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In today's article "Amazon SEO", I will discuss how the Amazon search algorithm works, optimization measures for better rankings in the search results pages and differences to search engine optimization for Google search. However, I would like to start by explaining why every Amazon seller should take a close look at optimizing their product listings. A step-by-step guide to Listings optimization I have already written.

Amazon as the primary product search engine in Germany

In recent years, SEO or search engine optimization has referred in particular to the optimization of web content (websites, images, etc.) based on ranking factors for Google searches. Google was and is the search engine with the most search queries (3.45 billion search queries per day). Google is a horizontal search engine that can process and answer information-oriented, navigation-oriented and transaction-oriented search queries. For this reason, the various search algorithms are far superior to all vertical search engines such as Amazon and YouTube when it comes to answering all search queries. In recent years, however, transaction-oriented search queries in particular have shifted from Google to Amazon.

Due to Amazon's strong presence in Google search results, we as customers realized at some point that Amazon is overrepresented in the search results and that we could just as well start the search on Amazon. The log-in effect through the PrimeSubscription has significantly increased the shift in search queries towards Amazon. Another reason for the increase in search queries on Amazon is the increased use of mobile devices. The majority of Internet users today are online via mobile devices. Use via mobile devices differs drastically from use via desktop devices. Around 90 % of internet usage via mobile devices takes place within apps. As a result, only 10 % of mobile internet usage takes place via mobile web browsers.

The increased app usage favors the Amazon app, which significantly reinforces the shift in search queries in addition to the lock-in effect of Prime membership and the general trend towards vertical search engines.

A current Jumpshoot study shows that around half (46.7 %) of American internet users start product searches directly on Amazon. Google, on the other hand, still receives 34.6 % of all product searches according to Jumpshoot. Of course, these figures cannot be transferred 1-to-1 to Germany, but they do show the trend of where people are currently searching for products and will continue to do so in the future.

Amazon as a central point of contact for online shoppers

Amazon is not only the first port of call for product searches in German e-commerce, but also leads in terms of sales volume and turnover. In 2017, Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace generated sales of t3n approx. 53 % of e-commerce sales in Germany. Marketplace retailers in particular are playing an increasingly important role and are already responsible for more than 50 % of items sold.

Amazon is also a real heavyweight in terms of monthly visitors. In October 2018, www.amazon.de was visited 490 million times, making it the fifth most popular website on the German internet and the fifth most popular online store worldwide.

Amazon Traffic

The majority of website visitors (58 %) come directly to Amazon, which once again clearly illustrates the strength of the Amazon brand.

Amazon website visitors

Click distribution by placement

We have now clarified why Amazon is so important for online retailers. We briefly explain the importance of SEO for Amazon and why every retailer should familiarize themselves with listing optimization.

Placements on the first search results pages are of the utmost importance for generating sales. Only a fraction of searchers leave the first search results page and go to page 2/3 ff. to find the right product. Users are more likely to change their search query if there are no suitable results on the first attempt than to visit the subsequent search results pages.

I am not currently aware of an evaluation according to click probabilities for the different placements in the search results pages on Amazon, which is why I am referring to data relating to click behavior in Google search. Well over 90 % of organic clicks are made on the first search results page. The first organic placement generates around 60 % of all clicks. The second placement generates only 15 % of all clicks and the third only around 8 %.

This means that for every 100 search queries, around 60 people click on the first result. This strong distribution is also aptly referred to as "winner-takes-it-all". We can also observe this click behavior in other search engines such as YouTube or the app store.

There is no obvious reason why click behavior on Amazon should be drastically different. Increases in sales can also be explained by ranking improvements in the daily sale of products.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO:

Google, as the largest search engine, is used to find answers to questions. Basically, SEO works differently for Amazon and Google because both companies pursue different goals. While Google concentrates on the content that is most precisely tailored to the search query and therefore focuses on advertising, Amazon focuses on the maximum number of products sold.

It is therefore Amazon's intention to present the best and most interesting products so that customers are more likely to buy and see no reason to go to another shopping website.

Google earns money almost exclusively from the display of advertisements and therefore focuses on the display of high-quality content.

Amazon's main revenue is generated through transactions and therefore Amazon uses KPIs such as the conversion rate to optimize the probability of a transaction for each search term.

Due to the different business objectives, the measures for ranking optimization also differ. I would like to briefly outline the two main differences. There are undoubtedly other points that I would like to highlight, including here have presented.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO: User experience as a ranking factor

The goal of both Google and Amazon as Search engine is to display the best results as far forward as possible. Because only if users are satisfied with the search results will they continue to use the search engine in the future - and only in this way can search engines ensure that advertising revenues (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Amazon Sponsored Products) increase. One way to determine the "best results": the user experience. The measurement of user experience differs significantly depending on the search engine.

The determination of the user experience as Ranking factor on Google and all other horizontal search engines is significantly more complex than with vertical search engines such as Amazon.

There are numerous KPIsthat have a horizontal search engine as Google can take into account as user experience metrics (bounce rate, returning visitors, average session duration, etc.). Depending on the search intention (information-oriented, transaction-oriented and navigation-oriented search queries), the appropriate KPIs for determining the user experience differ significantly.

The view that, for example, a short dwell time generally indicates a better User Experience cannot be confirmed in practice.

On the other hand, vertical search engines such as Amazon have a clear advantage in determining the user experience. For example, if a user searches for "men's shoes white 45" on Amazon and then places an order, Amazon receives feedback that this product is relevant to the respective search query.

This means that Amazon can use the individual keyword Click-through rate and Conversion rate can determine the user experience much more quickly and easily than Google. For this reason, the user experience also plays an important role in the Amazon search engine optimization significantly more important than Google.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO: Keyword density

The frequency of a keyword (keyword density) on a page has become less important for Google optimization in recent years. Nevertheless, the natural repetition of keywords on the page (headline, title, alt attributes) has a direct influence on the organic position in the search results pages. Too frequent use of keywords can even lead to the respective subpage disappearing from the Google index. As a rule, it can be said that the keyword density should not exceed a value of 3.5 %.

When optimizing for Amazon search, however, keyword density has no direct influence on the organic ranking. If the product listing contains the keyword in question at least once, it is considered a relevant result for Amazon and is therefore included in the keyword-specific index. The increased use of a keyword therefore does not lead to an improvement in the ranking

Amazon A9 / Amazon SEO ranking factors

Like all other search engines, the Amazon A9 search algorithm has a large number of different factors that are responsible for determining the display of organic rankings. I do not know the exact weightings or the full list of factors. There is also no presentation by the A9 team that shows the different weightings and factors. It is therefore quite possible that I am not mentioning all the factors taken into account by Amazon below.

Before we look at the different ranking factors, it should be made clear that there are both direct and indirect factors. Indirect factors are factors that influence the direct ranking factors. For example, the number and quality of images has no direct effect on organic rankings because Amazon does not evaluate images. However, a high number of high-resolution images inevitably has an influence on the conversion rate. Because the conversion rate is a direct ranking factor in Amazon SEO, the image quality and number should be taken into account. It is often the indirect factors that lead to ranking improvements.

Amazon SEO: Direct ranking factors

Sales history:

The number of sales or the sales history of a product has a direct influence on the organic ranking on Amazon. As the user experience on Amazon is measured by sales, sales have a decisive influence on the position in the organic rankings. This is because Amazon knows which products are most likely to be purchased after entering a search term based on the number and direct comparison with other products. Due to Amazon's transaction-oriented business model, it is obvious that sales history also has a significant influence on the positioning of organic results.

Return rate:

In addition to sales figures, customer satisfaction with the purchased product also plays a decisive role. Amazon wants customers to be satisfied with the products they buy and therefore closely monitors customer feedback and the returns rate in particular. A high returns rate is a sign of dissatisfaction. Amazon wants to prevent this, as the dissatisfaction is ultimately attributed to Amazon.  

Keywords in the product listing (title, attributes and general search terms)

I will explain later in this article how Amazon decides which products to display. However, it is important to understand that every optimization must be preceded by keyword research. Keyword research determines which search terms are relevant for the respective product and which keywords are more important than others. The challenge with listing optimization is that space for placing keywords is limited. The primary placement of keywords is in the title, in the bullet points or in the fields for the general search terms (in certain cases also in the product description). In order for the products to be displayed for search terms, the specified search term must be included as a keyword in the product listing, otherwise the product will not be included in the selection of products to be displayed.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is the perfect indicator for measuring the user experience. Because if the conversion rate after entering the search term is higher compared to similar products, this leads Amazon to realize that the product for this search query must be rewarded with a better position in the organic rankings.

