate of sellers expanding internationally for the last two years, which is why we invested in hiring domestic listing optimization specialists in each country containing a major Amazon marketplace, as well as expanding our tools to work internationally. We have seen success after success with minimal effort and marketing budget in Amazon’s international markets over the last couple of years (check out this incredible story of two 21 year olds achieving 8 figures on Amazon in 2 years, while selling internationally).

As creating and expanding a profitable and high-growth Amazon business becomes more difficult to achieve on Amazon.com, we think 2019 will finally be the year that third-party sellers look to international markets in droves!  Selling internationally certainly has some drawbacks, but in general, Amazon advertising is significantly cheaper, driving organic keyword ranking is significantly easier, and growing top line revenue are all much less competitive relative to Amazon.com. Experienced Amazon.com sellers are able to use their learned success tactics and easily apply them to their brands in International markets.

9. Seller Fulfilled Prime Comes Into Vogue

We are not denying the importance of 1-hour and same day delivery, but we predict we will see a significant amount of sellers over the $1m mark moving to a hybrid fulfillment model.

Over the last 6-9 months, we’ve started to observe a trend in larger/more experienced Amazon third-party sellers moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) model using a combination of their own warehouses and 3rd Party Logistics providers (3PLs). The most compelling reason to move from fulfilling through Amazon’s FBA program to a self-regulated SFP model is cost savings.

We are not seeing only sellers with large items such as furniture moving to SFP, but sellers with products of all weights and dimensions. A customer of ours, selling more than $40m/year on Amazon, claims moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime model has been his single best investment yet!

The second most common reason sellers are taking up SFP is to support fulfillment for other ecommerce channels that may not allow using Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment program. Having a dedicated 3PL network allows sellers cheaper fulfillment and greater channel flexibility.

10. More Amazon-Owned Brands

We are predicting there will be a significant increase in the number of Amazon owned (not “sold by Amazon”) in 2019.

We have seen a significant push from Amazon in their own private label brands, and we expect to see this trend continue into 2019. Amazon now has over 80 of their own private label brands, and those brands are receiving better placement than ever (Amazon’s “Our Brands” section now shows above organic results for many search terms).

Amazon kicked off a new program near the end of 2018 called their Accelerator Program, which essentially stands as a partnership between third-parties and Amazon to establish new Amazon-owned brands using existing product performance data. This presents the potential for the number of Amazon owned brands to sky rocket! It will be very interesting to see how this progresses in the new year.

The largest threat to Amazon’s private label brands is likely the government presiding over the country in which each marketplace operates. For example, India has banned Amazon from selling any of its own products on Amazon.in.

11. Less Ads Showing on Page 1 of Search Results

We are predicting Amazon reduces the Amount of clutter in Amazon search results which distracts shoppers from the organic search results.

This is not a common opinion, and we’ll admit that there is a decent amount of logic/data pointing to an extremely high probability that this prediction does not come true, however, when we really try to get in the mind of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, this feels right! I (Casey Gauss) want to walk you through my logic on this one.

As I think through what has made Jeff and Amazon so successful, it’s been their relentless focus on the customer experience (think lower prices, faster shipping, return policy, etc.).

In my opinion, in 2018, the actual shopping experience for customers suffered at the expense of Amazon’s advertising revenue and the promotion of their owned products. There are two contributing factors to what I believe is a lower quality shopping experience.

(One key point to understanding my thoughts below is the difference between “organic results” and “sponsored results”. “Organic results” are the items presented to a customer after typing in a given search term that are showing in the results out of merit. Organic results have been selected by Amazon’s A9 ranking algorithm based on performance factors such as conversion rate, number of units sold, etc. “Sponsored results” are items showing with a “sponsored” denotation, and are showing in the results because merchants have paid for the placement. Theoretically, organic results are the best selling products for a given keyword which is why they are showing in the results. The products most likely to best satisfy the customer’s request. While Sponsored results are artificially placed based on how much the merchant is willing to spend.)

1) Overwhelming Information in Results: In general, our data shows that anywhere between 60-85% of a product’s sales potential come from placement in the organic search results. This means the majority of customers’ shopping experience consists of inputting search terms in the search bar (e.g. “fish oil supplement”), sifting through the results, and purchasing a product. In 2018, we saw an increase in the amount of information being shown on the results page which can be confusing, overwhelming, and a barrier to purchasing the products showing organically (the most likely to satisfy the customer’s request based on real buyer behavior).

The shopping experience is overwhelmed with information and creates a barrier to the shopper arriving at the best performing products based on real data from hundreds to millions of real customers. I feel this direct and indirect inhibition to the best customer experience does not align with Amazon’s mission and what has allowed them to be so successful to date.

2) More Sales Through Amazon Ads: There are more advertising placements on Amazon than ever before. Paid media sales are increasing their market share versus organic sales. When customers are purchasing artificially placed products (products presented through ads versus showing based on performance), the probability of the sponsored product being as high quality as an organically ranked product is low. By more sales being driven through advertising, Amazon is selling less of the proven and theoretically higher quality “organic results” to customers for the sake of driving more advertising revenue. More ad sales = more pay to play, versus quality & value to play.

Now, I don’t think that Amazon has nefarious intentions with advertising. They haven’t set out to create a lower quality shopping experience so they can make a few billion dollars more per year. My assumption (with almost no inside Amazon insight) is that this is a classic case of competition priorities between departments (i.e. the Amazon advertising business units are focused on maximizing their top line, without much focus on the overall customer experience).

Either way, I’m predicting that someone in Amazon, perhaps Mr. Bezos himself, will realize that there has been a slight deviation from the company’s overall focus, and will begin to peel back some of the excessive ad placement.

12. Amazon Significantly Outpaces Other Retailers in an Economic Downturn

We are predicting Amazon significantly outpaces competitors if/when there is a downturn in the US economy.

