Last updated on 5th October 2023 at 14:33 by Alex Nicholas
Your organic rankings depend on the keywords you use and where you use them, so read on to find out how to steal your competitor's best keywords and dominate your niche.
When it comes to SEO, all too frequently our thoughts instantly turn to one place, Google search, and whilst your company's Website should absolutely be a priority, the often overlooked search engine that needs more of your time and work is Amazon's marketplace, especially as it will be (if it hasn't already) become the major powerhouse in product sales for your business or brand. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if your business is serious about selling products online and beating your competition, you should spend more time and resources carrying out Amazon seller SEO than ranking your own site due to the volume of sales and visibility that are achievable from the retail giant's platform. In fact, I guarantee that your ideal buyer/consumer shops in the Amazon marketplace.
Whilst it's pretty obvious why you need to optimise for search on your Amazon listings for better organic ranking, what isn't obvious is that it's very easy to get it wrong and miss quick/easy wins. At the end of the day, correctly optimising your listings is done for the same reasons it is on the digital properties you own, better visibility = more sales. And you can only do that by appearing on page one.
Here are the quick links to the areas covered in this guide:
- Keyword selection
- Title descriptions
- Bullet points
- Product description
- A+ content
- Backend keywords
- Positive reviews
Before we dive into the how's and why's, I should let you know that I have a special relationship with Helium 10, and as such I'm able to offer some very good deals on their world-class software.
To Get 10% OFF every month or 20% OFF your first month simply click on the image below and use codes: DIGITALCORNERSTONE10 or DIGITALCORNERSTONE20
Understanding Amazon SEO & the A10 algorithm
Before we dive into optimising your Amazon listings for better organic ranking's and making it on to page one, you first need to get your sights set on how exactly Amazon's A10 algorithm works as a search engine, as it will give you a better understanding of why you need to optimise your listings in the first place.
The A10 algorithm works like this: sales > positive reviews > high chance of conversion > higher ranking > more sales. It's basically a self-propelled wheel that spins faster and faster the more sales you make, so it's vital you make your listings as compelling and keyword-driven as possible if you want to improve the ranking of each of your ASINs. Remember, Amazon will promote products to buyers that sell well and make them more profit.
Now whilst the A10 algorithm works by calculating the likelihood someone will buy the product(s) Amazon shows them, it all starts with a high intent keyword search, and what I mean by high intent is that there's a very strong possibility that the potential buyer will purchase a product based on what they've typed into the search bar. For example, if someone searches for ‘size 10 white Nike running shoes for men', there's an incredibly strong possibility they'll buy them due to the fact it's a very narrowed down search term, and remember, Amazon has an exceptional conversion rate which is down to three main reasons:
- It's the place nearly every consumer goes to buy the vast majority of products online
- People trust Amazon with their money due to their customer-centric approach. If something goes wrong with an order Amazon will refund you.
- Amazon split test everything to maximise it's conversion rates, which often run at over 50%. You won't be seeing that sort of CR on your average eCommerce Website any time soon!
Okay, so enough of how the Amazon algorithm works and can benefit you, it's time to move on to optimising your listings for higher rankings.
Make Amazon seller SEO easy by using the best tool on the market
A good Amazon SEO campaign starts with selecting the correct keywords for your content and brand, as this is what almost every single buyer starts with on their path to purchase. For this exercise I recommend using these excellent tools from Helium 10, it's Magnet2 keyword tool, Cerebro, and Xray, as they work by providing you with an enormous database of actionable keywords and data from your competition that you can use to drive customers to your listings and expand your content and business.
First up, Magnet2. Start by entering your chosen product and hit ‘Get Keywords' (in this example I'll use gym towels).
Magnet2 will then show you the total keywords discovered by checking the top Amazon sellers that have related keywords to your product and list them in an easy-to-understand format.
Next, choose a competitors product from the first page of the Amazon listings and open up Helium10's Cerebro tool, and do two things:
- Enter your chosen product's ASIN into Cerebro, to use as your baseline product. If you already have your own product listed, then obviously you can use that as your baseline product, however, if you don't have your own product listed (and I often recommend using someone else's listing anyway), don't choose an established brand name product because their results are likely driven by their reputation (Under Armour for example).
