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Formatting Amazon Descriptions, A Little Goes A Long Way

As we all know, your product descriptions are hugely important when selling online.  They are part of my E-commerce Holy Trinity along with Pictures and Titles.  Thanks to twitter however a friend of mine brought to my attention some of the confusion surrounding Amazon descriptions and what is and isn’t allowed in the Amazon catalogue.

A quick search online will throw up plenty of forums stating that absolutely no formatting is allowed in Amazon descriptions at all.  It must just be plain text which describes the product.  I am not going to link to said forums etc as they are largely incorrect.  Basic formatting is allowed on your Amazon descriptions and here I am hopefully going to show you, how you can do it, and what a difference it will make to hopefully bring you more sales.

It is no secret that I think descriptions are a hugely important ingredient in your perfect listing recipe.  As you may remember the first E-commerce in Plain English Podcast covered “Descriptions that sell” If you haven’t heard it yet, then click the link here and give it a listen.  The key for your description is to make it concise, descriptive (obviously) but importantly easy to read.  With a bit of formatting help we can make descriptions really easy to read and therefore increase the likelihood of a conversion.  Amazon want its marketplace sellers to create listings that fit in with their catalogue.  There are limitations to how much formatting you can do, unfortunately you wont be able to go to town like a true Amazon listing such as there Kindle descriptions.  So no pretty graphics, embedded video’s or photos are allowed, we are going back to basics here but it can make a difference if done properly.

What you can do

Now by no means am I an HTML expert and never would I profess to be, but with a few simple HTML tags you can quickly emphasise and structure your descriptions to make them clearer and easier to read than a plain text paragraph.  I imagine most readers will know these tags already but in case you don’t here are a few you can use when entering your amazon product description.

A  very  quick intro to HTML.  You have an opening and a close tag if you want to cause an effect to whatever is in between the tags.  If you want to insert one piece of formatting on the page then you only need to add that tag once per effect (no opening and closing). I haven’t explained that very well but the below examples should help.

<b> </b> – These are a simple bold tag.  Everything that is in between these tags will appear in bold text.  This is perfect for sections of a description that you want to separate or important parts you want to highlight.  n example of how to use this would be: “<b> Technical Specifications </b>”

<br> – This is the tag for a line break.  You can insert these to insert a line break in your description.  Perfect for making sure there is a difference between two paragraphs or drawing attention to a different section of your description. An example of this would be: “this is the end of one paragraph. <br> This is the start of the second.”

<ul>

– These are the tags needed to create bullet points in your listing.  The ul tag stands for unordered list and everything in between them it will know to put in bullet points.  The li tags are there to differentiate the different bullet points.  It’s really simple when you see it in practice so here you go:

The bullet point list

<ul>

<li> this is a bullet point </li>

<li> and so is this one</li>

</ul>

By utilising these simple HTML tags you can make a massive difference to how your Amazon product description looks, and increases the chances of someone buying your product.  Now for a few live examples.

How not to do an Amazon description

I am not a fan of naming and shaming and that’s why I want to look at the positives for this link I am about to provide.  The title is straightforward and states exactly what the product is.  The picture is good and shows the product with a plain white background although the resolution could be a little better.  However the description is awful.  Take a look here .

Not only is it all in capital letters which is a huge pet hate of mine, but it is all bunched together and as it is in Caps and only over two lines it makes it very easy to miss if you are just scanning the page.  It doesn’t look professional and makes it look like an incomplete product page.

How to do an Amazon Description

The next example is a fantastic showcase of product description formatting being used.  There is not much I can really add to this description other than to show you it so you can see first hand.  This product is courtesy of Better Bathrooms and can be seen here .   They have used the bold tags to effectively distinguish titles and sections in the section, and they have used line breaks instead of bullet points to list specifications.  I’m sure you can agree this looks much better and all that has been used is some basic HTML and a little bit of time to get the description looking right.

With just a bit of time spent getting your product descriptions right and making them easy for potential customers to read then you greatly improve your chances of converting on Amazon.  Remember you create your Amazon product once and it stays in the catalogue forever so make sure you make it as good as it can be from the beginning.