Click-through rate

As with Google, the CTR is also important for Amazon's placement in the organic search results pages. This means that products with a higher CTR than those of competitors will inevitably achieve better rankings in search results pages. It should be noted that there is no global CTR, but that the CTR differs depending on the search query.

TipThe CTR can be increased by using promotions such as "Buy 2 products and get 10 % discount". The Prime logo also generally leads to an increased click-through rate.

Availability of products

For your own products to be displayed, they must be available. A ranking without products in stock is inconceivable.

Selling price (direct or indirect factor)

Whether the sales price is a direct or only an indirect ranking factor does not play a significant role. The importance of the sales price in the purchase decision does not need to be explained. The sales price can be seen as a direct factor, but it is also an indirect factor and influences key figures such as CTR, sales history or the return rate.

Amazon SEO and indirect ranking factors:

Product images (main image and other images)

As already mentioned with the CTR, product images have a direct influence on both the click rate and the conversion rate. A product with meaningful and high-resolution images leads to an increased number of purchases.

Shipping method:

In my opinion, the shipping method is the most underestimated lever for ranking and sales optimization. Products that are shipped via Amazon Prime not only enjoy an increased conversion rate, but also an increased CTR. This in turn leads to more visitors and is doubly rewarded by the increased conversion rate.

Note: In some categories, it is almost unimaginable nowadays to land on the first organic search results without the Amazon Prime logo, because the first 16 organic results largely, sometimes even completely, feature the Amazon Prime logo.

Product ratings / reviews:

I probably don't need to go into the importance of reviews. Reviews have a direct influence on click-through rates and conversion rates and can quickly turn products into winners, but also into losers (if they are negative). The total number of reviews is often not the decisive factor, but rather the average product rating.

Buy-Box:

The buy box also has a direct influence on the performance of a product, especially on the conversion rate. A product without a buy box generally has a much lower conversion rate than the same product with a buy box. For this reason, the buy box percentage should be checked regularly.

Seller ratings:

The seller ratings are not product-related, but are intended to assess the basic service (delivery time, packaging, communication, etc.). For more expensive products, for which the purchase decision takes longer than usual, seller ratings play a more important role because customers are more likely to do research in order to assess the reliability of a retailer.

EBC / "A+" content

Both the EBC and the "A+" content serve to present the company's own products and the brand in a better light. The extended brand content helps to make products that require explanation easier to understand. The better presentation can help to improve the conversion rate. Increasing the conversion rate results in a better position in the organic rankings.

Advertisements (Amazon PPC)  

Nowadays, advertisements play a decisive role in the sale of products. It is often no longer possible to generate the first sales in just a few days without displaying advertisements on Amazon. By generating sales via Amazon ads, sales also increase, the sales history develops positively and your own products improve their organic Amazon ranking.

Promotions / Discounts

By creating promotions such as "Buy 2 products and get 10 % discount", an additional incentive is created for customers to buy more than one item. This leads to an increase in the Average Order Value (AOV) and therefore a positive sales history.

Offer prices / strike prices

By applying temporary offer prices on Amazon, sales and purchase probability can be increased in the short term, which can also lead to a ranking improvement in the short term.

Bestseller badge / Amazon Choice badge

The Amazon Bestseller badge is awarded to products that have sold more units in their product category than all other products in the same product category within a certain period of time (uncertain). Short-term sales are given more weight when calculating the bestseller rank. The bestseller badge is displayed below the product ratings and above the product price. The bestseller badge is also displayed on the main product image in the search results pages. Labeling a product with the bestseller badge suggests that both the CTR and the conversion rate will improve, leading to more sales and more visitors. Ultimately, this should lead to a ranking improvement.

The same can be assumed for products that are awarded the Amazon Choice badge.

Amazon SEO: Ranking optimization

In addition to the large number of indirect and direct ranking factors, the classification into performance and relevance factors must also be discussed. Since Amazon's main business is transaction-based, Amazon's goal (Customer Lifetime Value) is to maximize customer value. Maximizing customer value can only be achieved if Amazon customers regularly order products via the platform and do not return the products. In other words: purchase probability and customer satisfaction must be optimized so that customer lifetime value also increases.

The two characteristics of purchase probability and customer satisfaction can be directly transferred to the performance and relevance factors already mentioned. Relevance factors try to ensure that only relevant products are displayed after a search term has been entered. This is because Amazon can only ensure a high level of customer satisfaction and purchase probability by displaying relevant products. Using the performance factors, Amazon wants to ensure that the probability of purchase is maximized after entering a search term. In the following, we take a closer look at the construct of performance and relevance factors.

Amazon SEO - Relevance factors:

Relevance factors should ensure that only relevant products are displayed after entering a search term. But how is this ensured?

Basically, I can say that the search term entered is compared with the existing product data. For this reason, Amazon retailers must ensure that all possible and relevant search terms are recorded in the product data. As you might expect, this requires keyword research, which I will also address in this article. So if a product matches the search term entered but does not contain the search term, this product will not be included in the display. It is also important to note that with longer search term combinations (mid- and long-tail keywords), the keywords in the product data do not necessarily have to appear in the same order.

One example:

A customer on Amazon searches for "toddler rain jacket".

Our fictitious product contains the keyword "rain jacket" in the product title. The keyword "toddlers" is not included in the title, but it is in the search term fields. Although the order and position of the keywords are not contained in the same product feature, our rain jacket is indexed for this search term because it is judged to be relevant by the keyword match.

After entering the search term, Amazon only shows products that actually contain the search term. This filtering attempts to display only relevant products to the customer. This results in a different number of indexed products for two similar search terms, as can be seen below.

Search term "Rain jacket" over 10,000 results

Indexed products Amazon

Search term "Rain jacket kids" over 2,000 results

Indexing amazon SEO

However, it is not only by entering search terms that the indexed products are filtered. The use of other filter functions, which are displayed in the left sidebar on the desktop version of Amazon, changes the number of indexed products and thus also the visibility of the products.

Popular and frequently used filter functions include filtering according to the "Prime" shipping method, colors, sizes and average customer rating. In order for products to be displayed after entering the search term and using the filter function, the product data must match the filter details. For this reason, maintaining your own product data is essential and should be seen as an optimization measure. Because many retailers see the maintenance of product data as an annoying evil, hard-working retailers have the opportunity to increase the visibility of their products by maintaining their product data.

Amazon SEO: Optimization of the relevance factors

We have now looked at the relevance factors in theory. Now let's take a look at what measures should be taken to ensure that your products are noticed for as many relevant search terms as possible.

Amazon keyword research:

A product can have many different names. For example, a Doormat also as Foot stroker, Doormat, Foot scraper, Mat or also Door mat are labeled. Different names for a product also lead to different search terms being entered in search engines, although these are always geared towards the same product categories. By using different names for search queries in search engines, the first measure is always to research the search terms used.

In the first step of the Amazon keyword research, I introduce the practical process of researching with keywords available to everyone. Amazon SEO Tools before.

As already mentioned in the example with the doormat, there are synonyms that must be taken into account during keyword research.

For this reason, the very first port of call for keyword research should be a dictionary with synonyms. We enter the product name of our product there to find synonyms.

Synyome Keyword Research

Once we have identified the different synonyms, the second step is to find out which combinations of terms are used in Amazon searches.

To determine the term combinations, we used Amazon Suggest or Amazon's autocomplete function. This provides us with accurate and up-to-date data on which combinations of terms are actually searched for on Amazon.

Amazon SEO Suggest

When entering the product term, we receive a total of 10 suggestions that reflect the current search trends. For example, "doormats christmas" is currently (December 2018) the most popular search term for doormats, so let's make a note of the other term combinations and enter not only "doormat" in the next step, but also "doormat a...", "doormat b..." and "doormat c..." in order to identify other keywords that are relevant for our product. This not only gives us the 10 most popular search queries relating to "doormats", but also the 10 most popular search queries that start with "doormat a, b, c...".

Keyword research

Here too, we note suitable and relevant keywords, which we then add to our product listing.

The same process is now carried out with the synonyms so that we do not neglect any keyword and can later have an optimal keyword set during the listing optimization.

Of course, there are other sources that we can use for keyword research. Google, in particular, provides additional high-quality data for keyword research. By using the Google Keyword Planner, we can obtain accurate data on the monthly search volume of a keyword in addition to other term combinations. Of course, Google data cannot be transferred 1-to-1 to Amazon, but at least we get a guideline that we can use as a reference.

The first port of call on Google, however, is Google Search itself, so that we can also use autocomplete here.

Google Keywords

We can now carry out the same process for Google as we did for Amazon.

