Is Shadowbanning Coming to Amazon's US Marketplaces
While most Amazon sellers are aware of suppressed listings, which hide listings that do not match Amazon's product information criteria from shoppers, many are unaware of the search suppression Amazon imposes on listings with titles that do not satisfy its guidelines. This news was made to Amazon European markets, but we have a feeling it will be extended to Amazon US marketplaces soon if it isn't already, so use caution in all of your Amazon marketplaces.
If you're not sure what search suppression entails, consider what happens on social media networks like Instagram, where postings are shadowbanned if they violate community guidelines or are deemed objectionable in any manner. Then, without notice or notification, Instagram will conceal or restrict that content, which means that the post will not appear in other users' Instagram news feeds, and the person who posted it will be completely unaware.
How it Works on Amazon
Amazon's suppressed searches work in a similar way, and the company has gone so far as to say that any items sold in high-risk categories (those in which Amazon is more likely to face legal issues) with titles containing banned terms will be hidden from searches. What is restricted is unclear, as Amazon frequently adds new restricted keywords without warning, maintains a tiny list of restricted keywords on their official list, and suspends accounts for many terms that are not on that list. We do know, however, that names with advertising keywords and phrases such as "free shipping" or "100% quality guaranteed" are good candidates for search suppression. Those containing non-readable characters, such as emojis and titles that exceed the maximum character length of 200 characters (which varies by category and sub-category). Of course, titles that don't include any product identifiers are just as likely to be rejected.
The problematic issue is that Amazon, like Instagram, does not appear to notify you when they have implemented search suppression on one of your items, just as they do not warn you when they shadowban posts without saying so.
The full list of Amazon's sensitive categories are Alcoholic Beverage, Baby Product, Beauty, Cleaning Product, Consumer Electronics, Food And Beverage, Gifts And Occasions, Health Personal Care, Home, Kitchen, Luggage, Paper Product, Party Supplies, Pet Supplies, Prescription Eyewear, and Tobacco And Cannabis Products. If you have a listing that falls into one of these categories, you should double-check that you've followed all of Amazon's title guidelines.
Why, and What Can We Do?
Naturally, this raises the question of why Amazon is blocking searches rather than just listing suspensions. According to analysis, Amazon appears to seek to remove accountability by search suppressing listings that shoppers are looking for if they believe the listing violates its guidelines. Another aspect of their emphasis on the value of the Amazon customer experience. The product is still accessible for purchase on Amazon, and sellers can use various non-Amazon marketing tactics to generate traffic to their listings. Amazon doesn't want to lose a new customer or the traffic you're sending their way. They may enable you to sell to your own potential customers using your own traffic efforts, but they don't want you to give their current customers a possibly bad experience by misrepresenting the product or using non-compliant branding. Search suppression is a fascinating and sometimes difficult-to-detect problem that can make determining why you aren't earning more sales tough. As a result, it's critical to understand and follow this policy.