Amazon Listing Optimizations: How to Conquer the Category

Ariel Dearth

Table of Contents

Your products have been selling alright, but not at the velocity you know they’re capable of. The listing describes the product, has plenty of keywords, and the imagery looks great. You put in the effort to make a great listing, but results have since faded from great to good…or worse.

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to up your game and take Amazon listing optimizations to a whole new level. 

Why is Listing Performance Fading? 

If you find yourself asking this question, the answer is that Amazon is maturing, and so are its sellers. The number of sellers with immense experience is growing, which means strategies are more competitive than ever. Amazon has 1.9 million active sellers and growing. Of that number, 60,000 sellers exceeded $1M in annual sales as of February 2022.  

Additionally, organic search placements are becoming scarce. As of March 2022, 16 out of the first 20 products shown on the search engine results page (SERP) are ads. This means if you’re not paying for ad placement, you’re now battling for 4 organic ranking spots. To succeed, you have two options: outbid ad spend, or outperform organically. Fail to do so, and you’ll be banished to the obscurity of page 2 and beyond. 

Throw into the fray ever-changing Amazon requirements and search algorithm and suddenly you’re riding a horse backwards trying to shoot a bullseye on a moving target that’s quickly fading into the distance. Amazon is always changing. That great listing you once had is now merely good, and your good listings are now mediocre at best. 

6 Questions Your Amazon Listing Optimization Must Answer 

The nuances required to make a listing great are numerous. Luckily, we’ve created a checklist you can download for free at the bottom of this blog. It outlines everything you need to consider to make your listing the best it can be. Here are 6 questions from that list you must ask of every listing to achieve greatness. A good listing will answer some, but a top listing answers all of them simultaneously. 

Does your listing: 

  1. Clearly and concisely define the product? 
  2. Speak to the search algorithm to drive the right traffic? 
  3. Comply with Amazon’s regulations and guidelines? 
  4. Inspire your target audience to take action? 
  5. Represent the brand and your unique value proposition? 
  6. Provide a better experience than shoppers get on competitors’ listings?

Let’s break each of these down to understand the actions you need to take to accelerate your listing and product sales. 

Define the Product 

Some shoppers will head straight for the image gallery and make their decision as to whether your product fits their needs or not before they ever get to the text. Others read every word you have to say about your wares and never see more than your main image, also called the hero image. Because of this, both the images and the content need to independently define the product completely. 

Images and Video Content 

The imagery required to fully define a product will vary, but the basics remain the same. The technical requirements for images and videos can be looked up easily within Seller and Vendor Central, so let’s spend our time talking about the strategy and design nuances that are necessary in a great listing. 

You know what your product is, but can a shopper take one look at your hero image and know exactly what they’re getting even if they’ve never heard of it before? In the below example, traditionally, this product photo would just be a product box, requiring you to look through more photos to understand what it is. Our creative team added understanding by pulling some elements out of the box and placing them in front. Now you can glance and understand that this is a dig kit that will result in adorable little dinosaurs and not a boardgame about singing dinosaurs.

box of dinosaur eggs

Let’s look at another example. With this product, there was a lot of confusion from customers thinking they were receiving a finished art piece versus the art kit that it is. To alleviate the confusion, a few elements of the kit were laid in front to provide a visual understanding that it is indeed a kit.  

string art of a unicorn

Use as many studio shots as needed to provide a complete understanding of the product. If your product is a kit or the outside packaging lacks imagery, include a “what’s-in-the-box” shot where you show all included components in one image. These provide value by highlighting everything the product does and eliminates confusion by helping customers understand what might not be included. 

components of a science kit for children

Use camera angles that highlight key features or to set a mood. For example, use a lower angle shooting upwards at the product to make the product feel larger than life for more impact. At the same time, take care to include imagery that conveys accurate proportions so customer expectations are met upon receiving the product. 

