With a little search engine optimization (SEO), online retailers can greatly increase their reach —optimizing your online store for Google really makes sense. Many online retailers offer construction kits that you can use to set up your online store according to SEO criteria. By adhering to these guidelines your online store will be listed higher in the Google search results in no time.
The possibilities for presenting and advertising your project online have never been as varied as they are today. With paid advertisements in search machines, via social networks or blogs, as well as with SEO campaigns, which help achieve the best possible Google ranking, businesses, online shops, and web served are attracting the attention of consumers whose search behavior is constantly changing. For example, in the recent past, Amazon has become the first place to go for many users when they’re looking for a specific product.
Considering such a development, it’s hardly surprising that a large part of online retailers sell their own goods through this portal. Many seems not to know, though, which criteria the Amazon search algorithm uses to display its results. But if you’re even a bit engaged in the exciting world of Amazon optimization, you can not only improve your positioning in the product search results, but also your sales prospects.
- What exactly is behind Amazon SEO?
- Why Amazon SEO optimization is worth its weight in gold for any online retailer
- Which ranking factors are there on Amazon?
- Amazon SEO optimization: The most important steps to top placement
- Step 1: Product and web advertisement analysis
- Step 2: Keyword research
- Step 3: Keyword optimization of your Amazon products
- Step 4: Performance analysis
- Improve Amazon ranking: Good placement is half the fight
What exactly is behind Amazon SEO?
Nowadays, everybody has probably heard something about search engine optimization (SEO). Even though Google is usually assigned the highest value in this context, the search engine giant is by far not the only starting point for a good SEO campaign. In principle, this marketing discipline can be applied whenever a search algorithm is used to sort results according to various factors. Optimization of content for a classic web search concentrates on Google’s search machine, since it has dominated over 60% of the market share in the USA in recent years (the chart put together by comScore breaks down the respective market shares of the other search engines as well.
But when it comes to specifically searching for a product, Amazon gives Google a run for its money - it has evolved from a simple online mail-order business for books to one of the most important e-commerce platforms on the globe: More and more users are choosing to bypass the standard search engine and instead search directly on Amazon for their desired product. There, the search phrase entered is matched by the in-house A9 algorithm with the complete catalog to present the user with a list of the best results, which ideally will contribute to a later purchase.
Since the A9 algorithm is just as random as Google’s algorithm with its placement of results, the Amazon ranking can be actively improved - even if A9 evaluates significantly fewer factors than, for example, the Hummingbird algorithm used by Google. Amazon SEO requires fewer tasks as a result, but the individual measures have an even higher value.
Why Amazon SEO optimization is worth its weight in gold for any online retailer
If you want to harness the power of search engines for your web project, you won’t get very far without SEO. The competition is so fierce in many industries that you can only be noticed by using the proper optimization measures. Otherwise, high-volume competitors will easily cut you out, greatly reducing your chance of conversions. The situation is very similar when you offer products on Amazon as a retailer: If you don’t use ranking optimization, you leave an affordable and effective resource for improving your visibility untapped.
For this reason, Amazon SEO should play an important role in your planning for both short- and long-term success. Increasing the number of your products that hold high positions in the rankings also increases the likelihood that users will examine your offer more carefully - and ultimately, increase the chance that they will also buy your products.
Which ranking factors are there on Amazon?
The previously mentioned A9 algorithm takes into account two particular types of factors when classifying the offerings on the e-commerce platform:
- Relevance factors
- Performance factors
The first factor has to do with the basic information describing a product that is listed on Amazon. As a retailer, you can directly influence this information, which is why increasing the relevance of your product presentation is the main focus of Amazon SEO. Important elements here are - not surprisingly - the product title, bullet points, and keywords that you place in the Amazon backend. Of course, the actual product description is also relevant for the ranking. The basic units that you need for the optimization of these factors are the well-known keywords from traditional search engine optimization.
If the Amazon algorithm has filtered out all articles from the product catalog whose product data matches the user’s search, the second step is to show off the performance factors. The algorithm evaluates how well the selected products have performed thus far, with user responses playing an important role. Among others, A9 takes into account the click and conversion rates as well as the customer satisfaction. You can only exert a minimal influence on the performance ranking - for example, by only letting your product be ranked for matching search terms. The ranking mainly results from your general success on the sales platform and your user satisfaction.
Amazon SEO optimization: The most important steps to top placement
If you already have experience in traditional search engine optimization, you’ll be able to recognize many well-known elements in the following sections about specific means of Amazon optimization. Despite all of the similarities, there are also still points of differentiation between the two search engines and their respective optimization techniques.
