• Choose the Right Amazon Product Category & Browsing Tree to Boost Discoverability & Ranking

    Choosing the right Product Category and the best Browsing Tree directly affects any keywords for which you are attempting to rank as they work hand in hand. No doubt you know the in’s and out’s of keyword optimizations such as the content for your Title, Bullets and Descriptions, plus the backoffice search terms. You may even be gaining momentum on your Sponsored Ads. But if you’re if you’ve ventured into the wrong Category; you could be throwing your money away and limiting your product exposure detrimentally. This intricate web of variables ultimately impacts your Amazon sales in your favor when done correctly.

    If you’re not clear about which Amazon Product Category is the right one, read Amazon’s Overview of Categories before arbitrarily adding a new product and mistakenly selecting the wrong one.

    Seller Support Speak

    If you’ve had the need to speak with Seller Support regarding an Amazon Product Category or subcategories, you quickly learned that they don’t use the same terms as a Seller does. What we call subcategories is what they call Pathways or Browse Nodes or Browsing Trees or any combination of those words. Although for all intent and purposes, they are one in the same; Seller Support will quickly guide you to two different locations to make a distinction.

    For example: You can see the Main Category is Home & Kitchen on the left side of an Amazon search screen. Then there’s a subcategory called Storage & Organization. Under that, there are 10 more subcategories. When Seller Support says “subcategories” that’s what they’re referring to.

    amazon product category

    What Sellers call subcategories, is on the Product Detail Page in the Production Information section, right under the BSR of the Main Category. However, from Amazon’s perspective, “What you are seeing is a Browsing Tree showing multiple ways one can reach your product.

    amazon product category

    It’s important to know the difference when you’re trying to communicate with Seller Support. It’s not a language barrier, it’s just Amazon lingo.

    In actuality and you’ll see as you read on, each Node (Home & Kitchen > Storage & Organization > Laundry Storage & Organization > Laundry Hampers) in the above Browse Tree example is in fact a subcategory with the exception of Home & Kitchen which is the main Amazon Product Category). Don’t waste your time making that point with Seller Support though. Let’s just keep it between us.

    By the way, notice there is only one Browse Tree in this particular listing. That’s because Amazon says, “ For newly added products, there will be only one browse tree for the listing. For existing listings with multiple browse nodes, they will be reduced by our catalog team.”

    So, heads up if you have more than one Browse Tree and it suddenly disappears. No need to panic.

    A Misguided Strategy

    Probably one of the most common strategies Sellers attempt includes finding a less competitive category that may be “kind-of-sort-of” related to their product. They do this to obtain higher BSRs and quickly, even if it’s in a semi-obscure category. But beware! Amazon is on to you and those days are over. Soon, if not now, you won’t be able to list a product if it’s not in the correct main Amazon Product Category or suddenly get your listing blocked from shopper’s searches. The worse part is that Amazon may not even tell you they’ve hidden your listing. Don’t risk it.

    Patiently Research

    The wisest time to figure out how competitive the categories you’re considering are, would be during the product research phase. Let’s say you’re thinking about selling Laundry Baskets (because you sourced one that’s so much cooler than everyone else’s at a fabulously low acquisition cost). You can run a quick assessment right from your Amazon shopping account. (By the way, this should not be your only criteria nor competitor evaluation.)

    Moving on…if I type Laundry Basket in All Departments, I can see the 2 main Amazon Product Category options available:

    amazon product category

    In this case, it’s Home & Kitchen or Industrial & Scientific.

    Between those two categories, Industrial & Scientific clearly has fewer competitors…

    amazon product category

    amazon product category

    Herein lies your critical decision. Are you tempted to play in the sandbox with fewer Sellers: 640 versus 12,203? Ask yourself, “Who is the majority of your target market for hypothetical way cool laundry basket?” Is it mostly used in hotels and/or labs (Industrial & Scientific) or is it more of a household item? The answer to that question indicates the Browse Tree Pathway and Search Terms shoppers will most commonly use to find the laundry basket they desire.

    If your laundry basket could be used both in households AND in industrial scenarios, then simply choose the main Product Category that primary targets your largest customer group. Keep in mind that you can only select one Product Category.

    Amazon’s Catalog Team Decides Pathways?

    Remember, Pathways = Nodes = Browse Trees = any combination of those words.

    According to Seller Support, “6 months ago the Amazon catalog team decided that they will add only one browse tree for one listing. Browse trees are set by Amazon, not sellers. Sellers can only get to list it in the appropriate category. Amazon decides the browse tree.

    To clarify, you can actually create your own Browse Tree as Amazon offers a Browse Tree Guide. Perhaps this Seller Support rep really meant to say that if you choose poorly, the Catalog team has the right to change it.

    Create Your Own Browse Tree Guide

    As you know, Amazon customers find products through searching and browsing. When customers browse, they can further refine their search by choosing a specific Amazon Product Category and subcategories. (On the left side of the monitor as mentioned earlier).

    You can use a Browse Tree Guide (BTG) to help identify the correct categories for your products. A Browse Tree Guide is a category-specific document that provides unique numbers and keywords that are associated with a certain browse path on Amazon. You can use this information to assign your products to specific categories and subcategories.

    To use a Browse Tree Guide:

    1. Go to Inventory File Templates and download the appropriate Browse Tree Guide for your product.

    2. Follow the instructions in the guide and choose the categories and subcategories for your products. Use the corresponding browse node IDs when you upload your inventory template file.

    Given the unfathomable amount of metadata Amazon has collected over decades of site visits, browsing history and purchases; using Amazon’s pre-determined Browsing Trees should feel like winning the lottery. Even if Amazon ends up making the decision on which Browse Tree is most appropriate for you; they’re far more knowledgeable. And if you totally disagree with what they’ve selected as your one and only Browse Tree; contact Seller Support to explain your what’s and why’s. Frankly, the fact that they have Pathways backed by unlimited research is a major coup for every Seller.

    Align Keyword Search Terms with Your Amazon Product Category & Subcategories

    Looking to improve product visibility and keyword ranking? Of course you are! Each subcategory a shopper selects during their search that is also a part of your Browsing Tree and included in your front and backend search terms, absolutely helps your BSR ranking. The key is to first, make certain you’re in the right main Amazon Product Category. And, second, ensure that the Keyword Search Terms (which include each Browse Tree Node – a.k.a. subcategory) are 100% aligned with your Amazon Product Category. Otherwise, you’ll find your product ranking in the wrong category resulting in very few sales.

    Each Node in your Browsing Tree shoppers click to search and end up buying your product, contributes to Amazon’s calculations for ranking both in the main Amazon Product Category and each subcategory.

    amazon product category

    What is the main point here? Choose the right main Amazon Product Category and use the recommended Browsing Tree Pathway so your customers can find and buy your product while boosting BSRs.

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