Believe it or not, Amazon.com is the world’s 3rd largest search engine.
Even though it’s a solid 3rd place, Amazon SEO doesn’t really receive a lot of attention compared to something like Google SEO does.
However, with Amazon’s incredible recent growth and more people shopping online than ever before, expertise in Amazon SEO will be a requirement for all sellers in the near future.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
When people talk about SEO, they’re usually referring to utilizing various techniques for optimizing their web pages to rank better on Google’s search results pages.
Amazon SEO is similar, and is about optimizing your product listings so that they rank better on Amazon’s search results pages.
While it doesn’t currently receive the amount of attention Google SEO does, Amazon SEO is critical to the success of your Amazon Seller business as much as it would be for a website you’re trying to rank on Google.
If you want to win on the platform as it's starting to hit its stride, you’re going to have to take every part of selling on Amazon seriously, and one of the foundational pillars of selling well on Amazon is SEO.
Our Amazon SEO Guide
This guide will focus less on theory of SEO and more on actionable things you can do right now.
We’re going to tell you everything that influences your product rankings through SEO, along with some helpful tips to utilize and pitfalls to avoid.
At the end of this guide you should be able to get maximum value out of search engine results for your listings.
Let’s get started!
Part 1: Keywords, What and Where
Get Keywords IN: Most Important Aspect of Amazon SEO
The goal for Amazon SEO is to get as many relevant keywords that match your product everywhere that Amazon recognizes them to make them “discoverable”.
Indexing Can Sometimes Be Tricky
Due to Amazon’s shopping algorithm “constantly evolving” they will never officially state places you put keywords will index them and make them discoverable 100% of the time.
Registering Your Brand Gives You More Areas to Insert Keywords
Having a Registered Brand on Amazon gives you access to a lot of perks that you normally wouldn’t get.
Among these benefits are more areas to add keywords to your listing, both backend and frontend keywords.
Since we’re trying to get as many keywords in our listings as possible, this is a good thing and something you absolutely want to do if you are looking to improve SEO.
Backend keywords for your Amazon listings
When you are editing a product listing, there are keyword fields that will not show up on your product listing page.
These fields contain what are called backend keywords.
Backend keywords, aside from being underutilized, are a great way to plug relevant keywords into your listing without having to worry about how to fit them in the your copy.
They live in the “Keywords” tab when you’re editing your listing.
If you’re familiar with this tab, you will know in the past there used to be other fields along with Search Terms. They were:
- Intended Use
- Target Audience
- Other Attributes
- Subject Matter
- Platinum Keywords
However, Amazon has recently done away with these fields in an attempt to “improve quality” as they put it.
Now there’s only Search Terms.
Search Terms field is essential for Amazon SEO
The Search Terms field is the most important (and now the only) backend keyword field.
You will use this to place the most highly relevant, highly trafficked, and most relevant keywords for your listing.
While it is extremely important, it is also extremely dangerous. Amazon reserves the right to punish you for improperly using this (and any text field, really), threatening ASIN suppression or even going after your entire account.
A few things to keep in mind with the Search Terms field:
- It is limited to 250 bytes, in which spaces do not count. Use a tool like a character counter to see how many bytes sans spaces you are using.
- Use all lowercase characters.
- While Amazon specifically recommends against it, adding misspellings of keywords is considered to help with ranking for them. Do this at your own risk.
- Include alternate spellings for keywords.
- You can add keywords from other languages (if there’s search volume for it), but Amazon has no stance on this.
- Stick to relevant keywords ONLY. With relevance in mind, put high volume keywords in the Search Terms field.
Amazon provides a bit of insight for what you should and shouldn’t put in the Search Terms field.
What you DO want to include (according to Amazon):
- Use synonyms for keywords
- Spelling variations of keywords
- Abbreviations of keywords
- Use singular OR plural words (both are not required)
Prohibited keywords and characters Amazon does not want you using:
- Do not use commas, periods, or special characters
- Do not use competitor brand names or your own brand name
- Do not use duplicate keywords
- Do not use promotional words (discount, free shipping, on sale, in stock, etc.)
