10 Simple Amazon SEO Ranking Tips
In the modern digital world we live in, we commonly hear our favorite buzz word, SEO. Ecommerce companies believe their success hinges on their ability to rank on Google. That means it’s a race to the top. Because Google has become so popular and the market is saturated with more competition than ever before, Google has made it harder and harder to get ranked. The days of keyword stuffing your website are over. What if there was another solution though? Now enters Amazon.
Amazon has become THE ecommerce powerhouse. With logistics innovations and programs such as Amazon Prime, they are revolutionizing the way we shop. They have forced companies like Best Buy to rethink the way they do business. Amazon made one world changing move. They introduced Amazon Prime. The challenge for ecommerce in the past was consumer’s demand for instant gratification. Who wants to wait 7-10 business days for a new toy? Paying a nominal annual fee to have unlimited free 2 day shipping changed ecommerce forever. With over 300 million Amazon Prime users and growing, ecommerce companies and manufacturers cannot afford to not be on Amazon. Amazon has one major advantage to offer sellers – Unlike Google, Amazon is an ecommerce platform. Translation: users go on Amazon to shop and buy products, removing the common Google issue of speculative traffic. These people are there to spend money, not search for information. The good news, Amazon SEO is very reminiscent of the old Google SEO days. Let’s explore…
The Amazon SEO Algorithm: Conversion vs. User Satisfaction
As I already established, Amazon is an ecommerce platform. They make money when products are sold. Google has openly said they are in the business of providing the best search result to searchers, meaning they are concerned with user satisfaction. If you are in the business of user satisfaction, metrics like on-page time, click-through-rate and bounce rate might be important to track and measure; however, if you are in the business of selling products, metrics such as revenue, gross margin per search and conversion rate are much more meaningful.
What does that mean? Simply put, your Amazon SEO consultant should focus on factors that will boost conversion rates. Higher conversion rates mean more products sold, leading to more money for Amazon. Therefore, they have designed their A9 search algorithm to favor and rank products higher that are more likely to convert to a sale. A stark contrast to Google, which focuses on user engagement and external trust factors.
Amazon SEO Ranking Factors: The Key Metrics
This is an excerpt from a help file in Seller Central titled, Using Search and Browse (Seller Central login required).
“Search is the primary way that customers use to locate products on Amazon.com. Customers search by entering keywords, which are matched against the search terms you enter for a product. Well-chosen search terms increase a product’s visibility and sales. The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term – if it’s a relevant and compelling term.
“Factors such as price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results. In general, better-selling products tend to be towards the beginning of the results list. As your sales of a product increase, so does your placement.”
It’s a rarity in digital marketing that things are made black and white. Amazon’s statement above is their attempt to be as clear as possible about how they rank products. Being elusive and vague does not serve them well. Again, they make money when you make money. That statement is not just valuable because it outlines the basic metrics that are weighed, it also confirms that Amazon search is the primary way users are locating products on Amazon. Not through Google. Not by using the category tree. Search!
Let me walk you through some of these metrics and explain how they can be used/manipulated to help you.
1. On-page Content to Build Amazon SEO
Unlike Google’s unstructured data format that allows you infinite design possibilities, Amazon’s backend has structured the data input for products so you know exactly what information they are looking for. Every field has a name, a definition, and sometimes a defined list of valid values. My advice: spend a little extra time to ensure that every field has been filled out with thoughtful data that incorporates keywords and compelling copy that might entice a user to purchase.
One of Google’s primary metrics for ranking your website is inbound links. Although an inbound link to your Amazon listing might help that listing pop up on Google, it will not help your ranking in Amazon search results or in paid ad placement. Again, the key here is to optimize and focus your Amazon SEO on conversions. Amazon now shows you your “unit session percentage” within one of your business reports, which is your conversion rate for that product. That calculation is just sessions divided by units ordered. Seeing your conversion rate will help you measure long term success of your changes. In all digital marketing, one of the primary functions is to track and measure initiatives to see how successful they have been. If your changes have not been effective, do not be afraid to hit the reset button and adapt new changes.
Places to optimize content:
Amazon SEO can be done by implementing keywords in an organic and natural flowing fashion to the following areas:
- Page title
- Product description (unverified – it is believed that bullet points enhance results)
- Editorial review
- Product picture file name
- Name of author, editor, etc (used by publishing only – do not keyword stuff)
- Amazon’s special keywords feild
Let’s explore these more in depth…
2. Conversion Rate:
For a company that emphasizes the importance of conversion rate, Amazon does not give you much to work with. You can find conversion rate per product (Unit Session Percentage), but you will not be able to see where the traffic came from or do A/B split tests. You can find the unit session percentage by going to Reports >> Business Reports >> Detail Page Sales and Traffic. Make sure the Unit Session Percentage column is visible.
Ensure that you weight your conversion rate against your buy box percentage. Amazon displays numbers for that ASIN as a whole, not just what you did. That means sessions and units ordered are not just what you had, but a culmination of all the sellers for that ASIN. Once you factor in the buy box percentage, you will have a more accurate result.
3. CTR vs CTS
A high Click Through Rate (CTR) is an indication of user satisfaction with search results. This would be appealing to Google, and its not ignored by Amazon, but it is certainly not the focus. Amazon doesn’t just rely on the click through rate, but also calculates the overall click to sales (CTS). CTS would be the amount of people that clicked on a product from a search engine results page (SERP) and then purchased it.
