Amazon SEO: The Quick and Dirty Guide to What’s Working Now
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your web page through a search engine’s organic results. When you get down to it, Amazon is essentially a search engine for products. Its search engine algorithm is called A9 and it has its own set of rules for ranking products.
Amazon SEO is all about increasing the likelihood of your product being found by users in Amazon’s search results. There are three core elements of SEO on Amazon: keywords, click-through rate, and conversion rate.
This is a three-part guide on Amazon SEO that covers each of those elements and it’s worth paying attention to each section in order. The first part is about keyword research and how to identify keywords that will help your products index on the first page of Amazon search results.
Table of Contents
- Part 1: How to Identify Keywords to Rank for
- Keyword Research Summary
- Part 2: Improving Your Amazon Click-Through Rate
- CTR Optimization Summary
- Part 3: How to Improve Your Amazon Conversion Rate
- What is a Conversion Rate?
- Where Can You Find Your Conversion Rate?
- Why Does Conversion Rate Matter?
- Tips for Improving Your Conversion Rate
- 1. Use Quality Product Images
- 2. Optimize Your Content
- 3. Stay on Top of Your Reviews
- 4. Craft Follow-Up Emails
- 5. Offer Variety
- 6. Compare Prices
- 7. Perform Split Testing
- 8. Leverage External Traffic Sources
- 9. Make Use of the “Frequently Bought Together” Section
- 10. Launch an Amazon PPC Campaign
- 11. Run Promotions
- 12. Use Launch Platforms
- Conversion Rate Summary
- Wrapping it All Up
Part 1: How to Identify Keywords to Rank for
Identifying the main keywords for your product is the foundation for successfully launching and ranking your products on Amazon. You must start finding relevant keywords for your product early in the product research process because it will help you determine if a product is even worth launching or if the market is saturated with your product idea.
Relevant keywords are all search terms a customer would use to find your product on Amazon. There are various techniques and tools you can use to come up with a set of relevant keywords that fit both categories.
Keyword Research Techniques
Customer Search Habits
Spend time thinking about what your customer would search for if they were looking for your product. It’s a cliché, but try to put yourself in their shoes. When would they buy your product? What kinds of questions would they have? What words would they use to search for your product?
Once you’ve made a list of all the keywords that come to mind, check on social media to see what type of words people use to talk about the product you’re selling. Maybe they use a generic name (e.g. bullet journal) or an acronym or abbreviation (e.g. bujo). Note down what you find.
Amazon’s Related Items
Your products will be shown in the related items section if a customer’s search terms include keywords in your title, bullet points, product description, or backend. Try to include keywords used in related items relevant to your niche category in a few discreet areas of your product listing. Only do this if you have extra space for keywords. Your main strategy should be to cover keywords that describe your product, synonyms, common misspellings, etc.
You can use Amazon itself for keyword research. If you type a few letters in the search box, Amazon will automatically provide you with suggestions. These autocomplete suggestions are not arbitrarily generated; they are the keyword terms users search for the most.
Using autocomplete to generate keywords requires some patience. Go slowly and follow the name of your product with the letters A to Z, one at a time, and note what suggestions Amazon provides. The suggested categories can also give you an idea of which other categories to list your product in so you can reach more customers.
Look at Competitor Products
Your competition can be a great source of inspiration for keyword research. Check the title and description of products sold by your competitors. You may end up finding keywords you hadn’t thought of. Even just skimming through the product titles can show you keywords you’ve forgotten.
Use a Thesaurus
A thesaurus is probably the most underused resource in keyword research for Amazon SEO. It’s great for coming up with keywords for products that have more than one name. When using a thesaurus to get synonyms, make sure to note common misspellings, plural and singular forms, and words that describe an item (e.g. square, boxy, cubical).
Keyword Research Tools
Jungle Scout is analysis software specifically designed to help sellers find Amazon niche products to sell. It features a database containing tens of thousands of products which you can filter by star rating, number of sales, revenue and a range of other factors.
