Unless you have an unlimited ad budget, you’re going to need to understand Amazon SEO.
Without Amazon SEO your products aren’t going to be found by your customers.
Do you know what happens to listings that stay stuck on the fifth page of Amazon? Not much, that’s the problem.
You want sales, and you probably want them to start happening organically.
This article will walk you through Amazon SEO, and tell you what you need to know for 2021.
Let’s start with understanding how Amazon’s algorithm functions.
What Is The A9 Algorithm?
Amazon’s A9 algorithm was developed to operate as a search engine.
A9 will comb through the keywords entered in your product titles, product descriptions and backend keywords to find the most relevant matches to the shopper’s search term.
But since Amazon is a marketplace and sells products instead of providing information, there is an important distinction in its criteria beyond the keywords.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm looks at other elements that they believe are most likely to result in sales.
Amazon gets paid once a sale is made, so they aim to place the products most likely to get a shopper to hit “add to cart” at the top of the search results.
Basically, A9 works in two steps.
The first is filtering products by their keywords and the second step is weighing in the factors Amazon considers most likely to get sales, such as past product performance.
What Factors Influence the A9’s Search Rankings?
Amazon hasn’t released the data on everything that is included in their algorithm.
They aren’t going to give away their secrets to other companies or make it easier for sellers to “hack” their way into ranking higher.
However, we do know a few of the factors that are considered for certain and can assume quite a few others based on past results.
We know that the following factors influence Amazon’s search rankings:
• Keywords – Without keywords, A9 doesn’t know how to categorize your product.
• Stock – Amazon prefers products that are kept in stock, preferably enrolled in the FBA program.
• Delivery Time – Amazon favors products that are Prime eligible.
• Price – If your product’s price is significantly higher than others within the same category it will hurt your ranking.
We assume that the following factors are considered in Amazon’s rankings:
• Sales Performance
• Click-Through Rates
• Customer Reviews
Only Amazon knows how the different factors are weighted within the algorithm, and they aren’t telling.
This means we have to work with the information we have to optimize our listings, including testing keywords for our products.
What is Amazon SEO?
Amazon SEO revolves around keywords, like most search engines.
Keywords are how you get discovered.
If you don’t get discovered, you don’t get sales. It’s as simple as that.
And Amazon prides itself on providing the most relevant results to their customers’ searches.
The algorithm matches the search term entered by the customer with the keywords in your product listing to show the right products to the right shoppers, in a nutshell.
How To Optimize Your Amazon SEO?
Optimizing your Amazon SEO is more complex than assuming you know what your customers are searching for and adding those keywords to your product title and product description.
It requires research on your customers and competitors, as well as your keywords, before listing your product.
Once you have done your research then you can start to work on your on-page and backend optimization.
Let’s take a look at the process step-by-step.
Amazon SEO Pre-Optimization
The first step in optimizing your SEO is knowing who you are trying to sell to and what they are searching for.
It also helps to know how your competitors are already positioning themselves on the platform.
Before you decided on your product, you likely did competitor analysis to see what other products were on the market and how they were being marketed, or their unique selling proposition.
Now you can use some of that information to optimize your product listing.
You’ll want to look for holes in the market that your product can potentially fill.
Or more specifically, holes in your competitor’s keyword strategy.
Ask yourself these questions when doing your competitor analysis:
1. Does your product offer a key feature that your competition doesn’t have? Maybe your product has more colorways or improved technical features.
2. What percentage of the market do your competitors currently have? Is there one competitor that is leading the pack, or is it split up between several brands?
3. How does the pricing of your product compare to others that are similar?
4. How are they positioned? Are they a premium brand or budget-friendly?
5. What keywords are they running ads for?
Look at how your competition is presenting their products in their listings.
Chances are they are successful for a reason, and you can learn a few things from their strategy.
CREATE TARGET AUDIENCES & BUYER PERSONAS
To create target audiences, you need to determine:
• Who you are selling to
• What they care about
• Why they should trust you
• What information they need to have to buy
Once you can answer these questions, you’re off to a good start.
This part is important once we get to the on-page optimization because it will inform how you write your product description.
When developing your audience, you’ll likely have multiple buyer personas.
For example, a brand selling baby changing pads has a target audience of new moms but may have three buyer personas within that audience.
1. A first-time mom that has never needed a changing pad.
2. A first-time mom that is unhappy with her current changing pad.
3. A mom with other children who is looking for an upgraded changing pad.
You’ll want to know what each of those personas is typing in the search bar and need to see in your description to purchase your product.
You might have multiple audiences in mind but focus on one at a time so your strategy doesn’t get muddled.
Pro tip: Go look at reviews of other products your customer buys and see how they talk. It helps you to develop Voice of Customer data you can use in your product descriptions. Then you can speak to your customer in their own words.
We can’t talk about SEO and not talk about keyword research of course.
You need keywords in your product title, description and the back end of your seller’s account.
We’ll go over how to set each of these up later, but before we get there, you have to have your keyword data.
You can gather keyword data manually by typing in phrases you think your customers will use to find your product in the search bar and letting Amazon autosuggest do the work.
