Marketplace search optimization

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By Yuval Ginor, May 29,2022



Marketplace search optimization (MSO) can have a significant impact on the performance of marketplace listings. The right adjustments can help your products appear at the very top of the search result page. Though many marketplaces mandate a certain data entry to facilitate the optimization, many sellers are still unaware of MSO potential to boost performance and miss out on an opportunity to take their business to the next level.



Marketplace Search Optimization


The continuous growth in the retail market share of online shopping indicates the increasing popularity of online shopping today. With the expansion of the market, the competition has become fiercer, as more and more sellers join major online retailer marketplaces, such as Ebay and Amazon. 


It is now up to the sellers to optimize their listings in order for them to show up at the top of the result page, beating other competitors. The most effective way to do it is by conducting a Marketplace Search Optimization (MSO), thus ensuring your listings have an advantage. 


What is Marketplace Search Optimization (MSO)?


Much like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps rank search engine results according to a certain criteria, Marketplace Search Optimization relies on a set of features to help rank product listings higher within the marketplace. 


How to make the most of MSO


Understanding the importance of MSO is the first step. Now let’s have a look at some key actions that will help you conduct your own efficient MSO.  


1. Consistency


In a world where sellers have multiple channels where to sell their products, consistency is key to MSO. It is important to maintain consistency across marketplaces for two reasons: first, customers may find your products in two or more marketplaces or marketing channels. It is important that the product titles, details and prices remain the same across all platforms, to encourage confidence in the brand. 


Second, each marketplace requires information about the products listed. Some of the information is similar across the market, but some are marketplace specific, and some are similar but have different titles. It is also important to be consistent in providing all required information, adjusted according to the requirements of each marketplace. 


2. Product Title Optimization


As one of the first things customers see of the listing, an optimized product title can significantly improve the product’s findability in marketplace searches. Titles should contain the most essential and relevant information for customers, such as brand, product type, color, size, and other important details that will help the customer make an informed purchasing decision. 


It is important to keep in mind that the order in which the words are arranged in title is also significant. Sellers are best advised to put the most important keywords at the beginning of the title, ensuring that customers will keep reading to the end. For instance, the title should first let the customer know what type of product is sold in the listing, followed by the brand name, if relevant, since these are some of the most sought queries. Then, attributes such as color and size may be added, or other important attributes.
 
3. Product Description Optimization


Once customers visit the listing, the product description becomes highly significant. Studies found that product description has significant positive effects on product cognitive involvement. Therefore, the product description should be optimized to cater to the customers’ interests and wants, by including relevant keywords and phrases, creating an engaging copy, and providing accurate and complete information that will help build confidence in the store. As marketplace search engines look for this type of information, optimizing the product description will help the listing appear higher in the search result page. 


In the below example, we can see an un-optimized product description. The content is put into a  single block, making it almost illegible. As expected, this listing is ranked at page 8 of the results.





4. Optimize the Proxy Metadata and Search Tags


With online marketplaces offering more products than ever before, it might be difficult to sort through thousands of products to locate the one you want to buy. That is why sellers must allow the customers to slice through the inventory quickly and efficiently. Site navigation, or attribute navigation, helps customers narrow down the results to a more manageable number.


But for the relevant product to actually show up in searches, the listings must be optimized by tagging them with the relevant metadata, which contains each product’s specific attributes. For example, in order to optimize the proxy metadata of a white Gucci sweater, the seller should tag the products with the following tag: Brand:Gucci; Type:Sweater; Color:White, etc. Naturally, the more relevant attributes the product is tagged with - the more it is likely to appear in relevant navigational searches.   

5. Use Backend Search Terms


Using keywords in the product title and description is key. But we don’t want to over-do it by cramming in as many keywords as possible. Too often it achieves the opposite goal. However, if  sellers cannot find an appropriate way to include all the relevant keywords in the title or description, some marketplaces allow them to add them to the listing as backend search terms. This means the keywords in the listing will not be visible to the customers, but the marketplace search engine will pick them up and use them to index and rank the listing.    
 


Here are some tips for drafting and optimizing your search terms (from Amazon Seller Central):

  • Maintain the text length limit of search terms.
  • Use spelling variations, abbreviations and synonyms.
  • Use all lowercase letters.
  • Avoid punctuation marks
  • Avoid repetitions, articles, prepositions, or other short words.
  • Use either singular or plural words.
  • Do not use brand names, ASIN’s, temporary statements such as “new,” or “on sale now”, and subjective claims, such as “best,” “cheapest,” or “amazing”.

 

MSO or Google Ads?


MSO is much more preferable because sellers have complete control over it and it can be directly impacted by their actions. Unlike Google Ads, where sellers must constantly pay for clicks, in MSO, once the listing is posted, it will continuously generate page views, without extra cost. The only downside of MSO over Google Ads is that it requires some optimization work.
  


The image below compares MSO and Google Ads:




Conclusion


Marketplace search optimization (MSO) can have a significant impact on the performance of marketplace listings. The right adjustments can help your products appear at the very top of the search result page. Though many marketplaces mandate a certain data entry to facilitate the optimization, many sellers are still unaware of MSO potential to boost performance and miss out on an opportunity to take their business to the next level. This is especially relevant for the sellers that use agencies for data distribution as the agency would not necessarily invest time and effort into the content driving the MSO. Hence if you are a seller and distribute your data directly and especially if you are using an agency as a proxy - double check your content and optimize it for marketplace search.

 

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