If you have any comments or questions then please as always leave a comment below or send an email.  I look forward to hearing from you.

12 replies
  1. Andrew Minalto
    Andrew Minalto says:

    100% agree with you Dave on the CAPS ON problem! Many people write e-mails this way too, lol, I wonder what exactly they want to achieve by doing this? Screaming has never been a good communication practice 🙂

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hey Andrew

      Thanks for stopping by. I know right…you wouldnt go into a bricks and mortar shop and expect the salesman to start screaming in your face why you should by his products. Baffles me why people think it’s ok todo it online. Some misconstrue CAPS, as emphasis but to me it will always be shouting

      Cheers

      Dave

      Reply
  2. Whirly
    Whirly says:

    Thanks for the mention Dave, relieved to see a drill on that first link and not one of our baths.

    I’ve not discovered any new tricks yet but we have sold 4 items so far in our first 48 hours on Amazon so it’s looking positive.

    I’ll be checking back to see if any of your readers know of any other formatting tips and tricks.

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hey Whirly

      Thank You for having the perfect example of an Amazon product with good formatting. Im sure a few other ideas of formatting may crop up here, and if they do i’ll make sure they get put live. I think the trick is doing enough to make them stand out, but not drawing too much attention to it so Amazon get their backs up. We know how quickly that can happen. 😀

      Cheers again

      Dave

      Reply
  3. Justin M.
    Justin M. says:

    Hi, the whirlpool bath example is no longer listed. Maybe you can find another good example? 🙂

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hey Sally

      Thanks so much for leaving the comment. I am glad you have found it useful. When you self publish on Amazon having good pictures, a good title and a good description can be crucial for bringing the sales to your item.

      All the best

      Dave

      Reply
  4. Robert
    Robert says:

    Hi Dave,

    thanks for the tips.

    I think it would be useful to ask Amazon to “relax/detail” their policy on HTML tags in the description and be more specific about it.

    Officially no html tags are allowed in the product description: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200414280

    Practically there are many product description having some kind of “html formating” in place.

    Some of them are just decent, while some of them suck (I’ve seen one with even some text description colored in blue).

    This miss-alignment between rules and practice, creates confusion and open the door for abuses in the future.

    Hopefully someone will raise the flag to Amazon to do us all a favor.

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Hi Robert

      Yes absolutely there is too much contradiction and grey area for people to truly know what they can put into their listings

      Dave

      Reply
  5. Lorraine Pierce
    Lorraine Pierce says:

    I just got off the phone about the great HTML markup debate.

    A few months ago I found this page: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/help-page.html/ref=ag_200415980_cont_scsearch?ie=UTF8&itemID=200415980

    Got all excited! Then I noticed it says it’s for use in buyer-seller messaging! Like who the heck is going to bother with html messaging?

    Anyways…I contacted seller support, asking them about html markup in product descriptions. Gave them some examples of current listings. They replied that you have to be “invited” and gave me an email addy. Never heard back.

    So I open a new case and get some bizarro answer from someone who apparently doesn’t have a good grasp on English (they are outsourcing at level 1).

    So I called just now about the support case. Started with Level 1, then got an English speaking person, American I presume as there was no accent.

    She led me to the SAME PAGE to show me what html markup is allowed. I pointed out the phrase about “buyer-seller” messaging. She assure me I COULD USE THESE TAGS in the Product description.

    I requested she NOTE THAT in the case, so I could reference it later if I’m threatened with account violation action, beheading, or walking the plank.

    She said she would not it.

    Boom…I’m covered.

    Reply
    • DaveF
      DaveF says:

      Great to hear this Lorraine! I think we are at a stage now where so many sellers effectively use HTML to make their listings look better and easier to read for customers that Amazon now allow it. They just have a similar problem with eBay for out of date information pages which are out of date and not updated.

      I speak with hundreds of ecommerce sellers and haven’t heard of one being thrown off Amazon for using a bold tag for a title or putting a few bullets in their description 🙂

      Dave

      Reply

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