Ranking hacks are nothing new when it comes to selling on Amazon.
Sellers are always in search of a boost in organic rankings for coveted, high-volume keywords.
Despite rank manipulation being technically against Amazon’s terms, it hasn’t stopped people from looking for new and better ways to convince Amazon’s ranking algorithm to shine a light on their product.
As Amazon slowly starts shutting down or giving less power to other common ranking tactics, sellers are looking for better ways to rank up in ways that appear organic.
The latest tactic? Search, find, buy, or SFB. Read on to learn what this tactic is, and how it can help you boost your keyword rankings on Amazon.
A Brief History of Amazon Ranking Hacks
Like I said, sellers trying to game Amazon’s A9 ranking algorithm is nothing new.
From the moment it was clear you can make more money from position #1 than #11, those who are serious about their business have been figuring out how to twist the algorithm in their favor.
These hacks are becoming widely known, even outside of Amazon seller circles. The highlight being The Wall Street Journal’s expose article, “How Sellers Trick Amazon to Boost Sales”, which dove into several dirty tricks used by black-hat sellers.
In truth, the hacks discussed in that article are pretty extreme. Click farms and buying reviews are tactics that are doomed to fail. Amazon’s just too smart to let things like that go unnoticed.
Smarter sellers use less extreme tricks. These are tactics that don’t risk getting you kicked off the Amazon marketplace, because they go under the radar.
They exist in a grey area, where they might technically fall under “rank manipulation”, but not in a way that’s really noticeable or enforced. Some may even be considered white-hat now.
Keyword stuffing was one of the earliest and most primitive ways to boost rankings, as it has been with many kinds of text-based SEO.
Today, Amazon’s algorithm is too sophisticated for traditional keyword stuffing to have a big impact. As are Amazon’s customers. If your listing is an unreadable mass of keywords, no one is going to buy.
Super URLs were next – a smarter step forward in Amazon ranking hacks. This involved sending people to your listing through a URL that was faked to include a search term, as if the person had clicked through from organic search.
Thus, when someone bought through a super URL, Amazon’s algorithm would give power to the keyword, thinking they had searched and bought organically.
Today, super URLs are generally considered to be dead. While no one knows for sure, it seems that Amazon has ways to detect sales from these URLs, and disregard them for ranking purposes.
The next progression is the 2-step URL. This works similar to a super URL, except you send the buyer to a search page with your keyword populated. They need to click on your product in the search results, meaning a real clickthrough, which is harder for Amazon to detect than super URLs.
From what we know, 2-step URLs work very well for rankings. Despite some fear of late in the community, it doesn’t seem like Amazon has taken any action towards these URLs. In fact, many people consider this a pretty legitimate ranking tactic.
However, there are some who believe 2-step URLs don’t have the same power they used to and are looking for a more organic solution, which is where search, find, buy comes in.
Search, Find, Buy (SFB): How Does It Work?
Search, find, buy works very much like a 2-step URL. Like the 2-step, SFB is designed not to simulate an organic clickthrough but actually provide one. It works by pushing customers to find your product with a specific keyword and physically click through themselves.
How it works is really no different from what the name suggests. The customer searches, they find… and hopefully, they buy.
To use search, find, buy, instead of giving a potential customer the link to your product listing, you’ll give them instructions on how to find your product organically.
You may send them a link to the search page with your search term already populated, or ask them to search for the term themselves.
Then, you give the customer what they need to find it. Like a treasure map. Give them the product name, the photo by which they can identify it, and the page they can find it.
This method is usually used for new products that are several pages deep in the search results, so it’s really important that you give the customer enough info, such as its current page.
When your customer finds your product and buys, this will appear to Amazon as a totally organic sale. Theoretically, the ranking power from someone searching for a keyword and buying your product (even several pages deep in the SERP) is incredibly powerful, and extremely beneficial when it comes to ranking your product.
How To Build a Funnel with SFB
There are a few different ways you can build a search, find, buy funnel.
Most of the time, you want to start with Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads are the best type of external marketing for e-commerce sellers, with a huge user base and advanced targeting tools.
You can also build Messenger chatbots to guide customers through the purchasing journey. Initiating these chatbots from Facebook Ads reduces friction, by keeping the customer on a familiar platform (compared to if you sent them to a chatbot from your site, or a different social platform).
Incentivize the sale
You need to run a promotion. Some incentive for the customer to go through the effort of searching and finding your product several pages deep. Otherwise, what reason do they have not to choose a different one?
Commonly, this promotion is either a discount code or a rebate (reimbursing the customer after their purchase).
Rebates (especially 100% rebates) tend to be more enticing to the customer and better for ranking, since Amazon sees it as a full-price sale. However, this is a bit of a grey area in the Terms of Service, which could end up getting you in trouble.
The value of the discount code or rebate you offer depends on your budget and the importance of ranking your product. If you’re trying to rank for a super valuable keyword, for example, the cost of giving away a bunch of products with 100% rebates may be totally justified.
Keep in mind that there is a consensus that high-value discount codes cut off at a certain point, where Amazon doesn’t give the same power to them for ranking. This is likely somewhere from 80-90% off.
Start the search
Lastly, you need to provide instructions on how your customers can find the product. A Messenger flow works great for this. Alternatively, after they claim their discount, you could send the customer to a basic web page with step-by-step instructions on finding the product and claiming their discount.
So, your funnel needs three things:
- Facebook Ad (or some way to advertise and get in front of potential customers)
- Promotion (single-use discount code or rebate)
- Search, find, buy instructions
Click-to-Messenger JSON ads on Facebook are the best fit for your SFB funnel. It’s low-friction, keeping your customer in Facebook’s ecosystem until they reach Amazon, and allows you to give all the instructions you need in a Messenger flow.
Here’s how it might work:
Pros and Cons of SFB
Many sellers consider search, find, buy to be the most effective way to boost keyword rankings from external traffic, due to the organic nature.
While Amazon may, in the future (or already), adjust their platform to give less ranking power to 2-step URLs, SFB won’t have the same treatment. For all intents and purposes, it’s actually an organic search, so it gives the same power as people buying your product on their own.
There are downsides though. You’re asking the customer to put in some effort to find your product, so you will need to reach more people to get the same sales velocity as a simpler sales funnel.
If you don’t have a good incentive, too, you can easily spend ad money driving people to your competitors.
For this reason, consider using SFB for targeted ranking campaigns, where your target keywords are worth the cost of your launch.
Amazon Search, Find, Buy: In Summary
It’s unlikely that Amazon sellers will stop looking for new ways to rank products any time soon. Super URLs, 2-step URLs and more have had their time in the sun.
Now it’s search, find, buy that sellers are using to level up their rankings.
Use an SFB funnel to drive traffic to Amazon from Facebook Ads, and you could see a big impact on your organic sales too.
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