Mastering Marketplace SEO – eBay and Amazon Basics
Here is a question that a certain group of people have to ask themselves when they think about SEO for their business; what happens when your search engine isn’t Google and your webpage is actually a product listing?
Online marketplaces are a great place to sell and, whatever you might think, Amazon does NOT own the online retail business. Well, not exactly. In his last letter to shareholders the Amazon CEO admitted that ‘third party sellers are kicking our butt’, referring to those independent retailers who sell on Amazon versus the company’s own offerings. Sales from independent third-party sellers accounted for 58% of the physical gross merchandise sold on Amazon in 2018. eBay isn’t fading either, although it has changed a lot over the years.
But these are very competitive marketplaces, and it takes more than just having a great product and a decent price to get your listings in front of the eyes of as many buyers as possible. It takes marketplace SEO, which, as you’ll see, is a rather different creature than SEO designed to please Google.
Most searches conducted in eBay’s search engine–called Cassini–will result in multiple results of the same products, just being offered by different sellers.
This tells us 2 things.
First, there’s a lot of competition on eBay.
Second, getting listed as high as possible in the marketplace search results means you’re more likely to get the click–and ultimately the sale.
More Than Keywords
When the eBay search engine looks at your listing, it also takes into account a wide variety of other factors in addition to keywords used in your listing:
- Your prices, delivery times and return and shipping policies
- The speed you respond to inquiries
- At what price your bidding starts (eBay likes $0.99 starting bids)
- The ‘Buy It Now’ to Auction ratio of your listings
- There’s a lot more to eBay SEO than just keywords, but using relevant keywords with buyer intent is still integral. Listing titles should have the relevant keywords as should product descriptions.
eBay Product Descriptions
eBay gives the seller a lot of control with their product description, offering what is essentially a blog style WYSIWYG editor to create a product description in almost any way you want.
Therefore, not unlike Google and a blog, it’s a good idea to use your most relevant keywords as early as possible in your eBay product description, and in H2 headings.
Stay away from tacky phrases like “L@@K”. And acronyms like “BNIB” and “BNWOB” can confuse people do you mean brand new without box or brand new with original box? You will have to specify later on, but a confused browser is never likely to make it that far.
This is a great example of making use of keywords–to please Cassini–but also describing the product appealingly. Sunscreen isn’t actually that glamourous, but this description makes it sound like it is.
Auctions & Free Shipping
eBay is the home of the online auction. Bidders are notified when they’re outbid or when the auction is ending. Therefore, they return and interact.
eBay auctions promote activity and buyer/seller interaction, and Cassini loves this. To the point where eBay will give SERP preference to an auction of the same product, compared to a buy it now listing.
Bonus tip: Increase your sale price to cover shipping and then offer free shipping. It sounds simple, but the ‘free shipping’ tag will make eBay, Cassini and the buyer love you.
Amazon Search–aka A9–is a very unique creature.
When people use Google, they are usually using it to find the answer to a question. But when they use Amazon, they know what we want. They are not looking for a way to cut a tomato, they’re looking for kitchen knives to do it with.
Therefore, Amazon’s search engine, A9 was custom created to cater to buyers with purchase intent.
Because of this, Amazon SEO is a little different. You’re not just wanting to rank higher in marketplace search results, but you’re also trying to win the ‘Buy Box’.
Since Amazon does not have duplicate listings (few, anyway), vendors selling the same product compete to get a front spot in what is essentially a queue of sellers.
Winning the buy box comes down to a lot of external influences.
- Product title–Get the brand, product range, material and/or main feature, color, size and packaging/quantity into the description first.
- ISBN/EAN numbers are needed for every product. Fill out as much specific information as you can about your product. The more information, the more Amazon knows about it.
- High-quality product photography, buyer reviews and the number of sales play a huge part.
- Amazon will give preference to vendors selling via Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA)
- The number one influence on the health of your Amazon store is how you handle returns and refunds.
- Amazon in unabashedly out to make buyers happy–not so much the sellers. Help Amazon sell things, and Amazon will preference you in its search results.
Marketplace SEO is trickier than Google SEO . You’re subject to a whole new set of algorithms and sellers must constantly be vigilant to maintain the selling edge. Luckily, what you need to succeed is well documented and easily attainable–with a little work.