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 by Amazon hackers claiming to have all the answers.
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.
White v. Black Hat Amazon Tactics
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
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:
Incentivized reviews: 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, buying a product and reporting it as counterfeit and filing A to Z claims against a competitor product.
Linkbuilding 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 backlinks to spam their listing. 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 Seller's rank manipulation: Your salesrank 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 salesrank, and their overall ranking, by hiring micro-workers, redirecting Pays Per Click and giving away products.
Artificially enhancing your conversion rate: 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. Other sellers artificially boost their rate by having fake buyers search for their product’s main keyword, click through to the product and make a purchase.
Redirecting Pay Per Click traffic: Pay Per Click (PPC) manipulation is one of the black hat tactics that is hardest for Amazon to track. By investing heavily in PPC ads outside of Amazon (on platforms like Google, Facebook, etc.) sellers can use sites where Amazon affiliate offers are posted to almost instantly redirect users to their Amazon page.
5 Reasons to Avoid Using Amazon Hacks
1. Amazon is too advanced and complex for hacks to be truly effective
Over the years, Amazon has grown from an immature eCommerce website into a robust and advanced online marketplace. When Amazon first began, the platform was much more simplistic and never a core part of any seller’s business strategy.
Today, the tables have turned completely, and a sound Amazon strategy can completely transform your business. In fact, sellers around the world rely on Amazon sales alone to sustain their company.
Like any complex business strategy or channel, shortcuts are never fully effective. You wouldn’t look to so-called “hacks” to improve your company’s logistics plan, so why do so with your Amazon strategy?
2. Hacks may seem like a short-term fix, but they're not an adequate long-term strategy
In the past, certain Amazon hacks, such as incentivizing reviews, have had some short-term success. But these black hat tactics have never created long-term results.
Much of this has to do with the fact that Amazon is becoming better and better at detecting ways in which both sellers and shoppers are hacking their system. With every update, Amazon is evening the playing field and finding better ways to prevent hackers from abusing the system.
3. The rewards of hacking are worth the risk of doing so
Amazon not only takes steps to stop hackers in their tracks, but it penalizes those who are caught. As the Amazon Marketplace continues to grow, the risks of getting caught for hacking increase as well.
By participating in black hat tactics you are essentially putting the entire future of your company on the line. In the end, Amazon hacking is simply bad for your business. The time, effort and resources you put into trying to beat the system can actually result in a higher return and better outcome for your company in the long-term if applied to more legitimate practices.
4. Depending on hacks is simply irrational
We understand why a seller might be tempted to employ an Amazon hack. There is a certain level of satisfaction and pride that comes with feeling like you beat the system and found a loophole that others haven’t.
But if you put emotion aside and think about black hat tactics from a purely rational standpoint, they just don’t make sense. Think about hacks this way – if you cheat on a school exam you will likely get better grades at first. But as time goes on, the chances are high that you will get caught and end up worse off than you were before you cheated.
5. Every day there are fewer and fewer opportunities for hackers
Amazon has a vested interest in ensuring their Marketplace is a fair and accurate representation of the products being sold by sellers. This creates a better shopping environment for consumers and ultimately leads to greater sales and profits for Amazon. It also creates greater credibility for the platform.
As a result, Amazon has put several practices in place to ensure the best experience for shoppers and a positive reputation for the platform. These include:
• Amazon Brand Gating which prevent 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
How You Can Stop Black Tactics
While Amazon has put the above 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
- 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.
So, What's a Better Way to Improve My Listing?
Now that you know what not to do, 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.
Some of the more effective and strategic ways to improve your Amazon listings include:
- Optimizing your keyword strategy
- Utilizing more engaging A+ and Enhanced Brand Content
- Improving your listing titles, bullet points and product descriptions
- Utilizing high-quality product imagery
- Participating in Amazon Lightning Deals and Prime Day Deals
- Utilizing Amazon Coupons and Promotions to provide product discounts
- Promoting your product on social media