February 26, 2021

The Anatomy of a Bestselling Amazon Listing: Everything You Wanted to Know About Amazon Product Listing Optimization

With Amazon's access to audience numbers reaching around 2.5-3 billion a month, you expect your listing strategy to actually leverage the power of this marketplace and help you get ahead of the 2.5 million other sellers.

With a lot of conflicting talk about the best way to optimize your Amazon listing, here at Semrush, we decided to go all data-driven about it and understand what really makes the case for Amazon’s top-notch rankings.

With access to high-quality data, we've discovered which are the best success tactics when it comes to Amazon listing optimization:

  • 91% of bestseller listings contain A+ content, while, for non-bestseller listing, the number is just 70%.
  • In 97% of bestseller listings, the primary image is placed on a pure white background, while non-bestseller listings adhere to this tactic in only 90% of cases.
  • Bestsellers have 30X more customer feedback than their counterparts.

Read on to learn more about how to list an item on Amazon based on industry best practices and our own discoveries, including image and headline length findings!

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A Unique Take on Amazon’s Best Selling Rank

Typically, Amazon sellers have to rely on limited platform guidance and expert-driven insights. While they both hold a lot of value, we’ve decided to actually check how a bestselling listing varies from a regular one.

Here are the two key questions we wanted to address with our research:

  1. Are there any traits that differentiate a bestseller product that ranks in the top 100 listings for a category from a randomly selected listing that is not in the top 100 ranking positions for that category (non-bestseller)?
  2. How different are bestseller and non-bestseller listings in regard to following the most common listing optimization practices?

To run this research, we’ve collected 100 best sellers and 100 random non-bestseller listings across 18 categories, and run all the data through Semrush’s Listing Quality Check app that revealed the key make-it-or-break-it criteria for getting the ultimate Amazon status.

Without any further ado, let’s jump into the key findings.

The Anatomy of a Bestselling Amazon Listing

Best Practices: Listing on Amazon

To start off with some more lightweight insights, we’ve uncovered that there are some slight differences in the overall outlook of bestseller and non-bestseller listings:

Optimize the Content:

  • Amazon product name (Amazon title requirements)

While the general rule says that your title should be up to 250 characters, we’ve found that you should try to keep it below the 200 limit to avoid making it look spammy or hard to read.

Number of characters in Amazon listing

In fact, the average bestseller listing has 108 vs a non-bestseller’s 110-character title.

Amazon listing title length

For the rest, the title length correlates not so much with listing ranking, but with the category the product belongs to. For example, we saw longer names within categories that required compatibility specifications (cameras, cell phone cases, computers, etc.) - 151 characters on average.

  • Bullet points

As expected, we saw sellers use all available bullet points across both types of listings. This is really important, as it’s a big indexing prerequisite and helps customers determine a potentially good product fit.

While Amazon style guidelines typically insist on shorter bullets, more (4% difference) bestseller listings exceed the 200-character limit.

  • Questions & Answers on Amazon

Answering customer questions on Amazon within the Q&A field is typically considered a best practice that affects shoppers’ trust and your reliability as a seller. But you can use that space to add to your product listing’s content and in the process, include more keywords that boost your product page’s visibility in the marketplace.

This means that when addressing customer questions, don’t just answer them to provide a response—go smart about your wording and use the space to squeeze in more keywords and even discover new search queries you hadn’t thought of.

  • URL with keywords: can this trick work on Amazon?

There is no consensus among the SEO (search engine optimization) community whether adding keywords to your URL actually affects pages’ rankings; the same applies to Amazon.

That said, you could consider this as a good practice that doesn’t necessarily impact the marketplace’s algo but shows your potential shoppers that your Amazon product page is relevant to what they are looking for.

While there’s no hard proof that the URLs of top-ranking listings include target keywords, you could use this as an additional hack that will at least help you win the shoppers’ trust.

Optimize the Visuals

  • Images

Across all categories, the average image count was 7 (vs 6) for the top bestseller listings. This implies that you should try using all available image slots and not limit yourself to only product images. Adding infographics and lifestyle visuals can boost your unit session percentage, aka conversion rate.

Number of images in Amazon listing - best practice

Optimize the Ratings and Reviews

  • Average rating and reviews

Interestingly, we didn’t spot much of a difference between bestseller and non-bestseller listings - they typically had 4.6 and 4.5 stars respectively.