The company recently launched Keyword Scout—an easy-to-use Amazon keyword research tool that can provide you with high-quality keywords (read our review of the tool here). Keyword Scout can return hundreds of keyword suggestions based on one primary keyword or competitor ASIN. It can show you how many searches are being done with related keywords and provide you with suggested advertising bids for Amazon PPC and HSA ads.
Most keyword research tools use Google or Bing data to make estimates on Amazon search volumes. Keyword Scout gathers actual search volumes straight from Amazon and its results tend to be more accurate.
Sellics is a commercial analytics company that started out as a simple keyword ranking tracker but now offers a suite of tools you can use to optimize rankings, manage reviews, monitor competitors, track performance metrics, and more.
The keyword ranking tool lets you research new keywords, compile a list of possible keyword combinations, and see your competition’s ranking keywords. Sellics features a database containing 180,000,000 Amazon keywords.
AMZ Tracker was one of the first companies to offer analytics software to Amazon sellers. It features tools for keyword research in its repertoire, but they aren’t as accurate as Keyword Scout. The “Find New Keywords” tool can provide you with a list of the words and phrases Amazon would auto-suggest for users in the search bar.
It also has keyword suggestion tool called Deepwords that can give you stats on the estimated monthly search volume for specific keywords and their categories, which is useful for gauging the popularity of keywords.
MerchantWords is another keyword research tool that boasts a database of hundreds of millions of keywords. It can help you uncover highly specific keyword phrases that can boost product visibility and drive sales. It’s a good tool, but it’s not as accurate as Keyword Scout (see the comparison here) and it can’t provide you with bid estimates for PPC campaigns.
Where to Place Keywords
Where you place your keywords matters. Remember to avoid repeating the same keywords in your title, bullet points, and description. Keyword stuffing is also not recommended. Try to make your content sound as natural as possible. Below is a guide for where you should place your keywords.
Amazon has a set of guidelines for coming up with good product titles. The title should contain:
- Brand name
- Size and/or quantity
- Color and/or pattern
For example, “Utopia Bedding Brushed Microfiber Double-Stitched Tailoring Pillow Cases (White, Queen, Set of 12)” is considered a better product title than “White Pillow Cases by Utopia”.
Your most relevant keywords should go into the title, but be discerning with your placement. Your title should appeal to both the search engine and potential customers, so don’t randomly put keywords all over the place.
Titles can’t be longer than 250 characters (including spaces) in most categories, but some categories may have a different maximum title length. Keep your character count on the high end. A case study by Startupbros showed a positive correlation between high character count and conversions.
Bullet points are where you can convey the benefits of your product. Keywords about the top level details of your product such as benefits, materials, and other details, should be used here. Again, don’t randomly stuff your keywords. Make your points sound natural to a human reader.
All remaining top level keywords should go into the product description. You have a lot more space to play with here (up to 2,000 characters) , so use it to make a good sales pitch. This is your last chance to convince a customer to buy, so don’t just throw your keywords into a giant block of text.
Backend Search Terms
Amazon limits backend search terms to only 250 bytes, which is close to 250 characters. Any additional characters won’t be indexed. Your backend search terms should be keywords that you haven’t already used in your title, description, and bullets, such as common misspellings, synonyms, and filler words like “for” or “and”. The order of your keywords is irrelevant, but you should make every character count.
Tip: “prime” is a good backend keyword because a lot of customers usually search for Prime-only products.
Keyword Research Summary
Keyword research is not easy, but it pays off if you put in the required elbow grease. Once you complete your research, you should have an extensive list of keywords that covers all relevant search terms potential customers could use.
The final step is prioritizing your keywords. This is something that occurs naturally as you get further into your keyword research. Estimate the traffic potential of your keywords, the ROI of that traffic, the level of competition, and your chances of ranking. Carefully track all of this data in a spreadsheet and use the information to further optimize your listings.
Focus on the keywords that help you convert and use them for as long as they are profitable. Continually tweak your keywords and experiment to see if you can further improve your ranking. Amazon’s A9 algorithm is always evolving and optimization is an ongoing process.
The next part in this Amazon SEO series will cover Amazon click-through rates with tips on how to tweak your listings to get more clicks and further improve your ranking.
