What is one thing that all of the top sellers on Amazon have in common? They have all optimized their products for Amazon’s search engine algorithm, A9.
When you think of SEO, you normally just think of Google and you may think you already know the ropes. But A9 is different from Google in one fundamental way – Google wants to serve you the information you’re looking for whereas Amazon wants to convert your search into a sale. Products on Amazon with the highest CTS (click-to-sale) conversion rates for a particular search term are always going to rank above the rest, even if their CTR (click-through rate) is actually lower.
To put it simply, Google is in the advertising business; Amazon is in the selling business.
While Google has been said to include over 200 factors in its algorithm, Amazon uses far fewer (though they are equally as secretive about their ‘special sauce’). The two critical components in your Amazon ranking, however, are performance and relevance. Performance-based factors may be somewhat outside of your control, but relevance-based factors are where you're in the driver’s seat.
Amazon SEO Performance Factors
There is a saying in the Amazon seller community, “MAMM,” which stands for “Make Amazon More Money.” Getting people to click on your product doesn’t make Amazon money. Getting people to buy your product only to later return it or leave a negative review doesn’t benefit Amazon either. Therefore, everything you do on Amazon should keep MAMM in mind.
While recent sales will significantly affect your ranking, there isn’t much you can do about it. Hopefully, you are already trying to sell as many products as possible. Note that Amazon doesn’t base your ranking on all-time sales, but on recent sales. You have to continue selling to remain at the top of the SERP. In some cases, it may be worth it to take a negative ROI on your PPC ads in order to drive an initial ranking boost.
Your product’s price is within your control to some extent, so make sure your product pricing is in line with similar products. If your product is significantly more expensive—even if it’s higher quality—Amazon may assume it won’t sell as well as a cheaper version and may knock you down from the get-go. You can use a tool like camelcamelcamel to track competitor prices and rankings over time.
While verified reviews are like sprinkling magic fairy dust on your rankings, be forewarned: Amazon is very strict about their review policies and very unforgiving when it comes to sellers who break them. Buying fake reviews is a surefire way to get your account shut down. Check out their review terms to be sure you aren’t even appearing to violate guidelines. Of course, there are of black hat and grey hat tactics here that we do not recommend.
Amazon SEO Relevance Factors
For both Google and Amazon, relevance is a key determining factor in your ranking. How closely does your product match the search term in question? Before you understand how to use keywords to improve your ranking, you need to figure out which keywords to use. Tools such as MerchantWords and KeywordTool are both great options as you start your research. Using Google’s Keyword Planner can be useful for ideas, but remember people often use far more specific terms in Amazon when they’re ready to buy.
Product Title & URL
Your product title is the single most important keyword placement in Amazon. Use specific, descriptive words such as size, material and uses. Make sure your keywords are as relevant to your product as possible. Ranking for a specific keyword won’t help if your product doesn’t align with that niche. Most importantly, avoid keyword stuffing. While it may help with initial ranking, it won’t help to convert potential buyers, hurting you in the long run.
✅ “Large Chunky Cozy Wool Knit Throw Blanket for Bedroom Sofa Décor, Gray 40x60 inches”
🆇 “Wool Blanket, Throw Blanket, Cozy Knit Blanket, Bedroom Quilt, Soft Blanket, Blanket for Couch”
TIP: The title generally has a limit of 250 characters, though some categories have lower limits. Usually around 60-90 is the best marriage of readability and keyword usage. You can see a full list of Amazon’s product title guidelines here.
If you are already a seller on Amazon, you cannot change the URL of your existing products. But you can determine the canonical URL of any new listing on Amazon. When adding a product, Amazon will create a canonical URL (the URL used for indexing in Google) based on five words from your product information it deems to be the most relevant:
In order to hack this URL, you should add your product first with only five words in the title and the same five words as your backend keywords. This will force Amazon to create a URL with only those five words, such as “Oversize chunky knit wool blanket.” This will create the following URL:
Once your product is live, you can quickly go in and change the product title to its optimized version. This will help you product rank outside of Amazon in search engines as well as comparison shopping engines.
If you’re already an established seller, don’t go running to change your shop name but be aware: if you’re starting a new shop in a specific niche, your seller name can help drive rankings. If everything you sell is woolen blankets, a shop name such as “Cozy Blankets” could provide an additional boost.
Product Description & Key Product Features
Key Product Features, which display as bullet points, are a great place to add highly descriptive, long-tail keywords. Try to use a different keyword in each of your bullet points and don’t write in complete sentences. If your product has additional features or accessories, include them here. Check your competitors to see if their bullet points are more detailed than yours.
- Merino wool, cotton, cashmere blend knit blanket: 60% wool, 20% cotton, 20% cashmere
- Luxury wool throw blanket handmade in the USA
- Chic, Super soft blanket makes a great gift for mom
- Gorgeous home décor for living room or bedroom
- Handmade wool blanket is dry clean only
Your product description isn’t nearly as important as your title and bullet points in terms of ranking, but it’s a great place to reinforce your keywords while selling your brand and product story. Most people will likely just skim your description, but still avoid keyword stuffing and unnatural language.
TIP: In 2017, Amazon reduced the bullet point limit to just 5 bullets and 100 characters per bullet to increase readability, though many product pages are still working under the old limit.
Every Amazon product allows you to specify certain relevant keywords: up to 5 with a character limit of 50 per keyword. So that gives you 250 characters in total. You can add multiple keywords into each field, making sure to keep your most relevant keywords first. Be sure to add the keywords in a natural order:
✅ Chunky wool blanket
🆇 Wool blanket chunky
TIPS: Include spelling variations and synonyms. Don’t repeat keywords or include misspellings, plurals, formatting differences (80GB vs. 80 GB) or punctuation. If you exceed your character limit, Amazon will remove ALL of your keywords from your listing.
While this guide is a good start to SEO for Amazon product pages, much of its content can also be applied to other shopping search engines. Amazon is without a doubt the behemoth in the space—accounting for a projected 49% of all retail ecommerce in 2018—but other shopping sites like eBay, as well as niche engines such as Houzz for home goods can be optimized using these same strategies. For eBay, driving initial sales by lowering prices can boost out-of-the-gate rankings. For Houzz, reviews are the primary factor you should focus on.
Of course, for your own ecommerce site, you should follow Google’s traditional SEO guidelines to keep your products at the top of the SERP and dominating in comparison engines like Google Shopping, Nextag, and Shopzilla. Though the rules of SEO for Amazon aren’t vastly different from traditional SEO, it’s critical to optimize your product descriptions, content, and images for each individual platform you’re hoping to rank on.
If your brand is looking for assistance with its Amazon pages and SEO, our experts at UNION are up-to-date on best practices and bring with them the resources and capabilities to successfully navigate these impactful algorithms.