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Merge Amazon Listings: a White Hat Technique for Reducing Black Hat Listings

Amazon sellers know that there are numerous techniques to enhance your organic search results. Today we'll explain to you how listing merges can accomplish that goal by cleaning up the catalog.

Here at Bindwise, we automatically monitor listing merges daily, so you can keep track of what’s happening with your listings. We see that some merges are within the bounds of Amazon’s terms of service while others skirt these rules and regulations, such as the notorious Amazon hijackers. Black hat techniques can be used to skirt the system and artificially inflate sales.

Luckily, there is a white hat technique for battling some of these listings and improving your own search rank.

This is totally within Amazon’s rules and regulations and can have a tremendous impact on the success of your product.

In this article:

The multiple listing problem & how to solve it

Amazon’s marketplace is designed with the consumer in mind. Part of this means respecting the catalog. If an exact item is already for sale, you are not supposed to create a duplicate listing.

This does not apply to items that are private labeled, as these are legitimately considered their own product.

If, rather, there are multiple sellers selling ‘Bob’s Brand Garlic Press’, even if the title is slightly different, they are in violation of Terms of Service. Sellers will do this when they sell the same brand as a way to have full control over a listing and to stand out compared to their competitors.

You may have noticed this on search pages before. Often times they will have identical pictures, but the brand name will be the same. Sometimes, to disguise themselves, they will vary the brand name slightly, calling it instead the ‘Bob Brand Garlic Press.’ These changes do not impact the actual lack of product differentiation.

Why it is a problem

When search results get flooded with multiple listings of the same item, it means unique listings can get pushed down the search results.

It is a way for a brand to monopolize a listing.

Sometimes this is done by a single brand owner, sometimes it is wholesale purchasers that all create their own listings.

It means your listing will have many more results to fight with to get premium listing in organic search results.

Rather than having one listing with 20 sellers to surpass, you may have 20 different listings that all start above your own, each listed as a separate brand, despite carrying near-identical brand monikers.

You will find yourself competing with the same brand multiple times both on placement and on ad spending.

This will drive up the cost of advertising, and will often monopolize the ad spaces for your preferred keywords as well.

Take action!

Luckily, you do not have to continue to allow this behavior to continue. Amazon has a simple way to suggest merges of product pages on Amazon. You use the Merge Duplicate or Split Product Pages option in help. Then select the Merge Duplicate option.

You're asked three questions:

  • Which ASIN should we keep?
  • Which ASINs are duplicates and should be removed?
  • Why should these products be removed?

When answering, be honest but pragmatic. When deciding which ASIN should be kept, choose the ASIN with the lowest BSR (best sellers rank). Alternatively, you can choose one with a non-prime offer winning the Buy Box, or choose a listing that is otherwise particularly unappealing.

Make sure you comb through the listings to find all duplicates. You can list these ones by one under the duplicates section. When asked why answer concisely. Say something along the lines of, “These products are identical products. They are both brand XXXX and have used identical images. These products are the same product from the same brand and should be combined into a single listing.”

How will Amazon respond?

There are a couple of different typically canned responses Amazon will make. They fit into three categories: refusal, acknowledging a listing which has ‘Amazon Catalog Team’ control, or completion of the request.

Sometimes, they will start by simply refusing your request. If this happens, don’t be overly discouraged. You’re probably used to dealing with unhelpful or unresponsive agents in the past. If you are truly accurate in your assessment, don’t be afraid to open a new case using the same method.

Sometimes, one of the listings that you are trying to merge is under Amazon’s catalog team control. This means it is given a priority of sorts over the other listings. In these cases, you will not be able to merge the Amazon listing into someone else’s ASIN. Often, they will simply rework your merge request, with the Amazon listing being the listing that is kept. Other times, they will reject the entire request.

In cases where they reject the merge request because of Amazon catalog team control, resubmit. This time, use the Amazon controlled ASIN (which they will identify in their rejection), as the item that should be kept. Typically, this slight change will get the request approved.

Finally, sometimes they will approve the request immediately without any further details, questions, or information needed. This is, obviously, the ideal situation.

What the Catalog will look like?

After you’ve gone through this process, the search results for your desired search terms will begin to be cleaned up.

There will be less competition, fewer results, and the cost of advertising should begin to decrease.