Part 2: Improving Your Amazon Click-Through Rate
So, you’ve created a listing, you’ve done the necessary keyword research and optimized everything, but at the end of the day, you’re still making very few sales. You try your best but you can’t figure out why you’re not getting more clicks. It almost feels like Amazon has personal vendetta against you. We’ve all been there.
The problem is that you’re not getting enough organic search traffic and your click-through rate (CTR) is too low. CTR is the ratio of shoppers that click on your listing to the number of times it’s shown in Amazon search results. It’s one measures of the quality of traffic driven to your products. Anything over 0.5% can be considered a good CTR. Rates below 0.3% are very bad and require immediate attention.
There are several ways to improve your CTR. A well refined and targeted Amazon ad campaign, for example, can increase your CTR as high as 2-3% or more. Below are some strategies that can help you get clicks and improve your overall CTR.
1. Find the Best Price Point
Pricing is one of the most critical steps to success on Amazon. It can greatly impact you click-through rate. Setting a price is a balance of rules and instinct. You need to consider your costs and fees, and the type of image you want to create for your brand.
If the price of your product is $39.99 and similar products in its category are $29.99, you probably won’t get as many clicks as your competitors. On the other hand, your product may end up looking cheap and inferior if it’s $19.99 while multiple similar products are sold for $29.99.
Your price should be competitive but it should also be an amount that makes potential buyers want to click on your listing. Your click-through rate can vary greatly when you change just the last two digits of your price from $.95 to $.99. Try to find that sweet spot where you get the most clicks and sales.
2. Sell FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon)
Amazon was estimated to have 80 million Prime members as of April 2017, which makes up over half of Amazon’s shoppers. These are users who want fast, free shipping, and actively look for listings with the Prime logo. Prime members also reportedly spend almost twice as much as non-Prime members.
Allowing Amazon to fulfill your orders is guaranteed to give you more clicks, but making the switch to FBA can be expensive. Whether or not you can sell FBA will depend on your resources and the type of products you’re selling. Just remember that you’re potentially missing out on more than half of Amazon’s customer base by not selling FBA.
3. Use Professional Product Images
A product’s hero image plays a big role in whether or not a shopper will click on a listing. No one is going to be interested in a product with an image that looks like it was taken in a dark room by an iPhone 5.
Invest in professional shots if you want to increase the perceived value of your product. Make sure your images follow Amazon’s guidelines for product images and consider running tests to see how buyers respond to different pictures of your product.
4. Get More Reviews
Getting reviews has become tougher since Amazon banned incentivized reviews in 2016. The best way to get reviews now is to use Amazon’s feedback system, which you can customize in your Seller Central dashboard.
However, shoppers can opt out of receiving seller feedback from Amazon. You can (and should) circumvent this by using third-party auto-responders, but don’t overdo it or an annoyed customer may end up leaving you a negative review.
You can also use Amazon-compliant online marketplaces to promote your products and get quality reviews. For instance, Jungle Scout’s Launch tool has a deals platform with more than 100,000 shoppers. You can generate discount codes on Seller Central and feed them to Launch to give its users special discounts, and then use the auto-responder feature to request feedback.
Read our post on How to Legally Get Reviews on Amazon for the run-down on this.
5. Amazon PPC Ads
We saved the best for last. Amazon PPC ads are by far the best way to improve your CTR. Amazon uses a pay-per-click (PPC) model for advertising, which means advertisers only pay for an ad when a shopper clicks on it to view the product. A higher CTR generally means your ads are more relevant to shoppers. You can see the CTR of a PPC campaign in the Campaign Manager.
Below are some tips for optimizing your PPC campaigns for CTR.
- Target relevant keywords – Make sure you’re targeting the most relevant keywords for your products in your PPC campaigns. For example, when running a Sponsored Products ad, download your search term report to see which keywords receive the highest number of impressions, but very few clicks. Those keywords may be too generic and not targeted to your audience, so pause them and invest in more specific keywords.
- Run manual Sponsored Products campaigns – Convert automatic Sponsored Products campaigns into optimized manual campaigns to take advantage of the highest performing keywords identified by Amazon and remove keywords with low CTR. Let your automatic campaign run for at least two weeks to gather relevant customer search terms and then download your search term report. Sort by CTR and use the search terms with the highest CTR in a manual campaign.