Let's take a look at how we can use the Google Keyword Planner to determine the search volume of individual keywords. However, there are a few requirements that need to be met before we can use the Google Keyword Planner:

  1. An active Google Ads account.
  2. The account has been used in the recent past or is currently being used to display Google Ads (otherwise we receive estimates of search volumes).

To determine the search volume, we select the keyword planner in our Google Ads account under Tools → Planning.

Keyword Planner

A new window will then open. We select the option "Determine new keywords" and enter our main keyword "doormat". We now receive the average number of search queries per month as well as an estimate of the competition, the estimated CPC bid and a variety of other keyword ideas.

Keyword ideas

This allows us to analyze our collected keywords and add new ideas to the existing keyword pool. For example, I haven't researched the keyword "dirt mat" on Amazon, but the Google Keyword Planner shows it to me as a relevant search term.

Once we have identified enough keywords, we need to distribute them to the different placements. Before we start, however, let's first look at some rules for selecting keywords.

Tips & tricks for keyword determination & placement

  1. Keyword density plays no roleFor the optimization of product listings based on the generated keywords, it is important to note that the more frequent use or mention of a keyword does not lead to an improvement in organic findability. It is sufficient for the keyword to appear once for the product to be considered relevant for the search query.
  2. Singular or plural makes no difference: It should also be noted that it is not necessary to mention keywords in the singular and plural form for the product to be identified as relevant. Mentioning the keyword alone, whether in singular or plural form, covers the search term in both search variants.
  3. Foreign brand names should not be used: During keyword research, it quickly becomes apparent that there are numerous search queries with a clear reference to certain brand names, such as "Bosch washing machine". If you are now selling a washing machine that is not from the "Bosch" brand, you should not use this keyword, at least in the product listing, as this can lead to legal problems.
  4. Use the hyphen for search terms that are written both separately and together: It often happens that keywords are entered and searched for in different forms. For example, keywords that are spelled both separately and together. So that you don't have to include both spellings of the keyword, we can use the hyphenated spelling to cover both keywords.

Examples:

Instead of "women's gifts & women's gifts" we write "women's gifts".

Instead of "Messengerbag & Messenger Bag" we write "Messenger-bag".

Instead of "rim brush & rim brush" we write "rim brush".

  1. Take holidays, events and other events into account when optimizing listings:

As we saw in the keyword research using Amazon Suggest, the most popular search term (as of December 2018) in relation to "doormats" is the search term "Christmas doormat". When keyword research is carried out in spring or summer, keywords such as "Christmas", "Santa Claus" or "New Year" may be ignored. Ignoring keywords always holds great potential for resourceful Amazon sellers. For this reason, holidays and events such as Christmas or Valentine's Day should be taken into account and integrated at an early stage.

  1. Spelling with or without umlauts leads to the same result

During keyword research, you will probably notice at some point that keywords are searched for both with and without umlauts, e.g. "Füßlinge" or "Fueßlinge". It makes no difference to the relevance of a product how the search term was entered, only that it is also included in the listing.

  1. Upper or lower case makes no difference

The spelling used to enter a keyword, whether upper or lower case, also has no influence on whether a product is identified as relevant or not.

  1. Filler words play no role

The additional entry of certain filler words such as "for" or "to" is not necessary for your own product to be identified as relevant.

  1. The order and position of the keywords do not matter

The position and order of keywords do not have to be observed in order for them to be taken into account for long-tail search queries consisting of several words. However, it may be the case that the correct order tends to lead to a higher relevance rating.

Now we come to the different placements for keywords and the pitfalls that lurk there.

Product title:

The title of a product is undoubtedly one of the most important placement options for the keywords researched. But it is not only because of the implementation of search terms that the title is such an important placement. The title also serves as an initial source of orientation and information for potential customers. Only if the title convinces the potential customer that the product corresponds to the desired services will a user click on this search result.

Amazon has certain requirements for the design of product titles. The requirements differ depending on the product category. The permitted length of the product title differs depending on the product category. For example, product titles in the "Clothing" category should be no longer than 60 characters for parent products and no longer than 150 characters for child products

The structure of a title is also specified by the style guides and should be adopted as precisely as possible so that the products are not deactivated.

Notes on the design of high-quality product titles:

The initial letters should be capitalized.

→ General length of 200 characters should not be exceeded. (Some categories require shorter titles).

→ Numbers should be shown as digits in the title and not written out in full.

→ Promotional statements should be avoided (e.g. Prime, Bestseller etc.).

→ In the mobile view or app view, the title is shortened in the search results pages due to the small display size.

It is difficult to make general statements about the perfect Amazon product title because the information differs significantly from category to category. In some categories, it can happen that only the parent title and no longer the child title is displayed in the search results pages for variant products. The Amazon specifications should therefore be carefully evaluated before creating the product titles.

Attributes / bullet points:

As a rule, there are 5 attributes or bullet points per product that can be defined for the respective product. In some product categories, however, more than 5 standard attributes can be displayed. The attributes are used to summarize the key features and customer benefits of the product in a compact form. Due to the large amount of space, the attributes are of course also suitable for placing keywords. The placement of the keywords in the attributes is irrelevant. However, the attributes should not be misused to randomly mention keywords. As usual, the text should first be written with the customer in mind and only in the next step should the placement of keywords be considered.

Components and uniqueness of the product should be presented in the top attributes.

Notes on the design of high-quality attributes:

Special characters should be avoided.

→ Phone numbers and your own website URL should not be mentioned.

→ In the mobile view, only the first 3 bullet points are visible at first glance, so these should contain the most important information.

→ Don't write novels: Longer texts are not better than shorter ones. The length of each bullet point should be determined based on the values given in the style guides. In many categories, a length of 15 words is recommended.

General search terms / backend keywords:

Every product offered on Amazon contains the "General search terms" field. Every Amazon retailer should enter the most important keywords that do not yet appear in the title or attributes in this field.

Amazon Keywords

An infinite number of keywords cannot be entered; the current maximum for keywords is 249 bytes. If the number of bytes is exceeded, entered keywords are no longer taken into account. Spaces are now also taken into account when calculating the number of bytes. By reducing the maximum number of bytes, special characters should be avoided.

Filler words should also not be used in the general search terms, as they have no relevance and reduce the available byte quantity.

Product description:  

The product description is one of the most frequently neglected components of a product listing, although it is of course highly relevant to the purchase decision. The product description is the component of a listing that contains the most information, particularly due to the maximum possible 2000 characters.

In the product description, there are different opinions on how the weighting of the entered keywords is evaluated. In many examples, we found that individual keywords present in the product description did not lead to the product being indexed. Long-tail search queries that appeared in the product descriptions, on the other hand, were indexed.

For this reason, the product description plays a clearly subordinate role in the entry of keywords. The most important keywords should therefore be entered in the title, bullet points or in the general search terms.

However, the product description should not be negligently neglected because it can play an important role in the purchase decision despite the low keyword weighting. In addition, the product description is displayed before the attributes in the mobile view and is therefore the first textual product component that a customer sees in the mobile view.

EBC and "A+" content

The extended brand content (Enhanced Brand Content for sellers and "A+" for vendors) does not lead to additional ranking positions through the entry of keywords because the extended brand content is not indexed by Amazon. For this reason, we will not deal further with EBC and "A+" content.

Amazon SEO: Performance factors

After the Amazon search algorithm has determined the relevant products for the respective search query, the second step is to determine the order in which the products are displayed. The order of the products is determined in the second step using performance factors, which I will explain below.

Using the performance factors, Amazon tries to display products with the highest probability of purchase in order to maximize customer value. For this reason, the conversion rate naturally plays a decisive role in the placement of the respective products.

Conversion rate:

We have already identified the conversion rate as a direct ranking factor in the "Amazon ranking factors" section. Now, of course, the following questions arise:

  1. How is Amazon's conversion rate determined?
  2. How can the conversion rate on Amazon be influenced?

The definition of the conversion rate is:

"The conversion rate is the ratio of the number of unique visits to the number of desired conversions". Applied to Amazon, this means: the number of purchases made divided by the number of unique visits. On Amazon, a unique visit starts with a visit to the product detail page and ends 24 hours after the visit to the product detail page.

What measures can be taken to positively influence the conversion rate?

  1. Product images

Sufficient high-quality product images that show the product from as many different angles as possible naturally have a positive effect on the conversion rate of a product. When creating product images for the Amazon listing, care should be taken to ensure that the longest side of the image has a minimum resolution of 1000 pixels and the shortest side has a minimum resolution of 500 pixels, as this resolution means that the product images have the zoom function.