- Put your chosen ASIN into Xray and hit search
NOTE: To use Xray you first need to download Helium 10 Chrome extension onto your computer so it automatically works within Amazon. And I have to say, I love how this works!
Here in the desktop Helium 10 extension, you can see all of the options Helium 10 give you within Amazon, including Xray. So click on the Xray button and wait a few seconds for Helium 10 to pull in all the data.
And this is what Xray will give you when it's finished.
When Xray has finished loading, click on the the ‘sales' button so it shows you the top-selling listings in order.
Next, take the ASIN of the top-selling products (making sure it's not the same as the baseline ASIN already chosen) and enter them into Cerebro, below the baseline product you've chosen.
Top tip: I recommend using at least 3 competing ASINs to make sure you don't miss any golden opportunities missed by all of the other sellers, all of whom will be your competition.
When you're happy with the ASIN's you've chosen click ‘Get Keywords' and Cerebro will present a screen that allows you to narrow down/filter the list of search phrases that drive the most sales. Here I recommend narrowing these fields as follows:
- Competitor Rank Avg: 1 to 20
- Ranking Competitors: 5
By doing this you filter out all keywords/phrases that aren't really driving sales, leaving you with only the keywords/phrases that are driving sales to those ASINs, along with the average position they rank on Amazon's algorithm, meaning you simply cannot afford to leave those phrases out of your own listing. Basically, people search for them and your content must include them.
By carrying out the steps laid out above what you're doing is creating a list of keywords and phrases that are literally driving customers to your competitor's products and making them money.
Perfect product titles: Make them descriptive using your keywords
Arguably the most important aspect of your listing is the product title because it's the first thing anyone will see when they carry out a search on Amazon's retail platform. Your title must instantly tell customers what your product is about so you need to make sure you cover the critical areas when writing them.
Along with keywords and reviews, the product titles are a big part of Amazon's search algorithm and critical for page one rankings. And this isn't just because of the keywords you can use in them but because a well-crafted product title will increase KPIs (key performance indicators) such as CTR (click-through rate) and CR (conversion rate). These two separate factors are amongst the main differentiators with regards to how highly Amazon rank you, therefore you must keep in mind when writing your product descriptions.
Here is how you must write your product titles for maximum ROI:
- Always use your primary keywords
- Write for your users, speak in their language
- Make the benefits crystal clear to the buyer
- Use your unique selling point(s)
- Include secondary keywords if possible
- Titles can be quite long so break the text up with pipes (|)
To give you an idea of how to get the most out of your titles let's take a look at a high-ranking product in the ‘gym headphones' section.
Mpow Wireless Headphones Bluetooth, Up to 9 Hrs Playing Time IPX7 Waterproof Running Headphones In-ear Earbuds for Gym Cycling Workout iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Siri with Built-in Noise Cancelling Mic
Now don't get me wrong, you will often end up effectively keyword stuffing your titles but in this example, you can see how Mpow have petty much covered all bases with regards to using their primary keywords (most important for driving sales), the benefits of the product (what activities they're best suited to) and secondary keywords such as noise canceling. They've utilised the information they've been able to gather and made it work well, whilst always keeping the consumer in mind.
This is also an important aspect to keep in mind when running Amazon Ads because your PPC success will be based on the keywords you used.
For further information, I suggest you have a quick look through Amazon's Product page style guide to make sure you stay within their rules.
Clear bullet points: Sell your products
Let's face it, people are either in a hurry or flat-out lazy! Either way, this is why properly optimised Amazon bullet points are so incredibly important and effective at turning people researching/browsing into customers. This is where you MUST SELL your product.
Here's how you should write the content for your bullet points:
- Write using language that connects with your potential customers, write in their tone, and always include calls to action.
- Let customers know EXACTLY what they will get if they buy your product, and how it will benefit them on their journey. Make the benefits clear.
- Use more keywords. It all counts!
- Write about any technical aspects that people might want or need to know about. Cover any critical features that are important to their purchase. For example, if you sell TV stands then give the full dimensions and material finish.
- Use social proof if at all possible. For example, if 5000 people have brought this product in the last 12 months then say so. People like knowing others trust you.
