Amazon Is the Most Important Search Engine for Product MarketersWe all know that Google is the unquestioned leader for general searches, but when considering searches for retail goods, Amazon severely trounces Google. Thirty-nine percent of online shoppers research products on Amazon before buying compared to just 11 percent on Google, according to Forrester Research. In other words, the ninth-largest retailer in the U.S. (Amazon.com) is also the most popular search engine to research retail products on.
While having a strong presence in Google search results is important for brands, Amazon is the number one online destination for customers looking to research and make a purchase.
Amazon SEO Isn’t Google SEOSome SEO principles are similar between Google and Amazon, but the two platforms have fundamental differences. Google’s search algorithm evaluates the authority and relevancy of websites and pages to keyword searches, while Amazon’s algorithm is more focused. It is engineered to drive purchases by factoring sales history, conversion rate, seller rating, product reviews and ratings, and other engagement signals into its page-ranking algorithm in addition to content relevancy.
With this in mind, following is an essential Amazon SEO checklist that covers the critical elements necessary to gain visibility and compete for the valuable shelf space that search results represent for brands online.
I. Control Your Listings with the Amazon Brand RegistryBecause Amazon combines all competing sellers’ offers for a UPC into one listing, content submitted by sellers such as images and copy is pooled together for Amazon’s catalog team to determine which content will be visible. To update on page content, control images and to implement other changes, Amazon allows brand owners to control listings associated with its owned trademark by submitting an Amazon Brand Registry application.
Approved sellers will be able to implement changes and prevent other sellers from making changes. The prerequisite for an approved application is that (1) you are the trademark owner of the brand; or (2) you are authorized by the trademark owner in writing to represent the manufacturer on Amazon.
II. Product Category
While the majority of Amazon sales originate from search bar queries, consumers also find products through the browse tree column on the left-hand-side of a search results page. To make sure you’ve categorized your product listing correctly, research competing products to get an indication of the correct category. Once you identify the most relevant product category, refer to Amazon’s category-specific browse tree guide (account required to view link) to select the correct browse nodes within the category. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure content optimization includes these category keywords.
III. Images & VideosWhile Amazon has provided a lengthy list of requirements for images to be aware of, for the purpose of optimization, make sure you have (1) high-quality images [at least 1 MB and 1,000 minimum pixel length] (2) and at least five images. While the maximum image size is 4 MB, keeping images under 2 MB may prevent slow page load times.
According to data from another large marketplace, a random sample of 6.8 million listings indicated that those with high-quality images were, on average, 4.5 percent more likely to convert. It’s helpful to think proactively from the consumer’s perspective and ask whether you’ve included enough images to provide adequate information for decision-making.
While third-party sellers can’t add their own videos to listings, you may be able to request a video to be added if there is an existing video on an Amazon retail listing within the same product line.
IV. ContentThe main content sections in listings where you will showcase information about your product are the Title, Key Product Features, and Product Description sections.
Perhaps the simplest correction to be made to a listing is ensuring that your listings use all five of the available bullet points in the Key Product Features section; Amazon may suppress a listing in search results if it contains less than five bullet points. Bullet points should list specific data explaining the critical attributes, features, and benefits of a product. According to Amazon’s guidelines, the first bullet should list all the contents of the package.
The Product Description section should be written as long-form content in paragraph format. This is the primary location on a listing to include brand story messaging, product benefits, and important ingredients.
While the Title is the shortest section of listing content, it’s also the most critical for two reasons. First, Amazon’s search algorithm places the most weight for matching content to search inquiries on titles; accordingly, important keywords you’ve identified should also be in the title. Secondly, titles are critical because they’re the only content displayed in search results. Refer to Amazon’s category-specific style guidelines for detailed information on how to format titles in each product category.
V. Variation Configuration
In certain categories, products convert best when listings are combined and organized by attributes such as color and size. By combining individual “child” listings into a “parent” listing, consumers can select all relevant sizes, colors, or other product variations from one listing. A secondary benefit from utilizing the “parent-child” format is that you can “piggy back” your way to better visibility by combining your listings into an existing parent listing that already ranks well.
VI. Keyword Optimization
There is a great pre-existing body of knowledge to reference that addresses keyword research and content optimization for Amazon, but the following section covers basic best practices for optimizing Amazon listing content.
Identify the 10 most important keywords that are relevant to your listing. These terms should describe what a product “is,” but sometimes topic- or solution-related keywords can also be considered. Amazon itself is the best starting point for research because titles of well-ranking competitor products usually include valuable keywords to use. Additionally, pay attention to terms automatically suggested in the search bar, as well as terms in the appropriate category browse tree.
On Page Keywords
Identify your two most important head terms and include them once as exact matches in the title, bullets, and product description. While exact matches are ideal, especially in the title since the title holds the most weight for keyword matching, partial matches will be achieved by ensuring that each individual word is included in each field. Additionally, the bullets and product description fields can easily include 10 or more of your other keyword phrases through partial matching.
Amazon provides an opportunity to include more keywords in the backend of each listing through the Seller Central platform. The meta keywords field provides five rows of 50 characters each to place as many words as can fit in each row. Be sure to include all of the original head terms that you optimized the content to, avoiding repeat words.
Product Companies Need to Invest in the Marketplaces Channel
Retail product companies simply can’t afford their brand presence to be invisible on marketplaces like Amazon. Brands that aren’t leveraging the channel are allowing their competitors to capitalize on their voided presence. In order to maximize revenue in the marketplaces channel and provide consumers with a preferred touch point to engage their brand through, product marketers need to manage the visibility of their products as part of an Amazon-specific retail strategy.
Lastly, product companies that decide to make a strategic investment in the marketplaces channel should begin by answering the following questions: How visible are your branded products on Amazon? How does your brand visibility compare to competitors? How accurately is your brand image and messaging represented?
By following the above checklist and answering these key questions, you just might discover that you’ve not only improved awareness to your brand, but also gained additional customers.