  1. Reviews

Experience has shown that the average product rating has the second strongest influence on the conversion rate alongside meaningful images. The average product rating is at least as important as the number of reviews themselves.

  1. Product price

The product price also has a direct influence on the conversion rate. However, it is important to note that the relative product price should be taken into account. Not only should a price comparison be made with other products from the category, but the USP or features of the product should also be taken into account in the price comparison. For example, consumers are generally prepared to accept a higher product price for organic products than for products without an organic label.

Other offer components that influence the conversion rate:

  • Shipping services (Prime shipping, shipping costs, shipping time)
  • Quality and quantity of product data
  • Seller ratings
  • Offer prices and promotions
  • Number of currently available products
  • EBC & "A+" content

Sales performance of the product

The sales frequency of a product in relation to the units sold in the respective product category naturally has a major impact on the organic ranking of a product. In principle, it can be said that products that sell more frequently than others generally also achieve better organic rankings.

What measures are there to increase the sales frequency of a product?

  • Amazon advertising campaigns (Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns, Sponsored Brands and Product Display ads)

The first and most effective measure to increase the sales figures of a product in the short and long term is the use of Amazon advertising campaigns. Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns are available to every Amazon retailer with a professional retailer tariff. By running Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns, advertisements are displayed in the search results pages and on product detail pages. They are billed per click. You can find out more about Sponsored Product campaigns at here experience.

In addition to Sponsored Product campaigns, Amazon retailers with a registered brand can also run so-called Sponsored Brand campaigns, which are displayed exclusively in the search results pages. Here to find out more about sponsored brand campaigns.

Finally, there is also the option of running so-called product display campaigns. However, this advertising format is currently only available for vendors. If you would like to find out more about product display campaigns, click here.

  1. Lightning offers

Amazon lightning offers are temporary offers that are displayed on the Amazon offer page for the duration of the offer. The creation of a flash offer is always linked to a minimum fee, which is usually €35 per product. The additional presence on the offer page can generate additional sales that might not have been made without a flash offer.

  1. Deal sites

Another way to increase the sales figures of your own product in the short term is to use deal sites such as MyDealz etc.. However, care should be taken to ensure that the guidelines of the deal sites are followed. In addition, the advertised offer should actually be a good offer. Submitting unattractive offers will quickly come back to haunt you.

  1. External paid visitor sources

Of course, there are other advertising options that can be used to increase sales. Of course, Google and Facebook come to mind, which together form a duopoly in the digital advertising market. Google Ads campaigns can be used in a similar way to Amazon advertising campaigns to advertise targeted search queries in order to draw the attention of potential new customers to your own Amazon presence. Facebook can also be used to target existing customers and potential new customers. If you would like to find out more about Google Ads and Facebook Advertising, click here for Google Ads and here for Facebook Ads.

  1. Amazon affiliate pages

In addition to Amazon, many so-called niche sites have established themselves over the past 10 years. These niche sites often focus on one product category and try to establish themselves as buying guides by means of detailed blog posts and videos. Some of these sites reach several 100,000 website visitors per month. Through targeted product placement on relevant affiliate sites, it is possible to give your own Amazon products a further boost in sales.

  1. Instagram and Pinterest

The two image platforms Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for expanding your own business. Both Instagram and Pinterest play a crucial role in the marketing mix for many online retailers. Pinterest in particular, which allows a link-click-out to external platforms, can be used to increase sales with manageable effort. It is true for both platforms that uploading product images alone will not lead to success.

  1. Influencer marketing

Probably the Marketing trend of recent years. By cooperating with natural persons who have a certain reach on social media such as YouTube and Instagram, you can present your own products to a new audience. Most of the work takes place in researching and communicating with the influencers. In addition to providing the product, the cooperation usually also costs money for the reach, which should not be underestimated. It should be noted that the sales effect can be tracked through the distribution of voucher codes, among other things.

Click-through rate

Another relevant performance factor is the click-through rate on the organic results in the search results pages. This means that the more clicks your own products receive compared to the competition, the better your organic ranking will develop. The click-through rate shows the ratio of clicks to impressions as a percentage. Unfortunately, there are no metrics directly on the Amazon website that show the click-through rate for your own products (with the exception of the placement of advertisements). Of course, there are also measures that can be taken here to increase the click-through rate.

First, however, we need to answer the question of what product information is displayed in the search results pages.

Amazon SERP

As can be seen in the diagram, the following information is always displayed in the search results pages:

  • Product main image
  • Product title
  • Product price
  • Amazon Choice and Bestseller badge
  • Number of reviews and average rating
  • Prime logo
  • Reference to an advertising campaign
  • Coupon presentation
  • Extended delivery information (delivery date etc.)

By adapting this product information, the number of clicks on your own listing can be increased. A meaningful product title that is also comprehensible on mobile devices, an eye-catching main product image, the Amazon Prime shipping method and the display of promotions such as

"If you buy this product, you will receive a free product" can increase the click-through rate relatively quickly and thus also improve organic placement.

Unfortunately, the Amazon Choice and Bestseller badges cannot be influenced directly, but they have an immense effect on the click rate.

Conclusion Performance factors:

The key performance factors are sales, conversion rate and click-through rate. Once your own product listing has been optimized to include all keywords, the listing should also be optimized for purchase probability and click probability. Only by additionally focusing on performance factors is it possible to be displayed on the first search results page in the long term.

Frequently asked questions about Amazon SEO:

Can I achieve a good organic ranking without a product review?

This will not be possible in most cases, not necessarily because of the lack of product reviews, but because of the lack of social proof and the resulting lower conversion rate and click-through rate than comparable products with product reviews.

How long does it take until the first successes can be seen?

Unfortunately, I can't give you an exact time frame. However, optimizations on Amazon lead to success much faster than with Google SEO. The optimization of keywords in the product listing can be tracked relatively quickly, which is also rewarded with increased visibility and more sales. This effect can be seen after just a few days by monitoring the search terms.

Are there penalties from Amazon if guidelines are not adhered to?

Yes, and they are as different as the marketplace itself. If there is a violation of the style guides, this can lead to products being set to inactive and thus hindering the sale of the products. Another measure regularly implemented by Amazon is the removal of product reviews that Amazon suspects have been created in an unnatural way.

I sell on Amazon some products with partly similar and identical item descriptions. Does Amazon have the same duplicate content issue as Google?

With Amazon, you don't have to worry about duplicate content. It is normal for product variants to have a certain overlap in content.

Amazon SEO Tools

Amazon Auto-Suggest

amazon autosuggest

SEO area: Keyword research

Price: Free of charge

Explanation: Amazon Auto-Suggest is simply the automatic completion of the search query on Amazon. If a search term is entered in the search field, Amazon automatically suggests further specifications of the term that are frequently searched for. Suggested terms that match the product can be included in the keyword collection. To receive further suggestions, the main keyword can be entered with any letter of the alphabet (e.g. "notebook a", "notebook b", etc.).

Sonar

sonar tool

SEO area: Keyword research, product monitoring, competitor analysis

Price: Free of charge

Explanation: Sonar is an SEO tool from Sellics that is explicitly tailored to Amazon. Sonar provides a large database of search terms that are searched for on Amazon. Only Amazon is actually taken into account in order to map the search behavior of the platform as accurately as possible. The tool offers the following four different approaches to keyword research:

Keyword Tool

keywordtool amazon seo

SEO area: Keyword research (Keyword Tool Pro: CPC data for advertisements, competitor analysis)

Price: Free, extended possibilities with Keyword Tool Pro subscription (3 levels: Pro Basic - 69$/month, Pro Plus - 79$/month, Pro Business - 159$/month)

Explanation: The keyword tool is based on Amazon auto-complete and basically provides the results in a list that you would generate by manually entering a search term with each letter of the alphabet. To use the tool, first select the desired search engine at the top, in our case Amazon. Then enter a keyword and select the country and language to the right. The list of keyword suggestions is now displayed. By clicking on "Copy/Export all" at the bottom right of the screen, the list can be exported as a CSV or Excel file. In contrast to the Sonar tool, however, the list is generated without additional information, such as the search volume.

Sistrix Marketplace module

sistrix marketplace module

SEO area: Keyword research, competitor analysis, optimization suggestions, evaluation alarm

Price: Currently free beta version

Explanation: The Marketplace module from Sistrix offers many different functions that can be helpful in optimizing your listing. Numerous marketplace data is collected for the tool and stored in a database. Ranking and keyword data are continuously updated, according to Sistrix.