While we are not economists or fortune tellers, there seems a high probability that there will be an economic downturn of some degree at some point in the near future. If the next economic downturn occurs within 2019, we are predicting Amazon will outperform other retailers significantly. With unbeatable low prices, convenience for working families, and an incredibly large catalog of low priced necessities, we expect Amazon to be the go to store when budgets and time are tight.

Amazon Expert Predictions

Liran Hirschkorn
7 Figure Seller
Seller Coach at Amazing Freedom

  1. Amazon merges Seller Central and Vendor Central into a new system called Vendor One, which gives third party sellers more brand control.
  2. Brands direct more ad traffic to Amazon instead of their own websites, increasing PPC costs.
  3. Amazon shares more data and analytics with sellers.
  4. Amazon private label continues to grow, so sellers source in product niches.

Kevin King
7 Figure Seller
Speaker and Amazon Teacher at AMZMarketer.com and FreedomTicket.com

  1. Sellers need to approach Amazon like a real small business, not a get-rich-quick scheme.
  2. Amazon becomes a pay-to-play advertising platform.
  3. Amazon expands their private label brands.
  4. Amazon merges Seller Central and Vendor Central into one system called Vendor One.
  5. Third Party Sellers undergo an approval process through Vendor One, which means sellers must better conform to guidelines.

Danny McMillan
7 Figure Seller
Host of SellerSessions and Founder of PPC Management Tool Databrill.com

  1. Amazon provides a series of tools to battle black hat tactics and thereby attract new sellers.
  2. Other marketplaces continue to fail to compete with Amazon.
  3. Dayparting, geotargeting, and click-fraud technology for PPC is developed to protect third party sellers.

Ed Rosenberg
7 Figure Amazon Seller
Owner of Asgtg.com, Host of ASGTG Event, and Amazon Compliance Specialist

  1. Amazon makes it difficult to open phantom accounts through voice-match recognition or identifying documentation.
  2. eBay emerges as the most potent competitor for Amazon through a series of mergers and acquisitions.
  3. 3P, private label sellers, find more success in the marketplace than Amazon private label brands.

Adi Singh
8 Figure Amazon Seller

  1. Amazon is a lot more involved with initiatives outside the marketplace (influencers, social media, stores).
  2. International markets play a large role in growth for sellers.
  3. Less buying and selling of Amazon businesses.

Dima Kubrak
7 Figure Amazon Seller

  1. Amazon cracks down on hackers and black hat sellers.
  2. Sellers use outside resources to drive traffic to Amazon.
  3. Amazon focuses on pushing exclusive products by giving sellers more control over their listings.

Cherie Yvette
Amazon PPC Manager for 8 Figure Brands
The Urban Cowgirl, Wild West Media

  1. Sellers face fierce competition on category keywords.
  2. Amazon offers more placements for advertising.
  3. Sellers put more resources into remarketing.

Jamie Davidson
Partners with $100m Amazon Sellers
AMZ Insiders

  1. Video becomes more important for product listings.
  2. Amazon places increased emphasis on quality private label brands.
  3. Chatbots become more important for Amazon businesses.

Ryan Moran
Former 8 Figure Seller and Multiple 7 & 8 Figure Exits
Capitalism.com Host

  1. New private label products trend toward micro-brands.
  2. Specific audiences become more important on the marketplace.
  3. Big brands adjust for online marketplaces.

Kevin David
7 Figure Seller
Teaches 10,000’s of Students on Youtube

  1. Accurate data becomes more important for sellers.
  2. Sellers get more creative with keyword research.
  3. Marketing expansion to sources outside of Amazon.

Anthony Bui-Tran
8 Figure Seller
Seller Tradecraft

  1. Amazon makes changes to Brand Registry and PPC to give private label sellers more control over their brands.
  2. New Amazon accounts become harder to open, which means selling Amazon accounts becomes popular on the black market.
  3. Sellers get better access to honest, accurate review generation incentives.

Tom Wang
7 Figure Seller
Trains Hundreds of Amazon Sellers at EcomHub.com

  1. The marketplaces becomes more competitive with an influx of new sellers.
  2. Sellers learn how to drive traffic off of Amazon.
  3. Black hat tactics become less effective.

John Lawson
World Renowned eCommerce Expert
Host at Watchingamazon.com

  1. The China connection is broken, encouraging online sellers to source from other countries.
  2. An economic downturn creates problems for sellers sourcing less expensive products that are frequently bought on impulse.
  3. Amazon continues to dominate market share.

Leo Sgovio
7 Figure Seller & Speaker
Director of Innovation at Viral Launch

  1. Amazon releases their own suite of tools for advertisers.
  2. Influencer marketing becomes a bigger part of the Amazon seller journey.
  3. Amazon attribution and increased external traffic paves the way for a new referral fee structure.

Dr. Ben
7 Figure Seller
Host of Amazon Mastermind thehivemind.co

  1. Amazon rids the marketplace of black hat and inattentive sellers.
  2. New California sales tax issues force Amazon to collect and remit sales tax on all sales going forward.
  3. Google makes a push into ecommerce using Google Express.

Brock Johnson
7 Figure Amazon Sellers
Training hundreds of Amazon sellers at BrockJohnson.com

  1. Amazon platform reaches a point of saturation in the B2C market, so they start to shift their focus toward sellers.
  2. Sellers become more customer-focused, using tools and strategies to create a good buying experience.
  3. Amazon B2B sector continues to grow, creating huge opportunity on Amazon.

Franky Farina
8 Figure Seller on Amazon
Million Dollar Sellers Group  – 9 Figures in Total Sales

  1. Sellers lose access to customer information, as Amazon will keep that data to themselves.
  2. Amazon continues to remove incentives for stocking inventory at their warehouses, encouraging sellers to turn to other 3PL companies.
  3. Tariffs, Amazon private label expansion, and continued reliance on Amazon advertising platforms continue to shrink seller margins.   

