Want to sell on Amazon, but not sure how to stand out? Our Director of Amazon, Shawn Green, will tell you everything you need to know about Amazon SEO, and how to make sure your product is optimized for as many sales as possible.
Amazon has taken the internet by storm, managing to dethrone even Google when it comes to product search.
In fact, 44% of people go directly to Amazon when making a purchase online.
With over 54 million users on Amazon’s Prime service alone, it’s become an essential service for anyone trying to push their product.
But at the end of the day, it’s still a search engine.
Which means if you’re selling on Amazon and want to do well, you’ll need to spend some time ensuring your products are search engine optimized.
Why SEO for Amazon?
Amazon offers over 488 million products.
While that number is great for Amazon and its customers, it’s a little more daunting for those trying to make a name for themselves on the site.
With a number that large, it becomes essential that each seller does everything they can to get their product noticed. Because frankly, showing up on page 20 of the search results just isn’t going to cut it.
But to get noticed, you need to know what your customers are searching for and how to position your product in front of them.
That’s where optimization comes in.
Generally speaking, there are a few reliable factors that will help you rank well in Amazon:
- Optimization of individual product (title, description, etc.)
- Amount of sales and how recent
- Amount of reviews and how recently you generated those reviews
- Conversion rate of how many page visitors purchase your product
While some of these require time, the following willl help control the relevancy and optimization of your listing.
Facts and Stats
Before we jump in, here are a few facts to get you started.
- Amazon ships 35 items every second
- Just one of its fulfillment centers has the capacity to ship up to 1.5 million items per day
- It has grown from $6.9 billion in 2004 to $107 billion in 2015.
- 1 out of every 10 US citizens is a member of the Amazon Prime service
- On average, Amazon receives 4,310 unique site visits per minute
- An average Prime member spends about $1500 per year, while non-prime members spend an average of $625 per year.
- In 2015, 70% of sales were generated through mobile devices
And, a few just for fun:
- Every Amazon employee must spend two days a year working at the customer service desk (even the CEO!)
- Amazon’s fastest delivery took place in under 10 minutes (a four pack of vanilla Frappacino)
- Amazon’s site was down for 49 minutes in 2014, and the site missed out on almost 4.8 million in sales
Clearly, Amazon boasts some impressive numbers.
To make those numbers work for you, you’ll need to work hard to ensure your products aren’t lost in the impressively large sea.
We’re here to help you with that.
First, Research Your Competitors
Your Goal: Find out what’s working for the top sellers, and find a way to differentiate your product.
A little competitive analysis is a good place to start.
Before you begin to flesh out your own page and products, take a look at what those in your niche are doing right (and wrong).
Specifically, you’ll want to look at the top sellers in your industry. Focus on their titles, descriptions, and bullet points. This will give you a solid idea of which words and descriptions work best in your industry.
More importantly, it will help you develop a competitive edge. There are likely many sellers with similar items, and knowing what exactly they have to offer will help you develop ways to differentiate your products.
And of course, pay attention to their reviews. In particular, the negative ones.
Negative product reviews will let you know where your competition falls short, and give you an opportunity to pick up the slack.
Use negative reviews to guide your own product descriptions, and avoid common problems found in poor reviews with your own products.
Do Your (Keyword) Research
Your Goal: Help customers find your products by making a list of relevant keywords and search terms to include in your product listing.
Typically, Amazon shoppers aren’t there to browse. They come to the site with a product in mind and let the search bar do the digging.
And make no mistake – search terms are one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking well.
Take it from Amazon itself:
“Search is the primary way that customers use to locate products on Amazon.com. Customers search by entering keywords, which are matched against the search terms you enter for a product. Well-chosen search terms increase a product’s visibility and sales. The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term – if it’s a relevant and compelling term.”
Lesson learned? Choose your terms wisely. Luckily Amazon gives you plenty of opportunities to index multiple terms, which we’ll cover shortly.
First, you have to find the keywords your customers are searching for.
This should sound familiar to anyone with SEO and content optimization experience, and for good reason; uncovering keywords for Amazon is a similar process, and requires similar tools.
But here’s the catch: Amazon doesn’t exactly make it easy. Products on Amazon can only be found if through search if they contain all of the search terms a user enters into the search bar, which makes relevant keyword research even more important.
Google Keyword Planner is a good place to start. A free account will tell you the estimated search volume for a given term or phrase, as well as related keywords.