For example, with Amazon SEO link strength has no effect on the ranking. External links to your products ideally still help bring you additional sales - but the link structure for Amazon optimization doesn’t have a high value when compared to Google offpage SEO. Another noticeable difference is the structure of the standard user requests, i.e. the way that users utilize the respective search engine. While Google can interpret and answer complex search phrases on its own, the Amazon search is designed for short, precise, and, above all, product-specific search queries that are almost always backed by a clear buying intent.
Step 1: Product and web advertisement analysis
In the first step of Amazon optimization, as is well known from other marketing measures, it’s necessary to subject the individual product or products as well as the corresponding market to a fundamental analysis. The better you know your product and can describe it, the higher your chances to conduct successful keyword research. A clear photo of the products and their unique characteristics makes it easier for you to, for example, determine potential main keywords. It also provides you with valuable input for the creation and formulation of bullet points during later product maintenance.
Design your product description to be detailed and creative - but without straying too far from the actual product characteristics. Otherwise, incomplete or entirely false descriptions as a result of a hasty or unrealistic product assessment quickly lead to dissatisfied Amazon users, and so a worse rating in the long-term.
As soon as you’ve compiled the key features and strengths of your products as well as a short list of preferred main keywords, you can start to pay attention to the competition. Acquaint yourself with which offers rank particularly well on the desired search terms and which suppliers are behind the respective products. In this way, you can better evaluate your chances of success, research keyword synonyms, and collect valuable ideas for the conception of your product pages. Analyzing prices and delivery conditions can also influence individual Amazon sales strategies.
Step 2: Keyword research
Comprehensive keyword research is just as important for Amazon SEO optimization as it is for classic search engine optimization. While Google offers an in-house tool for the determination of search volumes with the AdWords keyword planner, Amazon is still missing such means.
Research with the AdWords keyword planner
Fortunately, you can also use the Google tool for researching keywords for the e-commerce platform. You simply have to pay attention to the previously mentioned difference in user search behavior in order to obtain significant results in the end.
From the results of the research with the keyword planner, you have to determine which keywords play a role for Google but are ultimately irrelevant to Amazon ranking optimization. This is especially true for transactional and informational keywords, as the following example illustrates:
If you ask the keyword planner to display relevant keywords for the search term “printer”, the tool will present you with the following search results (among others) that enjoy high search volumes:
- “best printer”
- “printers for sale”
- “printer comparison”
- “printer test”
- “refilling printer cartridges”
- “printer problem”
A user on the Amazon search machine wouldn’t use any of the search terms listed above. Since they’re already on a sales platform, they know that they don’t need to explicitly state their intent to purchase something. They also wouldn’t be turning to the Amazon search for tips on problems with a specific printer. So for Amazon SEO, these phrases are irrelevant, even if they have a high search volume on other search machines.
Research with Amazon keyword tools
The ever-increasing significance of Amazon for e-commerce is obviously not lost on providers of SEO tools. Now there are individual services that are specifically targeted on Amazon searches. The company MerchantWords, for example, built a database with over 170 million international keywords (in English, German, Italian, Spanish, and French, among others) that you can use for your Amazon keyword research for a monthly fee. In addition to an estimated value for monthly search volume, the tool also identifies the product categories in which many keyword suggestions frequently appear.
Also interesting is the tool Sonar, which can be used for free as part of the online analysis platform Marketplace Analytics. The web application shows you the search volume of the desired keyword as well as various alternative suggestions. It uses a rating scale to do this, where the value 1 means a very low, and volume 5 is a very high search volume. The underlying database is regularly updated and already has over 110 million English keywords, according to the provider.
Research via Amazon auto-complete
The Amazon search machine, like Google, has an auto-complete feature. While the user is entering a search query, the feature automatically provides suggestions for the auto-completion of the searched term. It also provides related keywords and presents the most important product categories for each keyword entered.
Random sample entries don’t only help you identify valuable keywords for your SEO strategy. They also are the quickest way to test the suitability of certain keywords on your temporary list. This way, you can reduce the risk of using a keyword with a high search volume that’s actually entered by users for something entirely different than your product.
Structuring and hierarchy of your Amazon keywords
A good keyword set isn’t simply characterized by containing relevant search terms. During the research process, you should also attempt to make the list as clear and user-friendly as possible. You might find it difficult to reach the full potential of your research results, especially with complex Amazon SEO campaigns that contain lots of keywords and keyword combinations. A common practice is to arrange related keywords in clusters. The aim is to divide your set into multiple groups, such as “general”, “longtail”, “seasonal”, or “competition” and therefore simplify the overview.