Kevin Pasco & Jeremy Sherk
8 Figure Amazon Sellers
Nested Naturals

  1. New private label brands continue to join the Amazon marketplace.
  2. Amazon continues to place restrictions around review generation to maintain marketplace integrity.
  3. Sellers need to have an audience to launch a new product.   

Nick Young
8 Figure Seller
Seller Tradecraft

  1. Amazon establishes long-term dominance on the platform by incentivizing brands to sell new products on the marketplace.
  2. Amazon makes a big push toward social media.
  3. More brands ship direct to Amazon, spelling the beginning of the end for wholesale.

Fernando Cruz
8 Figure Seller
Seller Tradecraft

  1. Sponsored product ads and AMS become significantly more expensive.
  2. Sellers move toward email lists, ManyChat, and social to market their products.
  3. Growing subset of brands that move away from Amazon as a part of their online strategy.   

Brandon Young
7 Figure Seller
Teaching Amazon at Seller Systems

  1. Amazon changes the way they are indexing and ranking products, which means sellers have to be smart about their sourcing decisions.

Conclusion

As you’ve probably noticed, there was plenty of overlap between Viral Launch’s predictions and those of the included industry experts and thought leaders. I’m not sure if it is fair to say that this indicates the prediction is more likely to come true, but it does indicate that there is likely more data pointing to that assumption.

An underlying commonality throughout these predictions was increased competition, focusing on building traffic off of Amazon, and adapting your Amazon success strategies. There is certainly the opportunity to look at this with a negative outlook on the future, but please do not forget that Amazon is continuing to grow it’s ecommerce footprint significantly.

As the opportunity for incredible degrees of success continue to grow, so does the difficulty of achieving that opportunity. Instead of playing the victim to increased competition and “unfair” changes, the truly successful adapt with the times, play the long game, and focus on solutions.

I want to encourage you to focus on the solutions. How will you diversify your Amazon business? What strategies will you use to guarantee you and your team are staying ahead of the lastest success tactics? How can you drive sales, reviews, and keyword ranking in this new landscape?

While there are many components that comprise a winning strategy for the future, Viral Launch is focused on giving you the data, automation, and thought leadership around topics like driving sales, keyword ranking, and product selection. Now, it’s up to you to use these to stay ahead of the curve and continue growing exponentially on the world’s largest marketplace!

The Surprising Data Point that Influences Search Volume

The Surprising Data Point that Influences Search Volume

There has been a lot going on with Amazon lately, so join us for a recap of the latest news.  Casey discusses Amazon fee changes, Amazon search volume updates, and sponsored ad placement.  You won’t believe the data point that influences search volume change!      

FBA Fee Updates Blog Post: http://bit.ly/AZchanges2019 

Amazon API Blog Post: http://bit.ly/future-of-search-volume 

Sponsored Ad Placement Webinar: http://bit.ly/keyword-tracker  

Sponsored Ad Placement Blog Post: http://bit.ly/ad-placement 

Listen on iTunes Listen on Stitcher 

Amazon Product Research in 2019 – The Game Has Changed

Amazon Product Research in 2019 – The Game Has Changed

The Amazon game has changed and will continue to change in the new year.  The standard on Amazon has increased significantly, so how are you staying competitive?  In this episode, Casey Gauss discusses emerging tactics for success in 2019.  Product research, review generation, and micro-niches, oh my!

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher 

The Future of Search Volume: Amazon’s Search Volume and Relevance Change

The Future of Search Volume: Amazon’s Search Volume and Relevance Change

As you may have heard, there was a recent Amazon API change which removed software providers’ access to real Amazon search volume data.

In this episode, Casey discusses how this impacts you as a seller, how this change impacts Viral Launch’s tools, and the future of Amazon search volume.  It helps to see the visuals, so check out the link to our blog post.

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher 

Amazon Search Volume & Relevance Change: The Future Of Search Volume

What change did Amazon make? If you’ve been in the Amazon seller space for any longer than a month or two, you should be no stranger to change. This past weekend was a reminder of how frequent and inescapable this change can be.

Mid-day on Thursday Dec. 13th, Amazon pushed a code change upgrading the technology behind some of their internal APIs. One of the APIs that was recently updated had been feeding a few software providers (including Viral Launch) with exact and broad match search volume, as well as product relevancy data. This change removed these metrics (search volume and relevance) from the API, leaving software providers without the ability to grab fresh search volume data directly from Amazon.  

Did Amazon remove these metrics in spite of software providers? While there is no way of knowing for sure, my assumption is that through the process of upgrading this API, Amazon found no need to continue sending these specific metrics, as they were not being shown in any of Amazon’s user interfaces. It seems unlikely Amazon would change the technology behind their APIs simply to remove the data. My guess is that they decided to stop showing any “unnecessary” information through the upgrade process.

What Does This Mean For You, as an Amazon Seller?

While it’s no question that the lack of access to updated search volume is disappointing, the playing field has been leveled as your competitors have also lost access to fresh search volume.

The opportunity now exists to find the new advantage and best solution to identifying and prioritizing your keywords. With change comes opportunity.

The best solution to identifying and prioritizing keywords comes in two forms:

  1. Using software capable of leveraging historical data and sophisticated means of forecasting and estimating
  2. Using PPC and organic performance data to understand how buyers respond to your product.

I think it’s important to note that we will never try to downplay the importance of search volume on our listing optimization, PPC, and SEO/ranking strategies. With that said, search volume alone has never been the complete answer.

Understanding metrics per keyword – like PPC conversion rate, average selling price and review quantities for top ranking products, etc. – have all played a significant part in our keyword strategies in the past and will continue to in the future. Being able to understand and interpret this data actually becomes that much more important.

How This Impacts Our Tools & How We Can Help You Gain an Advantage

The Viral Launch data science and engineering teams have been working incredibly hard to bring a sophisticated, data-driven solution that is capable of accurate forecasts and providing the transparency you need to logically get behind our new models.

