It may seem obvious to anyone who has used Associate-O-Matic for any length of time, but many new and inexperienced users seem to struggle with this basic question. So it seems worthy of discussion in some detail. Unlike previous users guides, which focused on specific features of AOM, this one will instead delve into a more general concept. It will cover ground that’s been discussed in previous posts, but revised and repackaged to (hopefully) reach the people who need the information.
The key to putting merchandise into your store is to understand that at its core, AOM revolves around Categories. Therefore it’s not required that you manually select individual items and pop them into a category (although you can to some degree, which we will discuss later). Instead, when you create a category, it will automatically fill itself with products. There are ways to control and filter the results you get, but for the most part, once you make a category, it will come with stuff in it.
The fastest way to create a category then, is to go to the Categories tab of your AOM control panel. Select a category from the Amazon drop-down list, and click on the Save button at the top or bottom of the page. Congratulations, you’ve just added product to your store.
Notice that once you create and save a category, a new blank category appears in your control panel. This way you can create a second category. And then a third, and so on. If you put a number in the ‘Add [blank] Categories’ box, it will open that many blank categories for you to fill in all at once. Choose whichever method works best for you.
Once you grasp the basic concept that creating a category automatically adds merchandise, you can filter the results to fine-tune the product selection.
All Amazon categories are grouped into nodes. These are numbers used to represent the categories. For example, in Amazon.com, the node number for Electronics is 493964. You can get a list of all current node numbers for each Amazon geographical locale at FindBrowseNodes.com. If you go there and click on Electronics, it will then display all the subcategory nodes available under that main category:
The important point to note is that each subcategory also has its own unique node number. Some subcategories may have their own list of sub-subcategories as well. You can click on Portable Audio and Video, then MP3 Players and Accessories. The beauty of this system is that you can replace the main category node in your AOM control panel with any subcategory (or sub-subcategory) node beneath it. So you could replace 493964 (Electronics) with 172623 (Portable Audio and Video) or even 172630 (MP3 Players and Accessories).
You do this by first selecting Electronics, then replacing the number in the Node box with the subcategory node you wish to use. Change the Name and you’re good to go (don’t forget to click on the ‘Save’ button). The category will now display only items from the selected subcategory (such as Portable Audio and Video). When you’re using a main category node, the node box background will be green. With a subcategory node, the box will turn grey. This is normal.
Note that you can’t mix subcategory nodes from one main category to another. So you can’t use the node number from Portable Audio and Video with Books, for example. It will just give you an error.
Another handy filtering tool is the Keyword box.
Here you would enter one or two keywords (at most) to further refine the product mix available. The keyword might be a brand name (Apple), or an attribute (ipod) that you want to highlight. It’s important to note that the more keywords you add, the fewer results you will get back. Many new users think they need to include all possible keywords that might be found. If they were creating a Television category, they might think they need Sony Panasonic Samsung Hitatchi JVC as keywords. But since no single product would contain all those terms, they would get no products shown. They would be better off using no keywords, to get the maximum amount of items to display.
You can however use Negative Keywords to help remove unwanted items from your categories. And unlike regular (or Positive) keywords, you can use as many negative ones as you require. A negative keyword is simply a term with a dash in front of it. If we stick with our Televisions example, you could use -Samsung to filter out items from that brand. And you can use positive and negative keywords together, with all terms separated by a space.
If the SDK box is checked, whatever you have entered in the Site Default Keyword box under the Site tab of your AOM control panel will copied into the Keyword box. This will overrwrite anything else you enter into the box.
When creating a category, you may need to spend some time experimenting to find the right combination of category/subcategory node and keywords to give you the best product mix possible. Hopefully you can see how this approach allows you to zero in on a target niche much more than just using a main category with no keywords.
The final method of getting products to appear in your store is to use ASIN Lists. Every item Amazon carries has an ASIN (or Amazon Standard Identification Number). It’s Amazon’s stock or item number. If you look up an item on Amazon, the ASIN will be found in the URL. For example, the Blu-ray version of the James Bond film Skyfall has the ASIN B007REV4YI. Then you could create a category and select ASIN List from the Amazon Category drop-down list. When you do, the text in the Keyword Box will prompt you to paste the ASINs into it:
And as you can see, the Node box is greyed out, since you are not using a node. You can enter as many ASINs as you want, but only the first 100 will be displayed. Make sure they are separated by either a space or a comma. An ASIN File is simply an external file containing a list of ASINs. This may be easier to edit than having to scroll through the contents of the keyword box, especially if you have a large number of ASINs. If you use this option, you would enter the file name or the URL to the file in the keyword box.
While using ASINs gives you complete control over what items appear in your store, there are a few issues with this method that you should be aware of. First, it’s difficult to get ASINs. Amazon does not have a list available, or any convenient method of extracting them. You have to pull up each item manually and copy the ASIN from the URL. This can be quite time-consuming.
Secondly, when you use a node-based category, Amazon will automatically add and remove items to keep the list fresh. With ASIN lists (and files), this does not happen. New products are not added, and old ones that may no longer be available are not removed unless you do it manually (prices and other information regarding the item are automatically maintained, however). So most AOM users tend to stick with node-based categories. But for some, ASINs are a useful option.
By using the methods discussed throughout this guide, and not being afraid to experiment with the different options, you should be able to get merchandise into your site easily and effectively.