We sure love rabbit holes here and that is why we are continuing down the wonderland of keyword ranking. In this episode of ranking factors we explore whether there appears to be a strong correlation between listing age and rank. Now, determining listing age is difficult, as the exact date a product became available on Amazon isn’t shown to the public. So we had to get creative and we judged our listings’ begin date based on the date of their very first review.
My team analyzed and collected data for 154 key phrases. They looked at the top ten listings on page one for each phrase and recorded the date of the first review for 1,540 listings. With this data, we looked at how many of the oldest listings ranked at the top, how many new listings there appeared to be and overall what years represented the greatest number of listings/reviews.
Now, I understand due to Amazon’s great review purges this is an inaccurate study. Be that as it may, spanned over so many listings we should get a general sense of whether the correlations lead to any solid conclusions.
Do Older Listings Rank Better?
Out of the top ten listings of a sample of 154 key phrases, we looked to see how many had the OLDEST listing (or that with the oldest first review) rank within the top four. 43% of the oldest listings ranked within the first four places, leaving 57% with their oldest listings farther down the page. This is a pretty even split and would lend itself to the idea that listing age does not appear to affect keyword ranking.
That said, a full 84% of all the key phrases we studied had listings over three years old within the top ten results. It must also be noted that some key phrases could not possibly have been older since they only just hit the market within the last three years (such as VR Headsets).
What we can extrapolate from this is either newer sellers that came onto the scene in the last three years are really stepping up their marketing game (a fair assessment) or Amazon’s algorithm, at one point, somehow favored listings created during a certain time period (unlikely).
What Does This Tell Us About the Landscape As a Whole?
We also found some other interesting information. Such as, part of the slim 16% of key phrases that did NOT have a single date of first review prior to 2/21/2014 (three years ago from the date of this writing) were “tactical flashlights” and “flameless candles” among others. Unlike VR gear, these items were most certainly sold three years ago.
What this likely illustrates is that until recently, these two products were underserved on the Amazon marketplace. This paints us a vivid picture of what it looked like when a market was fresh and had little competition. Likely many sellers who were quick enough to jump on these trends made some decent money.
And that is essentially how it works in every market. Furthermore, there is still plenty of opportunity out there. Just looking at historical data we can see how it played out for other sellers who have been around longer. If you’ve concluded that there isn’t any opportunity for success left this late in the game, you’d be wrong.
The Total Numbers
Listings with dates of first review in 2006 and prior comprise a combined total of 3.8% of all the listings in the sample. From 2007 to 2012 there is an even split of around 50 to 60 reviews per year. Then, 2013 represents 6.8% of the total and 2014 represents 11.7%. Where it gets interesting is 2015, which has a total of 357 reviews representing 23% of the total. And 2016 has 479, putting it at one THIRD of the whole list.
The massive jump in listings based on date of first review from 2014 to 2015 likely illustrates the Amazon FBA Gold Rush, when affiliate programs were rampant in the space and people were flocking to Amazon for fast money. While it has slowed, there was still healthy growth from 2015 to 2016.
Another interesting thing to note was that of the top listings on page one for 154 key phrases, 19.4% of them had dates of first review since the first of the year! To give you a specific example, the key phrase “silicone baking cup” has two listings with 2017 dates of first review.
Silicone baking cup, as a key phrase, serves up over 16,000 listing results. It is one of the oldest and most saturated of the “private label” products. Yet two new listings have managed to fight through the competition to rank on page one.
This shows that not only do opportunities arise for new and novel products, but also resurgences in old, past-their-prime, trendy items. And judging by the low number of 2017 listings, we can also see there are very few people launching in quarter one.
And that makes sense. Everyone is scrambling to get their goods up for quarter four. That is where the money and volume is. Everything slows pretty dramatically in the first quarter. But let us not discount the advantages that offers. More marketing budgets expended means less PPC competition. More people out of stock means less competition altogether. This is probably just the environment these enterprising silicone baking cup entrepreneurs were taking advantage of.
What Does This Mean for Our Businesses?
We can clearly see an upward trend of growth on Amazon. More and more new listings make their way to page one and then establish a foothold. This is not just the case for those who got involved in 2014. Amazon FBA is just as viable a vehicle for profit now as it ever was.
However, we simply need to evolve our tactics with the marketplace. Sellers are getting smarter, so optimization and careful ranking become more important. Buyers are also getting smarter, so providing honest value and support is also important.
Also remember to try and be unique and novel, but don’t be afraid to revisit long forgotten trends. And never shy away from a first quarter launch.