- Use negative keywords – Add negative keywords to your campaigns to minimize irrelevant traffic to your listings. To identify negative keywords, sort your search term report by CTR and look for keywords with low CTR but high impressions. If they don’t generate sales, add them as negative Exact Matches in your Sponsored Product campaigns.
- Test different headlines – If you’re running Headline Search ads, try using different headlines to better engage shoppers. Consider incorporating top performing keywords, call-to-actions, and other compelling language that encourage shoppers to click. Test two identical campaigns with different headlines to see which has better CTR. You can also add a custom image to Headline Search ads. Test a variety of images to see which one draws the most clicks. A product image with a white background tends to work better than a brand logo or lifestyle image.
- Optimize your product details page – Enhance your product details page to increase the chances for good ad placement. Use high quality images and tailor your product title, bullet points and description to draw attention to compelling product features. You should also monitor your star rating, which is displayed as part of a Sponsored Product ads. Aim to have three stars or higher for advertised products.
CTR Optimization Summary
Improving your CTR is really about driving quality traffic to your listing. There are many different sources of traffic you can use to get clicks, but Amazon PPC ads are by the most straightforward way to do it.
Now that you know how to improve your CTR, let’s move on to improving your Amazon conversion rate. The next section in this Amazon SEO guide covers techniques that’ll help you increase your conversion rate and boost your Amazon rank.
Part 3: How to Improve Your Amazon Conversion Rate
This is the final post in our three-part guide on Amazon SEO. The first post focused on the importance of keyword research with techniques on how to get started. The second post covered tips for improving your Amazon CTR. This post covers how to improve your conversion rate to boost your ranking and sales. We’re going to discuss:
- What is your conversion rate?
- Where can you find your conversion rate in Amazon Seller Central?
- Why does your conversion rate matter?
- Tips for improving your conversion rate
What is a Conversion Rate?
Conversion rate is a measure of how many sales you make for each view on your listing. It’s calculated by dividing the number of sales with the number of times people visited your listing. The formula is:
Conversion Rate = Total Sales / Total Product Page Views
Where Can You Find Your Conversion Rate?
To see your conversion rate on Seller Central, head to the menu and click on the Reports tab and then choose Business Reports.
This will take you to the Sales and Traffic page where you can see an overview of your daily metrics. Your conversion rate is the figure in the column labeled Order Item Session Percentage.
The Order Item Session Percentage isn’t useful because it calculates the conversion rate of all of your products together. To get the conversion rate for each product, you need to filter the data “By ASIN” on the menu to the left.
Why Does Conversion Rate Matter?
Your conversion rate is an indicator of how well your listing is converting and it’s crucial for ranking on Amazon. A high conversion rate will have a positive impact on your sales rank, which pushes your listing further up Amazon’s search results.
The good news is conversion rates on Amazon are by default much higher than the average ecommerce site. A study by Milward Brown Digital showed the average conversion rate for the top 500 ecommerce stores was 3.32%. In comparison, the average conversion rate for non-Prime members on Amazon was 14% and a whopping 74% for Prime members.
The bad news is having a conversion rate that’s 22 times higher than the norm means you have to work that much harder to make sure yours is higher than the competition. Let’s take a look at how you can get your percentages up.
Tips for Improving Your Conversion Rate
1. Use Quality Product Images
Bad images are guaranteed to kill an amazing product. It doesn’t matter how good your title, bullets, descriptions, reviews, or even the product itself is—your product won’t sell if it doesn’t look great.
First, make sure you have more than one image. 5 to 6 images is a good rule of thumb, but you can use up to 9 images. Take advantage of them all. Include a lifestyle photo of the product being used, one image of the product packaging, and several images of the product from different angles. The first image must be of the product itself on a plain white background.
Next, follow Amazon’s product image requirements. Here’s a rundown of the basics:
- Use a professional photograph of the product being sold. Drawings and illustrations are not allowed.
- The product should fill 85% or more of the image frame unless its the cover art of a book, music album, or video/DVD, then it must fill 100% of the image frame.
