eStoreMedia 16‑category study: What really influences Search performance to deliver sales on Amazon in the US and UK?
e-Commerce shopping rates have increased sharply in the past six months bringing new shoppers online, many for the first time in their lives. In the same period, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen consumer needs evolve, resulting in shifting search behavior across e-retail platforms.
The evolution of e-commerce search in recent months tells the story of the pandemic as it swept the globe. First, we saw online searches for hand sanitizer, cleaning products, personal protection equipment, and of course toilet paper, grow by up to 800 percent overnight. Then it was flour and home baking search terms that dominated, followed quickly by office equipment for the home.
As the weather improved, demand for DIY and garden products, toys, games, and outdoor play equipment, were reflected in search term usage across e-commerce sites. Each development echoes a new phase in the crisis as consumers adjust to shopping more online, or delve into categories they would only have experienced in a physical store before now.
Search & Sales Performance
The rapid rate of change has meant product manufacturers have been forced to constantly adjust listings, content and other e-commerce fundamentals to keep up. The difference between effective and second-rate performance is stark, particularly when it comes to search rank. According to research carried out by Nielsen, brands can achieve up to 84% uplift in sales if a product moves up a single place from top of the second page of search results to the bottom of the first page. Rising to the middle of the first page will give your product 100% upsell versus top of page two, while if you manage to land the top spot of the first page of search results you are looking at more than 150% upsell.
eStoreMedia carried out a study during the third week of May and the first week of July 2020 to determine how e-commerce search has changed, and what directly impacts search performance, and sales, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. We already know for example that as shoppers browse categories they are less familiar with, it has resulted in increased use of ‘category keyword’ search terms instead of brand terms.
Initial findings from our analysis of 16 diverse categories – including coffee, washing machines, vitamins and shampoo – involving more than 1.8 million search terms, shows brands still need to focus on content fundamentals to remain competitive in a search-driven shopping world.
Here are the top 10 e-commerce fundamentals that positively affect search and sales performance on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Level of impact varies by category, but eStoreMedia can help brands assess priorities for their categories.
1) KEYWORD VALUE
Anyone with even a fleeting understanding of e-commerce search will know the importance of category keywords when it comes to performance. But, keywords are not all equally valuable. eStoreMedia uses statistical analysis and AI to calculate Keyword Value for individual terms and phrases, identifying the most effective keywords in a category, for a given timeframe. Thus, there is a strong positive correlation between the Keyword Value of terms used in e-commerce content creation, and search and sales performance.
2) KEYWORD DENSITY IN PRODUCT TITLE
A higher number of high value keywords in the product title, as you’d expect, correlates with higher search rank, and subsequently higher sales. However, when using keywords in any element of landing page content there is always a quantity versus quality tradeoff. For optimum results the most valuable keywords should appear in the first 20 to 40% of the product title.
3) KEYWORD SELECTION
Similarly, the number of category keywords used in the first two lines of content on a product landing-page also directly impacts both search performance and sales. More keywords in the first two lines positively affect both.
4) KEYWORD DENSITY IN BULLETS
Using keywords in product description bullet-points also supports better search and sales performance on Amazon platforms. This is often missed in the tug of war between brand content creation, and e-commerce content practicality.
With like-for-like product listings, promoted products perform better in search on Amazon, and are also more likely to rank higher on bestseller lists. For example, for two comparable toothbrushes the discounted item is more likely to rank higher on search results pages, and sell better.
6) NUMBER OF BULLETS
The number of bullet points used in product content influences search rank and sales, with between four and six bullets having the highest impact.
7) PRODUCT PRICE
A complete analysis of price, profitability and sales share was outside the scope of our study. However, the analysis shows lower priced products usually rank higher than more expensive rivals, for the same category-keywords, on Amazon search results pages.
8) NUMBER OF REVIEWS
On average across categories, products with a higher number of reviews perform better in Amazon search. However, review volume has ranges of impact that vary by category. Products that fall below a ‘target number’ of reviews for their category will be outperformed by products with more user comments. But the number of reviews ceases to be a significant competitive factor between rival products once they have both exceeded the category ‘target number’.
9) AVERAGE STAR RATING
The key to success for product rating is to have a star rating of four or above. Products with ratings lower than four suffer from lower search rank and lower sales as their rating reduces. Products rated anywhere between four and five perform equally well in terms of search performance and sales.
10) NUMBER OF IMAGES & VIDEO
The link between the number of additional images and search or sales performance is not very strong - assuming the product has at least one image. However, products with fewer than six images don’t perform as well as those with between six and nine product images, which is the optimum range. Video content doesn’t appear to influence search rank to any great extent on Amazon, however products with videos on product landing pages tend to sell better.
It’s clear from our study results that e-Commerce Search & Sales optimization is a complex undertaking. No single element is going to deliver by itself. Success requires a holistic approach, taking into account multiple factors that change over time. It’s an ongoing task requiring constant monitoring, attention to detail and awareness of fluctuations in consumer behavior.
To find out how eStoreMedia can help you optimize your Search & Sales performance on Amazon, and other leading e-commerce platforms, contact the eStoreLabs team or connect with your Client Partner.