At bare minimum, use 6 images and one video. Most categories allow up to 10 images and the best practice is to utilize every square inch you have available to you to thoroughly communicate the message of your product. Create a video that clarifies intended use or helpful information for ordering such as sizing. 

Text Content 

Can you describe your product to its core in 100 characters or less? What about 20? Description real estate on Amazon is slim, making it critical to distill your information down to its most essential components. What is the product? What color is it? What is it made of? What is its main purpose? What comes with it? Think about describing your product for someone who is visually impaired and see how your definition is transformed. 

Use your first bullet point to define the product as completely and succinctly as possible. A great bullet point can answer the who, what, where, when, and why. Here is an example of how to optimize the first defining bullet point: 

Example of Amazon bullet points 

The original bullet point has a lot of the right components, but they’re hidden in the clutter the whole thing feels incomplete. It doesn’t say what the product is made of, how big it is, or what the writing on the tumbler says. The revision addresses all of those points and does so in a shorter character length. There’s less frill, but there are other places to apply that creative voice. 

Speak to the Algorithm 

Since imagery and video are not seen by the algorithm, let’s jump straight into considerations for text. In our blog on Amazon keyword research, we discuss the process of finding the right keywords and how to implement them successfully. 

Prioritize keywords based on search volume, relevancy, and difficulty. Put the top keywords in the title, the next most important in the bullet points, and the remaining keywords in the description field. Use the Search Term field for related terms that do not exactly align with your product, but customers looking for those terms might find your product as a reasonable alternative. For example, if you sell a couch, someone searching for “settee” might think your couch is a solution. You don’t want to visibly call it a settee because it’s not, but including this keyword it in the non-visible search terms will give it the possibility to show up on the SERP. 

When implementing keywords, insert them in ways that feel natural. Never prioritize SEO over customer experience. A shopper who arrives on your page and has a negative experience because you’re talking to the algorithm instead of them is way worse than a shopper that never found you in the first place. The customer with a negative experience saw what you had to offer and said no. 

Kaspien testing proved that only the first 500 characters of the entire bullet points section are crawled by the algorithm. There’s still value in writing beyond the 500 characters, which we will discuss later, but for keywords, all keywords must be placed before the 500-character mark. 

Amazon Compliance 

Images and Video Content 

We have outlined the majority of Amazon’s imagery and video compliance concerns in the downloadable checklist at the bottom of this blog. All of the video compliance specs can also be found within the help files of Seller and Vendor Central. That said, here’s a list of the biggest concerns to watch out for: 

  • JPEG is preferred, but TIFF, PNG, and non-animated GIF files are also allowed 
  • The product must fill at least 85% of the image 
  • No side of the image can be smaller than 1000px. Shoot for 2000px for clear zoomability 
  • No blurry or pixelated imagery 
  • No nudity or sexual suggestiveness 
  • The main image cannot contain any overlaid text 
  • No Amazon badges such as “Amazon’s Choice”, “Works with Alexa”, or “Best Seller”. Amazon adds and removes these at their discretion on the SERP. 
  • No prohibited product claims


Failure to follow Amazon compliance rules risk listing suppressions. 

Text Content 

Browsing Amazon you’ll come across listings that aren’t compliant. Why haven’t they been shut down and why can’t you do the same? Most rule changes Amazon makes only become a requirement when you submit changes to your listing. You could be only editing field (A) but if the text in field (B) is now considered against the rules, your listing can be suppressed. This is because when any change is submitted, Amazon scans the entire listing for compliance.  

Some issues will stop you from submitting the update, others will update but trigger a suppression shortly afterwards. Too many compliance issues across your catalog will threaten a shut down of your seller account as a whole. 

Compliance is a moving target. Be prepared to become an expert for your category or partner with someone who is. Every category is very different, but some concerns, such as claims that aren’t scientifically proven with clinical trials, reach across all categories in unexpected ways. 