- The image shouldn’t contain any watermarks, text, graphics, or inset images.
- The image should be at least 1000 pixels or larger in either height or width.
- Backgrounds must be white.
The images you use for a product listing can make or break a sale. Think of them as the only way you have to communicate with potential customers and try to make them as powerful as you can in order to seal the deal.
2. Optimize Your Content
The title, bullet points, and product description aren’t just where you place your primary keywords so buyers can find your listing. This is where you make your sales pitch and convince buyers that your product is something they must have. Properly optimizing your content is essential if you want a high conversion rate.
On Amazon, the longer and more detailed the title, the better. The title has to provide enough information for a potential buyer to make a purchasing decision. There is a 250-character limit for titles in most categories, and using all of them is highly encouraged.
If you look at titles of popular items on Amazon, you’ll notice that they have long, keyword-rich titles. Below are some examples:
Amazon provides a formula for writing titles in each product category, but they all use the same pattern:
brand + model number + model name + product type, color/amount
An example of a good title that uses the above formula would be:
Sony MDRZX100 ZX Series Stereo Headphones (Black)
It’s not the prettiest title and it’s quite different from what you’d use to optimize an ad on Google, but that’s exactly what Amazon wants.
The bullet points should contain primary keywords about the main benefits of your product. Amazon allows 5 bullet points with a 1000-character limit. Again, make it count and write keyword-rich bullet points that sound natural to human readers. Here are some tips for writing good Amazon bullet points:
- Why your product? – Imagine yourself as a potential buyer. What would you like to know about your product? Why should you buy it from you instead of a competitor?
- Order by importance – Readers are going to skim through your content, so talk about the best features first.
- Provide solutions – Highlight the problems your product can fix.
- Answer any objections – Address any potential objections a customer may have and explain why your product is the best choice.
- Include warranties – a strong guarantee shows that you stand behind your product 100%.
The product description is where you cover whatever you couldn’t fit into the bullet points and title. If a customer makes it this far, it means they’re interested but they aren’t quite sold on your product. Amazon gives you 2,000 characters to finish the job.
Amazon recommends using the product description to give an unbiased overview of the major features of the product. Focus on information that conveys the benefits of your product to your customer and seduce them with your copywriting skills. Here are some tips for optimizing your Amazon product descriptions:
- Benefits trump features – The description is where you fully explain why your product will improve someone’s life. Don’t get too technical or your audience will get bored. Try to make them feel like they really need your product.
- Craft a narrative – Use a storytelling approach to craft a compelling narrative about your product.
- Don’t stuff keywords – Try to use all your remaining primary keywords here, but remember that you’re writing for humans, not robots, so don’t stuff keywords.
- Keep it simple – Brevity is the soul of wit. Use simple language, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
3. Stay on Top of Your Reviews
Ratings and reviews are a big part of the online shopping experience. A majority of potential buyers will look at user reviews before making the decision to purchase. You should have a minimum of ten product reviews on your product listing with an overall rating of 4 to 5 stars.
Unfortunately, it has become tougher to get reviews since Amazon banned incentivized reviews in 2016. The current popular method to get reviews is auto-responder systems. You can encourage customers to write reviews by sending follow-up emails after they’ve received your product.
Check out our post on How to Legally Get Reviews on Amazon for more tips.
4. Craft Follow-Up Emails
Existing customers tend to be of a higher quality because they have already seen your product and know what to expect. They are the best customers to promote your other products to because they know your brand.
Create an email sequence to follow up on customers after they receive your product. Make them feel valued and offer them discounts for your other products or any new products you launch in the future.
5. Offer Variety
You usually don’t want too much variety on your own ecommerce website because it’ll make a customer feel indecisive, but it’s different story on Amazon. Users have almost unlimited options and giving them choice will make them more likely to choose your product.
Give them different colors, sizes, textures, etc. If you sell yoga mats, offer them in black, red, blue, or green. If you sell jeans, offer as many sizes as possible. Provide a reasonable amount of variety or buyers will look for a competitor who does.
