Amazon gives small businesses great opportunities—there’s no doubting that.
This is the most popular online store in the U.S. we’re talking about. In 2017 alone, it generated over $178 billion in revenue.
Who doesn’t want to be part of that?
It opens doors to millions of potential customers you otherwise couldn’t have reached.
Pages on Amazon wield the authority of the site, meaning you could hit the jackpot SEO-wise if you’re optimizing each listing for Amazon SEO and Google SEO.
That’s right, there is such a thing as Amazon SEO. It’s not just about having your Amazon page rank on Google, it’s about ranking your page within the Amazon search results.
Almost half of online shoppers go directly to Amazon before checking any other site—including Google.
If that statistical overload hasn’t prompted you to get a slice of the Amazon pie, I don’t know what would.
What Is Amazon SEO?
I know what you’re thinking: “What exactly is Amazon SEO, Elise?”
Here’s my simple explanation: It’s a lot like Google SEO—where you aim to rank on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs)—but on Amazon.
Simple enough, right?
Amazon SEO is a set of practices that will help your product listings to rank higher in their native search.
But, the only difference is Amazon searchers have higher commercial intent. Since they’re looking for products rather than information (like Google searchers would), the way you reach the top isn’t by using the SEO tactics you’re normally using elsewhere.
Sounds great, right? Let’s have a quick chat about the pros and cons of ranking in both:
- There’s more opportunity since more people use Google than Amazon.
- Our blog has hundreds of awesome guides to crack it. 😉
- If you’ve already mastered the art of ranking content in the Google SERPs, the same principles apply to ranking your Amazon product page.
- It’s very competitive and harder to rank for short-tail keywords.
- There are several algorithm updates released every year, and hundreds of ranking factors you’ll need to consider.
- Keyword targeting is trickier because you need to use phrases multiple times per page.
- Searchers are not on Amazon yet—they might not be faithful Amazon users, or they might not be ready to buy.
- If your Amazon product page is the first result in Google, searchers might click on it and just use it as a springboard to explore other similar product pages on Amazon—you don’t usually want to buy the very first option you see, do you?
- Searchers have very high commercial intent and are usually closer to purchasing, since they’re already on Amazon.
- Searchers on Amazon are likely to be Prime members, or at least have an Amazon account.
- It’s simpler—the algorithm rarely changes and there are only two main ranking factors.
- Rankings aren’t influenced by external or third-party websites, giving sellers more control over their SEO.
- It’s difficult to dupe Amazon into giving your products higher rankings.
Balancing out those pros and cons—by ranking in both Google SERPs and Amazon search results—can weigh each other out, and make sure you’re not missing any searchers who are ready to buy.
Just take a look at these Google results for the “Gary Vee Crushing It” book:
Notice how an Amazon page takes the top spot?
If you’re optimizing the Amazon listing for both Amazon and Google SEO, there’s no reason why your product listing couldn’t be shown in both SERPs.
Talk about a double whammy!
Understanding the A9 Algorithm
Fancy hearing another similarity between Google and Amazon SEO? They both have algorithms.
However, Amazon’s algorithm—known as A9—is much simpler than Google’s. That’s good news for us SEOs who are always trying to keep on top of changes (and avoid a penalty).
The A9 algorithm determines where a product listing will show in the Amazon SERPs, and has two main priorities:
- To show the most relevant products to the user’s search
- To show the best quality products based on the listing’s previous performance
Think about it: People using Amazon’s search feature, they’re looking for the best quality product at the best price.
They don’t want to be shown an expensive product that’s irrelevant to what they’re looking for, right? That would confuse (and downright irritate) their customers, which won’t help them continue taking over the e-commerce world.
What About Amazon Sales Rank?
Amazon Sales Rank is a term that explains where your product is ranking in comparison to other.
The products in position #1 are the best-selling products of that category, and products rated #2 are the second-best.
Make sense so far? Good.
