Amazon is the third-largest search engine in the world after Google and YouTube. But Amazon has one key difference over Google & YouTube: every search made on Amazon has buying intent.
While Google & YouTube searches primarily focus on informational or research-driven intent, Amazon is all about the transactions. Getting your products to rank highly for specific keywords (i.e., working on Amazon SEO) is a great way to grow your sales on Amazon, but it can be tricky to get right.
What is Amazon SEO?
Amazon search engine optimization (Amazon SEO) focuses on optimizing your brand's Amazon product listings to rank highly in Amazon searches for specific and related keywords. When your product listing is optimized, it's easier for Amazon to understand listings and show relevant products to shoppers.
At its core, Amazon SEO focuses on:
- Keyword optimization
- Product image optimization
- Product title optimization
- Backend keywords
- Inventory levels
How the Amazon A9 algorithm influences search rankings
A9 is Amazon's search ranking algorithm, which displays product results based on search queries.
The products shown are not only based on the queries themselves but are also influenced by customers' past purchases, browsing history, and a number of other factors.
For example, inventory levels, price, and sales history help determine where a product appears in search results (products with a higher sales history are likely to rank higher). More on these factors:
- Price: A drastic price difference compared to other products potentially lowers your rankings.
- Inventory: If your products are out of stock, your listing likely won't show up.
- Relevant keywords: Specific terms in your product title and description are crucial for optimization.
- Sales history: When you start selling more products, you’ll have a higher chance of high rankings on Amazon.
How keywords determine if your product ranks on Amazon
The first part of Amazon's algorithm focuses on the keywords used in the query (you shouldn't expect a baseball bat to show up if someone searches for a football helmet).
In the image above, we searched for "Vietnamese coffee." The first four products are a great match because they show products related to the search query.
Some of the results directly mention “Vietnamese coffee,” but the others don’t. Chances are, the brands that didn’t mention “Vietnamese coffee” in the title used it as a backend keyword (which we’ll get into later in this article).
So, what happens if someone searches for "blue men's pants" but your product's title only mentions "blue pants?" Your product is less likely to show up at the top.
Past sales performance determines product rankings
Amazon's algorithm determines the likelihood of purchasing a product and ranks products in the search results. To do this, Amazon looks at the past performance of the products in the search query.
Performance is measured on a few factors, including click-through rates, conversion rates, reviews, and sales. These are essential factors for Amazon, as they want to ensure that customers will make a purchase.
Amazon looks at these factors on a keyword-specific level. For example, the "MacBook" keyword will have different click-through rates, conversion rates, and sales for the keywords "MacBook Air" and "laptop."
As a seller, the better your CTRs, conversion rates, and sales are for a keyword, the higher your product ranks for the specific keyword.
How to research the best keywords for your Amazon product listings
You can manually research keywords by looking up products similar to yours and seeing what keywords they have in common.
This process is manual and time-consuming, so we recommend using Amazon SEO tools like Merchant Words, which can help you see what people are searching for on Amazon and help optimize your product descriptions.
This is especially useful when you have a brand new listing and don't have data to lean on: you can learn from your competitors' rankings instead.
Additionally, you can layer your own Amazon PPC data to figure out which keywords help your product listings convert. Then, optimize for those keywords.
For example, if your PPC ads convert highly for "blonde roast coffee," you should optimize your listing to focus on the "blonde roast coffee" and potentially other coffee-related keywords.
How the Amazon Brand Registry improves SEO
As your brand grows, chances are that customers might search for products using your brand's name. Amazon's algorithm is smart in that it'll show your products first. But competing products can show up, too.
To help overcome this, use the Amazon Brand Registry.
The Amazon Brand Registry lets sellers who manufacture and/or sell their branded products have greater ranking power than other brands selling their products. So, if you have wholesalers selling your products, you can ensure you're more likely to rank higher than them.
With the Amazon Brand Registry, brands can:
Ensure products details are correct
The information you submit to the product detail pages for registered products displays automatically as the brand owner. This helps brands specify accurate titles, details, images, and other attributes for their products. This way, you don't have to worry about other sellers including inaccurate information about your products.