A major focus of this new solution is transparency.  In order for you to trust our new estimates and feel comfortable making informed business decisions, we want to help you understand how we are arriving at our numbers. And it’s this level of transparency that we are integrating into our new solution.

With sales estimates, sellers can validate or invalidate the accuracy of the data by comparing the estimates to their own product’s real sales. But with search volume, there is no absolute way to validate or invalidate the data. When a tool provides a search volume estimate, it is more or less saying, “Hey, trust us… this is good!” I want to shift that ask of trust to, “Hey, here is the process we’re using, and this is why we believe this is the right number.” In essence, don’t trust what we are telling you, trust what we are showing you. Allow us to walk you through it.

The Future of Search Volume Estimates

We are beyond excited to share that our current models are forecasting at 75-85% accuracy depending on the keyword. (I’ll talk through our validation strategy here)

At the conclusion of this blog we added a Deep Dive section where we go into the specifics of our new search estimation process. We want to help you understand what we’re doing at a high level to be able to achieve such great results.

One of the major saving graces here is that we have a full year of historical search volume data for many keywords! (We started tracking volume on Dec. 12th 2017 and things closed down on Dec. 13th 2018).

This historical search volume is incredibly important for a couple of reasons:

  1. We will consistently show sellers the historical search volume trend so you can see what the exact volume was at the same time last year. This way you will always be able to use “exact” numbers in your decisions versus our in-house estimates.
  2. It will be the baseline for our search volume estimates moving forward, as typically the best indicator of what will happen in the future is what has happened in the past.

While historical volume is a good indicator of the past, it would be foolish to think that search volume is going to remain the same in 2019. For this reason, we will use other data sources to help us estimate the amount of change in consumer shopping behavior.

One data source that improves our forecasting models is change in estimated sales volume for a keyword’s top ranking products. We are not looking at the number of estimated sales. We are looking at the trend in estimated sales month to month.

For some keywords, Amazon search volume and sales volume are highly correlated, making changes in sales a great indicator of changes in search volume. Here is a simple illustration (not the actual model):

We’ve overlayed the graphs of Amazon search volume for “sprinkler” and estimated sales volume for the same keyword. They trend very similarly throughout the year for the same keyword. In this case, it means we would use Amazon sales behavior as a means of forecasting, while also using our historical data for this keyword.

In other instances,  the trends of Amazon search volume and sales for the top ranking products are not statistically correlated. (basic example, not a statistical model):

We take this same approach for other data sources such as Google search volume trends, etc. Using our massive swath of historical and real-time data, our data science team is capable of using machine learning to programmatically discern which data sources are good and which are bad for each keyword at scale.

The beauty of this approach is it allows us to figure out which data sources are reliable predictors on a per-keyword level, so we never use a data source that would be misleading.

Here is what the new user interface looks like:

As you can see in the image above, transparency is the focus. We show the changes in external factors so you can begin to understand how we arrived at our new estimates. You are also capable of comparing our new estimate with the historical exact volume.

Versus keeping our new search volume algorithm secret, our hope is that this allows you to make the most informed decisions possible by seeing historical data along with how we’ve arrived at our new estimates!

As we continue to identify additional data sources, new statistical/forecasting models, or come up with new and clever ideas, we will continue to improve our search volume estimates with full transparency.

This is a large scale engineering and data science effort, so you will see this change rolling out in our Keyword Manager and Keyword Research tools beginning at the end of next week and propagating over the next few weeks to all words within our database.

The Future of Relevancy Score

We are extremely sad to see this metric go as it had wide-sweeping implications for some of our tools and our ability to help boost sales for our customers. Our short-term plan of action is to show historical relevance score for products we’ve already analyzed, while removing it for those we have not.

While we are sorry we will no longer be able to show you this metric for now, relevancy score is a just a proxy for an even more important metric you will see soon in another tool we have in the works.

Looking Forward

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” – Benjamin Franklin

The longer you have been in the Amazon seller space, the more change you have experienced. When building a business on top of another platform, one of the keys to success is adaptability. The sellers that focus on the opportunity that comes from change, versus those that lament over what was, will have the most success now and in the future. Sadly, I know massive sellers that were devastated by Amazon’s TOS update around reviews in Oct. 2016, where they went from making millions on Amazon to almost nothing within a year because they were unable to adapt. Conversely, I know plenty of sellers that took advantage of the newly evened playing field and have built massive 7-8 figure Amazon businesses since that same review update.

There will be plenty more changes in the future. Your success will be dependent on how well you’re able to leverage your network, team, and resources to turn the new dynamics into a competitive advantage! And we hope we get to help you do that!

Validation Strategy

When building any type of model, whether it’s sales estimates, inventory forecasting, or search volume estimates, you should use 70-80% of the data to train the model. This is what the machine learning model uses to “learn” and then test the new model against the reserved 20-30% data set. This ensures that you are overfitting to data your model has already seen.

In our search volume validation testing, we took a subset of a keyword’s historical data (example: take 9 out of our 12 months of data), used that to train the model and understand correlations in our external factors, and then predicted out the next three months. In those predictions on the next three months, we were ranging between 75-85% accurate!

Here are a couple of forecasts where our model only knew the first month’s search volume and, as you can see, the estimated volume (blue line) is never more than +/- 10,000 searches per month off from the actual (orange line) search volume.

We’ve been incredibly impressed with the results, and we are confident these new estimates will be critical to your competitive advantage in selling on Amazon in 2019.

WE LOVE FEEDBACK!

We took a bit of risk by being the first to offer a solution; a solution focused on transparency. We’d love to know what you think! Our goal is to help you make the best data-driven decisions possible to have success in your Amazon business. Did we succeed here? Please let us know what you think in the comments!

You will be able to see our new search volume estimates starting next week for increasingly more keywords in our Keyword Research tool and powerful Keyword Manager/Tracker!

—– Deeper Dive ———

Why Not Use PPC Data, Auto-Complete, or Bing Data?