Also known as the Best Seller List or Amazon Best Seller Ranking (BSR), positioning your product here—and proving your product is selling like hot cakes—it gives a fantastic impression.
And, because searchers are browsing, clicking and purchasing that product when it’s displayed in the SERPs, Amazon thinks, “Oh—this product must be good, so we’ll rank it higher for other similar searches.”
…It goes without saying that your aim is to reach #1.
Amazon SEO: How to Conquer Both Amazon and Google at Once
Now we’ve got the basics covered and you’re fully in-the-know about how the A9 algorithm works, let’s get to grips on how to beat it.
Use these eight tips to conquer Amazon SEO and shift more of your products:
1. Think About Your Seller Name
First things first, you’ll need to think about your account name when attempting to make your products shown on the first page of Amazon’s SERPs.
…Especially if you’ve not set up shop yet.
The name you’re operating under—also known as your “seller name”—is something Amazon recommend adding to the first part of your product’s title.
But why is it good for Amazon SEO?
Well, if you’re able to tie-in your seller name with the type of products you’re selling, it could help your listings to be shown for specific search results.
Here’s what I mean: When I search for “notepad”, here’s what I see:
…But when I search for “notepad for kids”, another brand pops up since their seller name includes “kids”—a keyword I’ve searched for:
You can use this concept when thinking of the name you’d like to trade under.
For example: If you’re selling women’s beauty products, your seller name could be Crafted for Women. The addition of ‘women’ could help your product rank higher for “women’s beauty products” because the extra word is what we’ve searched for.
And, since your seller name is related to the products you’re selling, you’re likely to rank higher since it’s more relevant to the searcher’s query—one of the main priorities in the A9 algorithm.
Good, let’s move on.
2. Find the Most Relevant Keywords to Your Product
By this point, you likely already know that keywords are important in Amazon SEO. After all, it’s how people search.
You can’t expect to show your product in their search results if you’re not thinking about what they’re searching for, right?
In Amazon’s world, these phrases are called merchant keywords.
To find them, you’ll need to:
Use Amazon Autofill
Head straight to the horse’s mouth and allow Amazon to tell you which phrases are commonly searched for.
Start by typing your product and view their suggestions.
For example: If I’m selling women’s multivitamins, here’s what Amazon suggests:
Off the back of this data, I’ll pick “women’s multivitamins with iron” and “women’s multivitamins gummies” as my merchant keywords.
You can also find merchant keywords by using the Amazon tab in KeywordTool.io.
Simply type the name of your product and find hundreds of long-tail variations. We can use these phrases when we come to optimize the product page later:
Use Sonar’s Amazon Keyword Finder Tool
Finally, run the product name through Sonar’s Amazon Keyword Finder tool.
This will make sure you’ve not missed any glaring opportunities, and display the words frequently used by other Amazon sellers:
Whichever merchant keywords you find throughout this stage, there’s one criteria they’ll need to fit: Relevancy.
Remember how the A9 algorithm aims to show the best results for a searcher’s query?
If you’re stuffing any ol’ keyword into your listing and people do click through to the page itself, they’re likely to exit instantly because your product isn’t what they’re looking for. That will give you a low click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate, and Amazon won’t see your product as a good match for that search, in future.
As tempting as it may be to use merchant keywords with high search volumes, strike them off your list if they don’t explicitly relate to what you do.
If the product you’re optimizing doesn’t fit the keywords you’re targeting, don’t expect it to rank highly—nor get fantastic conversion rates if you do manage to get click-throughs.
3. Use Those Merchant Keywords on the Product Page
Great job! You’ve found the keywords you’ll need to target. Now it’s time to use them.
For each product listing you’re optimizing, break down the keywords into three categories:
- Most relevant
- Less relevant
…I know what you’re thinking: “Elise, you just told me to only pick keywords that are super relevant. Why are you now telling me to make a list of ‘less relevant’ phrases?”.