Or you could use one of the many keyword tools on the market.
A little of both is a good idea to be sure you’re covering all your bases.
If you have your own site, you could also find out what you are ranking for on Google and target the same keywords on Amazon.
We have an in-depth guide to keyword research you should go take a look at when you reach this step.
Setting up keywords for your products is not a one-and-done task.
Amazon is constantly changing with new products being added, reviews being given, and even algorithm changes.
That means you have to keep up with your keywords.
You’ll want to track where you are ranking for each of your keywords at least weekly.
There are tools that can help with this.
Helium 10 offers a keyword tracker as part of their suite of products that have received good reviews.
It’s important to discover early if your keyword starts to drop so you can act quickly to identify the problem and come up with a new strategy.
On-Page SEO Optimization for Amazon Product Listings
Now let’s get into why you’re really reading this article – on-page optimization.
This is where you put all the background information into action to get your products in front of customers.
Amazon SEO encompasses six things:
1. Product Title
2. Product Bullet Points
3. Product Description (or A+ Content)
4. Backend Keywords
5. Product Category
6. Product Images
To rank, you’ll need to optimize each of these pieces. We don’t know which pieces hold the most weight in the algorithm, so you’ll want to make each part as strong as you can.
OPTIMIZING YOUR PRODUCT TITLE
Your product title is the first information potential customers have about your product.
The product title and the main image are the two biggest pieces of information shoppers have to go on to decide if they are going to click-through to your product or not.
No click-through = No sale.
Think about what your customer needs to see in your product title to make them want to click.
Amazon recommends that you include your brand, type of product, material, color and quantity.
Keep these factors in mind when developing your keyword title:
• Cannot exceed 200 characters (Mobile view only shows around 70 characters)
• Front-load your most valuable keywords in your product title
• Avoid keyword stuffing
• Review the Amazon Style Guide if you’re unsure
If your title is too short, it may not provide enough information. On the other hand, your title can get cut off if it’s too long on some screens.
Your best bet is to meet somewhere in the middle and be sure the first 5-7 words convey the most important parts of your product.
Bullet points are the meat of your product description.
It’s where your customers can scan all the benefits of your product quickly.
What you want to remember about keywords in your bullets is that while they are important, they are not the main focus.
The main focus is getting customers to purchase.
You don’t want to add keywords for the sake of adding keywords that take away from what the customer needs to see to buy your product.
Your bullets need to be user-focused with keywords added in where they make sense.
When writing your bullet points you need to realize that your customers aren’t buying the features of your product (generally), they are buying what those features mean – the benefits of your product.
If your headphones have a longer battery life than the competitors, don’t simply write “18-hour battery life”. Instead, write something like “18-hour battery life to keep you listening through your commute”.
Don’t assume your customer will infer the benefit, be sure to include it.
Make sure you are checking reviews on similar products before writing your bullets. You may find a common complaint that your product solves to add here.
Some other important factors you need to include in your bullets are any supplemental information with your product like how-to guides or recipe books, for example, and if your product comes with any form of guarantee.
Both of those build trust with your customers. Trust that your product will do what you say it will and that you will be there to help them if it doesn’t.
These pieces are especially important for more expensive products, and products that are new/possibly confusing to your audience.
Keep in mind that each bullet has to be 200 bytes (not characters), so you’ll need to be clear and concise with your phrasing.
The standard product description is the small block of text under your product.
In your product description, you want to be careful not to make that text block too long, or customers will be less likely to read it.
Your product description should include relevant keywords that you haven’t used elsewhere in your listing.
Also, be sure to write your product descriptions in cohesive sentences. Product descriptions that are made up of run-on phrases with no punctuation or formatting don’t serve your listing.
A+ CONTENT OPTIMIZATION
If you are on the Brand Registry, you get to upgrade your product description through A+ content.
A+ content enables you to bring your product description to life.
Instead of the plain block of text, you can add enhanced images and text to tell a story and bring your product to life.
With A+ content, you should aim to:
• Answer any product questions your customers may have
• Show your product in multiple settings/uses
• Build your brand representation
It’s important to note that keywords are not valuable in A+ content as Amazon does not index them.
A+ is in place to help build your product up to get more conversions, which is a piece of the algorithm.
But for search purposes, make sure you are adding all your important keywords in the product title, bullets/description and in your backend through your seller account.
Your backend keywords are the keywords you can enter in your seller account that aren’t customer-facing.
Since your customers won’t see these keywords, this is where you can include audience or competitor specific terms that don’t make sense in your product title or listing.
Backend keywords space is limited to 250 bytes, so you’ll need to be selective with what you enter.
Be sure that the terms you choose make sense for your product. Just because your customer doesn’t see them doesn’t mean that you should enter a high-volume, unrelated keyword in the hopes to get in front of more shoppers.
Remember that you don’t need to repeat keywords already used and that you don’t need to include punctuation or plural forms.
While a strong keyword strategy is the biggest part of Amazon SEO, don’t underestimate the importance of product images.
The images themselves aren’t indexed on Amazon, so they don’t have a direct effect on SEO, but they do have a major indirect effect.
