Seller Performance Solutions
What You Need to Know about the Category Listing Report
September 8, 2022
Category listing reports were once useful tools to check for abusive keywords placed on your listing by black hat vandals. This is no longer the case. In this episode Chris and Leah discuss the current uses for category listing reports, the process of getting keywords removed & tips for dealing with this issue.
[00:00:07] Chris: Hey everybody. Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. This is Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris, I'm here with Leah McHugh, expert extraordinaire on the category listing report. We've talked a lot about this in the context of abuse cases, right? People adding backend keywords to get listings flagged.

The pesticide example is the most common one you've seen. You've noticed some interesting absences, I guess, in the category listing report process. Is that fair to say? Or you would say it better, so I'm gonna kinda kick it over to you. in terms of what Amazon shows you for ASIN contributions and what that might mean when you're trying to fix something that's broken.

[00:00:49] Leah: Yeah. So we did a podcast on this just over a year ago and we were talking about how you can use the category listing report to see the live information on your listing. So if somebody is put abusive keywords in there, you can take a look and you can say, Hey, I didn't put this in there and this is probably why my listing is flagged for whatever it's flagged for.

Unfortunately, Shortly after we published that podcast, they changed the category listing reports, so now, instead of showing you the live information on your listing, it just shows you your contributions to that listing, which is a lot less useful in terms of making sure the correct information is on your listing because you know, I'm assuming you put the right information on your listing, but the category listing does not show you what other information other people have put on there now. So what used to be a really great way of checking all of your listings in one nice spreadsheet, where you could look at all of the information live on Amazon, and now it's just showing you what you put on there yourself, which hopefully you would already know anyway, 

[00:01:47] Chris: Well that you hit on exactly why I wanted to talk about this today. Two things. One, some people don't know what's in their ASIN contributions because we ask them and they're either not sure. Or they say, like, we didn't put that in there. And it turns out that somebody did put that in there and they weren't aware of it.

[00:02:05] Leah: Well, yeah. I mean like if somebody on your team put it in there, yeah you're going to see that. 

[00:02:08] Chris: Well, no, it could be a service that says we're gonna brush this up for you and they put the terms in without running it by the seller. But the alarming thing about this is of course, if you didn't put that in there, that means somebody put it in there.

Possibly just for the purposes of abuse to get your listing taken down. I mean, we're in the thick of Q4 here. This happens all the time. 

[00:02:30] Leah: Right. But what I'm saying is you now can't see that on the category listing report.

[00:02:34] Chris: I know that hence my use of the word alarming. And so my question to you, yes. Initially, at least before we expand the conversation, is do you think people are just supposed to message different teams and Amazon saying we don't know where this came from.

We don't know what's going on. You guys have to look into it. And fix it because we didn't do this and it's wrong and it's crippling our listings and the category listing report won't show us what we need. Is that the position they're in? 

[00:03:05] Leah: Well, so sometimes you can see it in Seller Central. It shows you the live information above your contribution in the back end of the listing. So sometimes you can see it there. Sometimes you can't because once they remove the listing from their catalog. So once the ASIN is blocked, what you see in seller central is not necessarily what Amazon's teams see on the listing when they look into it. Which is another problem because it means that when you make changes to your listing to try to get it reinstated, you have no way of knowing if those changes actually went through to the part that the team that can reinstate you is going to be looking at without calling catalog and asking them to check for you. 

 And the calling can take five minutes. Can take an hour and a half. Depends on who you get.

[00:03:52] Chris: Right? No, I liked your 78 minute catalog call the other day that you told me about.

[00:03:57] Leah: I have many of them. 

[00:03:58] Chris: Yeah, I was just thinking, wow, you could have watched a short movie in that time, you know? 

[00:04:02] Leah: Well, so another issue with that is that, you know, you can't just email catalog because they'll just send you whatever. And you have to say on the phone with them the entire time because their KPIs don't kick in as long as you are on the line. Yeah. So they can spend as much time as needed as long as you're on the call with them. But if it's just an email, they go back to their like however many minutes they have for a response. So you have to, you have to sit on the line the entire time while they try to check. Sometimes they have to ping a manager who isn't actually there and then you have to wait for them to respond. And then they go back and forth for a while, which is why it ends up taking 78 minutes. 

[00:04:36] Chris: So you want to put your best man, best woman on this project. If it's not you. something can go wrong in that process and then you'll be back at square one and all that time was wasted. 