As we brainstormed potential data points that could or would lead to superior estimates moving forward, we considered a significant variety of metrics. We wanted to help you, the seller, understand why we did not use some potentially “obvious” metrics, and why we DID use others.

Why Not Use Amazon PPC Data

Amazon PPC data was one of our first candidates for data points to use in building out our new search volume estimation model. In talking with our R&D team, we realized how these metrics could be quickly misleading.

PPC Impression Data

The idea is simple. If a product’s ad is being shown at the time of search, then it should show (receive an impression) approximately the same number of times as it was searched right? So search volume and ad impressions should be pretty similar right? Hardly.

On mobile devices, a sponsored ad only receives an impression when the ad is loaded. On mobile, generally there is only one ad at the top of the search. After the first sponsored ad, ads are dynamically loaded once the shopper scrolls deep enough into the search results. Meaning, if we don’t have PPC access to the first ranking product for every keyword, then we will miss a significant percentage of impression volume.

On desktop, a sponsored ad receives an impression each time the ad’s page is loaded; however, consistency is the key. In order to get an accurate feel of impressions, we would need to have PPC access for a product running sponsored ads on the first page of each keyword, all day (doesn’t run out of budget), every single day (whole month). One search can also be counted as multiple impressions as users click in and out of listings, sponsored products shown as suggested in detail pages, and add to cart pages, etc.

Having the necessary access to data is a significant challenge. We believe we have the world’s largest set of data next to Amazon, but even we don’t have the necessary data to use search impressions at scale as an accurate indicator of search volume.

PPC Bid Data As An Indication of Volume

We originally tossed around the idea of using suggested PPC bid cost as a proxy for search volume (the more searches, the more people bidding, the more expensive it is). One of the major hurdles here is that suggested CPC can range quite a bit depending on how relevant Amazon deems your product for the keyword. Meaning that Product A with a high relevance may have a suggested bid cost of $.50 per click, while the less relevant Product B may have a suggested CPC of $1.25.

Why Not Use Amazon Auto-Complete

Amazon autocomplete is an ancient technique of using the Amazon search bar suggestions as an indicator of popularity.

The previous thought has always been that the suggested words populate in order of search volume. This would mean that suggested keyword #1 has higher search volume than suggested keyword #2, which has higher volume than suggested keyword #3, and so forth.

As we dove into the suggestions and worked to validate that Amazon was in-fact giving us suggestions in the order of highest searched keywords, we found that was not the case. In the example above, Amazon’s third suggestion is “fish oil for kids”, which has somewhere around 3,000 searches per month.

While Amazon’s fourth suggestion, which is “fish oil for dogs”, has a search volume of around 9,500 searches per month.

We found countless other examples where Amazon was not suggesting keywords in the exact order.

Disappointing.

Deep Dive Summary

All in all, I hope this helps you understand some of the logic behind why we did not go with some of the seemingly most “obvious” metrics for our search volume estimation model. Again, transparency is crucial for us during this process!

We have undoubtedly been able to prove that our model is effective and accurate at predicting/forecasting/estimating search volume, leveraging our vast amounts of historical data.

If there is anything that you think we did not consider, or something we may have overlooked, we’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Again, our focus is on providing you the best data possible to make smart business decisions.

Now that we have a solution, let’s not focus on what has been, and let’s focus on the incredible opportunities that await us in 2019!

Excited to help you kill it this coming year. 🙂

Let us know what you think in the comments  below and feel free to share this post with any of the larger Amazon community!

REBROADCAST | Failing Successfully: How To Use Failure To Grow Your Business w/ Casey Gauss

REBROADCAST | Failing Successfully: How To Use Failure To Grow Your Business w/ Casey Gauss

A lot is happening at Viral Launch, and we will be taking a little break! Get ready for some great new shows coming your way with Casey Gauss, founder and CEO of Viral Launch. In the meantime, enjoy this rebroadcast of “Failing Successfully: How To Use Failure To Grow Your Business”.

Sellers in the Amazon space today seem to only talk about success. But what about the other side? The side that sees less attention? As a seller, it’s important to recognize that failure is a critical aspect of growth for you and your business. Successfully handling failure on Amazon can make or break even the greatest sellers. With the right systems in place, it can be used as one of your most valuable assets. Scaling your business effectively means knowing how to best respond to failure. In this episode, we break down how you can leverage failure to effectively grow your business. We’ll talk through how you can shift your mindset towards failure, and how this mindset shift can change your life as well as your business.

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Casey Gauss: Using Innovation To Build & Scale Your Business

Casey Gauss: Using Innovation To Build & Scale Your Business

Challenging the status quo through disruptive ideas…Innovation is what drives us, as a company and as individuals here at Viral Launch. We wouldn’t be where we are today without it, AND we wouldn’t be able to keep on moving forward without innovation as the wind in our sail. Innovation is what keeps companies like Apple at the forefront of their craft, and so we strive to keep it at the forefront of our business. Today, we’re talking through how you can do the same.

Today, I’ve brought in CASEY GAUSS to talk through innovation. Not necessarily WHAT innovation is, but how innovation has defined what he’s been able to accomplish here at Viral Launch, and how you can apply it to kind of SHIFT your mindset and, as a result, grow your Amazon business and other aspects of your life as a whole. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s jump in

11/8
We’re announcing TWO new tools! Sign up for the webinar here:
bit.ly/VL-Innovation

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Amazon Seller Questions: Seller Mistakes, Finding Great Products, Split Testing & More

Amazon Seller Questions: Seller Mistakes, Finding Great Products, Split Testing & More

Data is EVERYTHING here. If you’re an avid listener of the show, you know that. We’re pulling from one of our many sources of data today – Amazon Sellers. We help a LARGE number of Sellers every single day, and get to see where a lot of confusion is happening in the space. We get HUNDREDS of questions from Sellers every single day, and we’re answering those questions in today’s episode.

