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Although the search algorithms of modern search engines take numerous factors into account, keywords form the basis when it comes to determining relevance to a particular search query. Amazon’s A9 algorithm also works in this way: It compares the search terms of a search query with the keywords of the product listings and outputs products whose listings have a high degree of correspondence with the search terms. At Amazon, relevant keywords can be placed in the title, in the bullet points or in the general search terms. In this article we will look at how to optimize Amazon’s backend keywords and which rules have to be followed.

What are Amazon backend keywords?

The Amazon backend keywords, also general keywords or search terms, are, in contrast to the title and attributes of a product, not displayed in the listing but stored in the backend. The keywords are therefore not visible to potential customers. Like the keywords in titles and bullet points, they are used by Amazon’s algorithm to match them with search queries. In this way, the relevance of the product for specific search queries is evaluated.

The backend keywords can be entered in the editing overview of a product under the Keywords tab in the field for general search terms. The order of the stored search terms has no influence on the assessment of relevance by the algorithm. However, the input field is limited to 249 bytes.

What are backend keywords useful for?

For the reason that backend keywords are not publicly visible, this field is ideally suited to accommodate relevant keywords that should not necessarily be visible in the public listing. These include common spelling variants of the product. Even strongly colloquial synonyms for a product are often better off in the backend.

In addition, titles and bullet points should not be obsessively overloaded with keywords. The main focus should still be on the comprehensibility and information content of the texts for the prospective customer. This means that not all previously researched keywords can always be meaningfully included in the listings. In this case, the field for the backend keywords usually offers enough space to accommodate the missing relevant keywords.

What is the difference between backend keywords and platinum keywords?

In the product editing, there is another field under the Keywords tab in addition to the field for the backend keywords. This is reserved for so-called Platinum keywords. However, these only have one meaning for Amazon Platinum Seller. Filling out this field does not bring any advantages or improvements in the ranking for “normal” marketplace sellers, because the Platinum fields are not indexed.

For this reason you should always make sure that the general search terms are actually entered in the field provided. If the backend keywords are accidentally inserted into the field for platinum keywords, they will be ignored and will be lost accordingly.

Optimizing Amazon backend keywords: Which rules should you follow?

If you want to optimize Amazon backend keywords, there are some rules you should follow. Some of them are useful to make the best use of space for general search terms, while others are essential to avoid violating Amazon’s guidelines. Full indexing of the keywords is also related to this.

Length: As already mentioned, the field for the general keywords is limited to 249 bytes. Normally Amazon does not accept longer entries, but if the length of the stored keywords exceeds 249 bytes, none of the entered backend keywords will be considered for indexing. This can happen, for example, if Amazon, as in the past, further limits the field afterwards. To avoid losing relevant keywords, you should always keep up to date with changes of this kind and make appropriate adjustments if necessary.

Characters are not equal to bytes: An important addition to the topic of length of backend keywords is that bytes are often confused with characters. While many characters correspond to exactly one byte, umlauts, for example, take up two bytes. When determining the length, a counter should therefore be used that counts not only characters but also bytes. You can find such a byte counter here.

Brand naming: Within the backend keywords, neither foreign brands nor your own brand may be mentioned. According to Amazon Styleguides, the ideal place for the brand name of a product is in the title anyway, preferably in the first position.

ASIN naming: Just like brand names, ASINs are not allowed in the backend keywords. Other article numbers such as EAN or UPC codes should also be avoided.

Punctuation marks: Punctuation marks are not necessary within the general search terms. The individual terms can simply be separated by a space. Additional punctuation marks only minimize the already limited space. An exception is the hyphen, but we will get to that.

Order: The order of the search terms as well as the distance between two terms does not play a role in indexing. Thus, for the search query “coat black”, a product with the backend keywords “black coat” as well as “coat thick winter long black” is considered relevant. Considering different keyword sequences only leads to many repetitions and thus to a waste of space.

Repetitions: This leads us to the next point. Often the most important keywords from the listing are repeated in the backend keywords. However, this does not lead to an increase in relevance and merely reduces the space for meaningful keywords. When optimizing the general search terms, you should therefore always make sure that the terms mentioned do not already appear in the title or the attributes. Repetitions within the backend keywords should also be avoided.

Filler words: Filler and stop words, such as “with”, “for”, “that” or “and” are not taken into account during indexing and should therefore be omitted to save space.

Upper and lower case: Whether keywords are capitalized or not is irrelevant within the backend keywords. Amazon recommends to write all terms in lower case.

Spelling errors: Amazon automatically detects small spelling errors in the search query and displays relevant results for the search query that was probably meant. For this reason it is not necessary to include spelling mistakes or typos in the general keywords. However, popular spelling variants can be included.

Singular & Plural: To cover a search term, it is sufficient to include the term in either its singular or plural form in the backend keywords. Taking both into account has no effect on the relevance for a search query. The singular form is often somewhat more space-saving than the plural.

Follow the guidelines: In addition, there are some guidelines from Amazon that should be followed to avoid violations and thus the exclusion of the search terms and further penalties. Insulting and offensive terms naturally do not belong in the backend keywords. Likewise, no subjective statements are permitted, including terms such as “nice” or “cheap”. Furthermore, temporary terms such as “new” or “on offer” must be avoided.

Hyphen: Finally, here is a practical tip to accommodate as many relevant keywords as possible in as little space as possible. For this purpose, terms that can be written together or separately are inserted with a hyphen in the general search terms. For example, the term “body-lotion” covers the keywords “bodylotion”, “body lotion”, “body” and “lotion”.

Examples for the optimization of Amazon backend keywords

The following table shows some examples of popular errors within the general search terms and a corrected version. Additionally, the rules that were not followed are listed.

Falsch Richtig Regeln
food for dog dog food dog food filler words, repetitions, order
coat black, black coat, black jacket coat black jacket order, punctuation marks, repetitions
beautiful nice jacket colorful cheap jacket colorful subjective statements
winter coat wintercoat winter-coat hyphen
headphones headfones headphnes headphones spelling errors
coffee MUG Coffeemug tea Teamug coffee-mug tea-mug upper and lower case, hyphen
headphones competitorbrand1 competitorASIN1 bluetooth competitorbrand2 bluetoothheadphones bluetooth-headphones brand naming, ASIN naming, hyphen
travel bag on special offer leatherette brown travel bag leatherette brown temporary terms
toy for cats cat cattoy toys set cat-toy set singular & plural, hyphen
rainjacket blue rainjacket waterproof rainjacket warm rainjacket blue waterproof warm repetitions, order (respectively term distance)

Conclusion on how to optimize Amazon backend keywords

With the rules and tips mentioned above, the Amazon backend keywords can be effectively optimized to increase the relevance for as many search queries as possible. The examples show in particular how many characters or bytes can be saved by optimizing using the rules. In summary, the correct length of the backend keywords and compliance with Amazon’s guidelines should be the primary concern, otherwise the indexing of the keywords is at risk. In the next step, it is worth applying the remaining rules to make the general keywords as efficient as possible and get the best out of the limited space.