Example: Let’s say product #1 has a high CTR and a low CTS. Product #2 has the same or maybe a lower CTR but a high CTS. Amazon, assuming all other factors are the same, will rank product number 2 first. Why? Because it all comes back to sales. They want to rank the products most likely to convert to a sale highest in the SERPs, and that means CTS is important!
Amazon encourages and rewards sellers for uploading multiple beautiful images that follow their image requirements. Their guidelines call for images that are larger than 1000×1000 pixels so that their zoom function works properly. By saying, “Zoom has proven to enhance sales,” Amazon has confirmed that images following their requirements will 1) help your product ranking and 2) increase conversions, also leading to an increase in ranking.
Amazon has made it no secret that they pay attention to price. Not just in your business reports, but also on your seller central dashboard, they conveniently provide the tools needed to manage your price and easily compare to other people selling your product.
Price has a major impact on whether a consumer buys your product or even buys the product on Amazon as opposed to another website. For this reason, Amazon places a high value on competitively priced products. In addition, a product that may be a higher quality and deserving of a higher price, might get ranked lower than a lesser quality product that is priced lower. The logic here is that the lower priced product might have a higher chance to convert to a sale. Of course all the other metrics will be factored in as well, but you can’t ignore price.
6. Recent Sales
Although sales over the life-time of the product are important, many sales within a short period of time will bump you up the rankings faster. The theory here is that rewarding products that have large sales numbers or growth in a short time period will help address the concepts of seasonality or emerging trends. Of course, in order to maintain position for an extended period of time, the product will need to produce consistent long-term sales.
Nice to know but difficult to manipulate right? How do you bump your short-term and long-term sales up? Here is a brief list of ideas:
- Use the Amazon SEO ideas in this guide to boost your organic ranking
- Use paid Amazon ads to drive immediate traffic
- Leverage email and social media campaigns to drive traffic to your Amazon listings
- Run promotions or lightening deals to drive sales and gain exposure
- Amazon listings show up in Google – Do off-page SEO to get your listings found on Google
7. Verified Reviews
Amazon has gained a reputation for being the go-to place for product reviews. Reviews carry a lot of weight with consumers when they are making a buying decision. So the reviews, in the eyes of Amazon, serve 2 purposes:
- By being the go-to place for product reviews, consumers are drawn to Amazon to read reviews even if they did not intend to buy from Amazon originally.
- Based on their business model to promote conversions, they are incentivized to reward products with many positive reviews because those will more likely convert to a sale than products with poor or little reviews.
There are verified and unverified reviews. The verified reviews are written by people who have been confirmed as buying the product on Amazon, and these reviews carry much more weight. They are seen as more credible and an honest opinion of the product. Verified reviews and the overall review rating are two of the most valuable metrics for Amazon SEO.
In Amazon’s eyes, a verified review is an honest and independent review, and a good indication of whether or not customers like a particular product. In addition, if they ranked products solely by sales, and they did not factor in reviews, they might endorsing bad products that, in the long-term, will not convert as well.
Professional tip: Lobby your current customers to leave product reviews by sending them samples of other products you sell. This gets you product reviews and potentially they will come back to buy a full-size version of the product you sent them a sample of.
The title is critical. Not only do including keywords here make a significant impact on your ranking, but they also help with your click-through-rate (CTR). Without a high CTR, your ranking does not matter. You can show up number one in search results pages all day long, but unless people actually click on your product, you will not sell a thing. Amazon suggests incorporating the following attributes in product titles.
- Brand and description
- Product line
- Material or key ingredient
Keeping CTR in mind, do not keyword stuff, but you absolutely should include the main keywords in the title. For example, one of our clients has a face moisturizer called Correcting Multi-Vitamin Day Creme SPF 30. Just having the product name would be a bad example of an optimal title. A more optimized and Amazon SEO friendly title would be: Kerstin Florian Correcting Multi-Vitamin Day Creme SPF 30 Face Moisturizer.
Consumers love brands. It is very common for a consumer to come to the Amazon website and search by brand. The brand field appears on the product page, and when someone clicks on it, it links to a page that displays more products from the same brand. As I stated above, always fill out as much information as you can about the products, including the brand. This will help with conversions and with ranking. If a product has multiple brand names associated with it, use the Google keyword planner to determine which brand is searched more.
10. Your Keywords and Search Terms
Amazon has chosen to be a rebel and have their own set of rules for keyword best practices. If you try to structure your keywords and search terms like you would for Google or PPC, you will be doing it wrong. Here are the Amazon guidelines:
- There are five fields that accept 50 characters each.
- Don’t repeat keywords
- Comma separated values will be ignored
- Quotation marks will unnecessarily limit your keyword
- Variations of the same keyword are not necessary
- Do not include common misspellings
- Pay attention to order of keywords
- Synonyms or spelling variations are important (e.g. include skincare and skin care)
There you have it. Following these Amazon SEO steps will help you rank your products higher. Amazon may have designed their A9 algorithm to reward conversion, but the byproduct of that is this – brands that do Amazon SEO don’t just rank better, they sell more because their products are optimized for conversion. The combination of higher search rankings and higher conversions equates to brand success on the Amazon platform. Try these tips and let me know how they work out!
Don’t want to do it yourself? Click Here to Hire an Amazon Consultant!