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Tue June 18 2019 22:28:49

Amazon Cracks Down on Product Titles

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon is cracking down on products (ASINs) with non-complying titles beginning next month. According to the announcement:

"Starting July 22, 2019, Amazon will suppress ASINs from Amazon Search whose titles do not comply with Amazon's product title requirements. This is because our research shows that the ASIN titles that violate our policies result in poor customer experience. Please review Amazon's FBA Product Title Requirements prior to July 15, 2019 to verify that your current titles meet our guidelines."

Sellers had mixed reactions to the news. One seller said keywords did not necessarily belong in titles - "This is one Amazon guideline that I would absolutely love to see enforced. Some titles on this site are downright laughable."

Another seller also applauded the move, saying it would deter sellers who filled titles with keyword spam - "You see stuff like "Cute baby infant boy girl present gift child birthday baby shower soft towel gift set for infant boy or girl,"" the seller wrote.

Another seller was concerned it would be a repeat of the "pesticide fiasco" that swept up ASINs having nothing to do with the intended crackdown. Sellers are skeptical that automated systems, or "bots," can discern the difference between compliant and non-compliant ASIN titles.

Another seller was skeptical about Amazon's motivation: "Just another move by Amazon to suppress sales from 3rd party sellers to boost their own sales of their own brands and products," the seller wrote.

Booksellers were concerned, since they have no control over book titles.

And as one seller pointed out, third-party sellers who list on an existing product detail page do not necessarily have the ability to change the title. Similarly, a seller said they might invest a great deal of time in fixing non-compliant titles and then have other sellers come along and undo the changes.

It would seem sellers should get into the practice of regularly checking their accounts for suppressed inventory.

An Amazon moderator posted the following update to the announcement:

Hello Sellers,
Your business is important to us. We want to make sure that your business and the buying customer experience is not compromised by products whose titles do not meet Amazon's product title requirements. In general, these are titles with one or more of the following characteristics:

1) Title containing promotional keywords and phrases (for example, free shipping, 100% quality guaranteed, etc.)
2) Title containing non-readable characters including emojis.
3) Title exceeding more than 200 characters.
4) Title not containing any product identifying information (no product type name and no product characteristics - for example, a single word title such as N/A)
When an ASIN is suppressed for any of the above reasons, you will be notified through the Manage Your Inventory screen in Seller Central, with the specific reason the ASIN was search suppressed. Once the issue is fixed on the title, we will remove the search suppression and the ASIN will appear back on Amazon Search.

We understand your concerns and thank you for participating in this discussion.

Emojis in product titles?! What's your favorite pet peeve about how sellers and brands write titles, and what concerns do you have about the latest crackdown?



Comments (11) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 19 00:24:58 2019

I haven't noticed any of the keyword spamming on Amazon as indicated by one seller in the article, but I've seen a lot of it on eBay. The one thing that annoys me is when a seller has in their title something like "Great for Christmas Present" when it's not near Christmas. The least they could do would be to remove that when it's in the middle of summer.  

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by: hopeforthebest This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 19 19:05:19 2019

I don't think 'Great for Christmas' qualifies as keyword spamming.

I also have to note that I ( as well as many others ) buy Christmas gifts year-round so I don't end up without gifts during the holidays.

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by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 20 00:42:22 2019

I know this is completely unrelated but my son's birthday is in July, when he was little, I would buy gifts all year and keep them until the next birthday or Christmas came around.  He had way too much stuff. LOL!

The ones that bother me on Amazon are the ones that are completely generic, they have a manufacturer, a sku number, an item type and if you are lucky a color.  This is what I have been dealing with for many items due to manufacturers who want to control their listings but have no clue how to sell online.

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jun 20 02:40:36 2019

Seeing the update up above is helping me to breathe again. I have over 5000+ items for sales on Amazon and being told initially all titles had to go down to 50 characters was more than I could think about!

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jun 20 07:13:56 2019

''I don't think 'Great for Christmas' qualifies as keyword spamming.''

Actually, it is. Anything in the title that isn't directly related to the product itself is extraneous and considered spam. A title should only include things like brand, product type, size, color, etc. Mentioning anything else like ''Christmas'' is simply for manipulating search results. The description is the only place such things should be mentioned and search bots do crawl them.

I think all sites should start enforcing better titles. Listings on sites like Etsy that have ''word salad'' titles were bumped from Google organic a long time ago, but my listings always ranked well. Then Etsy started hijacking my Google real estate by redirecting my clicks to their marketplace page where my item would be listed at the bottom. I reported them to Google and got that fixed, but it had been going on for nearly a year before I realized it and my business tanked.

Etsy was doing such things trying to get other Etsians more Google traffic. So, they basically used my compliant listings (and others) to do it, thereby killing my business. What they should do is enforce better titles so Google doesn't reject listings and they won't have to resort to trickery and killing innocent people's businesses.

I guess they just figured it was easier to kill the businesses of a few for the many than it is to deal with the backlash from the diehard violators who refuse to accept that what they're doing is wrong. Seriously, bring up the subject in Etsy forums and you'll see just how passionate they get about it. I have tried numerous times to convince them that they're shorting themselves all the Google traffic available, but they didn't care about being found on Google. Their spamming works great on Etsy and that's all they cared about.

So, it's obviously something that sites are going to have to crackdown on if they want to improve external traffic the right way. Sites like Amazon don't need to worry about it so much, but the lesser-known sites do.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 20 07:28:32 2019

P.S. -- Also, Etsy search is a joke and part of the problem are the word salad titles and the abused tag section. They do not crawl descriptions so Etsians put all their keywords in the title and tags. Often, the keywords have absolutely nothing to do with the product -- gift for him, gift for her, Christmas gift, etc. -- or they state the product type in numerous ways.