Use additional content in listings
Registered brands get to use enhanced brand content and product listing videos all of which help your products rank more highly in search results.
What does a great Amazon product listing look like?
A great product listing presents all the product information customers need to decide whether to buy a product. With product listings, it's vital to be as accurate as possible with the product's information.
For the "product description," shoppers don't want walls of text (neither does Amazon A9!). They prefer clear and descriptive bullet points.
But, be cautious with how you write the bullet points. For example, avoid keyword stuffing. You should be able to describe the product's size, color, weight, etc., since they're most likely going to be the keywords people search for.
To summarize, the product listing should include:
- A concise and optimized product title
- Bullet points showing the essential features of the product
- An accurate product description
- A clear product image with a white background
Here’s a great example of these strategies in action, from one of MVMT’s products:
- In the listing, the name is simple, and includes a major keyword (Men’s Watch)
- The bullet points clearly and cleanly summarize the features and describe the product
- There are multiple product photos on a white background
How to optimize Amazon product titles
The product title is the first impression a shopper will have of your product. The product title should reflect exactly what the customer is getting. In this case, Amazon makes it easy for sellers because the character count for product titles is generous.
For Amazon, product titles must meet the following requirements for character length:
- General character length: 80-250 characters
- Mobile: 55-63 characters
- Right rail ads: 30-33 characters
Best practices for product titles include:
- Capitalizing the first letter of each word
- Including your brand name
- Including Amazon keywords
- All numbers should be numerals (i.e., 1 instead of one)
- Focusing on benefits–and being descriptive
- If the size isn't relevant, don't list it in the title
- Include manufacturer part numbers and model numbers if needed
For example, here’s one of Tula Skin Care’s product listings:
What not to include in product titles
Amazon has a few restrictions for product titles. DO NOT mention the following in your titles:
- Price and quantity
- All caps
- Promotional messages, such as "Sale" or "Limited Stock"
- Symbols ($, !, ?)
- Seller information
- Suggestive commentary, such as "Best Seller"
How to optimize Amazon product descriptions
Product descriptions are a few paragraphs long and might need light HTML coding when writing (check out the example below of how a product description looks with code for images and designs).
If you're selling products in the Restricted Products category, follow all of Amazon’s requirements. Not following them might result in your listing getting taken down for using wrong or inaccurate terms.
Every product description should describe major product features, such as size, benefits, and what the product can be used for.
Don't include any of the following in your product descriptions:
- Your brand's email address
- Your brand's website URL (Amazon wants shoppers to stay on Amazon)
- An “About Us” section for your brand
- Details about other products you sell
- Promotional language, such as "Limited-time Sale" or "Free Shipping"
How to optimize product images on Amazon
Every product on Amazon requires one or more product images. The primary image of your product is called the "Main." The Main image is displayed in search results. This is often the first image customers see on an item's detail page, so it's crucial to make it clear and compelling.
Amazon product image best practices
Images can be surprisingly hard to get right. Here are the best practices to keep in mind when choosing product images for your Amazon listings:
- Remove background from image
- Use square images
- Images dimensions should at least be 1,000 pixels wide by 1,000 pixels tall (1,000 x 1,000)
- Product videos, digital twins, and 3D product images are optional but proven to increase conversions
- No illustrations or graphics are allowed to be used as the main image
- Images must represent the actual product people are getting
- Products must fill 85% or more of the image
- Products can't be on a mannequin or pictured in packaging
How product reviews affect Amazon SEO
Product reviews are one of the most critical factors determining success as an Amazon seller. Those yellow stars can make or break a product's success. So, it's no surprise that Amazon factors in reviews when ranking products.
Higher review scores influence the click-through rates and conversion rates of products. The more positive reviews there are, the better the product is perceived.
To take some skincare products as an example, we can see that products near the bottom of the search results tend to have lower ratings.
Here are some products at the top:
And here are products at the bottom of the page:
The importance of "backend" keywords
Not every search query is the same. "blue shoes" and "shoes blue" are two different keywords in the eyes of Amazon's algorithm. This is why Amazon lets sellers provide a list of keywords on the backend to influence search results.
