Amazon Hacks Aren't the Answer
When your Amazon growth is less than ideal, or you are looking for a faster way to boost your sales, it can be tempting to turn to Amazon hacks and black hat tactics. And while a “quick fix” may sound like the perfect way to rapidly grow your business on Amazon, there is no magic formula or solution for success.
As expert Amazon consultants, we know that numerous factors and strategies play a role in helping you achieve legitimate, long-term growth for your business – none of which can be accomplished overnight.
Nevertheless, false claims and promises of instant Amazon success continue to flood the platform and fool intelligent sellers. Fortunately, understanding what common Amazon hacks are and why they don’t work can help you stay away from ineffective techniques and, instead, learn to grow your Amazon business the right way.
What is a Black Hat Tactic?
Like most search engine platforms and online marketplaces, Amazon has seller guidelines and certain codes of conduct that it views as acceptable. When practices are deemed acceptable they are referred to as “white hat.” On the flip side, those that violate Amazon’s approved techniques are known as “black hat” tactics and can result in temporary or, in severe cases, even permanent penalties and consequences.
Common Amazon Hacks & Black Hat Tactics to Avoid
Some sellers try to boost their Amazon presence and rankings by degrading competitor listings or artificially enhancing their own. While Amazon has taken steps to eliminate these deceptive black hat tactics, they are still widely used by less judicious sellers.
We want to make it clear that we do not condone any of the following black hat tactics. We do, however, believe that by learning to recognize these hacks and understanding how they work, sellers can expand their knowledge of the platform:
Positive reviews can go a long way toward improving your credibility and boosting your Amazon rankings. As a result, some sellers offer discounted or complimentary products in exchange for positive Amazon reviews. Amazon’s incentivized review ban has been put in place to prevent these fake reviews, but it’s by no means foolproof.
Negative Search Engine
Increasing your own search engine rankings can be achieved over-time by improving your listings and increasing your sales. Some sellers don’t want to take the time to properly improve their SEO, and instead use negative SEO techniques to damage their competitors’ search rankings. Such methods include leaving negative reviews, voting negative reviews as being helpful, buying a product and reporting it as counterfeit, buying a product and returning it marked as ‘used-sold-as-new’ and filing A to Z claims against a competitor product.
Link Building to Amazon Product URLs
Improving your listing’s ranking on other search engine platforms, such as Google, can improve your Amazon rankings as well. Some sellers artificially improve their Google rankings and their Amazon rankings as a result by building Super URLS or backlinks which fake Amazon into thinking a specific keyword had been searched for an item. Better search engine rankings can artificially improve the listing’s Amazon ranking in the short-term, but it isn’t shown to have long-term benefits.
Best Sellers Rank Manipulation
Your sales rank is an indication of how your product is selling within a certain category. If you rank #1 in Health and Beauty, for example, you are probably outselling most, if not all, of your competitors. A seller can artificially boost their sales rank, and their overall ranking, by hiring micro-workers, who work to search on Amazon for the keyword they want to boost, then click on the product listing and purchase the product.
Amazon puts great value on a seller’s conversion rate. Credible sellers can steadily increase their conversion rate over time as they find better ways to connect with their target through improved listings and better keyword strategy. The black hat tactic for this approach is when sellers boost their keyword ranking by having buyers search for their products main keyword and then purchase said product. Buyers will likely be refunded the full purchase price privately (not on Amazon). This manipulates the keyword and affects the sales volume tied to that keyword. A larger sales volume tied to a search term will rank a product higher. This tactic is the same concept as a Super URL, which we highlighted above.
Zombie Listings and Variation Manipulation
Reviews are essential for consumers to gain insight about a product and aides in their decision to purchase the product or keep searching. Having reviews helps build the credibility of the product and sales.
However, reviews are not always easy to get so some sellers manipulate the system to keep reviews that are not relevant for the product being sold. There are two black hat tactics that are used to achieve this: a zombie listing (the product page content is changed and used to sell a new product in order to keep the reviews) and variation manipulation (using a discontinued product as a hidden variation, reviews may be pooled, allowing the product to appear to have many reviews).
Consequences to Using Black Hat Tactics
We are well aware that there are sellers in the marketplace not following the rules. But it goes back to the saying you probably heard as a kid, “If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you.” If you play dirty and ignore Amazon’s rules the following could happen:
- Suppression of Product Listings: Your product listings will no longer show up in Amazon’s search results.
- Review Ban: Customers won’t be able to leave reviews - even if you are getting them by following Amazon's rules and guidelines.