I’d be asking the same.
Here’s what I mean: While the uber-relevant keywords you picked throughout step two might explicitly say what you’re selling, they might not be as specific to the product itself.
Let’s use an example.
If I’m optimizing a page for my candle products, my keyword structure might look like this:
- Most relevant: “organic candles”
- Semi-relevant: “organic scented candles” and “lavender organic candle”
- Less relevant: “organic candles for bathrooms” and “organic candle oil scents”
See what I mean? While all three levels of keyword are relevant to the product I’m selling, some are more specific than others.
Once you’ve done this structure for the merchant keywords you’ve found, it’s time to use them on the page.
The level of specificity you’ve grouped each keyword in decides where it’s used:
- Most relevant: Use in the main product title.
- Semi-relevant: Add to the backend keywords section in Seller Central.
- Less relevant: Include in the product description and bullet points.
Before you rush off to add these keywords in every opportunity you’ve got, I’ve got one warning: Don’t keyword stuff.
Amazon’s aim is to show the highest-quality product for each search term. That’s difficult to do if you’re overpowering current visitors with spammy-sounding, keyword-stuffed content—and giving them a reason to return to the SERPs and click a competitor’s listing.
4. Make Your Product Descriptions Incredible
Just like you would if you were selling products on your own website, you’ll need to craft an awesome snippet of content if you’re looking to sit high up in the ranks and beat Amazon’s Sales Rank.
Why? Well, let’s recap Amazon’s two main aims:
- To show the most relevant products for a user’s search
- To show the best-quality products, based on previous performance
Clever product descriptions fit the bill on both of these occasions. They’re helping with relevance because you’re thoroughly explaining the product, and you’re in with a better chance at improving conversion rates if you’re able to convince a visitor to hit “purchase”.
How exactly do you create clever product descriptions? Use these tips to get started:
- Explain why your ideal customer needs the product you’re selling.
- Include your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) to set you apart from competitors—e.g. free shipping or responsibly-sourced products.
- Add justification.
- Tell mini stories to help with relatability and show off your personality.
Here’s a fantastic example of how one Amazon seller uses the product description feed to convince visitors to purchase:
Notice how this seller has used the product description field to give detail on the product, using keywords and convincing copy?
Aim to do that for every listing you’re optimizing.
Not only will it help to share crucial information about your product (and target merchant keywords), but people on the brink of purchasing will know whether it’s a good fit for them—boosting your conversion rate, and the chance of conquering Amazon SEO.
5. …and Bullet Points, Too
When you’re shopping on Amazon, what convinces you to purchase the product you’re browsing? For me, it’s the bullet point section.
A neat list of five sentences that tell me everything I need to know about the product, it’s the perfect place for you to optimize for Amazon SEO.
Why? Because they’re one of the content blocks we can edit in the backend of Amazon—giving us a chance to target those merchant keywords we found earlier.
Each bullet point has a 500-character limit. That doesn’t sound like much room to play with, right?
But just take a look at this example of a product listing shown when I searched for “electric kettle”:
I’ll bet that’s more space than you thought.
Plus, when we take a look at the content itself, did you notice how each list item had a specific point? Rather than using this space as filler to target uber-relevant keywords, the seller used the space available to show off the ins and outs of their product—and make people want to buy.
(I hate to sound like I’m repeating myself, but remember: The performance—including conversion rate—of your listing plays a huge role in Amazon SEO.)
You could optimize this space and convince someone to purchase by:
- Including USPs here—e.g. free shipping, or responsibly-sourced products.
- Mentioning key product features—e.g. size, color, material or weight.
- Listing which items come in the box.
- Noting any warranties or guarantees that come with the product.
Recognize that I didn’t add prices or promotions to this list?
Since the bullet-pointed section of your product listing is edited manually, including time-limited promotions means you’ll have to remember and edit each one when the event is over.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
6. Showcase Your Products with Top Quality Photography
Did you know that 93% of consumers consider images essential to purchasing decisions?
