Last updated on April 30th, 2021 at 02:42 am
Every Amazon Seller knows that optimizing their listing will have a direct impact on product rankings—and hence sales.
But most sellers have no idea how to craft a winning Amazon SEO strategy.
In fact, most don’t even know how the Amazon Search Engine works.
I don’t blame anyone… there are a lot of misconceptions about how Amazon SEO works, and it can get quite complicated.
That’s why in this article we’ll go over everything you need to know about Amazon SEO, including:
- Understanding how Amazon’s A9 algorithm works inside & out so you know exactly what it wants from high-ranking product listings
- How to find the right keywords so the algorithm can successfully rank your product pages
- How to craft a winning SEO strategy so you can break into the top 5 in the search rankings for your main keywords
Let’s get to it.
What is Amazon SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about getting in front of as many potential customers as possible.
In the real world, brick and mortar businesses compete to open up shop in the most popular areas in town. But in the digital world, this means getting onto page 1 for as many search queries as possible.
In fact, according to Google 95% of all search traffic comes from page 1. So if you’re not on the first page, you’re missing out on 95% of your potential customers! It’s essentially the same as opening up a huge retail shop in the middle of rural Alabama.
Just like Google, Amazon users rarely venture past the first page.
This means that ranking on page 1 is the most important thing for your Amazon business. Higher ranking means more potential customers can find your product, which means more sales!
How Does Amazon’s A9 Algorithm Work?
With an almost endless number of products to choose from, Amazon buyers perform hundreds of thousands of product searches every day.
For every single search, Amazon has to decide―within a split second―which products to show you first, then second, then third… and so on.
So what factors does Amazon use to determine the order in which products appear?
Step 1: Keywords Determine if Your Product Should Rank At All
The first step that Amazon takes is to determine if your product is relevant for the customer.
After all, if a customer searches for “garlic press”, and Amazon shows them a Christmas tree, the chances that customer is going to buy a Christmas tree is a big fat zero.
If your product doesn’t contain the most relevant keywords for your specific niche, it cannot appear in the Amazon search engine results page (SERP).
This is why it is so important to make sure you are filling your listing up with as many relevant keywords as possible.
This is so that the search algorithm knows to “index” a certain keyword to one of your ASINs.
Step 2: Performance Determines Ranking
The second step Amazon takes is determining which products are the most likely to be purchased. It’s in Amazon’s best interest to show which listings are most likely to convert to a sale because then they can take a commission out of the seller’s sales.
To figure this out, Amazon measures the performance of listings according to these three metrics: Clickthrough Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate (CR), and plain ol’ fashioned sales.
CTR refers to the number of people who click onto your listing for a specific keyword search. CR is how many of those people actually buy your product. And sales is simply the total number of sales of your product.
It’s crucial to do well for each of these, but the most important one is obviously sales. A high CTR but low conversion rate and sales means many people are clicking onto your listing, but for whatever reason, they aren’t buying. And a 100% CR might not mean anything if only 1 person clicks on your listing per day.
Amazon evaluates performance for each specific keyword separately. For example, a soccer ball will have very different CTRs, CRs, and sales for the keywords “soccer ball” and “soccer ball for kids”.
As you can see, the Amazon ranking algorithm is like a positive feedback loop―the more clicks you get (CTR), the more sales you should see (CR & sales), which boosts your organic ranking, which gets you more clicks, which gets you more sales…
So how do you boost your CTR, CR and sales? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Step-by-Step: How to do SEO for Amazon Products
Thankfully, there are so many different ranking factors and they can all be improved with just a little work.
Conducting Amazon SEO can be divided into 3 steps:
- Content Listing Optimization
- Keyword Optimization
Step 1: Flesh Out the Content in Your Listing
Let’s get started with the first step in optimizing your listing, which is creating and enhancing the content in your listing. This boils down to photos and copywriting.
This is perhaps the most crucial step. If you don’t nail this, almost nothing you do later on will work.
Imagine you had to pick between these two stores… which one would you choose?
Obviously, you would pick the second one.
On Amazon, your listing is basically equivalent to your physical storefront, if you had a brick and mortar store. You need to make it look attractive to pull people in.
Since buyers will see your title in the search results, this is the most important piece of copy on your listing. As such, your product title impacts both your CTR and CR. The title should contain the most important keywords, your brand name, and key USPs.