Inspire Your Target Audience 

Images and Video Content 

The best way to speak to your audience with imagery is through the use of lifestyle images. Lifestyle images show your product in an environment and being used by people so shoppers can imagine what it would look and feel like to have your product.  

Lifestyle images can also be used to show the size and scale of the product, explain intended uses, and reinforce your target market by the people represented in the image. Videos can be used to reinforce all the same messaging in your lifestyle images. 

Text Content 

Bullet points and the description offer very little space for crafting a tone, but they will give you just enough room to scratch the surface. The best place to delight your audience is in A+. Available to Sellers and Vendors with Brand Registry, this enhanced brand content replaces the description field with customizable modules of imagery and text. Since the text in A+ is not seen by the search algorithm, you are free to focus on tone and customer experience.  

To understand what your audience is interested in, read through your reviews. Positive reviews will highlight their favorite features and you’ll be surprised to find that what you considered your biggest selling points aren’t always what your customers identify as their favorite things. Negative reviews and feedback from customer service identify what needs to be clarified. Incomplete expectations of what’s included and what the product does often lead to returns and negative reviews. 

Use the 2nd-4th bullet points to speak to your audience by describing the top feature/benefits. Utilize the 5th bullet if absolutely necessary, but I will describe a better use for that later. 

Represent the Brand 

Images and Video Content 

Product listings are your opportunity to show off your company and branding. You may have spent a lot of time on other channels developing different elements to showcase your brand, and Amazon gives you several opportunities to continue telling that story.  

Use established color and style guidelines in your lifestyle images and highlight what your brand represents in an even bigger way in A+.  

Text Content 

Continue representing your brand in the text. Always start product titles with your brand name. Amazon recommends this in their style guide for several reasons. It helps with brand recognition, helps you claim your product, and differentiates your products from others on the SERP. 

As mentioned before, only the first 500 characters of the bullet points are crawled by the search algorithm. If you write bullet points longer than 100 characters each, you’ll run out of crawl before the last bullet point. Instead of truncating valuable information in your feature/benefits, use the last bullet point to speak to customers who have already arrived at your listing. Highlight brand features that might not be searched for but can be used to tip the scales in favor of a conversion. Things such as “Made in the USA”, “Naturally-Sourced Ingredients”, “Safety is Our #1 Priority.” Use this space to make the difference for the customer on a human level. 

A+ is huge for branding. Add a module dedicated to telling the story of your brand. Highlight a female owner, your green manufacturing process, or your dedication to safety and quality. Kaspien testing has shown a 12% increase in conversion rate with implementation of comparison charts. They are a great way to direct consumers to other products within your catalog, creating a loyal following called brand halo shoppers. 

Provide a Better Experience to Stay Competitive 

Images and Video Content 

To increase competitiveness on Amazon, you need to do more than be different. You need to delight your customers, providing a better end-to-end experience than the competition. The best way to do this in imagery is to use infographics. Use them to call out sales points that validate your superiority over competitors. Highlight any information that addresses pain points or troubleshooting that you identified in your negative reviews.  

Text Content 

Mentioning other brands is non-compliant and not a good practice to begin with. Your product needs to stand on its own merits, but shoppers will be vetting your products against others before making the decision to buy. Understand what the competition is doing right and what they’re doing wrong and use that to set yourself apart.  

Conduct the same customer review analysis on competitors as you did for your own. Address their customer’s concerns in your listings and explain why your product doesn’t have the same issue without ever having to reference the competitors. 

The Impact of Thorough Amazon Listing Optimization 

By addressing these six questions your product listing will:  

  • Achieve better visibility and conversion 
  • Help your audience understand more about your product and its value 
  • Grow brand trust and brand recognition with your audience 
  • Help your product listing rank higher and be less likely to be suppressed 
  • Encourage the Amazon algorithm to present your product as the best option 


Download the Listing Optimization Checklist

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post. Download our free Listing Optimization Checklist to help you audit and improve your own product detail pages.

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Ariel Dearth