How to Get a Bigger Slice of Amazon Search Page Views
Uploading an item for sale on Amazon is easy to the point that almost anyone can do it, but ranking that item so that it shows up in search among hundreds or even thousands of competitors is something else entirely. Amazon’s search algorithm A9 is similar to Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines, which means that you can optimize your products, descriptions, and photos to come up in search.
As with normal search, there are multiple factors involved with Amazon search optimization. Improving your ranking or how often you show up in search is enough to boost organic traffic and often increase sales on Amazon, but you also need search marketing to boost your conversion rate, or the percentage of viewers who click through and make a purchase. We'll discuss both options, so you can start optimizing your Amazon store and products for search.
Create Titles for Amazon Search
Titles and descriptions are a big part of any search optimization process, and it's no different for Amazon SEO. Using descriptive titles and detailed descriptions allows you to insert keywords and search terms, as well as relevant words and information that will help users find you in search. However, it's a bit more complicated than simply writing out the longest title and description possible. A good search strategy requires a well thought out title.
Titles - Titles are a science that matter no matter where you look, whether for Amazon search or for conversion marketing. While search optimization says that you should max out the 200-character title maximum on Amazon, search marketing says you shouldn't, and in this case, you want to listen to the marketing aspect. In fact, Amazon states that their research shows users are likely to skim past titles that are longer than 60-80 characters. This means keeping your titles short, to the point, but include as many logical and relevant keywords as possible. For example, the Amazon Fire HD 6:
Fire HD 6, 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black
This is a very short title of 57 characters, with little to no keywords included, and includes information from the description, which you don't have to do in a normal title. Amazon knows that because they don't have to compete in search (they cheat) their products will automatically come up in search. So, this is actually an example of a bad title.
Fire HD 6 in Black 6" HD Display eReader Tablet with WiFi, 8GB HD, 1.5Ghz, & 2Mp 1080P Camera
This title is better than the previous one because it allows users to see more about the product at a glance to help boost conversion and offers more search keywords for A9, (tablet, eReader, camera info) and most importantly, is still under 80 characters. In fact, it's 77 characters vs. Amazon's own 57, and while it does remove the 'Includes special offers', the special offers information is available in the bullet list and the description, so it's quite repetitive anyway. All of the included keywords make sense in the order included, and while they aren’t necessary for the product, since almost everyone knows what a Fire is, you can apply the theory to anything, from stickers to mugs, to vacuum cleaners.
Why don't you want a longer title? You can max out the 200-character limit, but it's going to look a lot like this:
Amazon Fire HD 6 Kindle eReader Tablet Black 6” HD Display & 1080p Video Recording, 8GB HD, 1.5Ghz Quad Core Processor, Front Facing 2Mp Camera + Rear Facing Skype Camera, WiFi, Free Unlimited Cloud Storage, FreeTime Unlimited, Free Apps, & Fire OS Sangria
Very few people are going to click on something like this. Most people will skim by it, simply because it looks like spam. Plus, it's important not to go overboard with titles, because using too many synonyms, or using keywords in an order that doesn’t make sense, will negatively affect your search ranking.
Descriptions & Amazon Search
Descriptions include the content on the page and the information that shows up under the title in search. Amazon allows on page descriptions of 30 to 800 words, and the length matters for a variety of reasons. First, you want your description to fully inform users and convert them to make a purchase. You also want it to keep them on the page. Third, you want to include relevant keywords that will come up in search. Amazon tracks each keyword once, which means that you don’t have to include words multiple times. The description also matters for your conversion marketing. A good description should be 250-500 words long and should lead the reader down the page while convincing them that they want to buy the product. If you’re optimizing for Google, aim for 350-500 words, and use about one primary keyword per 100 words for optimization.
What keywords should you include? The product name, brand, manufacturer, serial number, keyword, and any specifications, such as color, style, size, etc. are always a good start. You can also use a variety of free tools like Google SK Tool, Google Trends, Bing Tools, or similar to help you find the right keywords for Amazon.
The Differences Between Google & Amazon Search
If you're accustomed to optimizing for Google search, there are a couple of main differences that you should watch out for. The first is that where Google ranks based on relevance and time spent on the page, Amazon is all about money. The most important ranking factor in Amazon search is value per customer, or how much money each person spends on the page. The more people who make a purchase, the more traffic you will get. However, it doesn’t stop there, because Amazon follows up, and includes user satisfaction, your order, reviews, and even answered questions in their algorithm.
The biggest difference between Amazon and Google search is that Amazon does not register or give rank to repeated keywords. This means that no matter how many times you write 'Amazon Kindle Fire' in your description, it has the same effect, because Amazon only tracks the first instance. Instead, Amazon keyword optimization means using the ‘Search’ option when creating or editing the product. Amazon uses the template fields under search instead of on-page keywords. You get up to five lines of up to 50 characters each of keywords or search phrases, and you should use all 5 lines.
Google, however, still ranks based on keyword density on the page, but don’t go overboard. Instead, use your keyword in the title, in headers, and a few times naturally throughout your text. Optimizing for both is always a good thing, as this search strategy will help boost organic traffic from the web as well as from the Amazon store.
Amazon, unlike Google, also considers the order of the keywords during search. Amazon search requires that keywords be placed in logical order. So, "Amazon Fire HD Tablet" not "Tablet Fire HD". Google doesn’t care.
Tip: A bullet list of features is a great way to integrate as many keywords as possible without raising red flags, or resorting to unnatural speech. Just write for the reader rather than for search.
Understand & Maximize Use of Amazon Categories
Amazon categories are extremely important for search because A9, Amazon's search algorithm, uses categories as much as keywords. Finding and placing your products in the right categories can be crucial to Amazon SEO.