Amazon customer feedback on a listing

Yet this is not the case with review numbers. On average, bestsellers had 30X more customer feedback than their counterparts. Of course, this difference really depends on your product type and category - the more competitive the keywords you are tackling, the more reviews you’re likely to get. Also, bestseller listings imply more sales, and with around 1-3% of purchasers leaving reviews, you can see that with a bigger customer pool, they’d simply have more feedback.
You can also turn to Amazon-led services like Vine and the Early Reviewer Program (ERP) to jumpstart your review-generation process.

How to Optimize Your Way Into Amazon's Best Seller List

Now, with some high-level insights already covered, let’s take an in-depth look at our findings and reveal all the key factors that affect your Amazon product pages’ performance.

For your convenience, we’ve divided our detailed analysis into a few parts that highlight the absolute must-do's and less significant differentiation points between a bestseller and non-bestseller listing.

You can use this info as an action plan to optimize your Amazon listing and increase the likelihood of getting the ultimate marketplace gem - a Best Seller badge that initiates the so-desired growth cycle. It showcases you as a trustworthy and successful seller, which in turn tends to bring in even more business, helping you to stay within the bestseller ranks for longer.

Amazon Bestseller Must-Do’s

In this part, we’re highlighting the kinds of criteria that have over a 5% difference between a bestseller and non-bestseller listing, meaning that the majority of top-notch listings follow these rules, unlike the rest.

•  Sign up for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Shall I sign up for FBA by Amazon? Best practices

A whopping 95% of bestseller listings have an FBA offer, compared to 81% from our regular listing sample. This means that for a fee, you outsource all the storage, packing, and shipping processes to Amazon.

To keep your offer competitive, this is especially important when your rivals are signed up for the FBA. If this is not a feasible option in your case, consider getting on the waitlist for Seller Fulfilled Prime - a Prime program that allows you to fulfill the shipment from your own storage. In the meantime, you can launch other incentives like coupons and make sure to keep your handling time competitive.

•  Upload a video

While only a little over 50% of listings in the top placements use videos, this number is even lower for the rest - 33%. The Amazon Product Video feature is pretty new and is likely to catch up, so you can leverage this opportunity to make your listing stand out from all the slower-adopting brands.

Video usage in Amazon listings

•  Add an A+ description

Being a quality indicator, A+ listings can really up your conversions.

Shall I use A+ content on my Amazon listing?

Bestsellers go for A+ content in 91% of cases, so if you have a branded ASIN, don’t hesitate to share your brand story, highlight your product’s benefits, and even cross-sell other products in the line.

•  Fine-tune your visuals

Almost all (97%) bestseller listings’ primary image is placed on a pure white background. And, on a more general note about the visuals, make sure that the longer side exceeds 1,000 px, while the shorter one is over 500 px. This will enable the zoom function, which is not the case with smaller image sizes.

Do I have to place my Amazon products on a white background?

•  Use small tweaks

In Amazon listings, even the smallest things can make a difference.

Almost 80% of top listings put the brand name at the beginning of the title, and 50% remove the ending punctuation (hyphens, symbols, periods, and exclamation points) from the bullet points.

How to use punctuation in Amazon listings

Category-Dependant Criteria

In some cases, while the average difference between some bestseller and non-bestseller listing criteria was not drastic, the gap was more significant when we looked at various categories.

•  Expand your bullets

Overall, longer bullets performed better across most categories.

Baby, Pet Supplies, and Industrial/Scientific were the only exceptions, where over 70% of top listings’ bullet points never exceeded 200 characters. So, if you’re operating within these niches, you may want to stick to this rule.

•  Comply with specific image requirements

Once again, across Sports & Outdoors, Clothing, and Shoes & Jewelry categories, more than 90% of bestsellers had images where the product’s visual made up at least 85% of the area.

Coming soon: Stay tuned to our blog updates to get more category-specific insights from our next research!

Amazon’s Must-Follow Rules

While we spotted some bestseller-specific rules, of course, a lot of the factors were applicable to both top-notch and regular listings.

Here are the criteria that were followed by almost 100% of all the analyzed ASINs, implying that these are likely the most basic Amazon requirements, which you cannot disregard, otherwise you might fall off the bestseller, or even get removed from the overall rankings.