I’m bringing in two Viral Launch employees who interact with Sellers every single day. We’re breaking down the main topics here – ones that Sellers ask us about ALL the time. There’s honestly a LOT of good info here, and we cover it all quickly, so get ready to zone in. ALSO, just wanted to make sure you’re aware, I do a two live Q&A sessions each week on our social channels. One is through the Data Hunters, our Facebook Group, which is at 10am EST, and the other is just through our normal YoUTube Channel and Facebook Page at 1pm EST. If you have questions we don’t cover today, come ask me live during those times. When you join, let me know you listened to this episode, ill give you a shoutout. All that being said, lets jump in.

Listen to our last Coaching Episode: http://bit.ly/Ep-39
Ask me your questions! http://bit.ly/Cameron_Insta

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3 Amazon SEO Tips from Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk (Follow the Data Ep. 22)

3 Amazon SEO Tips from Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk (Follow the Data Ep. 22)

Keywords are what set your listing up to rank well and sell well, but there’s a catch. People also need to understand what your product is and what it does from your copy. How can you inform shoppers and do Amazon search optimization at the same time? Join hosts Cameron Yoder and CEO Casey Gauss for this conversation with Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk. And find out how to set up the best possible listing with these 3 Amazon SEO tips.

 

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Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Contrary to common belief, getting ranking on Amazon is not about lowering your BSR. It’s about getting sales attributed to a keyword. Keywords are what set your listing up to rank well and sell well, but there’s a catch. People also need to understand what your product is and what it does from your copy. How can you inform shoppers and capture all your product’s keywords at the same time?

I’m Cameron Yoder, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

In today’s episode I sit down with our Lead Listing Specialist, Yale Schalk, to talk about the best practices for writing an Amazon listing. We’ll talk about the keyword research, writing for Amazon SEO and how to convert shoppers. Let’s jump in.

So okay, we have Yale in with us today. Casey’s also sitting in on this.

CASEY GAUSS:
What’s up, guys?

CAMERON YODER:
So we’re talking to Yale today about listing optimizations. First, Yale, thank you so much for coming in on the show. How are you feeling about being on the podcast?

YALE SCHALK:
Awesome. Awesome, Cam. Really, really excited to debut on our expertly-produced podcast, which by the way I just want to say that everyone should be subscribed to, and you know, every morning you wake up just find your nearest rooftop and shout it and tell everyone. But yeah, excited for that and really excited to kind of jump into some key information that I really know is going to help a lot of people out there.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale is also already on the ball with recommending the podcast, which is great. I love it. Yale is our Lead Listing Specialist, okay? And he’s been a veteran writer with 10 years of experience writing about retail products. So he’s written for brands like Nike, Adidas and Reebok and is known in the office for his excellent taste in sneakers, okay? So actually Yale, what is your favorite pair of sneakers?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh, wow, that’s – it’s literally an impossible thing to answer. You know, obviously, I was raised on Michael Jordan and Air Jordan sneakers, so I can at least narrow it down to that, but from there it’s all bets are off. There’s just too many.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, all that being said, Yale is definitely deserving to be on this podcast talking about listing optimization when it comes to Amazon specifically. But before we dive into Amazon-specific SEO and Amazon-specific listing ops, I want Yale – Yale, can you touch on just SEO in general, SEO as a practice?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely, for sure. So you know, when people think of, you know, the term SEO or, you know, properly search engine optimization, you know they think of Google, right? They think of, you know, their minds go right to Google because Google is this ubiquitous thing that is just out there. So but SEO is not confined to Google. You know, it’s like if you’ve ever seen the movie The Matrix, you know at the end when Neo sees everything in just this digital rain, and it’s just like streaming lines of green code everywhere, you know, I like to think of SEO like that. I think it’s, you know, it’s very much in the fiber of anything that you search on the internet, and it’s necessary, you know, any time that you type something into a search bar.

CASEY GAUSS:
Well put.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, The Matrix.

CASEY GAUSS:
I love that analogy. If you haven’t seen The Matrix you just missed out on a great analogy.

CAMERON YODER:
Watch The Matrix, buy some sneakers, and then you’ll be set. So that’s general SEO, right? So can you move further maybe into like, I don’t know, Amazon or Google specifically?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely. So the way it works is basically that, you know, the input for a search is almost always language, and then the search algorithm uses that language to return a set of results, and then to get your content in that results list you have to give the algorithm basically what it wants. So then that begs the question, okay, so what does the algorithm want? In terms of Google SEO, that’s about proving credibility with, you know, relevant headings and meta-descriptions and links, and of course language for Amazon. It’s different from the standard SEO set up in that the results exist within Amazon’s platform. You know, for example, you don’t navigate to a different domain when you click on a result. So Google looks for site credibility with links and traffic, while Amazon looks for language, you know, or specifically keywords. So it’s really important for everyone to keep in mind that Amazon is really its own ecosystem when it comes to how searches are conducted and how those searches help determine the results you get when you or, you know, your potential customer, is looking for something.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I think it’s important to mention that – I think this is a stat from either 2016 or 2017, but over I think it’s like 55% of product searches begin on Amazon. So when it comes to king of search engines, when it comes to product searches, I think Amazon takes the crown.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s something I don’t think a lot of people think of, simply put, Amazon as a search engine. But in fact, like you said, it is, and listings in a sense really are all about SEO when it comes to Amazon specifically. So Yale, would you be able to introduce to us just some tips, maybe three basic tips that you have for everyone when it comes to listing optimization and keyword optimization on Amazon?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely, for sure. And you know, I think the good set up for this is like, you know, obviously everyone wants the highest visibility for their product. You know, ideally that’s page one. That’s what everyone wants to be on Amazon. So you really cannot afford to overlook the importance of keywords when assembling your product listing. You know you can have, and you know I never tire of saying this, but like you can have breathtaking photos, and you can have the most exquisite product description, but you know, without the proper keywords and the correct placement of those keywords in the listing, you know you’re basically – you know you’ve got a Ferrari with no engine. You know, it’s looking amazing, but it’s not going anywhere. So I just really want to emphasize, you know, first off that, you know, you can’t just throw information together and hope something happens. You know, I can tell you that it won’t. It doesn’t work that way. So it’s vital to get that keyword foundation in place.