A useful function that has so far only been known in this form from paid tools such as Amalyze is the analysis of a listing for optimization potential. Dealing with the most important SEO measures and the Amazon style guides can be very time-consuming. After analyzing your listing, the Marketplace module automatically compiles optimization suggestions based on possible SEO measures and the style guides. Product descriptions, ratings, product images, titles and attributes are all taken into account.

Amalyze Keyword Plugin

amalyze plugin

SEO area: Keyword research, product monitoring

Price: Free of charge

Explanation: The Amalyze Keyword Plugin is compatible with the Google Chrome browser and can help you find new keywords for your own product. On the one hand, you can check your own listing by checking whether the ASIN ranks for a specific keyword. In addition, competitor products can be analyzed for keywords that you can use in your listing. The keywords can be displayed both as an (exportable) list and as a Word Cloud.

Amazon Brand Analytics

Amazon Brand Analytics

SEO area: Keyword research, competition analysis

Price: Free of charge for Amazon retailers with their own registered brand

Explanation: We have added the Amazon Brand Analytics Tool here already dedicated a separate article to this. There you will find a detailed explanation of how to use the tool and evaluate the data obtained. Brand Analytics provides the brand owner with two reports. One of these is the "Amazon search terms". Behind this is a database with numerous search terms, sorted according to search frequency rank. It is also possible to actively search for keywords whose popularity is to be determined. Another exciting feature is that the top 3 organic product rankings for the respective keyword are also displayed - including click rate and sales rate.

The second reporting is "Article comparison", where we get an overview of the top 5 competitor products for each ASIN offered. The comparison is based on how often the competitor product was viewed by customers who also viewed their own product on the same day.

 

Note: Do you need support with optimizing your product listings on Amazon? Amazon SEO Agency can help.

What is Amazon SEO?

The factors that play a role in Amazon search engine optimization are divided into direct and indirect ranking factors.

Which Amazon SEO factors influence the organic ranking?

In Amazon SEO, we differentiate between relevance and performance factors. Amazon uses the relevance factors to determine whether a product is relevant to the customer's search query. Amazon uses the performance factors, such as sales, click rate or conversion rate, to decide the ranking position of the individual products.

Do I need an Amazon SEO tool for optimization?

To carry out data-based optimization, an Amazon SEO tool is a must. Without insights into search volume and click behaviour, optimization cannot be carried out professionally.

In today's article, "Amazon and SEO", I discuss the functions of the Amazon search algorithm, optimization measures for better rankings in search results, and differences to search engine optimization for Google search. However, I would like to start with an explanation of why every Amazon seller should dedicate time to optimizing his or her product listings. I have already written a step-by-step guide to the optimization of listings in the past.

Amazon as a primary product search engine in Germany

These days, SEO (or search engine optimization) refers to the optimization of web content (web pages, images, etc) so that it complies with the ranking factors in Google search. Google was, and still is, the search engine with the most search queries per day (3.45 billion search queries). Google is a horizontal search engine that can process and answer information-oriented, navigation-oriented and transaction-oriented search queries. For this reason, its search algorithm (or, rather, various search algorithms) is far superior to all vertical search engines, such as Amazon and YouTube, when it comes to answering search queries. Over the past few years, however, transaction-oriented search queries in particular have shifted from Google to Amazon. Due to Amazon's strong presence in Google search results, consumers soon realized that Amazon was overrepresented in search results, and started to search directly within Amazon instead.

In addition, the lock-in effect of Prime subscriptions has significantly increased the shift in search queries to Amazon. Another reason for the increase in search queries on Amazon is the increased use of mobile devices. The majority of internet users are now accessing the internet via mobile devices, and mobile device usage differs drastically from desktop device usage. Approximately 90% of internet usage on mobile devices takes place within apps. As a result, only 10% of mobile internet usage takes place via mobile web browsers.

Finally, the increased use of apps includes Amazon's own app, which has driven a significant increase in search queries to the service, in addition to the lock-in effect of Prime membership, and also the general trend towards vertical search engines.

A recent Jumpshoot study, conducted this year, shows that approximately half (46.7%) of internet users in the USA start product searches directly on Amazon. Google, on the other hand, still receives over a third of all product searches (34.6%), according to Jumpshoot. Of course, these values may not be entirely demonstrative of German behaviors, but they do indicate a trend with regard to where products are being searched for now and in the future.

Amazon as central point of contact for online buyers

Amazon is not only the leader for product search queries in the German e-commerce world, but also in terms of sales volume and turnover. According to projections from t3n, Amazon and the Amazon Marketplace generated about 53% of e-commerce sales in Germany in 2017. Marketplace retailers in particular are playing an increasingly important role, and are already responsible for more than 50% of items sold.

Amazon is also a real heavyweight in terms of monthly visitors. In October 2018, Amazon.de was visited 490 million times, making it the fifth most popular website on the German internet, and the fifth most popular online store worldwide.

Amazon TrafficThe majority (58%) of website visitors come to Amazon directly, which again clearly illustrates the strength of the Amazon brand.

Amazon website visitorsClick distribution according to placements

Now that we have clarified why Amazon is so important for online retailers, let's briefly discuss why SEO on Amazon is important, and why every retailer should become familiar with the optimization of their listings.

Placements on the first pages of search results are of utmost importance when it comes to generating sales. Only a fraction of searchers leave the first search results page and go to pages two or three to find the right product. Users are more likely to change the search query if there are no matching results on the first attempt than to click through to subsequent search result pages.

I am not currently aware of any research regarding click probabilities around product placements within search results on Amazon, which is why I will refer here to data regarding click behaviors in Google search. Well over 90% of organic clicks are made on the first page of search results, with the first organic placement generating around 60% of all clicks, the second placement generating only 15%, and the third only about 8%.

This means that, of every 100 search queries, around 60 people will click on the first result - so the winner really does take it all. We see the same click behavior in other search engines, too, such as YouTube and the App Store.

There's no obvious reason why Amazon's click behavior should differ drastically. Increases in turnover from the daily sales of products can also be explained by improvements in their rankings.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO

As the largest search engine, Google is used to find answers to questions. However, the use of SEO is different on Amazon and Google, because the companies have different goals. While Google concentrates on delivering the most precisely matched content to a search query so that it can provide relevant advertising, Amazon focuses on selling the maximum number of products. It is therefore Amazon's intention to present the best and most interesting products to users in order to increase the likelihood of purchase, and prevent customers from having to visit other shopping websites.

Google earns its money almost exclusively from the placement of advertisements, so it puts a lot of focus on the appropriate placement of high-quality content.

Amazon's revenue is generated largely through transactions, so Amazon uses KPIs, such as conversion rate, to optimize the likelihood of the transaction for each keyword. Due to their different corporate objectives, the measures for optimizing rankings also differ. I will now briefly set out the two most important differences.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO: User Experience as a Ranking Factor

The goals of both Google and Amazon, as search engines, is to continue delivering users the best results for as long as possible. Only if users are satisfied with the results they receive will they continue to use the search engine in the future - and only in this way can search engines ensure that revenue from advertising (eg. Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Amazon Sponsored Products) will increase. One way to determine what constitutes the "best results" is to consider the user experience, as the measurement of the user experience differs significantly depending on the search engine.

Determining user experience as a ranking factor for Google and all other horizontal search engines is much more complex than for vertical search engines such as Amazon.

There are numerous KPIs that a horizontal search engine such as Google can use as user experience indicators (eg. bounce rate, returning visitors, average session duration etc). Depending on the search intention (information-oriented, transaction-oriented or navigation-oriented search queries), the appropriate KPIs for determining the user experience differ significantly. For example, the idea that a shorter dwell time is due to a better user experience cannot always be confirmed in practice.

On the other hand, vertical search engines such as Amazon have a clearer advantage in determining user experience. For example, if a user searches on Amazon for "men's shoes white 45" and places an order, Amazon receives feedback that this product is relevant to the respective search query.

This allows Amazon to determine the user experience much more quickly and easily than Google, based on the individual click-through and conversion rates for each keyword. For this reason, the user experience is much more important for search engine optimization on Amazon than it is on Google.

Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO: Keyword density

In recent years, the frequency of a keyword (keyword density) on a page has fallen in importance for Google optimization. However, the natural repetition of keywords on a page (eg. in the headline, title and alt attributes) still has a direct influence on the organic position of a page within Google search results. That being said, the overuse of keywords can cause pages to disappear from Google's index and so, as a rule, keyword densities should generally not exceed 3.5%.

When optimizing for Amazon search, however, keyword density has no direct influence on organic ranking. If a product listing contains a particular keyword at least once, it is considered a relevant result for Amazon and is therefore included in the keyword-specific index. The increased use of a keyword, therefore, does not lead to an improvement in the item's ranking.