So, if you want your listing to even have a chance of making it into the Amazon search results, let alone bestseller, make sure to cross-reference it with this checklist:

  • Reduce your title to 200 characters or less, including spaces.
  • Don’t use ALL CAPS in the title.
  • Avoid using non-language ASCII characters (Æ, ©, ™, or ®) or special characters (~ ! * $ ? _ ~ { } # < > | * ; ^ ¬ ¦) in the title.
  • Write all numbers as numerals in the title.
  • Use your seller name as the Brand or Manufacturer only if your product is Private Label in the title.
  • Add a product description. Avoid mentioning these details: seller's name, email, website URL, promotional or shipping information.
  • Remove these types of information from the bullet points: repetitive, promotional, pricing, shipping, company-specific information. Begin each bullet point with a capital letter.

Amazon Should-Do’s

For the following ‘rules’, we didn’t see much difference between bestsellers and non-bestsellers, yet they are followed by more than 97% of the listings. From this, we concluded that while they might not have a dramatic impact, complying with these criteria will amplify rather than hinder your Amazon performance.

Visuals-wise, try to create a crisp image that has no borders, watermarks, text, or other distracting elements.

The next set of best practices has to do with formatting:

  • Capitalize the first letter of each word in the title, as well as at the beginning of every sentence in the description. However, go lowercase when using conjunctions (and, or, for), articles (the, a, an), or prepositions with fewer than five letters (in, on, over, with) in the title.
How to write Amazon listing - example
Amazon Best Seller Example
  • Within bullet points, all numbers should be written as numerals (3 instead of three). And, whenever you’re putting numbers equal to or greater than 1,000 - be it in the title, description, or bullets - use a comma to separate the zeros (1,000 instead of 1.000 or 1000).

Bonus: Offers/Promotions

Since the majority of ASINs we analyzed don’t actually run any offers or promotions, we’ve put this factor at the very bottom of our action plan. Yet it’s curious to note that bestsellers add this kind of extra perk twice as much as regular listings, namely, in 8% of cases.

While this doesn’t seem like the make-it-or-break-it element of your listing, it can help you win that extra share of attention in a large pool of competing offers that might be able to provide some added benefits that you cannot beat (e.g. Prime).

Use Split Testing to Find the Best Way to Optimize Your Amazon Product Page

Going data- and expert-driven about your Amazon listing optimization is like lighting a torch in a dark forest. And while you should follow all the e-commerce best practices and Amazon specifics, the rules will vary from case to case and product to product.

Because there’s  more than just the Amazon algo that affects your product page’s ranking on Amazon—competition, price, product demand, you name it. So how can you know for sure what really works in your particular case?

You split test your product listing on Amazon.

What does this mean? You should simply change one listing variable at a time and see how your rankings change over a few weeks. While you can change a lot of things, the key listing features to test are:

Your product’s price

On Amazon, pricing matters a lot, so it’s the most obvious thing to test. While it may seem intuitive that price reduction will impact conversions (although that’s not necessarily the case), it might not be true for rankings.

Split test your product price, and don’t be afraid to temporarily increase it, as you may discover that a slight growth will have no effect on your rankings or conversion, and will only add to your margins.

Your product’s images

Amazon is a marketplace, but it’s all online, so shoppers can’t actually handle your product. So images are the only means of communicating the quality of your product. Experiment with the visuals and see which ones work best—for both rankings and conversions.

Your listing’s wording

While a picture is worth a thousand words, content also matters, and a lot. Your title and product description can highlight different features and calls-to-action (CTAs), so you should split test the content of your product page to see which keywords, CTAs, and messages appeal the most to your audience and Amazon’s algo.
Make sure to go through this post that unwraps how to be strategic about split testing your listing.

Final Words

We hope that now you’re armed with actionable insights to go out in the Amazon world and create efficient and successful Amazon product pages.

If you want to get specific data about your own listing’s fit with the marketplace’s best practices, turn to the power of the most comprehensive listing quality checker for Amazon on the market.

Make sure to stay tuned to our blog as this is only the first episode of the data-driven extensive research series about the ins and outs of creating the ultimate Amazon listing.

Next in line are category-specific insights and expert-driven recommendations that we cannot wait to share with all the Amazon sellers that are aiming to provide the most excellent Amazon experience to their customers, enhance listing performance, and grow their business.

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Read further:

Now that you know how to optimize your listing, you can explore all the ways to maximize your sales. And if you’re ready to do something besides finessing your organic strategy, find out how to build a bulletproof bidding strategy for your Amazon ads.