For those who want to learn more about what spamming really is, go to Google's help pages and do your research. Whether or not you agree with their definition is irrelevant because Google is the one who sets the tone for all search engines. What Google does, others copy. So, if you want to reach the broadest audience possible, you'll have to comply with Google's rules.

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by: kurtzzzz This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 20 09:52:19 2019

What ever happened to simplicity,  the world of control by every google, amazon, ebay and others and some canned algorithms made by humans that control us, plus everything is dominated by costs with the hand out because of they can charge for visibilty or none is wearing me out.  enough said and it stinks  

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jun 20 11:01:30 2019

I have seen the word salads plenty when I would be listings on Amazon. Usually following by word salad bullets that make absolutely no sense. Also, the wholesale slaughtering of the English language as many of these people selling like that are not from the states.

Getting tired of people that buy my sewing patterns and then complain that all they got was an envelope full of paper, I was determined that ALL my sewing pattern listings clearly spelled out Brand Sewing Pattern and then MPN and size at least along with what type of pattern it was, nightgown, dress, scrub uniform. Yet other sellers would slap up a title that included none of the important things and ruin the ability to use the product page for any other seller because of Amazon's weird way of doing things, You can't turn a listing in to make corrections before you list on it. If you try they tell you that you have to list your product first and then complain that the page is all wrong. One of the many reasons I love eCRATER. I list my stuff and no one gets to share my listing, but that doesn't stop folks from stealing my photos - sigh.  

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by: Stig of the Dump This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 20 14:10:02 2019

Amazon pages are an utter mess. This title thing will help, but it's the tip of the iceberg. Finding things on Az is time consuming and VERY BORING, AMAZON.

If they really wanted to improve their customer experience they would remove all those effing ads for a start.

If they really wanted to improve their customer experience they would use a small part of their billions of dollars to employ living people with a good command of English to write product descriptions and generally oversee the quality of listings and info in each department.

But why go on? We all know what rules in the Amazon universe.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 20 19:02:13 2019

Howe about since Amazon bunches everything all together like one huge mishmash, THEY fix the derned titles.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 24 07:39:30 2019

kurtzzzz said, ''What ever happened to simplicity''

First, let me apologize for the extra-long post, but this truly is an important topic for sellers to learn the truth about. That is why I keep trying to point people to it. The following might help better explain how it all works and how our own actions can affect our own businesses as well as those of others...

Google is essentially the first major search engine that got it right and that's why all the other major search engines follow their lead when it comes to SEO. Unfortunately, as a result of all the gaming of their algorithms, they've had to evolve over time to thwart those efforts.

Google has always had simplicity in mind when writing code to produce the best search results. It's all the black hat SEO tactics that people use, knowingly or unknowingly, to gain prime ranking in search results sooner rather than later and even under unrelated topics that are to blame for the level of control Google has had to take.

Look at sites like Etsy and Amazon that do not control search results based on the same factors that Google does. Their search results are a huge mess as a result and there is no level of AI that will fix it. You have to give credence to those who stick to simplicity (with no gaming) in order to produce the best search results. You also have to remove certain unrelated factors that are designed solely to benefit the site.

That is what Google is trying to control and they've been doing a pretty good job of it -- much to the chagrin of black hatters when they find they've lost their prime real estate after another algorithm update. Many are unaware that their tactics go against Google's rules -- often being misled by others they thought were experts on the subject (some claiming to be experts).

So, many have no idea why they suddenly lose their prime ranking. They don't understand that they're actually gaming the system. Of course, many do know that they're gaming the system and they just don't care. They want those fast, short-term results and, when an update thwarts those efforts, they find new ways to game the system. Hence, one of the main reasons Google is so secretive about its intellectual property.

Whenever I convince someone to change their ways, I always tell them that it will take some time (3 months to a year) for their changes to take effect. Often, a new algorithm update will give them a boost in search results after it has demoted all the gamers. So, it often depends on how long it is before the next update.

This is why people game the system. They want faster results, no matter how briefly it may work. On sites like Etsy, they are using black hat tactics that were thwarted by Google's algorithm long ago. So, Etsy lost a LOT of Google traffic and sellers were complaining about a lack of sales (with their listings being optimized for Etsy search only).

Of course, back in 2016, Etsy's only concern was getting that traffic back as quickly as possible. Hence, their own trickery of hijacking sellers' prime ranking (earned by following Google's rules). I'm truly grateful that Google so quickly dealt with the issue after reporting it (within 24 hours). I just wish I had discovered it much sooner -- like before it killed my business.

The problem was that it wasn't evident at first glance. I'd do a Google search test and see that my listings are still where they were before. What took me so long to notice was that the URL had changed. It was still my title, my shop name, my description, and my price, but a link to Etsy's marketplace page of my competitors' items with my item being in the very last position at the very bottom. So, now, I ALWAYS check the URL and even click on it to make sure it's going where it should.

Anywho, over the years, I've found that a majority of my listings are mostly unaffected, if at all, by algorithm updates. Unfortunately, third parties have played their own games to manipulate even Google links (one reason why they're cracking down on redirects).

So, yes, Google has changed its search algorithm numerous times over the years to control search results, but simply out of necessity to produce clean search results. What has never changed are its SEO rules. They have always required that 'simplicity' in titles and tags. It's one thing to state that an item is a great gift for him or her within the description, but it has no place in the title or tags. Those are solely for accurately identifying the product and its features. If you're providing extraneous information, then you are skewing search results and Google simply won't allow it.

On sites like Etsy where they ONLY crawl the titles and tags, it's even more important to enforce certain SEO rules in order to produce accurate search results. Produce accurate search results and you will increase the conversion rate. Violators might have a problem with it, but they are hurting the marketplace as a whole. So why keep letting them do it?



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