This is the first article in a series on improving your Amazon Best Seller ranking…
Did you know that Amazon is basically a giant search engine? In fact, it would rate as one of the biggest product search engines in the world.
Just like how you would do work on SEO and keywords to boost your ranking in Google search, you also need to do work on your Amazon descriptions to help your products get found there. However, unlike Google, the rules and weightings for how you rank highly on a search in Amazon are different.
Even if you don’t currently sell on Amazon but have an ecommerce store elsewhere, there is a good reason why Amazon should matter to you too; a Survata study found that 44% of those surveyed go straight to Amazon when searching for a product. On the other hand, 34% went to a search engine first. Reason enough to make sure you appear on Amazon?
There are right ways and wrong ways to incorporate keywords into your listings; read on to find out what you should be aware of…
Why You Need Keywords In Your Product Listings
First of all, this article is the first in a series about the broader topic of improving your Amazon Bestseller ranking, so it’s helpful to know how “best sellers” are calculated (straight from Amazon themselves):
“The Amazon Best Sellers calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com.”
So unlike Google which crawls sites from time to time and analyzes ranking criteria over time, the rankings on Amazon can potentially change by the hour, according to the sales activity of the product. If someone had a sale on a popular item in your category and sent out an email a couple of hours ago, that just might be reason enough that they climb above you, even if your product is superior.
The simple answer as to why you need to make good use of keywords in your Amazon product descriptions is to get your products found. Even if your competitor is having a good sale, if you’ve done a better job of keyword-rich descriptions, it may be enough to get you found more often than them, have more regular sales and boost your own best seller ranking.
Why does this matter? Best seller ranking gives you a better position in Amazon search results. A key driver for Amazon is that they want people to buy more products. They will rearrange product listings according to their algorithms if they feel the end result will be more product sales.
The challenge for you is actually being that seller who they want to feature higher. Everyone wants that and your competition is fierce. The key difference between what you do to rank on Amazon and what you do to rank on Google are the objectives behind them. For Google, it’s about customer engagement, how long they hang around on your website and whether they visit multiple pages. On Amazon it’s about optimizing for conversions. More conversions equal better ranking.
It’s a bit of a bamboozling paradox: rank higher, get found quicker, sell more, or get found quicker, sell more, rank higher. You can’t control the exact outcome for your rankings, but you can control the inputs on your end, and that includes those keywords.
How to Use Keywords on Amazon
How do keywords work? Where should you put them and where can you find them? Let’s dive in:
Individual Words, Not Phrases
If you’re used to optimizing for Google search, it’s quite common to find people thinking they should be coming up with keyword phrases for Amazon as well. Not so.
Amazon counts each word individually rather than as part of a phrase, so for example, a search for “yellow duck raincoat” might show up results which match yellow, duck, and raincoat separately, although degree of text match is a ranking factor according to Amazon.
“Factors such as degree of text match, price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results.”
Of course you can use descriptive phrases in your product descriptions (in fact, they’ll be more appealing to buyers this way), but avoid the common mistake of trying to put phrases in the keywords field of your product setup.
Titles are treated the same as the keyword fields, in fact, there is no more weighting given to a product title than to the keywords used (another difference from Google, which is known to favor titles).
The other thing to note with titles is that each individual word is searchable on its own and does not need to be repeated in your keywords as well. Amazon encourages sellers not to “waste characters” by repeating words in search fields.
Here are the descriptive terms Amazon suggests you use in your product titles, with their example of Laura Ashley pillowcases used:
- Brand – Laura Ashley
- Product line – Sophia Collection
- Material or key feature – 300-Thread-Count
- Product Type – Pillow Cases
- Color – Blue
- Size – Queen
- Packaging/Quantity – Set of 2
You should also think of any other keywords which will be helpful in your title and could grab the attention of shoppers. For example, say you are selling orange turtlenecks, you might also specify “men’s,” “girl’s”, “oversized” or any other descriptive keyword (look, we found some!).
Don’t waste time with stemming or punctuation
Stemming is where you add different endings to a root word, for example, run, runs or running. Amazon says you don’t need to bother with this as their search engine will treat run and runs the same way.
The same thing goes for commas or any other form of punctuation. As much as it may pain you not to include it, you’re not adding anything and may be taking up valuable character space by using it.
Bullet Points and Product Description
Amazon is motivated to have its sellers do well and actually provides a wealth of information in Seller Central about optimizing your product listings. Your bullet points are another key place to get descriptive and use those keywords. Here’s what they say:
- Highlight the five key features you want customers to consider, such as dimensions, age appropriateness, ideal conditions for the product, skill level, contents, country of origin, and so on.
- Maintain a consistent order. If your first bullet point is country of origin, keep that same order for all your products.
- Reiterate important information from the title and description.
- Begin each bullet point with a capital letter.
- Write with sentence fragments and do not include ending punctuation.
- Do not include promotional and pricing information.
You get 100 characters per bullet point so make them count by doing your best to make them appealing. For example, you might use sensory words or words that relate to how the product might be used and the benefit to the buyer:
“Comfortable, memory foam sole keeps you walking on air and your feet fresh during your long work day.”
Your product description is more generous with character limit at 2000 characters, so you can expand on those bullet points in more details. In general, make sure your key benefits are displayed in the bullet points, then go on to write a description which helps the customer imagine the experience of owning your product (including keywords, of course!).
You get five fields for search terms and are allowed up to 50 characters for each. Again, don’t waste time on repeated words or variations of the same word. Use your character limits wisely by creating unique terms under each. Also;
- Don’t reuse search terms you’ve already used in your title.
- Avoid quotation marks as this will limit search results.
- Consider synonyms for any important terms in your product name.
Things to Avoid
There are a few ways to get into trouble with Amazon and find your listing removed. Here are some things you should avoid:
- Including inaccurate or misleading information just to draw searchers (for example, using brand names of competing brands).
- Attempting to divert users to another website.
- Excessively long descriptions.
Amazon gives some great examples in the screenshot below:
Amazon is a huge search engine, and the biggest one when it comes to searches for products. If you want more traffic to your products, then you need to aim to boost your profile in search results by ranking higher as a best seller.
Part of boosting that ranking is to get your products found more easily by ensuring you make good use of keywords in your descriptions.
Amazon gives sellers a lot of clues — it’s in their best interest for stores to do well because that’s when they do well too. Take note of their guidelines and create compelling descriptions with keywords to boost traffic.