You’ll want to put the most relevant keywords at the beginning of your product title:
Here are some best practices for your product title:
- Include your brand name
- Focus on the benefits
- Mention a specific ingredient or essential material, if applicable
- Specify the colour and size of your product
- Mention the quantity of your product, if more than one is included per box
Keywords should, of course, be included into your product title. But beware of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing means jamming in as many keywords as possible just for the sake of it.
It’s true that Amazon used to preferentially weight keywords in the title. This is what has caused keyword stuffing to emerge. But now, in an effort to make titles more legible, they have altered the algorithm so that it no longer weights keywords depending on where they appear in your listing.
Hence, keyword stuffing will seriously affect your ranking, because customers will see your title and immediately get turned off.
Products with a simple, clear and detailed title are more likely to improve your CTR and convert. This increase in sales will ultimately help boost your ranking, which will further increase sales.
The main image is the first image you see when you click on a listing, and also the image people see in the search results. Hence, high-quality product images are directly correlated to boosting your CTR.
It’s crucial, therefore, that the main image displays the product in a way that is attractive to customers.
Main images need to fulfill these requirements from Amazon:
- The main image must only contain the main product―no props or accessories.
- The background must be pure white.
- The product must fill 85% to 100% of the image area.
- The product must be fully visible and not cut off.
- The main image must not contain text, graphics or illustrations.
Additional Product Images
Additional product images are only images that can viewed once a person has clicked onto your listing. Hence, they are important in increasing the CR.
Usually, Amazon allows up to nine of these images to be uploaded, but only a maximum of 7 will be displayed at any one time.
Additional product images need to fulfill these requirements from Amazon:
- Must clearly display the product being sold.
- Must be 100% in focus, clearly lit with a true indication of color and size.
- You may include additional products or objects, but only to demonstrate the product itself. They cannot be demonstrated in a way that gives off the impression the product comes with items that are not actually included.
- The product must be fully visible and not cut off.
- Backgrounds are permitted as long as the product is the main focus.
- Text and simple graphics are permitted as long as they are used to highlight and educate the customer about the product.
As you can see, the requirements for additional product images are more lenient, which allows for creativity in how you can present the product. Remember, the goal of these images is to educate the buyer on why they should buy your product. Here are some ideas:
- Additional angles: showing off multiple angles of the product gives customers the feeling that they have seen the entire product, not just what you decided to show. This gives them more confidence in their purchase. This is crucial for certain types of products, like glasses and clothing, where design plays a big part in the buying decision.
- Usage in different states: this helps the customer know what the product looks like and how it functions in different states. This can be important for products like an iPad case, which is designed to fulfill a specific purpose in different states.
- Product in use: the main benefit of a product is, of course, its intended purpose. Highlight this by showing the product in use. Strong imagery allows the buyer to experience how the product will add value to their lives, especially if the product is not easy to use or requires installation.
- Used in different locations: for certain products, it’s important that the customer understands how the product fits into their current environment. Furniture, for example, can really only be fully appreciated by understanding how it fits in with its surroundings. Therefore, a coffee table looks much more appealing when displayed in a living room, for example.
- Lifestyle: customers want to know how the product fits into their current lifestyle. Show how your product fits into their lifestyle and how it enhances it. Even better if the person using the product in the photo looks happy.
- Social: humans have an innate need to be with others, so address the social component that your product may facilitate. Show your product being used with a group of people to demonstrate how it can be experienced together with others.
- Use props to show proportions: adding dimensions with text is ok, but a better way to clarify the size of the product is to show it next to a common everyday object, such as a pencil. You can also show the product being held in someone’s hand.
- Highlight special features and benefits: use this type of photo to demonstrate why your product is different (and better) than other similar products. Rather than just relying on text, try to demonstrate these benefits visually to let the product sell itself.
- Zoom in on special details: if there are important details that enhance the product’s functionality and/or design, but that aren’t prominent in the main image, you should showcase these in a separate photo. The customer will appreciate the extra attention to detail and will feel more confident that they have seen the entire product.
- Show off packaging: for some products, customers couldn’t care less about the packaging, and are ok with receiving it in a basic brown box. But for others, the packaging could influence the overall impression of the product. This is especially true for products that radiate status and a certain lifestyle. It is also important for other products relating to beauty and image, as well as things like supplements where the packaging and branding are really the only ways to distinguish the product from its competitors.