Amazon A9 / Amazon SEO Ranking Factors

The Amazon A9 search algorithm, like all other search engines, has a variety of different factors that are responsible for determining the representation of organic rankings. I don't know the exact weightings or the entire list of factors, and there is nobody in the A9 team who is able to divulge the different weights and factors. It is therefore possible, in the paragraphs that follow, that I will not mention all of the factors considered by Amazon.

Before we look at the different ranking factors, it should be made clear that there are direct and indirect factors. Indirect factors are those that affect the direct ranking factors. For example, the number and quality of images have no direct effect on an item's organic ranking because Amazon does not rate images. However, a high number of high-resolution images will inevitably have an influence on the conversion rate. Since conversion rate is a direct ranking factor for SEO on Amazon, the quality and number of images should therefore be considered, as it is often indirect factors that lead to ranking improvements.

Amazon SEO: Direct ranking factors

Sales history

The sales volume and history of a product have a direct influence on the organic ranking of an item on Amazon. Since the user experience at Amazon is measured by sales, sales have a decisive influence on the position of a product in organic rankings. Since Amazon is able to make direct comparisons with other products, it knows which products are most likely to be purchased after entering a search term and, because of Amazon's transaction-oriented business model, it is obvious that sales history has a significant influence on the positioning of organic results.

Return rate

In addition to simple sales figures, the level of customer satisfaction with a product also plays a decisive role. Amazon wants its customers to be satisfied with the products they buy, and therefore closely monitors customer feedback and the return rate in particular. A high return rate is a sign of dissatisfaction and Amazon wants to prevent this, since the dissatisfaction is ultimately attributed to Amazon.  

Keywords in product listing (eg. title, attributes and general search terms)

I will explain how Amazon decides which products to feature later in this article. However, it is important to understand that all optimizations are secondary to keyword research. Keyword research determines which search terms are relevant for the respective product and which keywords have a higher relevance than others. The challenge of product listing optimization is that the space to accommodate keywords is limited. The primary placement for keywords is in the title, bullet points or general search term fields (or in certain cases also in the product description). In order for products to be displayed based on search terms, the search terms must be included as keywords in the product listing, otherwise the product will not be included in the selection of products displayed.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is a perfect indicator for measuring user experience. If, after a search term has been entered and the conversion rate is higher than for similar products, this ultimately leads to Amazon's realization that the product shown for this search query must be rewarded with a better position in the organic rankings.

Click rate / Click-through rate

As with Google, CTRs have an effect on an item's positioning within the organic search result pages on Amazon. This means that products with a higher CTR than those of their competitors in search result pages will inevitably achieve better rankings. It should also be noted that there is no global CTR, but that the CTR differs depending on the search query.

Tip: The CTR can be increased by using promotions such as "Buy 2 products and get a 10% discount". The Prime logo also usually leads to an increased click rate.

Availability of products

In order for your products to be displayed, they must be available. It is difficult to maintain a good organic search ranking without having products that are constantly in stock.

Price (direct or indirect factor)

Whether the price of an item is a direct or indirect ranking factor is not really important; the role of price within the purchasing decision process does not need to be explained further. Price can be seen as a direct factor, but it can also be seen as an indirect factor given its influence on key figures such as CTR, sales history and the return rate.

Amazon SEO and Indirect Ranking Factors

Product images (main image and other images)

As already mentioned with regard to CTRs, product images have a direct influence on both click and conversion rates. A product with meaningful and high-resolution images ultimately leads to an increased number of sales.

Shipping method

In my opinion, the shipping method is one of the most underestimated levers for ranking and sales optimization. Products shipped via Amazon Prime not only enjoy an increased conversion rate but also an increased CTR, and this ultimately leads to more visitors and it is doubly rewarded by the increased conversion rate.

Note: In some categories, it's hard to be featured among the first organic search results without an Amazon Prime logo, because the first 16 organic results nearly all have Amazon Prime logos.

Product reviews / reviews

I probably don't have to go into the importance of reviews either. Reviews have a direct impact on click-through and conversion rates, and can quickly turn products into winners and losers (if the reviews are negative). The total number of reviews doesn't play a deciding role, but instead impacts the average rating.

Buy box

The buy box also has a direct influence on the performance of a product, especially on the conversion rate. A product without a buy box generally has a much lower conversion rate than the same product with a buy box. For this reason, the buy box percentage should be checked regularly.

Seller ratings

Seller ratings are not product-related, but are intended to evaluate the basic service (eg. delivery time, packaging and communication etc). For more expensive products, where the purchase decision takes longer than usual, seller evaluations play a more important role, because customers often carry out research in order to assess the reliability of a retailer.

EBC / "A+" content

EBC and "A+" content serves to present products and brands in a better light. Extended Brand Content helps present products in need of explanation in a more understandable way. This improved type of product presentation can help to improve conversion rates, and increased conversion rates ultimately lead to better placements in organic rankings.

Advertisements (Amazon PPC)  

Nowadays, advertisements play an increasingly decisive role in the sale of products. It is usually no longer possible to generate sales within the first few days of a product's launch without the placement of advertisements on Amazon. By generating sales via Amazon advertisements, sales also ultimately increase, the products' sales histories improve and the products improve their organic Amazon rankings.

Promotions / Discounts

By creating promotions such as "Buy 2 products and get a 10% discount", an additional incentive is created for customers to buy more than one item. This generally leads to an increase in the Average Order Value (AOV), and improvements to the sales history.

Offer prices / Coating prices

By launching temporary offers on Amazon, sales and purchase probabilities can be increased in the short term which can lead to improvements in ranking in the longer term.

Bestseller Badge / Amazon Choice Badge

Products that sell more units than any other product within the same category, over a specific period of time, receive an Amazon Bestseller badge. Short-term sales are valued more highly when calculating the Bestseller rank, and then the Bestseller badge is displayed below the product ratings and above the product price. In addition, the Bestseller badge may be displayed in the search results pages on the main product image. Awarding the Bestseller badge to a product is an indication that both the CTR and conversion rates will improve. This leads to more sales, more visitors, and, ultimately, a ranking improvement. The same can also be assumed for products that receive the Amazon Choice badge.

Amazon SEO: Ranking optimization

In addition to the multitude of indirect and direct ranking factors, performance and relevance-related factors must also be discussed. Since Amazon's main business is transaction-based, its goal is to maximize customer value (Customer Lifetime Value). Maximizing customer value can only be achieved if Amazon customers regularly order products via the platform and do not return these products. In other words, the likelihood of purchase and customer satisfaction must be optimized so that the Customer Lifetime Value also increases.

Purchase and customer satisfaction levels are directly linked to the performance and relevance factors that I have mentioned. The relevance factors try to ensure that only relevant products are displayed after entering a search term, because only by displaying relevant products can Amazon ensure that a high level of customer satisfaction and purchase probability is ensured. The performance factors, on the other hand, ensure that the probability of a purchase is maximized after entering a search term. In the following sections, we will take a closer look at the combinations of performance and relevance factors.

Relevance factors

Relevance factors ensure that only relevant products are displayed after entering a search term. But how is this ensured?

Basically, the entered search terms are checked against Amazon's existing product data. For this reason, Amazon retailers must ensure that all possible and relevant search terms are recorded in their product data. As already assumed, this requires keyword research, which I will also address in this article. So, even if a product is exactly what the user is searching for but does not contain the specific search term, the product will not be included in the results. It is also important to note that, in the case of longer keyword combinations (mid-tail and long-tail), the keywords do not necessarily have to appear in the same order in the product data.

For example: a customer searches for "infants' rain jacket" on Amazon.

Imagine a product contains the keyword "rain jacket" in the title. The keyword "infants" is not in the title, but in the search fields (which is explained below). So even though the location of the keywords is not the same, our fictitious rain jacket is indexed for this search because it is considered relevant by the keyword comparison.

Amazon only displays products that contain the specific terms that you search for. This filtering process is an attempt to only display products that are relevant to the customer.

However, indexed products are ultimately not only filtered by search terms. The use of other filter functions, which are displayed in the left sidebar on the desktop version of Amazon, changes the number of indexed products and thus the visibility of the products.

Popular and frequently used filter functions include filtering according to the "Prime" shipping method, colors, sizes and average customer rating. In order for products to be displayed after entering the search term and using the filter function, the product data must match the filter data. For this reason, the maintenance of your product data is indispensable and should be regarded as an optimization measure. Since many retailers regard the maintenance of product data as a nuisance, diligent retailers have the opportunity to increase the visibility of their products by maintaining product data.