The battle is not done after doing this once. You should continue to be vigilant of your listings, or at least your most important and newest listings. Watch to make sure that sellers do not continue to create their own listings, as this will have a negative impact even later down the line.

More listing merge ✨ magic

Merging is often used by blackhat sellers for a variety of shady enterprises.

One of the most common schemes is merging multiple unrelated listings to aggregate reviews.

This is a clear violation, and we cannot strongly enough recommend that you do not participate in this type of activity. Blackhat methods such as this can be highly effective in the short-term but lead to suspension in the long run.

Instead, there are very legitimate ways to use the merging and separating functions, even for your own product. It makes the most sense when dealing with variations.

For example, if you are selling a glove that comes in either right or left, in a variety of sizes. It can make sense to aggregate these listings into a single listing. This can be done when creating the listing, but can also be done later on (though variations are slightly different than merging).

Actual-thumb-splint-listing

More importantly, sometimes you may have a product that is wildly successful. You likely created it with variations as this makes sense in the early going. Depending on the category, sometimes only a single listing will show up in the search results. In these cases, you may desire to split off some or all of the variations into their own listings.

By splitting some of the ASINs you will allow for multiple of your products to show up in search results. This strategy can be a bit of a gamble and depends on having multiple successful variations within a parent listing.

Using the glove example, let’s assume that the entire listing, with variations, has been quite successful, but especially the Medium Right version and the Large Left version.

You can put in a split ASIN request in using the same help menu that allowed you to merge ASINs. In the case above, splitting the Medium Right and Large Left could be advisable. This only makes sense if these specific products, and the product as a whole, are doing well and have achieved a strong organic search rank in your desired keywords.

If it has, put in the split request and explain that it has some important differences from the overall product because of the specificity of the configuration. This doesn’t need to be the exact phrase used, but anything along those lines.

They will almost always grant this request, especially if you own the buy box and are the only seller. If Amazon has taken control of the page, you will have a harder time getting these changes through, but enrollment in Amazon brand registry 2.0 will expedite this process.

Luckily, this is an area that Bindwise can help as well. Bindwise notifies you of any ownership changes of the detail page, or changes in who is winning the buy box status.

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You can also see whether you are Buybox eligible in your inventory page.

buybox-winner-1

Once you have split the ASINs you will be in a good place. Specifically, now in your most important keywords, you should have three products displayed on the first page.

Because you picked high ranking items, even once split off they will have a strong enough sales history to rank well, and the parent listing will retain much of its original ranking.

Variation displays by category

Decisions on splitting and merging listings can be critical but luckily are not permanent. You do not have to keep ASINs split forever, but can run it as a test, to see if overall sales improve or worsen.

When making this decision, it is important to keep in mind some overall category display rules. Variations will display different based on the category you choose, which Amazon explains in depth.

The basic explanation is that products in Clothing, Accessories and Luggage, Sporting Goods, and Beauty show the parent product along with a drop-down menu, indicating multiple options or variations. So in the case of a special golf glove, it will show “Bob’s Golf Glove” with a drop-down menu saying Size and Color options (assuming these are the variation options you choose).

For all other categories, it displays only the bestselling child variant. This can be particularly problematic. In the case above, if you offer Left and Right-Hand golf gloves, it will show only “Bob’s Golf Glove Medium Right.” If other listings are separated, a left-handed golfer that searches for generic golf gloves will never click on your listing.

Splitting ASINs after achieving ranking, as outlined above, is a great way around this. Another potential option is describing the variations in the product title. For example, “Bob’s Golf Glove, Left or Right All Sizes Available,” and include this descriptor in every child listing. This will give an idea of the many options available, despite only a single child listing showing up in the search results.

Take action! One more time

The merge and split ASIN tool can be powerful for mitigating the competition and increasing your own sales. Be sure to never abuse this action, as it can get you in trouble with Amazon Seller Support. Using it properly, however, is perfectly acceptable, even when it brings great benefit to you.

Use Amazon variation categories and splitting and merging your own listings to maximize possible sales for your own products. By carefully testing options, and by using cleverly crafted product titles, you can sell products with multiple variations with incredible success.

Merge Amazon Listings: a White Hat Technique for Reducing Black Hat Listings
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