Other online tools like SEMrush can help identify the best target keywords for Amazon SEO as well.
Keep in mind that keywords with the most traffic will have strong competition on Amazon.
Oftentimes, it’s best to choose a highly-specific niche keyword, rather than one that’s more generic or overused.
Hidden Keywords and Search Terms
Your Goal: Include all relevant keywords on the backend that didn’t make it into your product title or features.
Though the research process may be somewhat the same, keyword optimization for Amazon does differ from that of other search engines.
Most notably, you’ll want to load up the backend of your products with as many keyword combinations as possible. Amazon calls them “hidden” keywords.
The beauty of the hidden keyword or search term is just that – it’s hidden.
Rather than loading up your product title with a paragraph of keywords no customer wants to read, you simply enter all the keywords related, but not necessarily title-worthy, into the backend search terms.
These won’t be visible to customers, but will still get indexed like the terms used in your titles and descriptions.
This allows you to include common misspellings and variations of different words related to your product – and you’ll want to include as many as possible.
For example, a search for “hair care” yields a little over 1 million results.
But a search for “haircare” produces double that.
Adding to Amazon: Once you’ve found the most relevant keywords for your product, you will enter them into the “search terms” tab in seller central.
Here, you have 5 fields to enter all search terms relevant to your product (even the ones that didn’t make it into the title).
As of 2017, Amazon only allows a maximum 250 characters in the backend search fields. Make sure you narrow down your list to only the most relevant keywords.
Sellics writes an excellent article that covers a few tips to save character count, including:
- Amazon treats all search fields as one set of keywords, so it’s unnecessary to repeat any keywords.
- Use hyphenated words to avoid repetition (ex. “anti-aging” covers “anti,” “aging,” “antiaging”)
- Both singular and plural nouns are automatically included in search, so no need to enter both
- Use single spaces to separate words, not commas
Under the first five search fields, you will also notice a field for “Platinum search terms.” This applies only to sellers with platinum status.
Amazon recommends a few best practices and examples to keep in mind as you enter your terms:
- Don’t include product identifiers such as brand names, product names, ASINs, etc.
- Don’t provide inaccurate or misleading information, including the wrong product category, out-of-context words, etc.
- Put search terms in the most logical order
- Don’t include statements that are temporarily true (ex. “New”, “on sale”)
- Don’t include subjective comments
- Don’t use punctuation in keywords
- Don’t add common misspellings or variants
- Abbreviations, alternate names, key characters (for books, etc.) can be included
Optimize Product Titles
The Goal: Include as many keywords as possible to make your products appear in search results.
Your product title is one of the most important aspects of Amazon SEO. It’s the first thing customers will see, and will determine whether they click through to the product page.
Amazon allows users up to 250 characters in the title. And you should use all of it.
Which means always trying to include: the brand, product features, size (if applicable), and quantity.
(Note: certain categories do require shorter titles.)
With that in mind, remember that you’re talking to humans. Do include technical information like size and quantity, but do it in a way that is easily understandable.
Also remember that you’re trying to sell yourself to shoppers while differentiating yourself from the competition, so try to include product benefits and any unique features.
Jungle Stix’s listing is a great example. It includes all relevant information like size and quantity, as well as providing a benefit right in the title.
Amazon does offer a little help here, and recommends the following:
- Capitalize the first letter of every word
- Spell out measurements (pound, inch, etc.)
- Numbers should be numerals (10 instead of ten)
- The word and, rather than ampersands, should be written out
A word of caution: Overlong titles can often have an adverse effect; rather than enticing customers, it may cause them to skip over your product.
This is why it’s so important to focus on the human element. Try to come up with a title that gets your features across while keeping them clear and enticing.
It’s a little more work, but well worth it in the end.
Optimize the Features (Bullet Points)
Your Goal: Highlight the most important aspects of your product.
Amazon allows you 1,000 characters here, so use them wisely. It’s recommended that you try to include 5 or more bullet points.
It’s another great place to add in keywords for Amazon SEO as well as describe the benefits of your product more in-depth.
When planning these out, ask yourself what your customers would want to know about your product. What value does it add? Why should they buy your product over a competitor’s?
A few more tips to keep in mind:
- Shoppers often skim, so put your most important points at the top of the list
- Include any warranties or guarantees
- Explain what problem your product solves
- Focus on features
- If applicable, include technical aspects like weight and dimensions
- Keep it concise and scannable
There are different opinions concerning the length of bullet point features.