Amazon SEO: Optimization of relevance factor

We have now considered the theory behind the relevance factors in detail. Now let's look at what measures should be taken to ensure that your products are considered for as many relevant keywords as possible.

Amazon Keyword Research:

A product can have many different names. For example, a doormat can be referred to as a doormat, doormat, mat or door mat. Different descriptions of a product can turn up as different search terms in search engines, even though they are always aligned to the same product categories. Due to the use of different search queries in search engines, the first step is always to research the search terms used.

In the first step of my Amazon keyword research tutorial below, I will introduce the practical process of researching using tools that are available to everyone.

As already mentioned in the example with the doormat, there are synonyms which have to be considered during keyword research

For this reason, the very first port of call for keyword research should be a dictionary with synonyms. We simply enter the name of our product to identify different synonyms.

Synyome Keyword ResearchAfter identifying the different synonyms, the second step is to find out which combinations of terms are used in Amazon search. In order to determine the combinations, we used Amazon Suggest, the auto-complete feature within Amazon. This provides us with accurate and up-to-date data on which term combinations are currently being searched for on Amazon.

Keyword ResearchIf you enter a product term, you will receive 10 suggestions that reflect current search trends. Currently (December 2018), for example, the most common search term for floor mats is "Christmas floor mats". We should then note the other term combinations by not only typing "doormat", but also "doormat a......", "doormat b......." and "doormat c.....". to identify other keywords that are relevant to our product. In this way, we not only get the 10 currently most popular searches for "doormats", but also the 10 most popular searches associated with "doormats a, b, c ...." and so on.

SEO Amazon KeywordHere, too, we note down suitable and relevant keywords, which we subsequently include in our product listing.

The same process is now carried out with the synonyms, so that we do not neglect any keywords and can thus show an optimal keyword set later during the listing optimization.

Of course, there are other sources which we can use for keyword research. Google, in particular, provides further high-quality data for keyword research. By using the Google Keyword Planner, we can obtain accurate data on the monthly search volume of a keyword in addition to other term combinations. Of course, Google user data is not entirely transferable to Amazon user data, but this at least gives us at a guideline which we can use to orient ourselves.

However, the first port of call with Google is Google search itself, so that we can use the auto-complete function there too.

Keyword Research GoogleThe same process that we did on Amazon can now be done on Google.

Let's now take a look at how we can use the Google Keyword Planner to determine the search volume of individual keywords. In order to be able to use the Google Keyword Planner, however, there are some prerequisites that have to be fulfilled:

  1. An active Google Ads account.
  2. An account that has been used recently or which is currently being used for Google Ads (otherwise we just get search volume estimates).

To determine search volumes, we open Keyword Planner in our Google Ads account under Tools → Planning.

Keyword PlannerWhen the new window opens, select "Determine new keywords" and then enter our main keyword "doormat". We now get the average number of searches per month, as well as a competition estimate, the estimated CPC bid, and a variety of other keyword ideas.

Keyword ideasThis allows us to analyze our collected keywords and add new ideas to the existing keyword pool. (For example, I didn't research the keyword "dirt mat" on Amazon, but the Google keyword planner shows me this as a relevant search term).

Once we have found enough keywords, we have to distribute them among the different placements. Before we start, let's take a look at some rules for the selection of keywords.

Tips & Tricks for Keyword Determination & Placement

  1. Keyword density plays no role: For the optimization of product listings based on keywords, it is important to note that the repeated use of a keyword does not lead to any improvement in organic visibility. It is perfectly sufficient for the keyword to occur just once so that the product is judged to be relevant for the search query.
  2. Singular and plural terms are not considered: It should also be noted that the naming of keywords in the singular and plural form is not necessary for the product to be identified as relevant. The mere naming of the keyword, whether in singular or plural form, covers the search term in both variants.
  3. Foreign brand names should not be used: During the keyword research it will become clear relatively quickly that there are numerous search queries with a clear reference to certain brand names, such as "Bosch washing machine". If you are selling a washing machine that is not "Bosch" branded, you should not use this keyword (at least not in the product listing, because this can lead to legal problems).
  4. Use the hyphen for search terms that are written both separately and together: Keywords are constantly entered and searched for in different ways. This is the case, for example, with keywords that are written separately as well as together. In order that you don't have to type both spellings of the keyword, we can use the hyphen notation to cover both keywords.

Examples:

Instead of "Messengerbag & Messenger Bag" we write ""Messenger-bag"".

  1. Note holidays, events and other events in listing optimization:

As we have seen in the keyword research using Amazon Suggest, the most popular search term (in December 2018) in relation to "floor mats" was "Christmas floor mats". However, when doing keyword research in spring or summer, it is likely that keywords such as "Christmas", "Santa Claus" and "New Year" will be ignored. Following seasonal trends in keywords always holds such huge potential for resourceful Amazon sellers. For this reason, public holidays or events such as Christmas or Valentine's Day should be taken into account and integrated at an early stage.

  1. Spelling with and without umlauts leads to the same result

During the keyword research phase, you will probably also realize that keywords are searched for with and without umlauts. It makes no difference to the relevance of a product how the search term was entered, only that it is included in the listing.

  1. Upper and lower case letters make no noticeable difference

Furthermore, the use of upper and lower case letters does not make any influence on whether a product is identified as relevant or not.

  1. Filler words do not play a role

The addition of filler words such as "for" or "to", does not have to be considered in order for your product to be highlighted as relevant.

  1. Keyword order and position does not matter

The position and order of keywords does not have to be taken into account in long-tail search queries which consist of several words. However, it may well be the case that the correct order tends to lead to a higher relevance rating.

Let's now move on to the different placements for keywords, and the pitfalls that lurk there.

Product title

The title of a product is undoubtedly one of the most important placement options for your keywords. The title also serves as an initial source of orientation and information for potential customers. For only if the title convinces the potential customer that the product corresponds to the desired services will a user click on this search result.

Amazon has very specific requirements for the design of product titles. The requirements differ depending on the product category. The permissible length of the product title varies depending on the product category. For example, product titles in the "Clothing" category should not be longer than 60 characters for parent products and 150 characters for child products. The different style guides of the product categories can be found here.

Also, the way a title should be structured is determined by the style guides and these should be followed as closely as possible to avoid the deactivations of any products.

Notes on the design of high-quality product titles

→ Initial letters should be capitalized.

→ The general length of 200 characters should not be exceeded (and some categories require shorter titles).

→ Numbers should be represented in the title as figures, and not written out.

→ Advertising statements should be avoided (e.g. Prime, Bestseller, etc.).

→ In the mobile or app view, the title is shortened in the search results pages due to the small display size.

It is very difficult to make general statements about the perfect Amazon product title because the information differs considerably per category. In some categories, for example, only the parent title and no longer the child title is displayed in the search result pages for variant products. Therefore, the Amazon specifications should be carefully evaluated before creating the product title.

Attributes / Bullet Points

Usually, there are five attributes or bullet points per product which can be defined for the respective product. In some product categories, however, more than five standard attributes can be displayed. The attributes serve to summarize the essential properties as well as the actual customer benefit of the product compactly in the most essential words. Due to the large amount of space, the attributes are of course ideally suited for placing keywords. The placement of keywords in the attributes plays no role. However, the attributes should not be misused to randomly mention any keywords. As usual, the text should first be written with the customer in mind, and only in the next step should the placement of search terms be considered.

Components and uniqueness of the product should be represented in the top attributes.

Comments on the design of high-quality attributes:

→ The incorporation of special characters should be avoided.

→ No naming of telephone numbers or your own website URL should be mentioned.

→ In the mobile view, only the first three bullet points are visible at first sight, therefore these should contain the most important information.

→ Do not write a constitution of novels: Longer texts are not better than shorter ones. The length of each bullet point should be determined using the values given in the style guides. In many categories, a length of 15 words is recommended.

General keywords / backend keywords

Every product on Amazon contains a field for "General search terms". In this field, every Amazon retailer should enter the most important keywords that do not yet appear in the title or attributes.

Amazon KeywordsIt is also not possible to enter an infinite number of keywords, as the current maximum length for keywords that can be entered is 249 bytes. If the number of bytes is exceeded by entering too many keywords, none of the entered keywords will be taken into account. When calculating the number of bytes, the blanks have also recently been taken into account. To reduce the number of bytes, special characters should be avoided.

Also in the general search terms, filler words should not be used since they have no relevance and only reduce the available number of bytes.

Product description

The product description is one of the most frequently neglected components of a product listing, even though it is, of course, highly relevant when making a purchase decision. Especially due to the maximum of 2,000 characters, the product description is the component of a listing that contains the most information.