Sales Copy: Creating Persuasive Text that Sells
Stick to these three key principles for writing killer sales copy:
- Inform: Provide all the information about your product as necessary.
- Sell: Highlight the benefits of your product, and explain why they will benefit the customer.
- Present: Structure your content so that the customer can scan it quickly and easily. Craft your sentences in a way that is easily readable.
Focus on optimizing these four key areas when conducting Amazon SEO. Check the relevant Amazon style guide to make sure you’re abiding by the rules:
- Bullet Points: Bullet points highlight key product features and benefits. There is a 200 byte (~200 characters) limit for each bullet point for a total of five bullet points per listing. Since this is only visible after a customer clicks on your listing, it only affects the CR. Keep each bullet point to one benefit each for simplicity.
- Product Description: Many people make the mistake of copying their bullet point info into their product description. Rather, it should act to supplement and expand on the info in the bullet points. Make it easy to read by avoiding super long paragraphs (maximum 3 sentences per paragraph). You’ll need to use HTML code in order to format your text, so you can use an HTML editor to easily convert your text into HTML code, which you can then paste into the product description box.
- Additional Product Information: Provide as much extra information as you can in this field to really flesh out your listing. The more information your customers have, the better! Not only will this help with CR, but Amazon’s algorithm can use this information to increase visibility (e.g. information about size, colour, length etc.).
Amazon A+ Content
Amazon A+ Content is an exclusive feature for brands registered with Amazon.
With various layouts (called “modules”), sellers can combine texts and images to create a vivid description of their brand and the product, giving the standard product description a significant visual enhancement.
There are three main benefits to A+ Content:
- Product Story: with a mixture of images and text, you are not only able to describe your product but tell a story about it in an engaging way to go along with it. Use this to elucidate how your product will benefit your customer and the lifestyle that goes along with it.
- Brand Story: customers don’t just want a good product―they want to also connect with the brand behind the product. Telling your brand’s story builds brand awareness and loyalty, differentiating your product from your competitors and increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases.
- Product Range: comparison charts help your customers discover more about other products you sell, and can help them make a more informed purchase decision. They help keep your customers focused on your product, helping to deter them from getting distracted by (and click onto) other Sponsored Products that appear on your page.
According to Amazon, A+ Content can help increase your conversions by 3-10%. This can also help make your ads more effective (i.e. higher ROAS, lower ACOS).
A+ Content is free for sellers if your brand is registered and you have a professional account, so if yours meets those criteria, there’s absolutely no reason not to go for it.
Step 2: Amazon Keyword Research
Ok, you’ve gotten a bunch of snazzy images of your products and drafted up the most convincing copy in history. Now what?
You’ve forgotten to add one key thing―keywords. The Amazon algorithm isn’t going to know what your product is off the bat.
It needs keywords to help determine what your product is and how relevant it is whenever a customer searches for a certain keyword phrase.
So now, the second step is to search for your product’s relevant keywords and add them into your listing. Here are a few techniques to do that.
When you enter a keyword into the Amazon search bar, it will attempt to autocomplete your query based on what other Amazon customers search for frequently.
Essentially, you are taking advantage of Amazon’s vast database of search terms that real customers use.
Usually, the ones at the top of the search are more likely to be relevant, but make sure you use some common sense to filter out the irrelevant ones.
Your competitors have already done the hard work, so why not take advantage of that? You can search through your top competitors’ listings and copy down all the keywords that you find. Chances are, if they are doing well, you can be confident that their keywords are helping them rank.
Customer reviews can be helpful at times to determine the exact words customers are using to find your product.
Amazon Selling Tools
A lot of Amazon sellers utilize selling tools that are able to find hundreds of keywords. These tools even display the search volume for each of these keywords. We will discuss a few of these later on in the article.
Optimize Your Backend Keywords
Amazon allows you to submit a list of additional keywords that will not appear on the listing itself, but will still count towards ranking.
These are 250 characters max in length, so it’s a great opportunity to make sure you’re covering all your bases.
Here are some tips for how to make the most out of backend keywords:
- These keywords are always ranked as “phrase match”, meaning the order of the words is important.
- You don’t have to repeat keywords. Including a keyword once in your listing is enough.
- Only include the singular or plural version of your keywords—adding both isn’t necessary.
- Capital letters don’t matter.
- Amazon will automatically match small misspellings of keywords, so including every single misspelling of your keywords isn’t a good use of space.