Some, like TWOBIU’s popcorn machine, include as much description as possible:
The content is good. It tells the customer explicitly how to operate, what to avoid, and highlights crucial benefits such as its advantage over microwave popcorn.
The problem? The amount of text could be overwhelming to some customers, and not easily scannable.
That’s why many recommend keeping it simple.
Take it from the experts themselves, Amazon and their Kindle Paperwhite:
It’s short and easily skimmed, but still includes the key features and information.
Your bullet points are also a good time to revisit your competitor analysis and any negative reviews they may have received.
For example, if you’re selling a mobile phone case and notice a few reviews complaining about durability and screen damage, you would want to address those complaints in your product features.
So you would add a few bullet points like this:
- Advanced dual-layer shell made from the highest quality
- Screen protector prevents scratches without compromising sensitivity
Reviews will give you a good idea of what customers look for in similar products, so be sure to use them to your advantage.
Optimize the Product Description
Your Goal: Expand and add to your most important product features.
Due to the prominence of the bullet points, the product descriptions are often overshadowed or overlooked.
But they shouldn’t be neglected. It’s another opportunity to optimize your listing with keywords, and can be used to expand or include any information left out of the main bullets.
This is where you can really embrace the human element rather than focusing solely on the facts. Show customers the benefits of your product.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Customers will still likely be skimming, so keep sentences short and clear
- Include subheadings
- Include any main features, tips, or suggested uses
Your Goal: Entice customers to click through and convert.
We’ll be honest – the pictures are often what seals the deal when it comes to shopping on Amazon.
Because it’s not a tangible shopping experience, customers rely on high-quality, honest photos to help them make purchasing decisions.
The images will have a huge impact on click through rate and conversions, so aim to include at least four or five quality photos. Amazon allows a maximum of nine.
Amazon requires one main image that:
- Has a plain white background
- Is not an illustration or drawing
- Does not include watermarks
- Must feature the product
- The product must fill at least 85% of the image
To ensure the highest quality, the ideal size 1000 pixels x 1000 pixels. You want them as big as possible so they will retain their quality when zoomed in on.
Try to include different angles, and if able and applicable include photos of the product being used and the packaging it comes in.
If you can add a video into the mix, even better.
Pay Attention to Pricing
Your Goal: Position your product in a competitive price range.
Price is an important factor in organic search rankings. And once again, you’ll want to do your competitor research before determining yours.
Look at the ten best performing products and look at their pricing. What’s the most competitive price point for your product?
Actively Work to Increase Reviews
Your Goal: Improve reputation and credibility with customers.
In theory, it’s simple: the more (and better) reviews you have, the more credibility you’ll have with customers and the more sales you’ll make.
In practice, not so much.
While there’s not much you can do to directly increase your amount of reviews, there are ways to encourage users to leave them.
Approach it like you would a Yelp or Trip Advisor page, with an outreach campaign that uses social media, word of mouth, and customer interaction to entice customers to leave positive feedback.
Keep Track of Your Conversion Rate
Your Goal: Monitor your progress and make changes where needed.
Like any other marketing campaign, you’ll to track the success of your products and campaigns.
The best way to do that on Amazon is to keep tabs on your conversion rate.
Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the total number of sales by the number of times people visited your listing, and Amazon includes this information for you in your Seller account.
You’ll find it under Reports > Business Reports > Sales and Reports, and from there the column Order Item Session Percentage.
Based on this, you can tweak your strategy as needed, though keep in mind that conversions don’t necessarily indicate overall profit.
If you do find that your rate is lower than desired, the most important factors to consider changing are:
- Your product images
- Price point
- Number of reviews
So, try uploading a new main picture and see if it your rate improves. If not, consider changing your price to entice purchases (and reviews).
Great Amazon listings start with great products. But those products can’t sell themselves.
To be successful on the site, you must create value around what you’re selling. Make sure you understand – and explicitly state – the benefits your listing will bring.
From there, it’s all about taking the time to optimize correctly.
So do your research. Uncover your competitors. Take the time to find the niche keywords that will guide your customers to your product.
Yes, it takes work. But following the above steps will help you master the art or Amazon SEO, and tap into an audience and opportunity you certainly won’t want to miss.