There are many, many posts, videos and training on how to “properly” optimize your listings. And while a great bit of the information is uniform, some of it is conflicting due to all of the “experts” and their differing results.

Well, I’m not here to tell you how to properly optimize your listing. There is plenty of that already and it’ll be up to you to figure out whether the advice you choose to follow is good.

I am here, instead, to help frame the way you think about your optimization. I am here to shed light on some of the most important aspects of it, and why they are so important. If you understand optimization, then any decision you make to improve it will actually work for you.

So I’m not going to go over bullets, descriptions, HTML formatting or even keyword research. Today we will only discuss two things; your main image and the first few characters of your title.

Wow. That should be a short post, huh? Why am I barely scratching the tip of the iceburg?

Because those two things are crucially important. So important, in fact, that if you get them wrong, NONE of your other optimization efforts will work. Likely, none of your other efforts will either (promotions, ppc, etc). That is how important they are.

The right way to start this conversation off is by explaining what exactly it is you are optimizing. Basically, your Amazon listing works like any other web property. The two driving forces in profitability are traffic and conversion. The more people that see your listing, with a relatively stable conversion rate, the more sales you will make. Likewise, with the same amount of traffic, the higher your rate of conversion, the more sales you make.

Most people, when they refer to optimization, are only talking about increasing conversion rate. But optimization is the first weapon in your arsenal to increase traffic.

And it all starts with your truncated title and main image.

Know Your Audience

When you optimize your listing, who are you doing it for? Are you stuffing keywords into your title to get more visibility by ranking higher for relevant terms? Are you using sales copy that evokes an emotional response in an attempt to sway potential buyers? Well….BOTH.

You have to know you are speaking to the algorithm and to your potential customer. This means, whatever your message, it needs to be as short as possible while including all important (read profitable) keywords. This can present a bit of a challenge, because you are trying to convey benefit while also keeping and holding attention and simultaneously triggering Amazon’s algorithm to recognize your listing for keywords.

Basically, you’ve got to be a “Twitter master” here. If you are familiar with the social media site, then you know that tweets cannot exceed 140 characters. In the world of Amazon, that isn’t a hard figure, but it is the concept that counts. Get the message across, but do it quickly.

How (and more importantly why) do you do that? Because your title, specifically your truncated title, is the first thing people see in their search results, right next to your main image. This is what they are looking at to verify that they are, in fact, looking for the right item. So at this point you only have their attention for the briefest of seconds. Just long enough for them to conclude whether your product is what they initiated their search for. That means, it has got to count.

How to Make Your Title Count

Artfully placing important search terms within coherent and descriptive strings will help identify your product in the most attractive way. Let’s use a real world Amazon example now.

Let’s say your product is one of those double-sided deshedders for hairy pets. There are an awful lot of keywords for a product like this in the pet niche. There’s deshedding tool, shed blade, shedding rake, shedding brush, hair remover, dander remover. Let us also not forget that it is for cats and dogs of all breeds and sizes and the main purpose of such a tool is to reduce allergies for your guests and make your furniture look less messy.

If you used all of what I just typed, you’d have a title that was too long, spammy and sounded terrible. Here’s an example of how I would put this title together:

2 in 1 Deshedding Tool w/ Shed Blade & Rake – Shedding Brush for Dogs & Cats of All Sizes & Fur Length – Hair Remover to Alleviate Allergies by Reducing 95% Dander & Undercoat

That’s 175 characters including spaces. That is how I would maximize your title, taking advantage of the space given. However, you may decide you want a shorter title. Here’s another example:

Pure Antarctic Krill Oil – Omega 3 Fatty Acids Supplement w/ DHA & EPA

That one is only 71 characters and capitalizes on the keywords Antarctic Krill Oil, Omega 3, Fatty Acids, DHA, EPA, Supplements and more. Also note the use of the word “pure” which conveys value as well.

This brings me to the next, critical point. I’ve mentioned a few times that your “truncated” title is what matters. That is because, your whole title is rarely shown in search results. This means your title needs to be coherent in every browser, on every device, no matter how it is shown.

Currently, in an iPhone 6 Plus Amazon app the pet deshedder shows the title all the way through “Hair Remover.” Look at your title through whatever mobile devices you have access to and make sure the product you offer is clear.

Also pay attention to the format of your title. Make sure every word is capitalized (except for conjunctions) and use the “&” symbol or “w/” instead of “with” to save character space. This will create a clean, neat and well groomed title that looks appealing.

The idea here is to let the browsing buyer know what you have with as much description as the limited space offers. Don’t use unnecessary words, but include what benefits you can. The truncated title is mostly functional, because the real reason for the click is the main image.

The Attention Getter

The main image is definitely the thing that gets people’s attention most. If someone is searching for a wrench, yea they’ll see a bunch of titles that say “Best Wrench” or “Multi-Purpose Wrench” and that will help bolster their decision to click, but likely that decision is made based on the quality of the main image.

So what should your main image look like? According to Amazon, it needs to have a white background and take up 85% of the picture. That is accurate but pretty basic. You also want to get as much of the product as you can into the picture.

Obviously you can only take the picture from one angle. Currently Amazon doesn’t allow for 360 degree photos, so it isn’t possible to take this picture from all sides. But, there is a “best” angle. There is a shot that shows your product from the most attractive point of view. It will probably take the work of a professional photographer or product image service (don’t cut corners on this) but that photo does exist, and that is the one you want to use.

It’s kind of like your dating profile picture. You want this one to be your best shot. You, dressed in clothes you feel confident in, with bright eyes and good hair. Well, you want the same for your product image.

This shot will show as much of your product as possible, but also highlight the aesthetics of its engineering. Smooth lines and sleek curves will pop in a well-taken photograph, making your product look appealing. This is the kind of thing big brands pay for when they have catalog shots taken. You’ll want to do the same.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this picture needs to look good in thumbnail size. It might be an amazing photo, but if you shrink it and you can’t tell what it is, you’ll be dead in the water. Some images need the help of props or other things as well. A shirt, for example, may need a body or a mannequin. Just make sure you are fully showcasing your product to the greatest of its potential.

Putting It All Together

Attractive and clean product photography is what will get the click. A “well groomed” title is what reinforces that decision. These two elements combined are your shot at grabbing the very short attention of an active browser. The rest of your listing does its work to convert. Get these elements down and you’ll be on your way to profitability.