This is a guest post by Allison Lee, Marketing Manager at Zentail, and Daniel Sugarman, CEO and Co-Founder of Zentail.
Walmart SEO is the oil that keeps Walmart’s search engine running smoothly. Like every other online marketplace, Walmart Marketplace relies on sound SEO practices to determine which products get shown at the top of search results.
Needless to say, you need to know how it works when you’re selling on Walmart.com. While there are many other strategies you’ll want to leverage to get more eyes on your products—like ads or email marketing—good SEO is at the root of every high-ranking listing.
Walmart’s algorithm is only getting more sophisticated with time (we predict that some of the biggest changes are yet to come as the marketplace gains more and more traction among sellers) so you’ll want to make sure your listings are set up for success. Make sure they are seen as quality pages and not filtered out as noise.
For your convenience, we’ve put together this list of what you can do to boost your chances of outranking the millions of other products listed on Walmart—both now and in the future.
Walmart SEO Tip #1: Create Descriptive Product Titles
This is perhaps one of the most important things to get right, from both an algorithmic and UX perspective. In considering the algorithm, your product titles help Walmart identify keywords that match what users type into the search box.
For example, if a buyer searches “whitening toothpaste,” any first-page result (which are deemed “best match” results) will typically include one or both of those terms in the title. Walmart will also highlight those terms for easy identification.
From the UX perspective, your titles also offer some of the most important details at a glance. It’s similar to the headline of an ad. It’s meant to say just enough for your seller to understand how it’s different from other items, and to want to learn more.
For this reason, you’ll want to think of the words that your buyers care about most versus cramming in all possible keywords into the title. In some categories, buyers may care about material the most. In others, they may care about the brand. And still in others, they may be inclined to search exact model numbers.
Take a look at the competition before you publish your listing; search potential keywords via tools like keywordtool.io, SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner to see search term volumes and competitiveness (chances are that the queries people are entering into Amazon or Google are similar to what’s being searched on Walmart). Then experiment with your own titles.
There are other basic ground rules to follow when it comes to product titles:
- They should be 50-70 characters long (note how the first 50 or so are usually what’s visible on both desktop and mobile)
- If your product is part of a variant group, avoid picking out just one variation (like the color “green”) in your title
- First letter of each word should be capitalized, excluding conjunctions, articles, proposition and acronyms
- Avoid special characters
- Avoid promotional phrases like “best selling” or “free shipping”
- Recommended formula by Walmart if you’re not sure where to start: Brand + Product Line (if applicable) +
- Size/Power (if applicable) + Defining Quality + Item Name + Pack Count
- Do not copy and paste from Amazon—aside from Walmart requiring unique copy, you’ll want to use a title that works best with Walmart’s algorithm (see FAQs below for more on this) and how the platform truncates titles
Walmart SEO Tip #2: Complete Product Attributes
One mistake that sellers often make is only filling out partial details about their products. The main culprit of this is laziness, or rushing to post. A second reason is that Walmart doesn’t necessarily require a ton of attributes. (Walmart may, in general, require slightly less attributes than other marketplace but this depends on the category—and some things, like Walmart’s UPC requirements, can be trickier to navigate.)
Despite this, it’s a good idea to add additional attributes to help Walmart judge the relevance of your listings when buyers search for specifics that aren’t already covered in your title.
This is also important if you want to be included within filtered results. Look at what filters are available by default within the search page of your category. This not only gives you a sense of what people already type into the search bar, but also what they may select to whittle down their options from the results page.
If data quality and completeness is an issue, we recommend looking into an ecommerce PIM solution like Zentail. This can help you manage a large catalog by automatically categorizing and filling out essential details, according to how your products are listed on your webstore or Amazon (as examples). It can identify, plus help to resolve, any listings errors and keep your product data synced across all channels.
Walmart SEO Tip #3: Optimize Product Descriptions
There are several other areas of copy beyond your title that require close attention. Namely, the shelf description, short description and long description. Each of these serves a slightly different purpose, but across all, you should avoid hyperbolic, salesy or generic language.