The ideal product description: Tell your story
Although only a small number of people actually go and read the main product description when it's below the bullet points and ‘people also…' ads, there are frequent occasions where Amazon will place the product description content above the bullet points on mobile, and that's potentially a lot of descriptive sales content for you to optimise. Therefore it absolutely must be written with care and detail, especially if you're selling an expensive product that people will take their time researching before committing to a purchase.
Never duplicate your bullet points (unless it's a super important point), simply expand on them and again, try to keep it conversational if possible. Give them a reason to have confidence in you and as with the rest of your listing get using those keywords! You should also incorporate real-life uses for your product to help people better understand areas of their life your it will fit in with them.
Don't be afraid to write long product descriptions either, including breaking them up with headings and your own ‘extra' bullet points if you feel it's appropriate, especially as Amazon only gives you a maximum of 5 bullet points of it's own to work with.
A+ content: Brand owners can go beyond average and increase conversions
Firstly it's important to understand what A+ content is and who can utilise it. A+ content is rich multi-media types such as:
- Comparison charts of competitors
- High-quality images
- HD videos
Unfortunately, A+ content is only available to brand owners and professional sellers who have been approved through the Amazon Brand Registry program.
According to Amazon, sellers that use A+ content see a 3% to 10% increase in conversions with the idea behind it that the enriched content creates a better, more immersive user experience, and in my opinion, it's a very good idea because you're going a step beyond the standard listing which highlights you as a professional seller, and trustworthy business.
As you can see in the image there are two clear things this seller has done very well:
- Made it easy to scan using a short paragraph that highlights one of the most important benefits
- Used highly relevant lifestyle images that connect with the target audience
Now don't get me wrong, there's obviously more groundwork involved in creating A+ content but it's worth the effort due to the increased ROI and trust gained by customers, which in turn will cause Amazon to rank you higher, thus increasing sales and driving the self-propelled sales wheel.
The unseen backend keywords: For keywords that don't fit
Backend keywords are the place to add keywords that don't naturally fit in the front-facing listing that's seen by buyers. Here you can add keywords that you might not want to actively promote such as miss-spelt keywords (there can be hidden gems with miss-spelt search terms).
However, be careful not to:
- Use competitor's brand names
- Repeat keywords used in the product title, bullet points or description
- Use keywords that aren't closely related to the rest of your keywords
As you can see, this part of optimising your Amazon listing is really straightforward and requires the least amount of time but like everything else on your listing, don't neglect it simply because you cannot see it on the front end.
Instantly grab attention with images: Optimise them and your sales will soar
As the old saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, but in this instance, it creates a thousand sales!
It's hard to emphasise enough just how important good photos are to your listings. People shop with their eyes first and foremost so creating stand-out product images should be something you take very seriously.
Attractive, high-quality images also have a secondary impact on your rankings within the A10 algorithm. This is because attractive images persuade people to click through to your listing which is a signal Amazon use to determine whether or not people like what they see, so if you get a high click-through rate from the Amazon results page, Amazon are more likely to promote you higher in the rankings.
It's also super important to bear the customers' thought process in mind when photographing your products, and by this, I mean understanding that they will want to see how your product fits into their lives. So consider taking lifestyle shots that show your product at the centre of real-life situations that your customers might be buying it for.
NOTE: This should be easy after correct keyword research is carried out, as I explained at the beginning of this article.
Here's a shot of an image from within the product page that stands out in the crowd.
Looking at this image it's not hard to see that Anker has put thought into what images sell their products. For example, the image allows you to instantly see how large it is and that it has Amazon Alexa connectivity. This instantly catches the shoppers' attention, and what you should understand is that first impressions count and I mean really count when it comes to the hyper-competitive want it tomorrow, world of Amazon shopping.
However, there's one thing you must bear in mind when using your photos on the Amazon platform, and that is you're only allowed to use stock, high-quality images on a white background on the main image that's shown on the results pages, like so:
As you can see, they're all standard images with plain backgrounds, it's only when you click into a page that you are able to show a product off in it's a natural habitat.
