Marketplaces like Amazon can drive a ton of incremental sales, introduce your brand to new customers and help you hit profitable fast. They can be a stable source of sales if one of your channels gets wiped out and they can provide you with easier shipping options if you can’t negotiate good deals based on volume. The issue with them is that they also have the ability to rank for your product and brand names in the search engines, sometimes above your own website. That’s why I wrote this guide.
Note: Every site and case is unique and there is never a one size fits all solution, but this is a basic strategy that you can use as a starting point before or after you’ve launched your brand in different marketplaces. It can also help you to get started on figuring out why the marketplace is beating you in Google so that you can work on taking your rankings back.
Note 2: I’m using Amazon as a marketplace here because they are the biggest player and because I recommend listing with them the most.
How to help stop Amazon and other marketplaces from outranking you in Google:
- Research the marketplaces page links
- Compare their schema
- Checkout the onpage content
- Provide better content
- Look for the Q&A from their customers
- Go after their affiliates
- Evaluate and repeat
Please note the links in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you shop through them.
Research the Marketplaces’s Page Links
First create an account with this tool (they have a free trial) . If you don’t use them, then you’ll need to find a way to pull a link explorer report from whatever crawling tool or index you use. I use them for this type of work and you’ll see screen shots in the examples below.
Step 1. Go to the product page on Amazon that is beating you and grab the URL up to the product ID. In this example I typed “funny tshirts” into Amazon and am using the first one that showed up. I have no relationship or affiliation with the company who produces this shirt. It is completely chosen because it showed up first.
Pro Tip: go to your brand page as well and look for the products that have a lot of reviews and engagement. Those ones tend to have more backlinks to them. Now pull the same report for each.
Step 2. Now run a historic index backlink report
When you run the report, make sure you’re only pulling links to that page and other product variations like colors and sizes. Many times they’re either backlinks or affiliate links. Some of the affiliate links may be do follow and others could be SEO boosting backlinks from someone who referenced the products on their site. By having a list of the backlinks to this page, you can now:
- Reach out to those sites and get them to link to you (boost your own SEO if they’re good sites).
- Try to have them add you by offering a better deal on the product or a better commission than the Marketplace’s program.
- Other – there are a lot of ways to approach this. Figure out what works best for your niche and your needs when trying to beat the Marketplace page. Another favorite of mine is to point out errors on the site or opportunities. It gives something without expecting anything in return and can sometimes yield better responses.
By knowing who is linking to the marketplace pages for your brand’s products, you can now gain access to that traffic while helping to gain some of the authority that helps the marketplace or retailer beat your company for your own brand’s terms. You can also bring on new partners and Influencers including YouTubers, Bloggers and Social Media Stars.
Compare Their Schema
Some marketplaces limit themselves on ranking for products because of their internal naming systems. Amazon for example uses their own unique product identifiers for their marketplace. This is beneficial for them and also hurts them. The way it hurts them is by giving you an advantage to outrank them. The big one is that they do not always use schema or structured data on their pages. You can see this in the example above for Crayola crayons.
Schema and Markup helps you to define what your product page is about and what queries Google should show it for. One example is that schema lets you use MPN, SKU and other identifiers (size, color, review, character, etc…). Because numerous marketplaces do not include schema on every page, you have an advantage over them.
Hint: Google offers a free tool so you can test your schema or create the proper code to place in your site. Don’t let it scare you, Google will actually do it for you. Now go do it and then come back to finish this post.
Checkout The Onpage Content
Go through the page that is outranking you and look to see what it says. You want to look for total word count, h1, h2, and h3 tags, what topics they cover about the product, what they don’t cover and how they have it sectioned off. From here you can start to show the search engines why they should show you above the marketplace, especially for your own products and brands.
Provide Better Content
The first thing to do is to provide better content. Start by thinking what is important to your customers and what questions they may have (I’ll use product for the example). It could be sizes, color options, new vs. older pieces, will the product work with XYZ or how else can it be used. Now look at the page from the marketplace and see what they have and don’t have listed. This helps you to know what you can incorporate in and begin to take an advantage from a UX and content standpoint.
Next think about what you have that helps to better sell and show the product off. What queries would someone be searching in Google or Bing to try and how can your product page answer them better than the marketplace’s product page. If it’s closing, do you have an accurate size chart and is the marketplace missing one?
Now start incorporating this in a natural way so that your product page becomes the resource for not only buying the product or service, but also for being the solution for these queries.
Look For The Q&A From Their Customers
This is one of the easiest ways to generate content and ideas, but not many companies do it. Look at the Q&A for the product within the marketplace. This is what real customers and real shoppers are looking to find out before they buy. It could be how does a jacket fit or will XY tool work when repairing a blue widget. How loud is a speaker and will a camera take a good shot underwater. Take each of these Q&As and either add them into your product pages if there is a natural and beneficial way or create new content around it.
The new content can be a blog post that asks the question and provides a more detailed and easy to follow answer. You could also shoot a video explaining and showing the solution. Now you have content for YouTube which can be a huge source of traffic, a piece of content that can be optimized for knowledge graphs and answer boxes in Google as well as something directly relevant to search queries that can funnel traffic into your product page.
Note: By reading the Q&A you can also find out what your products are missing, how to improve them for the next generation and other things you may not have thought of.
Go After Their Affiliates
When you pull the link reports from step 1, make a note of who is an affiliate and who is not. Then check the marketplace’s commission structure. If you can offer more than the marketplace and a better cookie life, as well as custom creative and dedicated support, you may be able to bring them with you instead of with the marketplace. Now as you launch new products that are also relevant, you may be able to gain more exposure for them with these partners.
Evaluate and Repeat
The strategy above may not always work. Maybe you missed something or maybe the marketplace is going to win because Google favors it. This is only one way to approach this issue. If it doesn’t work, modify the strategy and try again. If you’re having trouble or want help, you can always contact me and we’ll see if we can work together.