Give details that buyers would be asking about or looking for when purchasing your product in store. Be conversational and authentic to attract (not force) the sale. In these areas, you should also try to include your product name and additional keywords—synonyms of your target keyword or contextual information that buyers may type into the search—to help with your Walmart SEO. At the same time, you’ll want to avoid sounding repetitive and use keywords naturally.
Keep these other guidelines in mind:
- Shelf description should have a minimum of three bullet points
- Short description should be at least 750 characters long
- Long description should be at least 750 characters long
- Speak to benefits and use active voice
- Start with the most important details first in every description
Note: If you’re a reseller or vendor, you’ll want to check in on your listings from time to time to make sure they’re accurate. If you see anything that’s off, contact seller support.
Walmart SEO Tip #4. Select the Right Product Images
Good images sell. You probably don’t need to be told this. But keep in mind that while only your hero image is visible on the search page, all of your images (and their collective impact) matter in SEO.
By design, Walmart’s algorithm will favor listings that drive the most clicks, conversions and positive reviews—which are all things that images affect. Aside from offering a sharp hero image, you’ll want to make sure you offer alternate images (a.k.a., AV images) that show your product at different angles, highlight core features and/or show your product in action.
Think about what your customer needs to see to click ‘buy’ and be happy with their purchase. In other words, if it’s hard to tell the size of your product from one photo, provide an AV that places your product against another item, with a model or with exact measurements for size comparison. If it’s not clear how to use your product, demonstrate how it can be used. Try to tell a story of how a product fits into a user’s lifestyle so that expectations are properly aligned.
To add rich media, like product videos and comparison charts, to your listings, check out Walmart’s certified content partners, RichContext, Syndigo or WhyteSpyder. Currently, you can only add rich media through a third party but it can definitely help to boost engagement on your listings.
Before we move on, here are some basic rules for imagery on Walmart that you need to know:
- Minimum of four images (but recommended 6 to 7)
- For variation listings, you must include swatch images for every variant
- All images must be brightly lit and professionally shot
- Images must be in color (Primary images should be on a white background [255/255/255 RGB])
- Images should be centered in frame
- Main image should not contain graphics, illustrations, logos, et cetera: it should only show your product
Walmart SEO Tip #5. Opt for Free Two-Day Delivery
If you browse the first page of most search result pages, you’ll notice that an overwhelming majority of listings say “Free delivery.” In most cases, “2-day delivery” is also a standard tag, if not a ranking requirement in the most competitive categories.
The “2-day delivery” tag is the product of Walmart’s TwoDay Delivery program. Sellers who are enrolled in this fast-shipping program guarantee free nationwide delivery in two days without a minimum basket amount or monthly fee. Items with TwoDay tags have seen up to 75% increase in impressions and 1.5x more product views, according to Walmart, who leverage tags to communicate a quick, easy buying experience to its consumers.
You’ll therefore want to enable 2-day delivery on your top-selling products, if not your whole catalog. You can do this in two ways:
- Request access to the program, only if you’ve been a Walmart Marketplace seller for more than 90 days (or have fulfilled over 100 orders on the platform) and meet strict performance standards or…
- …outsource fulfillment to Deliverr and get pre-approved for 2-day delivery badges.
Just like Prime badges are essential to Amazon, Walmart’s fast shipping tags (a.k.a., “2-day deliver” tags) are a staple of its marketplace. Make sure to enable them when you can to give your listings the best chance of ranking.
BONUS: FAQ About Ranking on Walmart.com
What is the most common misconception on how to “rank” on Walmart?
Walmart TwoDay delivery tags are highly recommended—they’re almost like a prerequisite for competing in popular categories. However, it’s possible to place too much emphasis on them. In other words, some sellers pursue two-day shipping in hopes of earning first-page ranking overnight, when in actuality, there’s a lot of other factors that come into play. Two-day shipping alone isn’t going to make the difference (for most sellers, at least). Visually, you can even see how Walmart has de-emphasized two-day shipping in search results, suggesting that it’s become more normalized over time.
What are the most commonly confused Walmart ranking facts with Amazon?