Here's a list of dos and don'ts for your main image:
- The image must only contain the core product — no accessories or props
- The background must be pure white (RGB code: 255, 255, 255)
- The product must fill 85% to 100% of the image area
- Always show the product without packaging (some exceptions, depending on the product)
- The product must be fully visible
- The main image must not contain text, graphics, or illustrations (only allowed in additional images)
I also recommend that all of your images have a sufficiently high resolution to enable the zoom function, so at least 1000 pixels on the longest side, 500 pixels on the shortest side. Zoomable images will increase your conversion rate.
Here is a bullet list for you to work from:
- Perspective: Show your products from different angles so people can see exactly what they're buying. This will reduce returns, too.
- In the wild: Let buyers see what your product looks like when in use. People will relate to your product if they can visualise how it fits into their own lives.
- Smiling faces: This is as old as marketing itself but if your product is used by people (most are) then show those lifestyle images with smiling people in them, it sends a positive message about your brand.
- Relative: If there are variations in sizes from one product to the next then give your product some perspective by measuring it against something everyone will understand. For example, if you sell bike-mounted GPS trackers, photograph it in a man or woman's hand because people will have a preconceived idea as to how big it should be, and if they can't visualise how big it is they're much less likely to buy from you.
Positive reviews: Everybody loves them
Positive reviews are by far the most compelling social proof on the internet, and especially on Amazon. In fact, gaining dozens, hundreds, or thousands of reviews that are 4 to 5 stars will be the driving force behind your sales as your product matures, and will continually help your visibility on the platform.
Roughly 80-85% of customers trust reviews on the Amazon platform as much as they would a recommendation from a friend so think of them as online gold. However, Amazon can be a prickly flower and can throw it's toys at you if it feels you're trying to game their system, as thousands have done with great success over the years. So, in all honesty, I recommend not going down the review chasing funnel with the plethora of automated tools out there. Let them happen naturally.
The reason I say let them happen naturally is that if you are suspended from the platform for any reason, it can be a nightmare trying to get back on to it again, and that's before even thinking about the lost revenue.
Copywriting basics: Sealing the deal
This post is all about optimising your listings so they rank highly in the Amazon results pages, but there's one thing your brand absolutely must get right so you get the most from your listing, and that's copywriting.
Now I could write all day about copywriting for sales, but to save time here are the main points to cover:
- Talk in your customer's language: Make sure your title entices clicks by using the language of your target market. Create content that's engaging and speaks to the core of your prospects, including the reasons they're looking to buy in the first place.
- Sell the sizzle, not the sausage: Although technicalities should be in your listings if they're relevant, they're also boring and will make buyers walk on by if it's the first thing they see, so sell the benefits and the emotion your product evokes.
- Study competitor's negative feedback: Spend time looking at the complaints of your rival's customers. Go through their reviews and see what's grinding people's gears and address them in your copy if at all possible.
- Avoid jargon and cliches: If you have plans to write about revolutionising the market, evidence-based approaches, or assisting you with blue sky thinking then step away from the keyboard, look in the mirror, and shout stop right now! Nobody and I mean nobody wants to hear that type of crud. It's the quickest way to lose a potential sale.
- Get to the point: As already highlighted in the bullet point section, people are in a hurry and the majority skim read, so convey your message clearly and concisely. Cut out the excess waffle and page filler and if you can say something in 5 words as opposed to 10 then go with 5.
By sticking to the above 5 principles you'll quickly increase your conversions, which (as mentioned previously) in turn will drive more sales due to Amazon's algorithm being about sales velocity.
I think it's pretty clear to everyone that the correct Amazon SEO approach can be an absolute goldmine for sellers and brand owners because Amazon is the first place more than half of us think of when it comes to buying products online. However, what's also true is that just like selling on any other platform or market place it can be a long tough road you need to walk down before you start to see the results.
Roughly 80% of sellers on Amazon fail due to a lack of product research and/or ability to understand exactly how Amazon's algorithm works, but by following this guide you'll be a long way to being part of the 20% that consistently make a profit by appearing on the first page of the Amazon search results.
Ready to supercharge your Amazon sales?
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Remember, like every other aspect of selling online this is a long-term play, but get your strategies right and the rewards can be life-changing for your brand. So take your time to carry out detailed research using Helium 10 then enjoy building your empire.