If your marketing strategy isn’t on point, e-commerce platforms will clean out your bank account pretty quickly because their startup costs are expensive enough to leave even the toughest marketer shaking in his boots. To stay afloat, you need an optimization strategy that offers enough return on investment to put you ahead of rivals. E-commerce businesses rely on optimization techniques that are the polar opposite of those other businesses use.

Instead of text-based content, online stores are increasingly using product listings to achieve 21% higher click through rates. If that isn’t impressive enough for you, click through rates for product listings have increased by 53% a year.

It’s All About the Image

On the surface, PLAs don’t seem to leave much room for creativity, but dig deep enough and you’ll find a different picture. Images that pop should be a part of your strategy because they grab your customers’ attention first. In 2015, PLAs became richer and more engaging than ever before, but they’re still heavily reliant on strategically structured metadata to catch Google’s attention. It’s not what you do with that data that has value but how you use it. It’s meaningless unless it answers the questions your customers are typing into their search fields.

Google vs. Amazon

With Google, the way you word your product listings and inventory must fit neatly into your marketing strategy whereas Amazon relies on how much customers value the product. The more they buy, the higher your rank becomes.

Despite the dramatic differences between the two business’ product listings, they rely on the same five best practices. Keep these tactics in mind to increase your rank:

1) Accuracy

High-quality information is imperative because spam ruins your click-through rates. Your product attributes need to stay strictly within Google’s often-pedantic parameters whereas Amazon provides more permissive and easy-to-use category fields. Your returns don’t come from the quality of your writing but on clear, efficient identifiers.

2) Product Exposure

Extreme privacy settings are pointless because you’ll block Google’s bots, rendering your listing redundant. If you have a large product inventory, detail is your friend, but keyword stuffing will hurt your rank. The way you order your titles influences your click through rate. To give your keywords real oomph, you need to think like your customers and find high-value search terms with tools like Google AdWords.

3) Customer Communication

Product descriptions are your opportunity to speak directly to your buyers. Google gives you 10,000 characters to play with, but 500 to 1000 are optimal. If you must use elaborate descriptions, save them for the right-hand side of your text, placing your most important information on the left.

In contrast, Amazon lets you use more words and images to advertise with. It ranks you according to competitive pricing, sparkling customer reviews, high conversion rates, and sales performance.

4) Bidding Structure

Product listings’ bidding structure doesn’t come with the security of a flat rate. To stay within your budget, put a cap on your daily spend and then monitor it against your returns. Use performance metrics to create a proactive investment strategy and adjust it as your campaign progresses. Remember that if you pause or reduce your daily spend, you’ll miss out on the free clicks Google hands out as a perk.

5) An Evolving Strategy

Google rewards merchants who keep their listings up to date. If you optimize your deep links regularly so that your data remains relevant, your visibility and performance will improve. The demand for certain keywords is constantly rising and falling, so reassess yours often to make sure you’re not marketing to a non-existent audience.