- Account Suspension: You could lose access to your Amazon seller account, which also means you could lose access to funds or inventory in fulfillment centers.
- Legal Issues: If things go too far, Amazon could take legal action against you and your company.
Our team has a proven success record in helping Amazon sellers improve their listings. Check out this case study:
5 Tips to Help You Avoid Amazon Hacks
Building a business takes a great deal of time and effort. You want your brand to have a positive relationship with consumers. Focus on these tips and you won’t need to resort to any hacks or black hat tactics.
1. Building a Sustainable Business Takes Time
Establishing your business, whether on Amazon or anywhere else, takes time, money and dedication. Start your Amazon business knowing that if you take the time to lay the groundwork, the long-term benefits and sales will pay off. Amazon is not a get rich quick option but there is power behind this eCommerce powerhouse.
- Amazon’s brand is well-known and trusted. Riding on the coattails of their branding can help further your success.
- Constant changes and improvements. While it seems annoying at times, Amazon is constantly evolving to be more powerful. Think about the release of the Vine Voice reviewer program for both Vendor Central and Seller Central sellers, which assists sellers with getting credible and quality reviews.
- FBA Program. There is a fee for this program but it includes your shipping costs and is an asset to most businesses. First off, sellers get to enjoy the benefit of selling Prime (fast shipping), which most customers have grown to expect. Secondly, Amazon stores inventory at their fulfillment centers, picks, packs and ships the product after the order is placed.
2. Familiarize Yourself with Amazon's Terms of Service
3. Keep Amazon a Positive Shopping Platform
Several practices have been put into place by Amazon to ensure the best experience for shoppers and a positive reputation for the platform. These include:
• Amazon brand gating which prevents unauthorized merchants from selling another brand's products.
• Amazon incentivized review ban which keeps sellers from rewarding shoppers in exchange for positive reviews
• Amazon vendors are now able to comment on customer reviews, providing superior customer service and allowing for more accurate reviews
4. Amazon Supports Brands
The goal for Amazon is to continue to foster and help brands build their businesses on their platform. They are constantly finding ways to help filter out those sellers who are utilizing black hat tactics and trying to hack the system.
5. If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is
Amazon’s mission is to create a marketplace that always puts the customers shopping needs first. They want to make their shopping experience better and easier. This in turn helps businesses who are setting up their accounts the right way sustain and grow.
That being said, if you see ways to manipulate search results, incentivise reviews or anything else that may be too good to be true, then we advise you to stay clear. And if you are ever in doubt, you can always contact your team here at Awesome Dynamic so we can help you determine if it’s a hack or a legitimate way to improve your business.
How You Can Stop Black Tactics
While Amazon has put practices in place to deter hackers and put an end to black hat tactics, much of the responsibility for monitoring these hacks still lies with the Amazon community.
As an Amazon seller or shopper, there are a few different resources you can use to report practices that Amazon deems as unacceptable. These include:
- Submitting Customer Service Tickets
- Submitting a Vendor or Seller Case Support Ticket; you can use the support ticket to report zombie listings and variation manipulation as well
- Conduct a test buy to identify counterfeit products (this is only for untrademarked products); follow these steps to make sure you test buy is conducted within Amazon’s guidelines
- Submit a trademark violation
- Contacting your Amazon contact directly
If you are filing a claim against a seller, make sure you get their merchant seller ID. If you are filing a claim against a reviewer, use the review permalink provided by Amazon.
Better Ways to Improve Your Listings
Now that you know more about black hat tactics, let’s talk about some of the ways you can boost your listings, the right way. Keep in mind, it takes some time for these white hat practices to take effect. Be patient and you’ll see the fruits of your labor.
- Optimize your listing with relevant keywords
- Utilize A+ Content to share more about your brand
- Improve the product listings content with keywords and descriptive text for the title, bullet points and product description
- Showcase your product with high-quality photos and videos
- Participate in Amazon Lightning Deals and Prime Day Deals
- Utilize Amazon coupons and promotions to provide product discounts
- Get reviews utilizing Amazon Vine Voice or other approved methods
- Advertise on Amazon to get in front of your target market
- Promote your product externally using social media and email marketing
How to Increase Sales on Amazon
The thought of competing in such a crowded marketplace is incredibly intimidating for many sellers. Here are 20 steps you can use to keep up with the competition and find the most Amazon success for your business.
At the end of the day there are a lot of factors that play into a strong product listing and standing out against your competition. Our team of experts can help you do that without resorting to black hat tactics. Let’s schedule your free consultation to chat about your business needs and learn more about how we can help.