Capturing your Share of the Digital Shelf

A few months ago we released Searchbox as a way to help monitor your products search rank position for all of your keywords. We even wrote a few posts about how to use Searchbox:

While there are many use cases for Searchbox, a very powerful one is estimating your share of the digital shelf. Capturing a large share of the digital shelf can help boost your products' visibility and your brand's overall marketing presence. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in sales. But first, what do we mean by digital shelf?

What is the digital shelf?

Like products on a shelf, products from a search query populate our devices to create a digital shelf. So think of the digital shelf like you would a shelf in the store. There are usually items on the shelf associated with some broad category that's listed on the aisle sign. On the shelf, there may be some closely related items from different brands.

Similarly a digital shelf consists of a set of search results (i.e., from Amazon), where the keyword used in the search query constitutes the "aisle category". One key difference though is that unlike an actual store shelf, there can be potentially an unlimited number of digital shelves. Some of these digital shelves may be relatively broad but others may be very specific. Due to this dynamic nature, we believe it's key for brands to understand and monitor their digital shelf position.

Keyword Analysis

To get a better understanding of how different brands optimize their digital shelf, we decided to track several keywords starting with something general and then gradually getting more specific. For example, starting with "Vitamins", then "Hair Vitamins", and finally "Natural Vegan Hair Supplement for Women". The question we had was this: do smaller brands employ a different digital shelf strategy than larger brands? Also, what happens to the brand strategy as we narrow down the search term? Let's take a look at the results!

For the term "Vitamins", we found over 50,000 search results on Amazon. On the first page there were 12 unique brands. Right away, you can notice that the brand Vitafusion in orange and Amazon Elements in blue show up the most with each brand having 5 products ranking on the first page. Ten out of the 24 products on the page are from 2 distinct brands. So those two brands are capturing 42% of the prime digital shelf space.

Amazon Search Results

Next we analyzed the term "Hair Vitamins" to see if it would lead to different brand results. Overall, there were fewer total results (1000) and 23 unique brands on the first page. Notice as well Vitafusion only has 2 products, and there are none ranking for this term from Amazon Elements.

A search for "Vitafusion Hair Vitamins" yields 40 results with 17 of them being hair vitamins from Vitafusion. With Vitafusion selling more products related to "Hair Vitamins", they have a huge opportunity to capture more of page 1 for the term 'Hair Vitamins' by altering their bid strategy or optimizing their listings. This also means that 23 items from other brands are ranking for the term "Vitafusion Hair Vitamins".

Amazon Search Results for More Specific Term

"Natural Vegan Hair Supplement for Women" shows 22 unique brands. So as the term becomes more specific, the number of distinct brands in the results increases while the number of total results decreases to 153! As you can see, there are no more Vitafusion products. However, Bio Naturals and Nested Naturals both have 2 listings appearing on the first page. There are more brands making up the shelf for the term "Natural Vegan Hair Supplement for Women" than the shelf for "Vitamins".

Longtail Keyword Amazon Search Results

Takeaways

As you can see the number of brands and search results can change drastically depending on how specific the search term is. There are two key take-aways from this analysis. First, the more generic the term, the greater number of results. So competition for these broad terms can be quite intense. Conversely the more specific the term, the fewer number of total results. Second, the total number of unique brands actually increases as we narrow down the search terms. This most likely indicates that smaller brands are focusing their marketing efforts around these narrow search terms. This makes sense given the competitive nature of the broader terms.

So for both larger and smaller brands, it may be well worth adding long tail search terms to your overall keyword strategy. Most likely this will mean investing in some new tools like Searchbox and Copybox to help keep track of everything. All of the analysis we performed here was conducted using Searchbox so if you'd like to conduct your own version of this analysis, let us know!