How many hours a week do we spend ‘rank hawking’ in Helium 10 to see where we are sitting on our core keywords? How often have we been frustrated with our rankings’ up, down, backward, and sideways movements?
The last burning question is:
Why does there seem to be such a big disconnect between our ranking stats and our overall sales?
The first thing we want to understand is that the competitive landscape on Amazon has gone parabolic starting in about 2017. That bursting at the seams growth has had some serious consequences for sellers. However, as fast as that growth has occurred, its effects were rather insidious and hard to see as they were happening.
Important things to be aware of
The rank on Amazon is highly volatile and dynamic. When dealing with something that lacks consistency, it’s nearly impossible to use that as a problem-solving variable when trying to troubleshoot where things are going awry.
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We need to keep in mind that the user’s browsing platform has a genuine impact on placements. A large share of Amazon-born searches comes from the app. What does that mean? It means that Amazon will have more in-depth data on browsing history. This allows it to deliver each person a custom version of search results.
If someone searches out of the app, cookies will allow Amazon to customize those search results (in a more limited fashion now with the iOS updates, but still impactful). This leaves us with a shell game of PPC placements and organic listings where Amazon moves things all over the place. It can happen as frequently as multiple times per day. We are left with rank numbers that bounce all over the place when we check them, which is maddening.
The mobile experience
As most of us are aware, the lion’s share of purchases on Amazon will take place on mobile devices. The ever-evolving and very robust PPC platform on Amazon significantly impacts where organic listings are displayed. The amount of displayable area for a seller on a page goes down considerably versus desktop view. Sponsored Brands headline ads, TOS Sponsored Search ads, Video Placements, mid-page Sponsored Search ads, etc., are chewing up what would be organic placement real estate on the search results page (SERP).
That irritating ‘best buy widget’ (irritating if we aren’t lucky enough to be inside it) is nested conveniently underneath the top-of-search organic placements. We can’t understate its consequences. That widget poaches a lot of what would be organic clicks from the top-of-search organic listings.
When we take a good, hard look at how these factors weigh down the effectiveness of our organic presence, it can be a pretty sobering realization.
There is good news
What could that be?
We can still thrive in the new Amazon ecosystem if we play the game in a new way. And that game is played by giving up the dated rank hawking addiction and refocusing on a SERP-centric strategy.
The first thing we want to keep in mind when implementing this framework is that our chief goal will move–from painfully trying to ratchet up our organic placements to creating as many touchpoints as possible on the SERP within cost constraints.
CTR is usually a stat we think about at a micro-level such as how many people get delivered a single listing impression, then click to the next level. For this approach, we are essentially trying to increase page-level CTR by locking down as many placements as we can in search results. The more places we show up on the SERP, the higher the odds of getting clicks.
Action plan for SERP control
–Implement the SKAG campaign structure. We mustn’t give Amazon any latitude regarding where to put our budget. We want every single penny going at one product with only a single target.
–Create SKAG campaigns for every match type in sponsored search placements. That includes Broad, Phrase, and Exact.
–Target all page one ASINs for the target you are trying to control the SERP for.
–Continue to rollout SKAG campaigns on all three match types for both Sponsored Brands headline and video.
–Be as aggressive as we can on our core keyword SERP control targets to find out where your leverage points are. As things flesh out themselves, we want to stay heavy with where we are winning in terms of ACoS–and wean things back on the SERP placements that are not as profitable to keep TACoS inline.
Final thoughts on SERP and Amazon
The major take-home is that the number one thing that will drive the top line needle in this new competitive climate in our Amazon business is how much SERP we can saturate. Remember, the new Amazon is a game of Monopoly, not a horse race.
About the author
John Serafano is the Owner & Founder of Ascendance360, a full-service Amazon marketing agency. John and his agency specialize in private label branding strategies for small to medium-sized sellers.