[00:04:48] Leah: Well, and also sometimes you have to call more than once because sometimes you get somebody that has no idea what you're talking about. 

[00:04:53] Chris: Well, do you think the change was made for less transparency instead of more transparency, do you think it was because of abuse?

Do you think that they didn't want you to have this cookie crumb trail back to some crazy thing that happened to you? 

[00:05:08] Leah: I don't know. I actually think that what it used to be a really great tool for dealing with abuse and cutting it off before it became a major problem. Now it's just not as, I mean, it's useful in terms of like an overview of the information that you want on your listings. 

I don't know if it was, I don't know. I struggle with the did Amazon do this intentionally thing? Because I'm always very cynical. 

[00:05:32] Chris: Well, we don't talk a lot about the Amazon. Why? Because you could spend forever asking these questions and half the time, those are questions that Amazon's not even willing, let alone able to answer.

[00:05:42] Leah: My honest opinion is that this had absolutely nothing to do, because the team that makes that report is not at all related to the abuse team. So my assumption is that whatever catalog team was in charge of that report just decided to make this change and no other team was involved.

[00:06:00]Chris: No, of course they're not intimately connected with the abuse teams, but there could have been an instance or several where they said, look, we've got sellers throwing this stuff back in our faces and they're using data in this report.

[00:06:13] Leah: Yeah. But that would make their job easier. 

[00:06:14] Chris: We already know Amazon wants to make their life more difficult with rampant inefficiency and they don't wanna make things easier for themselves. The selfish motives that we counted on for years haven't panned out. 

[00:06:26] Leah: My guess is that it was just another reason that had nothing to do with any of this and nobody thought about that it would have an effect on this. They also moved it, which is good to know. So it is now under inventory reports, not reports and some people have access to it immediately. If you don't see it listed under your inventory reports, you have to request access with seller support, and then they usually get back to you in an hour and you have access to it for seven days, but some people have access to it automatically, I don't know why. 

[00:06:55] Chris: So that's one key tip. What else are the main things that people have to focus on or think about?

[00:07:02] Leah: Well, I mean, those are the main things. So the category listing report is a good first step to check your listings because maybe you or your team did put something on there that you didn't realize at the time was gonna be a problem.

So certainly a good place to start. But you do need to also talk to catalog, look in the back end of seller central and also look at enhanced brand content, I feel like that's an area that a lot of sellers forget to check when things get flagged on their listing and global selling. So if you have global selling turned on for your listings, Whatever you do in one marketplace is gonna filter over to another marketplace.

Particularly if you have a highly regulated product and you don't want that to happen, you need to make sure that that is turned off on your listings. Otherwise, no matter what you delete in Canada, your stuff from the US is still gonna filter through. So you need to make sure that's turned off when you're having any issues.

I mean, generally speaking, if you have very compliance heavy products. I would recommend not turning on global selling for your listing content, but especially if you're having an issue with your listing content, you need to turn that off while you try to figure this out and spend lots of time talking to catalog.

[00:08:08] Chris: Yeah. And it doesn't help that there's confusion sometimes around, is this a technical thing? People love to use the word glitch that sell on Amazon, and they don't always know which team to go to. So some people are just opening seller support cases, hoping for the best. I'm not sure we see that a lot.

[00:08:24] Leah: I've also had quite a few cases as a ghost content, which is what Amazon calls it. 

[00:08:29] Chris: Ghost content, let's define that please. 

[00:08:32] Leah: Where you have no enhanced brand content associated with that ASIN in your account, like you checked your account, there's no enhanced brand content on that listing in that marketplace.

And then you call catalog and they're like, oh yeah, we can see it. This ghost enhanced brand content from before and then they need to manually remove it because obviously you can't delete something that you don't see on your account. 

[00:08:49] Chris: Exactly. The unfriendly ghost, keep an eye out for unfriendly ghosts. And certainly if you have any questions about category listing reports, calling catalog. Guess what-- best person to talk to is not me, but Leah McHugh, I've seen a few category listing reports. She's seen a few thousand, so, she will be the person who would be happy to answer all of your questions.

He's Like 

[00:09:12] Leah: don't email me about this, please. 

[00:09:15] Chris: Certainly feel free to send these along to me or to come through the e-commerce Chris site. They will, I am very confident, find a good home with Leah. So, thank you for listening again. Thanks Leah. For all your wonderful insights. And if anyone has questions on this, let us know.

We will see you next time on Seller Performance Solutions. Thanks, bye.