Consumers are also 40 times more likely to share something that features an image.
Focusing on this when planning your Amazon SEO strategy means you’re onto a winner. Why? Well, since product photos are displayed in Amazon search before someone clicks your listing, you could raise awareness elsewhere and boost your CTR when being shown in the SERPs.
Fancy an example? Check out this SERP for the term “fruit bowl”:
The products ranked in positions one and two both have great photography. It allows me to clearly see the product in use, and the white background allows the product to shine.
I bet you’re much more likely to click that listing over one like this (shown on page 6):
…Am I right?
Product photos affect Amazon SEO because they influence your listing’s performance.
For example: A listing with awesome product photography is likely to generate more click-throughs than one without. And, since a searcher can clearly see the product before visiting the page itself, the conversion rate is much likely to be higher since they’re genuinely interested.
That’s bound to help you conquer the Amazon Sales Rank.
Here’s how to cash in on this Amazon optimization technique:
- Make your photos clear, on a white background
- Don’t be too artsy—you could confuse a searcher
- Use a high-quality camera
- Edit your images before uploading to remove shadows
- Upload images of several angles to give the searcher a 360-view
Just like any Amazon technique, you should also research your competition.
Is there a specific style of photo always being shown on page one when searching for the product you’re optimizing? Try to replicate it—it’s obviously working!
7. Collect Customer Reviews (Lots of Them)
We all know the power of customer reviews.
…But what you might not realize is the power they have on purchases—and the potential conversion rate of your Amazon product listing.
As many as 72% of consumers will take action after reading a positive review.
If you’re collecting glowing reviews from previous customers, it pleases both Amazon and potential customers. Here’s what it makes them think:
- Potential customers: “People must like these products, so I’ll give them a go.”
- Amazon algorithm: “People are buying this product when found in search, so let’s rank it higher.”
Get the gist? It’s a circle you get to be in.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Test it yourself by searching for something on Amazon and making a note of how many products ranked highly have positive reviews.
Here’s an example:
Because previous performance is such an important part of the A9 algorithm, take advantage of customer reviews and aim to collect as many as possible.
- Optimize your purchase confirmation message through the Seller Central Feedback Manager
- Reach out to customers one-on-one
- Ask customers to leave a review if they query before buying
Need some inspiration to get started? Here’s how one Amazon seller is making the ask:
8. Think About Your Product’s Pricing Carefully
Ah, the joys of pricing—something we all struggle to get right, but reap the rewards if it’s set perfectly.
…And by “struggle to get right”, I mean finding a price point that doesn’t convince Amazon’s algorithm to push your listing further down the ranks.
Going back to how the A9 algorithm works, Amazon want to show the best products at the best price.
(That’s what we, as searchers, go to Amazon for, right?)
If you’re pricing your product too high, your listing won’t fit that criteria.
Why would Amazon show your $50 pair of sneakers when 80% of other sellers sell the same quality product for $20?
To make sure you’re not diminishing your chances of ranking highly in Amazon SERPs due to pricing, do a quick search of your product and assess the competition.
What’s the average price of a product ranking on page one? Are these products similar in quality to yours?
Your answers to those questions should give you a rough ballpark to set your prices.
However, I’ve got a final word of warning: Make sure your product is still profitable. Remember your break even point and the profit margin you’ll need to make Amazon selling worth your while.
There’s not much point in selling a $50 product if it takes you $49 to manufacture it.
(Unless you’re selling millions.)
Now you’ve got to grips with the basics of a strong Amazon SEO strategy, it’s time to get to work.
Start by making these tweaks to a handful of product pages and measuring your results. That way, you can determine what’s working for your products, since best practices can differ depending on the nature of the product you’re selling (and your competition).
But, keep going.
I can’t wait to see your listings crop-up in my own SERPs when I’m browsing for my newest purchase!