- Do not use adjectives or subjective claims (best, cheapest, fastest, lightest, most, etc.)
- Do not put ASINs in the field
- Do not use any other prohibited words (profanity, offensive words, violent, racial, sexual, etc.)
- Do not use prepositions (an, a, by, for and, etc.)
Beyond this long list of words you shouldn’t use, the Amazon agency My Amazon Guy has a few suggestions for other prohibited words they found that could get your listing suppressed by Amazon.
I’ll summarize the list here. Avoid keywords around:
- Drugs. CBD, DMT, coca, clenbuterol, etc.
- Skincare claims. Brightening, whitening, anti-inflammatory, etc.
- Eco-friendly terms. Eco-friendly, biodegradable, non-toxic, organic, compostable
- Disease related terms. Cancer, COVID, weight loss, toxin, etc.
- Pesticide terms. Anti-bacterial, toxic, mites, pathogen, etc.
How to find keywords for the Search Terms field
If you’re having a hard time finding keywords to place in the Search Terms field, you can utilize online tools to help you find the best keywords.
On Helium 10, for example, a good combination of their tools you can use for keyword research:
- Magnet. This gives search data on various keywords and provides suggestions.
- Cerebro. Competitor ASIN research tool that will provide top keywords for a listing.
- Frankenstein. Can take lists of keywords and can format them for the Search Terms field in Amazon
Using these tools you can get high value keywords easily.
For example, to extract a list of keywords from a competitor’s product:
- Find a product that closely matches your own
- Enter that product ASIN into Cerebro
- Export the keywords into Frankenstein
Combine competitor keyword data, use keywords about your product, and put it all together for a powerful Search Terms keyword list.
Frontend Keywords - Keywords Your Customers Can See
Now that we got the backend out of the way, let’s get to the frontend.
Frontend keywords will go in everything that’s visible to your potential customers.
- Product Title
- Bullet Points
- Description (or A+ Content if you’re Brand Registered)
- Attributes (sometimes)
Amazon Product Title SEO
Just like with Google SEO, your title is extremely relevant to your SEO on Amazon.
Your title is your opportunity to explain your product, hit your most valuable keywords, and entice the customer to click on your product listing.
Product Title Length
In their example of a good title, the product comes in at 84 characters, so you can see the suggestion of 60 isn’t too strict.
Many sellers recommend 100-200 characters for a product title, and don’t go beyond 200 characters.
Product Title - Best Practices
It can be hard to come up with a title for your product. There’s a lot of advice on character length and sometimes Amazon’s recommendations conflict with what other people will tell you.
What to avoid putting in your product title.
Like anything else on Amazon, putting anything they doesn’t like in a text field is grounds to get your product yanked from search results or some other kind of punishment.
The title is no different. When building your product title, do not include:
- Special characters used for decoration. So don’t have something like ,.-~`Ballerina*Shoes*For*Girls`~-., in your title.
- Anything promotional. That includes things like “free shipping”, “lowest price”, or “best” anything.
- Copyrighted words or other brands. This is the fastest way to get your listing pulled down.
Source: Amazon’s FBA title requirements
Guidelines to build your product title.
- Inclusion of brand name. While it’s suggested that you put your brand name first in the title, it’s not a requirement. If you feel like your title won’t gain any benefit from your brand name being at the very beginning, then skip it and put a higher value keyword first.
- Include any special identifying information about your product. What it is, what it’s made of, dimensions, size, and anything that makes your product unique/valued over others.
- What it’s for. If you still have space, you can include a use-case about your product if it’s relevant.
- Who it’s for. Sometimes your product is very focused on a particular type of person. Babies, moms, hikers, runners, artists, etc. You can let them know your product is designed specifically for them.
- Duplicate keywords are okay, but only use them if you have to. Title space is short and precious, so if you have a keyword in there twice, make sure it’s worth it.