If your product images are poor, you aren’t going to get click-throughs, and you certainly won’t get sales.
And at that point, the best SEO strategy in the world will not keep you high in the search results.
1. Technical Requirements for Amazon Product Images
Amazon recommends that images be 1,600 pixels or larger in height or width (the longest side), and at least 500 pixels on the shortest side. They set this as the minimum size so that images can be zoomed in on which has been shown to increase product sales.
JPEG format is preferred, but images can also be added in TIFF, PNG or GIF.
Some categories (like clothing) have additional guidelines, and you’ll need to refer to the Amazon Style Guides for further information.
2. The Main Product Image
Your main product image is the image that is shown in the search results making the quality of this image especially important.
The main image should be your strongest image. The image should show your product in a way that makes your product’s features clear to the customer.
Amazon requires that your main product image:
• Be of your unpackaged product
• Have your product occupying 85-100% of the image
• Display only your product – no props allowed
• Be on a white background (RGB: 255, 255, 255)
• Include no text or graphics
If your click-through rates aren’t as high as you’d like, you should test alternate main images to see if you get any improvement.
3. Additional Images on Your Product Page
You should use your additional product images to provide more visual context to your customers.
You’ll want to show your product from multiple angles or in different use states, and include at least one up close photo that showcases its details.
Ideally, you’ll also include lifestyle images. Images that show your product in its natural environment.
If you feel like your packaging will help sell your product, you could also include an image of your packaged product.
Images that include explainer text often help customers make their decision.
These images are known as benefits-driven images.
Benefits-driven images point out a specific benefit of the product or explain a feature of the product to make the benefit more clear.
Often shoppers will look through your product images before they read your product description to determine if they think it will fit their needs.
Plain product images don’t allow you to grab your customer’s attention in the same way benefits-driven images do.
You’ll want to include a few of these images on your listing.
RANKING ON GOOGLE AND AMAZON
Yes, this article is about Amazon SEO, but why not rank in both Amazon and Google?
Given Amazon’s high domain authority, many of the products listed there are shown in Google results.
Google results will include your customer ratings, so you’ll want to be sure you are generating positive reviews to help you get the click-through.
To help your products be shown in the Google results, you’ll want to be sure you’re including your top keywords in the front of your product title so that they are included in the URL of your listing.
When doing your initial keyword research, you can also check popular terms entered in Google that start with “Amazon” and try to include them in your product title if they are a good fit.
Let’s say you sell LED lights, you can go to Google and type “Amazon LED” and see what long-tail keyword suggestions come up.
Amazon reviews matter. Unlike social media likes, they aren’t a vanity metric.
Not only does the algorithm take into consideration product reviews, so do your potential customers.
1. Do Amazon reviews influence where your product ranks in the search?
Product reviews are one of the suspected indirect ranking factors. Your product rating, or an average of your reviews, is shown in the search results. This means that it impacts your CTR and your sales, performance factors Amazon is going to consider when determining your product’s ranking.
2. How do you increase the number of Amazon reviews for your product?
There are a couple of options for increasing your product reviews. If you are just starting and are a Registered Brand, you could try the Amazon Vine program.
In general though, customers are more likely to give you a review if you provide a stellar product with friendly and helpful customer service when they need it.
3. How can you increase your product rating?
The best way to increase a product rating is to interact with the feedback you receive from your customers or potential customers. Answer all product questions kindly and promptly. Respond to both positive and negative customer reviews, especially negative customer reviews. You need to show prospective customers that you stand behind your product. This helps products with limited and/or some negative reviews.
Increasing Keyword-Driven Sales
The whole purpose of learning Amazon SEO is to build organic sales.
You want to increase sales generated by keywords to lower your ACoS, and possibly to offset the cost of ads.
There is no overnight secret to sales through Amazon SEO. You have to do the background work and let it build over time.
You have to do the basics well, or you have no foundation to build on.
If you have followed the steps outlined in this guide but aren’t seeing an increase in sales from keywords, look at these things first:
How are your keywords performing?
If the keywords you started with aren’t producing results, then it’s time to test new ones. Go back to the drawing board, starting with competitor and audience research.
Are there issues with your other performance metrics?
Maybe your keywords are getting you clicks but you aren’t getting conversions. At this point, you should look at how your product description is written. They need to be benefits-focused and not keyword focused. You also want to look at your product photos and reviews and compare them against competitor listings to see how they stack up.
Are you playing nice with Amazon’s algorithm?
After you’ve ruled out your keywords, descriptions, photos and reviews as the problem, you have to look at your listing from Amazon’s perspective. Amazon wants your product to be similarly priced to other products like yours. It also wants your products to be kept in stock and Prime eligible. All of those pieces help drive sales and make Amazon more money. If your products are missing the mark on any of those pieces, that may be the issue.
Now you’re ready to improve your product’s ranking.
You’ll need to take the time to start with strong keywords and continue to stay on top of them and their performance.
Don’t forget that while keywords are the basis of Amazon SEO, the algorithm considers performance metrics, and that requires your entire listing, including product images, to be top-notch.
It will take some time to see your Amazon SEO efforts pay off, but that’s part of building organic sales.