For a seller, Amazon has a lot of potential. The marketplace, which accounts for about half of all sales recorded on the platform, allows private individuals and professionals alike to offer products to a vast pool of consumers without having to invest in an ecommerce site and marketing strategies of their own.
And yet, the Amazon marketplace is not as attainable an Eldorado as one might think. 5 million active sellers (i.e. with at least one product listed) are referenced on the platform, over 280,000 of which were based in the UK in 2019. To face such competition, having your product pages appear among the first spots of the search results is essential, which means you’ll need to comply with the rules prescribed by the website. That’s the art of Amazon SEO: optimising your product pages to make them stand out from the heaps of references available to the consumers.
However, on Amazon, visibility is not the end game. It mainly aims to boost the conversion rate, and therefore the number of sales. These Amazon product ranking criteria can also be leveraged to further the development of your business. Here’s everything you need to know about SEO on Amazon.
Amazon in Figures
In the beginning, Amazon used to be a “simple” online bookshop. It is with that in mind that Jeff Bezos launched his start-up in 1994, by banking on the one product most likely to sell quickly and in large quantities: books. The success was such that the platform branched out. In 1999, Bezos was voted “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine for having popularised online commerce. The following year, Amazon opened its marketplace, giving anyone the opportunity to sell goods on the site.
Twenty years later, the figures are dizzying:
- According to a report from global ecommerce insights firm Edge by Ascential, Amazon holds 30.1% of ecommerce market shares in the UK.
- According to The Guardian, Amazon’s revenue in the UK has increased by 51% in 2020 compared to the previous year, for an income that is about double that of retail giant Marks & Spencer.
- Amazon is at the very heart of ecommerce: 89% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase goods on Amazon than elsewhere (“The 2019 Amazon Consumer Behavior Report”, Feedvisor).
- The Amazon Marketplace consists of 1.9 million active sellers worldwide. In 2020, third-party seller services accounted for $80.5 billion in sales. (feedbackexpress.com).
SEO on Amazon: definition
The success of the Amazon Marketplace has been attracting many sellers around the world, private individuals and professionals alike. All compete fiercely to appear among the first positions in the search results, to be visible to the consumers, and thus to sell more.
The only way to achieve that is to optimise your product descriptions all while following the platform’s guidelines. That’s what the art of Amazon SEO optimisation is all about: leveraging the right actions to get to the top of the search results for a given product. This will boost your visibility and improve your chances of being selected by buyers who, just as they do on Google, favour the first results on the list.
The importance of Amazon SEO can be summed up in one figure: 78% of searches on the platform involve not a brand name, but generic search terms. In other words, consumers are not motivated by the brands themselves, they just want the best quality and performance from the products. Having your product at the top of the results gives it the opportunity to catch the buyers’ eye and to convert them into clients – even when you don’t have a famous brand name to tap into.
To this end, one needs to start by understanding how the Amazon ranking algorithm works.
Amazon listing algorithm
Amazon relies on a proprietary algorithm called “Amazon A9” to rank its product descriptions. This tool “selects” the product descriptions that appear in the list of results based on a number of criteria and displays them in answer to the queries formulated by the customers using the platform’s internal search engine. These criteria form the core of Amazon SEO. They fall under two main categories:
- Relevance. The whole point of the Amazon algorithm is to match a user’s query with a product sold on the platform (either by a third-party seller from the Marketplace or by Amazon itself). Consequently, Amazon SEO aims to optimise a product description so that it corresponds to the consumers’ needs and expectations. To this end, there are a number of guidelines to follow: filling all the fields, using keywords, applying requirements (particularly for visuals), managing stocks, processing orders, being responsive and efficient in answering questions from potential customers.
- Performance. Amazon’s algorithm is different from Google’s in that it takes data relating to sales into account, as the company’s prime goal is to generate profit (knowing that it gets remuneration from transactions completed on the Marketplace). This means Amazon expects sellers to maintain a certain level in terms of performance (click-through and conversion rate, competitive pricing, satisfactory processing of the orders) and customer satisfaction (there are “negativity” thresholds you shouldn’t fall below: less than 1% defective orders, under 2.5% cancellations before the order is executed, under 4% delayed shipments).
Keep in mind that Amazon aims to promote reliable sellers, those who offer a good experience to the clients – the goal being to ensure their satisfaction so they will come back to make other purchases on the platform. Amazon SEO therefore needs to consider this fundamental requirement: doing everything you can to guarantee your product descriptions are relevant in order to meet the buyers’ needs and boost sales. This will ultimately help the product page to gain even more visibility.
7 key ranking factors on Amazon
In this article, we are going to discuss the “relevance” criteria for Amazon SEO and to answer the question: “How to optimise a product description to boost your visibility and your sales volume?”. Performance directly relates to visibility, the latter being the first – and most vital – step.
What are the ranking criteria essential to the art of SEO on Amazon? How to convince the algorithm that a product page deserves to be displayed in the results to a given search above any other?
1. THE PRODUCT TITLE
Just as its Google counterpart does, Amazon SEO attaches great significance to the Title. In this particular case: the product’s title. This is the first piece of information the buyer sees after performing the search. To optimise this field, one must:
- Put forward the main characteristics of the product (name, short description with main features, brand, typology, materials, colour/style, quantity, size, etc. – depending on the type of product).
- Include all the information that will allow the user to determine whether the product corresponds to what they are looking for.
- Conform to the imposed limit of 200 characters for most categories.
- Place the most important information at the beginning of the Title.
- Use ordinary text only, with no HTML tags.
- Put in the main keywords for which you want your product page to rank: what the users are likely to type if they are hoping to find this result.
Things to avoid for the Amazon SEO optimisation of a product description: no keyword stuffing, don’t mention the price or remaining stock, no information about the seller, no self-promotion.