6. Compare Prices
Optimizing your pricing is the most hard-hitting way to maximize your profits. Find the right price for your product by looking at your competitors’ prices. Don’t try to be cheaper than the competition—cheap doesn’t necessarily mean quality. It’s a good idea to undertake AB/split testing to see what works best when you’re trying to determine the best price for your product.
7. Perform Split Testing
The point of split or AB testing is to identify the best content and price for your product. You can make significant improvements to your conversions by making small tweaks to your product page and seeing what’s converting visitors into customers.
There are a number of variables that can impact your Amazon sales, including your images, product descriptions, bullet points, title, price, and keywords. Split testing usually targets 7 or 8 different variables and explores their potential impact on product performance.
8. Leverage External Traffic Sources
It’s generally a good idea to draw people to your listing using external traffic sources. It’ll diversify your sales channels and help you build a lasting brand. There are many techniques you can use to draw traffic, including landing pages, retargeting, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, and more.
Check out our post on Driving External Traffic to Amazon Listings to learn more.
9. Make Use of the “Frequently Bought Together” Section
Once your Amazon listings are active, try to link them in the “Frequently Bought Together” section. It’s a great way to cross promote your products to potential buyers. Traffic sent from one listing to another is generally of a higher quality and will convert better.
Amazon makes the decision of what products to place in the “Frequently Bought Together” section. Your chances of being picked will go up significantly if five or more customers purchase your products together. Run a short promotion and offer customers a discount if they buy two of your products together.
10. Launch an Amazon PPC Campaign
Amazon pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns can be an effective way to quickly boost sales and increase your conversion rate. Launch a “rank boosting” campaign if you’re struggling to rank your primary keywords.
Setting higher bids will help you catch more sessions and sales, which will improve your conversion rate, but this strategy is too expensive to run indefinitely. Switch off the PPC campaign once you gain enough organic sales to hold your rank. You may have to run more campaigns in the future to keep your conversion rate high and maintain your rank.
11. Run Promotions
Promotions have become a hot topic since Amazon banned incentivized reviews, and a lot of sellers are still confused about what is and isn’t allowed when running a promotion. In short, promotions and discounts are still allowed, but you can’t incentivize them for reviews.
Offer your product at a discounted price for a limited time period and see how it affects your conversion rate. Running a promotion after launching a new product can help you to quickly reach more potential customers.
12. Use Launch Platforms
Make use of Amazon-complaint marketplaces to promote your products. For example, Jungle Scout’s Launch tool features a marketplace with over 100,000 shoppers hungry for Amazon deals. You can use the platform to run quick promotions and instantly improve your sales velocity and ranking. This tool is compliant with Amazon’s terms of service and supports international Amazon markets.
Conversion Rate Summary
Improving your Amazon conversion rate can be a huge pain, but it’s a surefire way to help you rank better on Amazon search results and get more sales. Don’t just copy what your competitors are doing. Analyze their listings and work with the tips provided in this post to craft a strategy that works best for your product.
The key to finding out what works is testing. Implementing all the tips outlined here might be overkill, but it should give you an idea of which parts of your listing needs improving. For example, pretend there is no text on your listing and just look at your images. Can you tell what product you’re selling without words? Does the image capture what makes your product better than your competitors’ products? If your answers are negative, work on improving your images.
Continue monitoring your conversion rate even after you’re sure your listing is as good as it can possibly get. It will likely change for various reasons throughout the year and you should know what exactly causes it to improve or decrease if you want to maintain your rank.
Wrapping it All Up
If you do all the things outlined in this Amazon SEO guide then you will rank your products on page 1 for your target search terms. What influences how long this will take will depend on the competitiveness of your given product keyword. The more competitive the term, the more sales and reviews you will ultimately need to outrank the current sellers in top position, but the same process and methods apply.
It’s definitely worth targeting lower competition search terms at first so that you can start seeing results and get some early momentum. As you should be well aware of by now, Amazon SEO is quite different to traditional Search Engine Optimization for the likes of Google, in that you need SALES to rank… and making sales is your ultimate goal anyway.
Hopefully this guide helps. Be sure to check out our other guides to further improve on all the things we have discussed here.