Amazon has dedicated spots for sponsored products (ads), and it’s possible for the same listing to show up twice on a SERP because of this. Walmart, on the other hand, won’t show duplicate products—it instead replaces certain grid spots with sponsored results to prevent this from happening.
Walmart also truncates titles earlier than Amazon, so the first few words in your title are extra important. On Amazon, sellers tend to frontload their titles with keywords, but if you do that on Walmart, your title could be far less impactful (resulting in lower CTRs).
Why doesn’t anyone really talk about or examine it the same way we do Googlebot and A9?
Walmart Marketplace is still relatively new and doesn’t receive the same level of fanfare (yet) as Amazon or Google. Buyers are largely unaware of Walmart’s third-party component and still consider it more of a retailer than an option-rich marketplace like Amazon. Meanwhile, sellers are trying to figure out what Walmart means to their long-term strategies or how to even get listed properly.
Walmart Marketplace is, by nature, more exclusive than the other two channels as well. Joe Schmoe can’t wake up one day and decide to list on Walmart (whereas anyone can essentially compete on Google or Amazon). Every seller needs to go through an approval process before receiving the green light.
That being said, interest in Walmart Marketplace is really starting to pick up. It has taken eBay’s place as the number-two largest online retailer, behind Amazon, and through various campaigns (for example, the Shopify-Walmart integration, webinars with key integration partners, the launch of WFS), Walmart’s attracting a lot more attention from sellers than before.
What’s a quirk or oddity you’ve noticed in working with Walmart’s algo?
Searching by a product’s UPC doesn’t always bring up relevant or correct listings
Walmart doesn’t seem to surface competitive products as well as Amazon does. For example, if you type a brand name into search, Amazon will show the brand’s products in addition to other alternatives within the same category. Walmart mainly shows the brand’s products, plus other items they show may or may not be part of the same category. The main difference seems to be this: Walmart’s algorithm mainly looks for keywords matches, while Amazon’s algorithm qualifies results based on their product type and other indicators hinting that these are the same types of products you’re looking for.
What’s the biggest weakness that you’ve observed? Strength?
Weakness – Walmart’s way of using UPCs for listing rather than a unique listing identifier, like an ASIN on Amazon. This is the source of headache for a good number of sellers (and potentially buyers who are searching for products), who have seen incorrectly matched UPCs, duplicate listings and/or poor data quality all stemming from Walmart’s reliance on UPCs.
Strength – this is not directly related to listing, but one of Walmart’s strengths involves their decision to bar the use of FBA for fulfillment. This helped considerably during the spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world. Walmart remained in stock and maintained fast shipping, while Amazon took a hit. (This blog offers more details about what happened during this period.) Walmart sellers weren’t reliant on FBA at this point and could continue listing and selling their products through Walmart.com as usual.
Have you run any tests with WM? Like product title or feature bullets or…?
A lot of tests are ongoing and still pending, but we’re starting to see how important product attributes are to ranking on Walmart. While Walmart doesn’t require a ton of details, you almost always need to have additional attributes in your listings to rank and be discoverable. We’ve seen this affect sellers’ performance on SERPs, as well as in the left-hand filter menu. If your product doesn’t have one of the left-hand attributes filled out, it’ll be omitted from filtered results.
Walmart ads and rich media are newer features that show a lot of promise. Similar to the “flywheel effect” that you see happening on Amazon, Walmart ads can trigger initial sales on your products (and thereby prime the pump for better organic rankings and additional sales in the future). It’ll also be interesting to see how rich media (the equivalent of EBC on Amazon) will impact performance, or how much it’ll be adopted.
Walmart Marketplace is expanding to include more sellers and products than ever before. As competition heats up, it’s increasingly important for you to establish good Walmart SEO habits to keep your listings on the first page.
“Every ecommerce marketplace has its quirks. Walmart Marketplace is no exception. But the savviest sellers try to embrace those quirks and use the resources at their disposal—technology included—to get ahead, while others merely adapt out of necessity.”
– Daniel Sugarman, Co-founder and CEO of Zentail
Don’t wait to make your move. Identify areas for improvement and get your Walmart listings in tip-top shape.