‘Hidden’ Categories – New Site Post

‘Hidden’ Categories – New Site Post

Many people use ASIN lists for their sites, instead of the default Amazon categories; this allows for a true ‘niche’ store, with a handpicked selection of items. The Amazon Stock Information Numbers (which often contain letters too) can be pasted directly into the category keyword box, or contained in a text file, with the URL to the file in the keyword box. There are drawbacks to this method however, such as having to comb Amazon to pluck ASINs one-by-one, and having to update the lists as new products are introduced and old ones discontinued. But in some instances, ASIN lists are the avenue of choice to provide selections for customers.

Another potential area of difficulty is in having content for Blended modes used with the site search and the Home Page display. These functions depend directly on the category node to draw results – they cannot read the ASIN lists themselves, either in the keyword box or the ASIN file (as a side note, this is why boxes like Bestsellers or Most Gifted, etc. ignore category keywords; they are also linked directly to the category node, bypassing the keyword box. They can’t read ASIN lists either, and do not appear in ASIN categories).

However, it is possible to give AOM a way to feed these areas, by using what are known as ‘hidden’ categories. These are categories that are contained in your Associate-O-Matic store, but are not accessable to customers directly. Their sole purpose is to allow merchandise to be available for blended modes.

To create a hidden category, simply set up a ‘normal’ node-driven category in your control panel under the Categories tab. If your store uses ASIN lists for automotive parts for example, create an automotive category with the default node (in this example 15690151). However, you must uncheck the T, M, S and B boxes.


This will prevent the category from appearing in the Tabs, Drop-down search menu and category box. The S box controls subcategories, and is not required to be unchecked; but for the sake of thoroughness, we’ll do so. You’ll also need to set up a Site Default Keyword under the Site tab as well, so no keyword is required in your hidden category. The SDK can help keep results focused on your site niche.

Now a blended search (“All Products”) and the Blended Home Page will return results. But only from one category, automotive. You can set up more hidden categories if you would like more results to appear.


In other news, this is the first post made since setting up the new site. All the old posts and comments, plus some of the other information, has been transferred here. The other site will eventually be shut down. In the short time this blog has been online at the other site, it’s become a tool to assist AOM users by trying to add to the information already available on the main Associate-O-Matic site. A new home was needed in order to use this ‘magazine-style’ format, which allows an easier way to search for posts that may touch on a particular feature or topic. I think it’s a better layout, and hopefully everyone will agree.

The YouTube video currently featured is the best of the two or three available at this time. Unfortunately it appears to be in Portugese. If anyone out there can make a better one that provides clear explanations of the basice setup functions, please use the contact link at the top of this page to let me know about it. If I find one I like, I may replace the current clip. So let’s get those cameras rolling!

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6 thoughts on “‘Hidden’ Categories – New Site Post

  1. Thanks for the interesting tip! Regarding your comment about the instructional videos, the one I like the most isn’t part of YouTube (as far as I know), but it’s the one that taught me how easy it was to use AOM. Unless you have a problem understanding the presenter’s accent, she does a great job of demonstrating how to use it. Here’s her link:

  2. mcarp555

    Thanks David; I was actually in touch with Simonne about her video when I was setting up this new site format, but we were unable to figure out a way to convert it for YouTube. And at around 48 minutes, the sheer size of the file may be part of the problem.

  3. Bet

    Dear David,
    There is so much to learn as a newbie and so little time at this time of the year so sometimes playing around to get things right and to know you’ve understood can be difficult. Could you please step out the whole process from the point where one decides to use an ASIN List or ASIN File, whether they create the file as normal using the keyword box and then go back and create the “hidden” category as it is a bit confusing as to know where to pick up this process. Have tried just the “hidden” category method without any pre-creation of ASIN list and found many
    item appearing which didn’t relate to my niche. Your patience and more of your clear tutoring here would be appreciated.

  4. mcarp555

    Bet –

    The main purpose of the hidden category is to feed the search function, and to provide product for the home page in Blended mode. It doesn’t matter that the hidden category contains items that do not fit your niche; that’s why it’s hidden in the first place. The search function cannot read ASIN lists, so it does not work without node-based categories to provide it with something to search through. If your store does not use the Blended home page, or use the search function, then you do not need hidden categories at all.


  5. Bet

    Dear Mike, The 2 sites that I am currently working on are blended sites. They have a main subject which involves products from dvds, cds, books, apparel, mp3s, toys, etc. At the risk of sounding dumb does the process for hidden categories work like this. Create ASIN lists, then complete a category type with node and then insert ASINs separated by comma and space (or just comma?)in Keyword box. Then, in order to feed these ASINS, follow “hidden” categories instructions per – quote – To create a hidden category, simply set up a ‘normal’ node-driven category in your control panel under the Categories tab. If your store uses ASIN lists for automotive parts for example, create an automotive category with the default node (in this example 15690151). However, you must uncheck the T, M, S and B boxes – unquote. Mike, you are living this stuff every day and this is my first time of driving anything like it so please be patient if I’m “not getting it like others right now”.
    Am not in the same time zone as you so a concise answer would really help me out. I have 3 niche websites to finish in the next 2 days or its over and have yet to sort out whether am going to go for the full version because of the shopping cart issues for customer ease. thanks.

  6. mcarp555

    I’ll send you an email about it.

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