There are differing views on how keywords are weighted and evaluated in product descriptions. In many examples, we have noticed that individual keywords in product descriptions did not lead to an indexation of the product. On the other hand, longer tail search queries that appeared in the product description did become indexed.

For this reason, the product description plays a clearly subordinate role when it comes to adding keywords and, for this reason, the most important keywords should be entered in titles, bullet points or general search terms.

However, the product description should not be neglected because, despite the low keyword weighting, it can play an important role in the purchasing decision. In addition, the product description is displayed in the mobile mobile view before the attributes, and is therefore the first textual product component that a customer sees in the mobile view.

EBC and & "A+" content

Extended brand content (Enhanced Brand Content for sellers and "A+" for vendors) does not lead to any additional ranking placements as a result of the entry of keywords, because the Enhanced Brand Content is not indexed by Amazon. For this reason, we do not continue to deal with EBC and "A+" content.

Amazon SEO: Performance factors

After the Amazon search algorithm has determined the relevant products for the respective search query, the second step is to determine the order of the displayed products. In the second step, the order of the products is determined on the basis of performance factors, which I would like to explain in more detail below.

Making use of its performance factors, Amazon tries to present products with the highest probability of a purchase in order to maximize customer value. For this reason, the conversion rate naturally plays a decisive role in the placement of the respective products.

Conversion rate:

We have already observed that conversion rate has a direct ranking factor in the Amazon Ranking Factors paragraph. Now, of course, the following questions arise:

  1. How is the conversion rate of Amazon determined?
  2. How can the conversion rate on Amazon be influenced?

How does Amazon determine the conversion rate?

The basic definition of conversion rate is as follows: "The conversion rate is the ratio of the number of unique visits to the number of desired conversions". Applied to Amazon, this means the number of purchases made divided by the number of unique visits. A unique visit to Amazon starts by visiting a product detail page, and ends 24 hours after visiting that product detail page.

What measures can be taken to positively influence the conversion rate?

1. product images

High-quality images which show the product from as many different angles as possible tend to have a positive effect on the conversion rate of a product. If new product images are taken for an Amazon listing, care should be taken that the longest side of the image has a minimum resolution of 1000 pixels and the shortest side a minimum resolution of 500 pixels, because this resolution results in the product images having the zoom function.

2. ratings

Experience has shown that the average rating of a product has the second strongest influence on the conversion rate, after the inclusion of meaningful images. The average product rating is also at least as important as the number of ratings.

3. price

Price directly influences the conversion rate. However, it is important to note that the relative price of a product should be taken into account - not only should this involve a price comparison with other products in the same category, but the USP or features of the product should also be compared too. Consumers of BioIO products, for example, are generally prepared to accept a higher product price than for products without an organic label.

Other product components that influence the conversion rate:

Shipping services (Prime shipping, shipping costs, shipping time)

Quality and quantity of product data

Seller ratings

Offer prices and & promotions

Number of currently available products

EBC & "A+" content

Sales performance of the product

The sales frequency of a product in relation to competitor products within its category naturally has a large impact on the organic ranking of a product. Therefore, in principle, products that sell more frequently than others generally achieve better organic rankings.

What measures are there to increase the sales frequency of a product?

Amazon advertising campaigns (Amazon sponsored product campaigns, sponsored brands and product display ads)

The first and most effective way to increase the sales of a product, both in the short term and long term, is the use of Amazon advertising campaigns. Amazon sponsored product campaigns are available to every Amazon retailer with a professional retailer tariff. Through the placement of Amazon sponsored product campaigns, advertisements are displayed in the search results pages and on product detail pages. Billing takes place per click, and you can find out more about sponsored product campaigns here.

In addition to Sponsored Product Campaigns, Amazon dealers with a registered brand can launch Sponsored Brand Campaigns, which are displayed exclusively in the search results pages. You can learn more about Sponsored Brand Campaigns here.

Finally, there is the possibility to run Product Display Campaigns. Currently, however, this advertising format is only available for vendors. If you want to learn more about product display campaigns, click here.

  1. Flash offers

Flash offers are temporary promotions that can be found on the Amazon offer page throughout the period of a promotion. The creation of a flash offer carries a minimum fee, which is usually the equivalent of around 35€ per product. Through the additional visibility, additional sales may be generated that might not have come about without a flash offer.

  1. Deal pages

A further way to increase sales of your product in the short term is to use deal pages such as MyDealz. However, you should make sure that you follow the guidelines of the pages. In addition, make sure that your advertised offer is a really good offer - the submission of unattractive offers on a regular basis will quickly bore people.

  1. External paid visitor sources

Of course, there are other advertising possibilities that can be used to increase sales. Google and Facebook obviously come to mind, as together they form a duopoly in the digital advertising market. By placing Google Ads campaigns, similar to Amazon advertising campaigns, you can advertise against specific search queries to draw the attention of potential new customers to your Amazon presence. Facebook can also be used to address existing customers and potential new customers. If you want to learn more about Google Ads and Facebook Advertising, click here for Google Ads and here for Facebook Ads.

  1. Amazon's Affiliate Pages

In addition to Amazon, many niche sites have established themselves over the past 10 years, focusing on one product category and trying to establish themselves as advisors by means of detailed blog entries and videos. Some of these sites reach several hundreds of thousands of website visitors per month. Through targeted product placement on relevant affiliate sites like these, it is possible to give your own products a further boost in sales.

  1. Instagram and Pinterest

The two major image platforms Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for expanding your business. Both play a crucial role in the marketing mix for many online retailers. Pinterest in particular, which allows linking to external platforms, can be used with minimal effort to increase sales. For both platforms, the mere upload of product images alone will not lead to success.

  1. Influencer marketing

This is probably the biggest marketing trend in recent years. By cooperating with people who have a specific audience on social media, through platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, your products can be presented to a new audience. Most of the work in this area is spent in the research of and communication with relevant influencers. The co-operation costs, aside from the ready supply of the product, should not be underestimated. It should be noted that the sales effect can also be tracked, among other things, by making voucher codes available.

Click-Through Rate

Another relevant performance factor is a product's click-through rate from organic results in the search results pages. This means that, the more clicks your product receives, compared to the competition, the more its position in the organic rankings will develop. The click-through rate reflects the ratio of clicks to impressions in percent. Unfortunately, there are no metrics within Amazon that represent the click-through rate for your own products (with the exception of advertisements).

Of course, there are also measures that can be taken to increase the click-through rate.

But first we have to ask: which product information is displayed in Amazon's search result pages when people are deciding to click through to an item?

Amazon SERPAs can be seen in the graphic, the following information is always displayed in search result pages.

Product main image

Product title

Product price

Amazon Choice and & Bestseller Badge

Number of ratings and average rating

Prime logo

Reference to an advertising campaign

Coupon display

Extended delivery information (delivery date etc.)

By adapting this information, the number of clicks on your listing can be increased. A meaningful product title can be traced back to mobile devices, and a clear product image, the Amazon Prime shipping method and the roll-out of advertising campaigns such as "Buy one get one free" can increase click-through rates quickly, and improve organic placement.

The badges "Amazon-Choice" and "Bestseller-Badge" are unfortunately not directly influenceable, but they have an immense effect on the click-through rate.

Conclusion: Performance factors

The relevant factors for performance are sales, conversion and click-through rates. After your product listings have been optimized to contain all of your relevant keywords, the listing should then be optimized to increase the probability of clicks and purchases. Then, only by focusing on additional performance factors would it be possible for your product be displayed on the first pages of Amazon search results in the long run.

Frequently asked questions regarding Amazon SEO:

Can I achieve a good ranking organically without product ratings?

In most cases this will not be possible. This is not because of the missing product ratings, but because of the missing social proof and the associated lower conversion and click-through rates than comparable products which have product ratings can show.

How long does it take to see results?

Unfortunately I can't give you an exact time frame. However, optimizations on Amazon tend to lead to much faster successes and results than through SEO on Google. The optimization of keywords in product listings can be tracked relatively quickly, which is ultimately rewarded with increased visibility and more sales. The results can be seen just a few days afterwards by re-monitoring the search terms.

Does Amazon issue punishments if guidelines are not adhered to?

Yes, and these are as varied as the marketplace itself. If the style guides are violated, this can lead to products being set to inactive and the sale of the products being prevented. Another measure regularly carried out by Amazon is the removal of product ratings where Amazon suspects that they have come about in an unnatural way.

I sell several similar products on Amazon with partly similar and identical item descriptions. Does Amazon have an issue with duplicate content like Google?

At Amazon you don't have to worry about duplicate content. It's natural that product variations will overlap in content.

Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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Based on 58 reviews
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