- The Keywords tab can be found in your Amazon Seller account under Inventory > Manage Inventory > Keywords.
Backend keywords aren't displayed on the main listing, so it's an excellent opportunity to ensure you're covering all of your bases for keywords.
One key thing to remember here is that these keywords must be "phrase match.” In other words, the order of the keywords matters: "blue mens sunglasses" and "mens blue sunglasses" affect visibility in search results.
Here are some tips to keep in mind with backend keywords:
- You’re limited to 250 “bytes” (words)
- Use singular or plural versions of your keywords. Adding both variations isn't necessary.
- Capitalization of backend keywords doesn't matter.
- Amazon matches minor typos to the correct spelling, so you don't need to add misspelled versions of keywords.
General best practices for Amazon SEO
We've covered a lot in this guide, but there are still a few more things to discuss. Amazon SEO is a complex beast. But getting it right can pay huge dividends for your brand.
Here are some of the more general best practices to keep in mind as you embark on your SEO journey:
Don't double-dip on primary and backend keywords
If you already include a keyword in the title, including it in the product description, the title and backend keywords aren't going to improve rankings. To customers, it looks spammy. Plus, you're wasting valuable backend keyword character limits.
Answer customer questions on the product listing
If multiple customers ask the same question repeatedly, that's probably an indication to include an answer to those questions in the content.
For example, if you sell makeup and your shoppers keep asking if it's cruelty-free, you should probably add that information to your product description or title and get out ahead of additional questions.
Remember: Product listing content is aggregated
The content for a product listing isn't always based on one seller submitting the content. Amazon aggregates product information across multiple sellers selling the same Amazon item based on the UPC. Amazon compiles all the submissions and creates the best title or bullet points.
Granted, this is somewhat overcome by the Brand Registry program. So, if you're the product manufacturer, make sure to become part of the Amazon Brand Registry to ensure product information is accurate.
Maximize your character count
Sellers should maximize the character count for their product's title, bullet points, product descriptions, and backend search terms. Amazon gives you all this space for a reason. Use it.
Filling out product descriptions and bullet points with the maximum characters helps products rank higher. You also give shoppers a better overview of your products, which helps with conversions–and, those conversions help influence your rankings.
Common mistakes with Amazon SEO
Instead of treating SEO as a one-time effort, incorporate it into your marketing strategy to optimize your brand for success on Amazon, because it is fundamental to your success when selling on Amazon.
Here are the common mistakes that Amazon sellers make with their SEO strategy:
Treating SEO as a one-time effort
Optimizing your Amazon SEO might seem like an arduous task, but it doesn't have to be. Most Amazon sellers can lose high rankings because they optimized their listings one time and neglected to keep working on them. You're not guaranteed to keep high rankings, so you always have to be optimizing, checking your ranking, and checking your competitors.
Poor inventory management & demand forecasting
Why do inventory levels affect your rankings? Well, Amazon needs products to sell. If your products are consistently out of stock, Amazon won't show your products because they don't want customers to wait for items to get back in stock.
Don't forget the most crucial thing to Amazon is providing the best online shopping experience. You have to keep products in stock to keep Amazon and customers happy.
Not researching competitors & their keywords
Selling on Amazon is competitive. It's hard to stand out when you're going up against dozens of brands in the same category. But competitors make mistakes.
Research their listings to find missing information or advantages your products might have. You can then update your product listings to show why your brand is better and improve your rankings.
Your listings include inaccurate information
This sounds simple, but don't mislead customers on your listings. Customers are savvy, and if your listings include false information, your seller account will likely be suspended by Amazon after a few complaints come in.
Whew, Amazon SEO is no joke. But treating it as a priority is a great way to set your brand up for continued success as an Amazon seller.
But to truly set your brand up for success on Amazon, you need to rein in your data: turns out, Daasity does just that, by centralizing all your Amazon data.
Learn how by scheduling a demo.
Prefer to read more instead? Here are a couple of our other most popular Amazon articles:
-> Extracting Your Amazon Seller Central Data
-> Complete Guide to Amazon Advertising