Some best practices provided by Amazon on their Product title requirements page:
- Titles should be concise. We recommend fewer than 80 characters.
- Don't use ALL CAPS.
- Capitalize the first letter of each word except for prepositions (in, on, over, with), conjunctions (and, or, for), or articles (the, a, an).
- Use numerals: "2" instead of "two".
- Don't use non-language ASCII characters such as Æ, ©, or ®.
- Titles should contain the minimal information needed to identify the item and nothing more.
- Don't use subjective commentary, such as "Hot Item" or "Best Seller".
- Titles can include necessary punctuation, like hyphens (-), forward slashes (/), commas (,), ampersands (&), and periods (.).
- Titles can abbreviate measurements, such as "cm", "oz", "in", and "kg".
- Don't include your merchant name in titles.
- Size and color variations should be included in titles for child ASINs, not the main title (see below).
Use keyword data from Search Terms research to build your Title
From our earlier section on search terms to find keywords about your product, the data you found there can also fuel the title of your product.
Use the same tools and look at competitors to see what they are trying to focus on when they make their product titles.
A lot of the time they will be missing key aspects of their product that you can put front and center to attract customers to your product.
Amazon Bullet Points SEO
Bullet Points are a great chance to showcase more about your product and hit a lot of valuable keywords.
Bullet points have a lot of debate around what should be done, what Amazon allows, and how you should format them.
Officially from Amazon, there’s actually very little guidelines on bullet points.
According to Amazon’s page on writing bullet points, these are the most important factors:
- Keep the TOTAL amount of characters under 1,000. That means if you have 5 separate bullet points, their combined total amount of characters should be 1,000 (spaces included).
- An example of this would be 200 characters per point for 5 points, or a split of 250-250-200-150-150 among all bullet points.
- Write compelling copy for people first, and try to have it contain relevant keywords.
- Bullet points can typically be written as “Feature: Benefit of Feature”
Beyond Amazon’s official suggestions, there’s a few more suggestions and points to keep in mind:
- Emojis. You’ll see emojis on a lot of products. They’re not something Amazon currently punishes listings for, but they could change the rules at any moment. Use them at your own risk.
- ALL CAPS FIRST SENTENCE. This is another trend among sellers. Again, it’s not currently punished by Amazon, but it is a risk as Amazon does not allow all caps in product titles.
- Prioritize keywords or bots? While Amazon officially says keywords should be incidental in well written bullet points, most shoppers make a purchase based on your images. I’d personally say lean more towards getting those keywords in rather than making beautiful prose.
- All the rules that will get your listing yanked for your title can potentially apply to bullet points. Avoid anything offensive, other brand names, watch out for special characters as decoration, etc.
As with everything else, utilize your keyword research to get inspired for filling out bullet points.
Amazon SEO for Descriptions and A+ Content
Descriptions and A+ Content fill the same section of a product listing, but a Description is a text-only simple field, while A+ Content contains many images and sections for text.
If you’re not brand registered, then you only have access to a product description.
If you are Brand Registered, you can utilize Enhanced Brand Content to make A+ Content for your listings.
You want to be brand registered. If you’re not, then get registered now!
Let’s go over general guidelines for Descriptions first:
- Follow the same rules you would for bullet points for avoiding penalties.
- 2,000 characters is the limit
- Descriptions use HTML for formatting. Build your description in an online HTML editor for automatic formatting.
- Use a lot of bullet points and get as many keywords in your description as possible. People generally don’t read descriptions that much, so you don’t have to have it sound too appealing.
A+ content is the more elaborate descriptions you see across products on Amazon that have a lot of images, show off a brand's catalog for complementary products, and more. What’s even better is that Amazon indexes content on A+ content, and allows for keywords than a description would.
Some guidelines to help craft A+ Content that’s good for SEO:
- Each image has an “Alt text” setting where you can describe an image with words. This is a good place for keywords and Amazon does index them. Limit 100 characters.