So I would say for the first tip is plurals, plurals of words. So Amazon says that they account for plurals of words. So if you search swaddle blanket, you know, you’ll get different results than if you search swaddle blankets. So some listings will have, you know, both the plural and the singular form of the keyword while others won’t. So when someone searches blankets it’s, you know, hard for the algorithm to determine, you know, what exactly that person is expecting. So the algorithm is very smart, but it has its blind spots, and so one of the blind spots is it doesn’t know, you know, for example for this example that, you know, if you’re looking for multi-packs of swaddle blankets or if they’re looking for all the swaddle blankets on Amazon, so having both forms of the word, you know, or multiple forms of those words, those keywords, is really important for you to show up in any search related to your main search terms.

CAMERON YODER:
So tip number one, overall is suggesting to use both the singular and plural form of your primary keyword, or how many keywords do you think this would apply to?

YALE SCHALK:
I would say as long as you’re starting with your root keyword you want to kind of work in maybe the most common – and this is something that you’ll be able to kind of see in your keyword research, but and you’ll be able to notice patterns of what people are searching for, but usually you’ll just find like those simple little variations, those little, like little degrees of that root word, you know, just plurals and just different tenses of the word that people might throw in there when they’re searching for products.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think it’s important to mention also, I think one common mistake, and I don’t know if this is one of the tips, but you know, people always want to know am I indexed for this word. So just because you’re indexing for a word does not mean that you’re driving the same amount of keyword power or keyword juice, however you want to refer to it, to those words. So this is an important concept, and you’ll hear more about it.

YALE SCHALK:
For sure.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s go on to tip number two.

YALE SCHALK:
Tip number two. Tip number two is keyword stuff the title. Yeah, you heard that right. Keyword stuff the title. So there’s been – this has always sort of been a philosophical debate on, you know, are you going to be rewarded if you keyword stuff? Are you going to be penalized if you keyword stuff? But I can tell you in the case of Amazon, in the Amazon world you’re going to be rewarded. So the title is definitely the most important, you know, real estate in your listing in terms of SEO. So you should really use as many keywords as you can fit, you know, without compromising quality or under-serving your character limit or overstepping that. I mean when you overstep that’s definitely something you’ll be penalized for, but so you know, what do I mean by compromising quality? So you know you have to make sure that you’re showing shoppers the information they’re looking for, like you know, things like ounces or fluid ounces might be important to consider, you know, if they’re considering price, or you know, certain features like dimensions or certifications like organic are there to include. So you know, this tip is really about just including as many super relevant keywords, you know, while leaving just enough space for those important, you know, product tidbits that people are looking for.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I always like to say, you know, I would much rather have, you know, a 3% lower click through rate because my title isn’t as beautiful but rank for, you know, twice as many keywords or three times as many keywords simply because I’m putting them in the title versus having that super short, you know, elegant, you know, four-word title that has like my brand name and just a few other words. Let’s say it’s a frying pan, so brand, you know, stainless steel frying pan. There are so many additional words that you need to be including in your title to maximize the position and total volume of keywords that you can rank for; well, rank well for. And so yeah, I would much rather have this longer title, rank for so many more keywords than you have this beautiful title that may drive slightly higher click through rates.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, what’s your opinion on having the brand name in a title?

YALE SCHALK:
It’s awesome that you mentioned that because I was just going to follow up on that point. Yeah, a thing that I really want to talk about for a second is not insisting on including brand names in titles. I empathize with, you know, every seller that, you know, wants to do that. I mean, everyone wants to have the competitive advantage and get their brand out there, but I would say that you have to apply a pass/fail in terms of your brand name. So look at it this way. You just have to treat it as another keyword, and if there aren’t a ton of people searching for your brand name, then it’s always a good rule of thumb to substitute in an actual, you know, high-volume search term instead of your brand name. And I know that there might be a conception out there that, you know, people aren’t going to see your brand and you know, that’s something like that’s going to be a disadvantage for you, but you know, don’t worry. It will show up – you know, your brand is going to show up in the subheading. You just want to make sure that you make the most use of the title.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, to summarize it, people, you know, aren’t searching your brand name. If they are searching your brand name they’re going to see it in the search results. It says, you know, by brand in most categories. And even if not, if they’re searching for your brand name they should know what your packaging looks like because you should have cohesive labels or packaging or whatever in your photos. They will recognize your brand. You should not be concerned about them recognizing or not recognizing your brand. And by including that brand name in your title you’re just wasting super, super valuable character space.

CAMERON YODER:
I think the question should be what more valuable words you can put into your title that would take the place of your brand name.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, what is tip number three?

YALE SCHALK:
Tip three, prioritize keywords and then write your copy. Yeah, this is another thing that I’ve seen a lot where maybe sellers get focused on, you know, really fleshing out their copy, their listing, and they’re focused on, you know, stuffing as much information and even sort of messaging, you know, that they’ve come up with into the listing. But I would say that, as we’ve said, you know keyword is king, and you really have to sort of like lay that foundation first and then, you know, work in your copy from there. You know, again, it seems to make a lot of sense to look at your listing from your sort of branding ideas and everything like that. But you’ve got to get the keywords right, and then you know, then you can provide the insight and wrap everything around that.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think this fits well, actually, with your second tip, which was keyword stuffing the title. In a lot of cases I think people have a rough time picturing where – and correct me if I’m wrong, Yale, but people have a tough time picturing where to get started with keywords, and so maybe they’ll write – they’ll try to eloquently put together like a string of words that connect well, maybe have some keywords in, and then they’ll try to like piece together other keywords that they want to put into the sentence that they’ve developed.