The last step before preparing your product pages is to set your researched search terms into a hierarchy. Use the search volume values displayed by the tools mentioned above, taking into account the information obtained by the product and competition analysis, to create the most promising and successful ranking order possible.
Step 3: Keyword optimization of your Amazon products
After successfully completing your research, it’s all about using the acquired knowledge practically: You need to place the gathered keywords in such a way so that they help your products achieve the best possible positioning in the Amazon search results. The most important structures are - as previously mentioned - the Amazon backend, product description, title, and bullet points.
Title (main keywords)
The product title is an incredibly important criteria, not only for the ranking but also for users. For your potential customers, it is - in addition to the product image- the first thing they see of your product. In many cases, a well or poorly formulated title is enough to decide whether or not an entry in the search results is clicked. In addition to all of the formalities and information that you’ll find in the following list, you should always keep an eye on the formulation and reading flow. For a high ranking in the Amazon search results, it’s beneficial to have the following features:
- Maximum length of 200 characters - including spaces
- Main keyword(s) should appear in the first 60 to 80 characters
- No ASCII (type 1) characters or special characters
- The first word should always begin with an uppercase letter, unless it’s a conjunction, an article, or a preposition with fewer than five letters
- Meaningful product information (brand, product name, material, color, size, etc.) should be given already in the title
- It should highlight special features of the product
- No product numbers
If you want to improve your Amazon ranking, you won’t be able to do it with a title like “Philips GC-3811/70”. A product title like “Philips GC 3811/70 Azure Performer steam iron, 2.400W, 160g steam, SteamGlide Plus, white/turquoise” would be much more promising, which provides useful additional information on the product for both the users and for the Amazon search algorithm.
Bullet points (important keywords, synonyms)
Bullet points are also an element of your Amazon produce pages that’s equally important for both customers and ranking. Increasing the findability in the product search and at the same time providing a good shopping experience can be a difficult balancing act, though: While on the one hand, the goal is to ensure a high keyword density, you must not ignore information content and readability in your structure. One look at the bullet points should convey to interested users what characterizes your product and makes it a valuable purchase. So it makes sense to include as many of the most important keywords as possible - including appropriate synonyms - in the point-by-point presentation of the product. You should also consider the following points for the design:
- Maximum 150 characters per bullet point
- Use keywords that aren’t used in the title
- No repetition of keywords (doesn’t increase relevance)
- No price or shipping information
- Use of singular or plural doesn’t matter for the A9 algorithm
- Write all numbers as digits
- No special characters
- Capitalize the beginning of each bullet point
It’s useful to arrange the information hierarchically, starting with a general summary of the product. Following that, the essential functions and further properties can be presented. Additional information, such as delivery details, are best presented at the end of the list.
With the help of bullet points, you can highlight the features and merits of your product in a prominent location - right under the product title. If you take the necessary care for the creation of these points of Amazon SEO optimization, you increase the chance that interested users will be persuaded by your offer.
Amazon backend (important keywords, synonyms, alternative spellings)
With your retailer account, you have the possibility to record Amazon backend keywords for your respective products. Currently, there are 250 characters available to you (since April 2017) for the corresponding “General Keywords” section - places that you should use wisely. Enter the most important keywords and synonyms (other than the keywords used in the title), separated by spaces, into the rows one after another. Cover search terms that can be written together as well as separate by using the respective hyphen option. The keyword “printer-jet”, for example, can also successfully be found with the user searches “printerjet” and “printer jet”.
“Platinum keywords” have no influence on Amazon SEO. These keywords don’t improve the findability of a product, and are used exclusively for non-promotional measures. Unless you’re a retailer with platinum status, these lines are irrelevant.
When you populate the backend with the keyword set, various simplifications make it so there’s not much you have to notice. The following aspects play no role in the interpretation of keywords:
- Upper- or lowercase
- Special characters
- Filler words
Since Amazon users can’t see your backend activity, you can also safely incorporate regional, colloquial, or misspelled keywords. In the event that you’ve entered all important keywords and synonyms and still have available characters, you can push your ranking further with alternative spellings that aren’t suitable for a serious product page.
With the new keyword categories “Target Audience”, “Subject Matter”, “Other Attributes”, and “Intended Use”, you can give additional key phrases that help Amazon to categorize your product.
Product description (Secondary keywords)
The description of your product isn’t very important for Amazon ranking and optimization. You definitely shouldn’t abandon keywords entirely, but elaborate SEO measures aren’t necessary. Your freedom to formulate the “sales talk” in the form of text is correspondingly big, as it should include minimum 1,000 and maximum 2,000 characters (including spaces). Feel free to craft an emotional and personal address according to the AIDA model to strengthen the inclination of potential customers to buy your product. As opposed to the title and bullet points, the product description offers the benefit that you can elaborate fully on the unique features and other characteristics of your product.