- Use each text field available instead of putting your copy inside of your images. Amazon does not index words that are part of pictures/images
- Follow all the rules for titles/bullets/descriptions to avoid being penalized
Attributes to boost SEO
When building your product listings, depending on the product, Amazon has various fields for precise attributes about your product.
This is things like unit count, color, sizes, etc. that have their own dedicated field to help Amazon understand your product better.
Whenever one of those fields is a match with your product, FILL IT OUT. Amazon uses all information you put in the back end of your product listing to help users find your product.
Even if they don’t state explicitly that a certain field is indexed, that can change at any moment.
A good rule of thumb is to always fill out relevant information in any field available when editing your product listings.
Part 2: Other ways to influence SEO on Amazon
PPC, Secret Amazon SEO Booster
If you’re familiar with Google SEO, you’ll know that Google Ads don’t really have much effect on your site’s SEO.
With Amazon, it’s the opposite.
PPC is one of the most critical factors to ranking your products organically.
- Clicked listings for targeted PPC keywords appear to directly affect the organic rank of your product for those same keywords if the shopper ultimately makes a purchase.
- PPC can increase sales velocity, which affects SEO.
PPC running all the time is the new normal on Amazon, and this is just another reason why you need to keep it on.
PPC is especially impactful because you can also use it in conjunction with…
New Product Honeymoon Phase
When a new product hits an Amazon warehouse for the first time, there’s a phenomenon called the Honeymoon Phase that lasts 4 weeks in which you can more easily rank for keywords than you could for a mature product.
While it’s not an official thing, it certainly seems to exist.
When combining the Honeymoon Phase with the idea of PPC boosting SEO rankings, you can very quickly rank your product by using a mixture of the Honeymoon Phase and an aggressive PPC campaign on product launch.
Find new keywords as your listing matures and integrate them into your listing.
While you can do a lot of research and find a great set of keywords for your listing, some will always pop up that you never initially considered.
When you discover new keywords that have potential for ranking, adjust your listing and integrate them wherever you think they fit best.
A few places to discover keywords you previously didn’t know about:
- Product reviews and Q&A section. Your customers are usually more familiar with your products than even you might be. Read through your reviews / Q&A and see if there’s any consistent key terms they use to describe your product and integrate it into your listing.
- Automatic PPC campaigns. Amazon automatic campaigns provide a lot of benefits, but one thing they are great for that people don’t utilize is their ability to find keywords that are relevant to your product. Check the Search Terms report of a campaign to see the kind of keywords your listing pops up for.
- Lower ranked keywords. Using a tool like Cerebro by Helium 10, you can see where your product ranks among various keywords on Amazon. Look for lower ranked keywords that have higher volume you don’t mention in your listing and integrate them.
Don’t Go Out of Stock
Here’s a less obvious SEO tactic that has nothing to do with keywords… make sure your product stays in stock.
While it’s obvious that you don’t want to stock out, when you do many factors that influence SEO start to tank (BSR, sales velocity, etc.). The longer you stay out of stock, the worse your SEO metrics do.
So a great SEO tip is to manage your inventory well!
Part 3: Wrapping up - Always Keep SEO in Mind
SEO is very straightforward, but most sellers don’t do it 100% right.
This can be your advantage to rank your products well, because every year Amazon gets more competitive and ranking new products among entrenched sellers will get more difficult as every day passes.
With Amazon SEO, keep these factors in mind and you will do fine:
- Relevant keywords are critical, targeting irrelevant keywords can only hurt your listing.
- Stay within Amazon’s limits they set, as they will pull your listing any moment they believe something isn’t right.
- Any text field Amazon gives you for keywords, use it.
- Amazon doesn’t index text in images, just text fields
- Fill the Search Terms field in the backend of your listing for every product
That should cover every single way you can influence your product listings’ Search Engine Rankings.
Your success on Amazon is driven by a mixture of your SEO and PPC efforts, so do well in both of these areas and you will see your product line perform!