Step 3: Management
Once you have fully optimized your listing, there are five things you can do to continue to improve the SEO of your listings:
- Rank with Amazon PPC
- Improve product reviews
- Adjusting your pricing
- Utilize Amazon FBA
- Maintain inventory
How to Rank With Amazon PPC
The organic ranking of your product depends immensely on its performance, in particular its sales. This also applies to sales derived from ads.
This means you can use PPC to create a snowball effect. More clicks on your listing will (if you’ve done everything right) mean more conversions, which means more sales, which boosts your organic ranking, which means more clicks, which means more conversions… you get the point.
This positive feedback mechanism can be effective when launching new products to the top of page 1!
However, it’s essential you understand how to run an effective PPC campaign first. In fact, if you don’t know what you’re doing you might end up hurting your listing.
As you can imagine, reviews are critical to the CTR, CR and sales of a product. Almost every customer scrolls down and reads the reviews before purchasing a product.
There are two aspects of reviews: the number of reviews, and the star rating.
There are a few ways to increase the number of reviews for your product.
One way is by signing up for the Early Reviewer Program or the Vine program, which incentivizes customers to leave reviews. You can also include inserts in your product to prompt customers to leave a review (but make sure you stay within Amazon’s terms of service).
How do you increase your star rating? First of all, if customers are leaving bad reviews, take the time to read them and see if you can gather suggestions for improvement. Implement these improvements when you reorder stock.
Secondly, respond to your customers’ negative feedback. As the merchant, you can shed insight and offer a different perspective to the bad review. This will help preserve your conversion rate for future customers because it shows you take the time to offer customer service. It may even persuade the customer to delete or amend their bad review.
For more info about this topic, check out our super in-depth guide about getting tons of easy reviews here!
How Do I Price My Amazon Products?
Cheaper does not always mean better!
Studies show that Amazon’s algorithm doesn’t favor cheaper products. This means that you don’t have to have the cheapest product to be competitive and rank high.
In fact, a cheaper price could trigger the buyer to think your product is lower quality than others.
Price influences both the CTR in search results, because customers will compare prices, as well as the CR on the listing itself, as customers will determine if the price is suitable for the product quality, branding, etc.
Getting the price down can be tricky, which is why it may be useful to conduct an A/B split test. Alternate between two prices every 24 hours for 2 weeks and you should have enough data (i.e. CTR, CR, and sales) to determine whether customers favor one price over the other.
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)
FBA products are heavily favored in Amazon’s algorithm.
Only by offering a product through FBA is your product eligible for Prime shipping. That way, you will be able to realize a hefty number of extra sales from Amazon’s continually expanding Prime subscription base.
Unless you have the Prime label on your listing, Prime users will be unlikely to even click on your listing because they want their products delivered quickly.
They are also able to filter out non-Prime products in the search results. This is why it’s so important to take advantage of FBA if you aren’t already.
Run Special Deals or Offers
Any sort of special deal, offer, coupon code or package deal you offer can both directly and indirectly help with SEO.
It can directly help because certain deals will be promoted by Amazon. It can also indirectly boost ranking because it could lead to more conversions, and thus more sales, which then boosts your rank.
While it may or may not hurt your ranking, try to avoid running out of stock, depending on how long you are out of stock for.
If you run out of stock, here are some tips you can take to mitigate the damage:
- Close your listing. This prevents people from clicking onto the listing, thereby preserving your CTR and CR.
- When you get back in stock, use PPC to help drive sales to recover your ranking.
What Are the Best Amazon SEO Tools?
Sellers often take advantage of powerful software to help them perform product listing optimization.
Popular tools include Helium 10, Jungle Scout and Viral Launch, which can help sellers not only find the most relevant keywords but help incorporate them into their Amazon product listing. Check out our article here for a more in depth discussion about these powerful tools.
Amazon SEO Services
As you may probably realize after reading this post, optimizing your listing can get extremely complicated and time consuming. While it is certainly doable on your own, many sellers opt to hire professionals to do all or part of the work for them.
Not only will this save them a lot of time and energy (which they can use to scale their business), sellers can rest easier knowing they can lean on their Amazon listing agency’s knowledge and experience.
You may even save money compared to if you tried to do it on your own!
If you want to hand off all or some of the heavy lifting to an Amazon SEO agency with expertise in all the strategies in this article, learn more about Kenji ROI’s SEO services.