Is It Better to Optimize an e-Commerce Product Page or an Amazon Listing?
As an online merchant, you have a lot of options. While many businesses try to organically build their own, independent e-commerce platforms, others simply turn to existing platforms, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy to manage all their transactions for them. I’ve seen many businesses become successful based purely on their presence in Amazon, but I’ve also seen new e-commerce platforms defy expectations.
There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each approach. E-commerce sites generally require much more time and money to start up, but offer more control and long-term growth potential. On the other hand, they also require more regular management and are more subject to bugs and security breaches. Amazon is simpler to set up and manage, and allows you to leverage the power and trust of its brand, but it also reduces your profitability because it takes a percentage of each sale.
Rather than diving deep into issues of ongoing management or startup costs, I’m going to take a close look at the mechanism behind long-term growth in both scenarios; the capacity to optimize for greater traffic. While search engine optimization (SEO) is typically used in reference to optimizing independent websites for Google searches, it’s also possible to optimize an Amazon listing (or an Amazon store, for that matter). In my analysis, I’ll compare the ease, cost, and effectiveness of optimization for each of these applications.
How to Optimize an Amazon Listing
While Google always wants users to get the most relevant results for their searches, Amazon cares more about the satisfaction a user gets when he/she buys a product. As a result, Amazon pays greater attention to factors such as customer reviews, pricing, and customer behavior upon examining the product. For example, if your product generates more sales than similar products, Amazon has a vested interest in ranking your product higher.
Before I dive into how you can accomplish this, I want to mention a similarity Amazon optimization has with Google optimization: meta data. Google relies on structured meta data in the backend code of your site to learn about your products and services, but Amazon offers these fields to you directly. When you list a product, you’ll have the opportunity to describe your product in great detail across a variety of descriptive and categorical fields. Be sure to fill these out as completely and as accurately as possible to maximize your chances of getting found (and include images while you’re at it).
In addition to these keywords and descriptions, Amazon ranks you based on four primary “quality” factors:
· Price. This is pretty straightforward; list your product at a price comparable to yet competitive with similar products listed by your competitors.
· Conversion Rate. The more products you sell, the more money Amazon makes. The higher your conversion rate is, the higher Amazon is going to rank you.
· Customer Reviews. Unhappy customers are bad for Amazon. Work to earn as many good reviews as possible — this can be difficult and unpredictable, but it’s vitally important.
· Seller Performance. How well your products perform across the board is also factored into how your individual products rank.
Also keep in mind that building links and mentioning your product on social media will not have a direct impact on your Amazon search listings — this is only a Google-based optimization technique.
When it comes to actual product searches, Amazon has almost three times more searches than Google. If you’re only considering the portion of your target audience who will be looking for your product directly, Amazon is the clear winner in terms of total potential traffic. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your e-commerce platform will be able to attract more total traffic from peripheral, industry, or vaguely related terms, and that most products on Amazon are already saturated with competition.
How to Optimize a Product Page
The process here is traditional SEO, which is somewhat complicated, but I’ll break it down into key factors. I’ve included links to pages where you can find more information for each element:
· On-site optimization, including the titles and descriptions you list on your individual pages.
· Website structure and user experience; the lower your bounce rate and the deeper your users go, the better.
· On-site content; sites with an ongoing content strategy that features unique, helpful, well-written material always do better.
· External links and brand mentions; the more authoritative sites point to yours, the higher your own authority will increase.
· Social media presence and shares — the more, the better.
Optimizing a site takes a lot of work and a lot of time, but optimizing any new product page on that site is a relatively simple process. Filling out the structured data on the backend is all you need to do to ensure your product page can be found with relevant query searches — your domain authority should take care of the rest.
Obviously, Google offers a lot of potential. Because the optimization process here is for your branded online presence, and not just a single Amazon listing, your efforts have a greater and longer-lasting impact. E-commerce optimization gives you a better chance at winning over more long-term traffic and brand loyalists, and each transaction will net you a larger profit.
As you might have expected, each option has advantages and disadvantages. Amazon has a faster, more straightforward process, and a huge brand that will help get your products the visibility they need, but it’s less predictable, less likely to earn you new brand followers, and takes a cut of every sale. E-commerce optimization is more technical, more difficult, and more time consuming, but it’s arguably more valuable over the long-term. If you’re just starting out and you need to generate some immediate revenue, Amazon is the better choice, but if you’d rather invest in a long-term strategy, e-commerce is the way to go. And remember — there’s no harm in pursuing both if you have the resources!