YALE SCHALK:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
When in this case you’re saying like no, start with the foundation, like with your title. Let’s say with your title. Start with the foundation of as many keywords of like a bunch of high-end keywords, keywords that are going to convert or have a lot of traffic leading to them. Start with that foundation of all those keywords, and then maybe piece them together. Is that what you’re saying?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh, for sure, for sure. I mean you really do, like we said, with the title you really have to get the right keywords up there upfront and you know obviously try to assemble those in, you know, the most beautiful way that you can and sort of balance, you know, walk that line of getting the keywords and getting the product information up there for people, and then from there it’s really just a matter of prioritizing.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and this is what I was kind of alluding to earlier that I didn’t want to go into because I didn’t want to steal Yale’s thunder, but just because you are indexed for a word does not mean you are driving the same amount of ranking power. So what this means is just because you have, you know, keyword XYZ in your description that yes, you – or a bullet point or whatever – yes, you will be indexing for that, but just because you are indexing because the word is in a bullet point doesn’t mean you’re driving the optimal amount of power, and you’ll drive that optimal amount of power by having it in the title, preferably the highest volume keywords at the beginning.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, can you touch on just a little bit about how much energy people should be putting into their bullets, into their descriptions or their backend keywords? I think a lot of people tend to freak out about the bullets as much as they do the title. And you already mentioned that the title is going to be your primary keyword ranking driver, but where are the other aspects of a listing when coming into this?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh wow, yeah, so you the – yeah, of course, like we said, the title is obviously the most important part, and you know, where the keywords are really prioritized there. But from there I think the most important point for crafting your listing is to keep in mind that buyers by and large are on Amazon to basically scan information. They’re not there to, you know, read novel length listings, and a lot of the times yes, you know, obviously your product information is obviously helpful when they’re, you know, comparing products and trying to make a decision. But a lot of the time they’re just scanning that information, and they need it very succinctly. They need it very concisely, and that’s really going to a lot of times be the difference between, you know, someone adding your product to cart and checking out and, you know, maybe passing over and going with someone else. So yeah, definitely keep that in mind. You know, think of it in terms of a priority list. So the title is the number one priority, then the bullets number two, product description three, and so on. So yeah, definitely assemble your information accordingly.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, is there anything else that you’d want people listening to know, even if it’s just in general, about listing ops or if you’d want to summarize in any way? What more, what else do people need to know?

YALE SCHALK:
I would say, you know, I think the thing that comes to mind most for me is that each segment of the Amazon selling process is so important. And you know, that’s really why Viral Launch exists. You know, we exist to help you get that right. You know, so I would say use our software. Get in touch with us to do your product photography. Get in touch with us to do your listings. You know, we really have – we’ve really refined and really perfected the entire process. So you know, we really are here to help you be successful.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s great. Casey, do you have anything to add?

CASEY GAUSS:
No, Yale’s just been killing it. You know I think that too many people – you know, I’ve definitely seen plenty of people say, you know, I don’t have time for keyword research. I don’t have time to put into my listing so I just threw something up, and I’m moving on. Essentially people just look at it as just another box to check, and the thing is like Yale mentioned at the very beginning of the listing, or sorry, the podcast, the listing is absolutely critical to achieving success on Amazon, especially as you continue to enter more and more competitive markets. The greater the level of competition, the greater your listing needs to be from a, you know, keyword structure standpoint. So if this is not on point it’s going to be so much more difficult for you to drive rankings, to sustain rankings and to drive sales. And so if you aren’t willing to take the time to invest in this listing, you know, I think your Amazon FBA journey is going to be pretty difficult.

CAMERON YODER:
This is one of those – it’s another one of those no-brainers. It goes with photos. Like why would you not have the best photos possible? Why would you not have the best listing optimization possible? If you don’t optimize this, if you don’t put energy or effort into it, then you’re not going to get the results that you could if you would have put that time or those resources into it.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, it’s just another corner that people like to cut that really ends up biting them, you know, later.

CAMERON YODER:
Don’t cut corners. In this case one of those corners is listing optimization. So do not cut listing optimization.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I got good feedback from somebody at a conference that I spoke at this weekend, and they loved the – you know, everybody’s looking for that silver bullet. And we say you don’t need a silver bullet. You need an arsenal. And one of those weapons in your armory needs to be an amazing listing.

CAMERON YODER:
Well thank you so much, Yale, for joining us and for providing so much valuable information on listing ops.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for listening to Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information about how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. For those of you who are looking for your next great product I have a series of product discovery walk-throughs videos on our YouTube channel that show you really how to leverage the tool. Just search Viral Launch on YouTube, go to our page and look for my face in one of the videos. Don’t forget to leave us a review and let us know what you think of the show. And if you really like the show and you like what we’re doing here at Viral Launch, tell your fellow Amazon sellers about us. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in this space. So please tell your friends, spread the word and share the show with other Amazon sellers.

Thank you, again, so much for listening. Feel absolutely free to hit us up on Facebook or tweet at us if you have any questions or feedback. And if you want to be featured on the show or have an Amazon related question or an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Also feel free to just hit us up on Facebook or tweet at us if you want to be featured on the show, too. We can always take those questions and feature them on the show if you don’t want to call in. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

BONUS: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy (Follow the Data Ep. 11)

Follow the Data BONUS Episode: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy

We’re excited to announce the launch of Product Discovery, our latest software tool, and the best product finder in the galaxy. Tune in for a bonus episode where CEO Casey Gauss talks about why this is such a revolutionary release.

Finding a great product to sell on Amazon is vital to the success of your Amazon business; that’s why we created Product Discovery. Just enter your business goals, and filter for a list of personalized product ideas. You can find ideas by looking at individual products whose performance meets your aspirations, by looking at keywords and product markets with the metrics you desire, or by scanning top-performing brands and categories for the products that are driving their success.

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Or to learn more about Product Discovery,