2. THE SHORT DESCRIPTION
The short description appears at the top of the page, directly under the blocs assigned to price and typological information. It is presented as bullet points, of which a maximum of 6 are immediately visible (if you add any more, the user will need to click the “see more product details” button). Its impact on Amazon SEO is indirect: the short description (just as the long one, actually) mostly affects conversion, since it gives the buyer essential information about the product to encourage them to proceed further. To optimise it, you need to:
- List the main characteristics of the product, one per bullet point, with the ones that seems most important to you at the top.
- Highlight the key aspects of the product.
- Include keywords.
- Indicate any applicable norms or standards, manufacturer’s reference, etc. – depending on the type of product in question.
3. THE LONG DESCRIPTION
The long description is displayed further down the page, under the cross-selling and upselling blocks (similar products, special offers, best sellers…), and below the “product information” block, which is easily recognisable since it takes the form of a table.
In terms of Amazon SEO, the logic of this description is similar to that of any SEO content. It’s all about…
- Giving as much information about the product as possible.
- Conveying a brand-orientated message.
- Repeating the targeted keywords and their synonyms.
- Writing full sentences, simple, yet pleasant to read, aiming for quality over quantity.
- Remaining within the 2,000-word limit.
- Anticipating questions Internet users are likely to ask about the product.
Here again, the main goal is conversion.
4. THE TARGET KEYWORDS
Amazon gives you the possibility to fill out 5 fields dedicated to keywords. These fields are not part of the content visible to the users: they are there entirely for the purposes of Amazon SEO.
The keywords correspond to the terms Internet users are likely to type in the internal search bar to find a product, as well as the additional words that show up as suggestions after writing the first words (see example below). In other words, these are the keywords that allow anyone to find an item, and therefore to come across your product.
There are three things to know:
- There should only be one keyword in each field, which means a total of 5 terms to include, each not exceeding 50 characters.
- It is crucial to target the most relevant keywords, and to base your logic around the semantic field.
- Long-trail keywords are preferable to more generic expressions in order to make the offer more specific, to face less competition, and to boost your conversion rate. For example, the expression “women’s robe” shows 60,000 results, whereas “loose satin robe for women” only displays 10,000 – among which it will always be easier to rank.
Given how important keywords are for Amazon SEO, it is best to select them with care. To that end, you may use keyword research tools, though looking for ideas inside the internal search engine itself or simply figuring out other expressions that your direct competition ranks for is also effective.
5. THE VISUALS
Visuals are an instrumental part of Amazon SEO, as they contribute to the purchasing decision and help boost conversion. The photos should show introduce the product and show it being used (when it makes sense) to help the user get a better idea of what they are buying. This is particularly important for clothing and accessories, which should ideally be shown as worn by someone. Amazon even gives you the possibility to add a video.
Here, some requirements apply in terms of format. You should:
- Only show the product you are selling (except when shown in use), exactly as the buyer will receive it if they place an order.
- Photograph the product against a white background.
- Offer visuals that are 1,000 x 500 pixels or more in size.
- Make sure the product takes up at least 85% of the image.
- Use formats the platform recognises: JPEG, TIFF or PNG (the first being preferable).
- Use professional-quality visuals.
6. THE PRICE
When it comes to Amazon SEO, price is a significant variable – and not only because it is an essential characteristic of the product as far as the consumer is concerned.
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It’s important to understand that Amazon ranks products in ascending order of price in the search results (when two prices are identical, the platform consider delivery costs, and then the seller’s popularity). Let us keep in mind that more attractive prices are likely to capture the attention of the buyers, and therefore to optimise conversion. This is in fact THE most influential conversion factor, classed as “very important” by 82% of users, just ahead of delivery costs and the number of positive reviews (source: Feedvisor).
Ideally, especially at the start of a sales campaign, you’ll want to adjust your prices based on your competitions’.
7. CUSTOMER RATINGS AND COMMENTS
As explained above, Amazon strives towards customer satisfaction. It is therefore not surprising that customer reviews count as one of the most decisive elements to leverage in Amazon SEO. It is also a serious advantage in terms of conversion, since over 80% of Internet users trust reviews posted by previous buyers (source: Inc).
For those worried about fraudulent reviews and negative comments posted by ruthless competitors, Amazon implemented a monitoring system called “Verified Purchase”. While anyone can rate a product or share their feedback, only those Internet users who have actually bought it on Amazon get this special mention which serves as proof of authenticity.
To manage your customer reviews and boost your Amazon SEO, you must:
- Encourage your customers to comment and leave reviews.
- Provide a swift and constructive answer.
- Answer questions about the product in the dedicated section.
Good Amazon SEO all boils down to optimising the various fields of the product page, providing useful and relevant information, and indicating keywords that users of the platform are likely to type in the search bar.
With all that said, when it comes to SEO on Amazon, sales rank high in the list of priorities. Every tool that can be leveraged for optimisation follows the same logic. A seller who references their product page correctly is more likely to make a sale. And if their sales are satisfactory, they gain in visibility, thus allowing them to increase their sales even more, etc. Conversely, a product which hasn’t been sold after several weeks ends up plummeting down the results and becoming almost invisible.
You should also keep in mind that Amazon operates on trust. This applies to how a seller or product performs, and to dedication as well. Thus, sellers who subscribe to the “Fulfilment by Amazon” option (allowing the platform to handle all the logistics chain) are put in the spotlight.
Finally, given how important a multi-channel approach is to ecommerce, be sure to consider ranking criteria outside of the platform, including SEO (through the use of relevant keywords). Amazon product pages can indeed by referenced in the search engines’ search results – even if Google tends to promote its own marketplace, Shopping.