Even if you can decide for yourself how the description of your product looks, Amazon has listed some possible information and details in its Quick Start Guide that should probably be avoided in product descriptions. The following points are included, among others:
- Retailer name
- E-mail address
- Website URL
- Company or shop details
- Details of other related products
To present your advertising text in an attractive way, you can format it with simple HTML tags and structure it with line breaks, lists, and bold type.
Step 4: Performance analysis
SEO isn’t a one-time process on Amazon either, which is finished with the implementation of the developed keyword strategy. After successfully completing the optimization measures, you should closely follow how these affect your rankings, customer satisfaction, and your entire sales performance in general. It’s also important to keep an eye on the competition, so that you notice price changes or other shifts in strategy (for example, in terms of keyword optimization) in a timely manner and can react accordingly. Differently from the monitoring of your own web project, you have to sacrifice the monitoring of product page data such as impressions, click rate, or visit time, which makes the exact analysis of sales figures and customer reviews all the more important.
Without tools, this undertaking is difficult to handle, so using Amazon SEO tools is recommended. Following is a short portrait of the tools AMZ Tracker, Amazon SEO from Sellics, and XOVI Marketplace Amazon SEO.
Amazon monitoring with AMZ Tracker
Retailers using AMZ Tracker for their Amazon SEO optimization are supported with an array of tracking tools and various methods for boosting keyword effectiveness. An on-page analyzer shows you a point by point breakdown of your page for each product listing, with suggestions on recommended content and current statistics. The tool tracks your keywords, offering research and suggestions as well as an SEO tool to boost keyword rankings. Customer reviews with negative feedback are caught by the tool as soon as their posted, and you’re sent an immediate notification so that you can instantly address customer concerns and avoid damage to your store’s rating.
Web advertising at a glance with Amazon SEO from Sellics
The all-in-one SEO solution from Sellics offers a number of features for measuring, researching, and improving all aspects of your Amazon retail presence. The tool’s profit dashboard lets you view the success of your Amazon products at a glance, and a PPC manager gives you even more insight into your shop’s performance. Further features allow you to not only research keywords and optimize your own products, but also to explore the most profitable products offered by other vendors, and learn what works and what doesn’t. Active competitor monitoring tracks the sales of rival products and gives you performance insight as well as notifications of any strategy changes by the competition. Poor reviews can be immediately managed via instant notifications as well as a review analysis feature.
Success on Amazon with XOVI Marketplace
Monitoring and spying on the competition is made especially easy with the Amazon SEO tool from XOVI Marketplace. In addition to analyzing your own products and keywords in comparison with those of the competition in order to maximize your effectiveness, the tool also analyzes other vendors, brands, and products available on Amazon. This allows you to see which products and strategies are successful, as well as which are in the most direct competition with the products that you’re trying to sell. The tool’s monitoring and sales spy takes this to another level by actively tracking your top keywords and products so that you can immediately react to changes in the competition. Results are tracked daily, and delivered in overviews by the day, week, and month.
Improve Amazon ranking: Good placement is half the fight
Every retailer can use an elaborate SEO strategy to sell products on Amazon, if it pleases them. Product pages riddled with keywords that also flaunt good readability and a high level of informational content display your effort not only to the search algorithm, but also to potentially customers. The sooner you start with your optimization, the sooner the performance factors mentioned above, such as click rate, will be given an additional boost.
But in all the well-deserved excitement, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget: A good ranking, customers, and positive retention are only achieved if the descriptions and offer deliver the high quality that they’ve promised. This doesn’t only have to do with the product, but also with the service factors such as availability, delivery time, or your overall support services. Don’t make false promises, and your ranking will receive a little polishing. Instead, also search for new ways and strategies for improving the quality of your products, your Amazon presence, and your services, especially in the long term.
Amazon also gives you the option to conduct SEA. As an Amazon retailer, you can choose from the three mobile-friendly advertising formats “Sponsored Products” or “Headline Search Ads” (both keyword based) and “Product Display Ads” (product or interest targeting), which all function on a PPC (pay-per-click) basis. While the first two types of offers appear directly in the search result pages, the latter appears directly on the product detail page. Compared to Google ads, the costs per click on Amazon are fairly inexpensive. In combination with the generally good conversion chance that the online sales platform offers, this makes SEA a worthwhile marketing solution for selling via Amazon - provided you have the necessary budget.