Categories affect where your products show up, because many Amazon users search within a category. Amazon also decides on relevant products from specific categories to bring up, because their main concern is 'what product is this person going to buy'. If you're selling products that are already on Amazon, you can already see the categories in your seller profile. If you're uploading new categories, you should conduct research to see which categories you should use. Amazon initially suggests some categories and sub categories for you to use, but you can search and add your product to other relevant categories as desired.
Categories also allow you to:
- Research competing products within the category
- Rank and view competing products based on popularity and price
- Easily find and view competing products
Essentially, Amazon's categories allow you to quickly and easily sort through your biggest competitors, which allows you to look at the highest selling products in your category. Competitor research is a great way to find inspiration for keywords, product formatting, and price points, but you should never copy anything.
Importantly, Amazon also uses pricing by category as a ranking factor. Items that are priced competitively are more likely to rank well in a category than luxury items, simply because Amazon sells more budget items than luxury ones.
You'll also want to assign ASIN's for the main product, and child ASIN's for each variation. The Amazon Standard Identification Number identifies products, and if you set up a parent, or a main product, you can add variations to it, which then show up in search together, and aggregate comments, reviews, and views.
- Amazon shows preference for multi-product listings
- Parent/Child ASIN's integrate all product data, including reviews, visits, and questions/answers onto the same page, which means that your one page will perform better in search than 2-20 individual pages. This adds to overall traffic, all sales add up on one page, and your ranking for every search item goes up.
Another important consideration is that you can create individual keyword and tag descriptions for multiple product listings. This doesn’t work on Google, because Google only sees the text on the page, Amazon however, uses their categories for search. Because Amazon searches by category first, and relevance second, color, size, and other specifics, such as hard drive size, and other data are actually just as important for ensuring your product comes up in search as relevant keywords. That means filling in individual data for each multiple product listing under the 'more details' page.
How Conversion Affects Your Search
Amazon uses a complex ranking algorithm that integrates reviews, conversion, keywords and search terms, the product description, the amount of time the user spends on the page, how much money the average consumer spends, image size and quality, sales rank, relevance, customer satisfaction, and a number of other features. This means that you have a lot to pay attention to, but it also means that you can tweak your search marketing and user experience to boost your sales and therefore your Amazon ranking.
Conversion is one of Amazon's key performance indicators, but it's more complicated than who clicks on the page. Instead, Amazon pays attention to how likely the user is to make a purchase on the page, and how much time they spend there after clicking. Amazon is concerned about quality, relevance, and making money, and the longer the user stays, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
For you, this means that your first strategy should be keeping visitors on the page. While you should offer a concise list of points at the top of the page so that users can familiarize themselves with your product, the description helps you keep users there. Most will scroll down to see the product description and reviews. Both are important.
- Product descriptions should grab attention.
Charts comparing items, how-to's, review information, photos, and other media all boost the length of time spent on the page.
- Write for the reader, not for search. Most of Amazon search is off page, meaning that keywords don't matter in the description.
- Design the user description to lead the reader from the top to the bottom of the page, so that they keep scrolling down. Check out Amazon's Fire description here to see a great example.
Most people also scroll down to read reviews. While you never want to pay for reviews (This is a terms of service violation and could hurt your sales if people think reviews are fake), there are a couple of ways to boost how many reviews you get. The first is simply asking people for a review, offering store credit or a small coupon if they review, offering your product to bloggers or professional reviewers, or reaching out to consumers after a purchase asking for a review. Learn more about using Amazon reviews to boost sales, and how to get them here.
Interestingly, you don't need good reviews to boost search (although good reviews do boost conversion which in turn helps search), any review actually boosts your search ranking to some extent. A product with more reviews will rank higher than a product with fewer reviews, even if the overall rating is not as high. However, your goal should still be to boost quality reviews with a great product and customer service, or your conversion rate will drop, and so will your ranking.
Photos for Conversion
Photos are an extremely important part of conversion, and for that, you need a professional quality image. In fact, Amazon actually uses image size as a ranking factor. Some categories won't show products in searches if the image is smaller than 1,000 x 1,000 pixels. This is in part because Amazon wants to integrate their zoom feature, and in part because Amazon wants to make sales, and high quality photos, and several of them, boost sales. In this case, quality over quantity is definitely the rule, but if you can do both, multiple high resolution images are the best way to go.
Amazon uses a large number of ranking factors in their search, and one of the best things you can do for your sales is to make sure that order fulfilment goes perfectly every time. Amazon tracks customer satisfaction, return rate, and POP or Perfect Order Percentage, and products that don't rank well will eventually sink lower on search. In addition, Amazon will penalize you if more than 1% of orders are defective, receive a negative feedback, the customer asks for a return, or there is any kind of shipment problem.
- Amazon's main goal is to increase revenue per customer. Products with high conversion rate and no issues will rank higher.
- Use Parent/Child ASIN's to combine multiple products into a single listing to boost ranking
- Multiple keywords in product descriptions don't matter, but they do in the search field, and in titles.
- Fill out as much data in the product listing page as possible.
Use categories and sub-categories appropriately
- Use descriptions and quality photos to boost conversion
- Optimize shipping and fulfillment to ensure that customers are happy to boost long term ranking
- Try to build reviews by getting in touch with consumers
Amazon makes it easy to optimize your products for search, because they favor off page keywords and search data, which doesn't affect the quality of the page. This means that on page information should be focused towards the reader and not towards search. Therefore, your main goal on page is to boost sales and make more money, which will in turn boost your Amazon ranking.
If you need help with automating & optimizing your Amazon business check out Skubana. Our detailed analytics allow you to eliminate low margin items, while focusing your efforts on the products that make you the most profit. Start your free trial today!
Chad Rubin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Skubana, a multichannel e-commerce software the enables brands to unlock growth by unifying their back-office operations.