Page one is the place to be for any Amazon business. It’s the reason for playing the game. All the painful and scary things about selling on Amazon are worth it, when you’re able to see your product show up on page one.
That means Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most important topic for every Amazon seller to master. You can generate sales in other ways, such as through Amazon PPC, other paid ads, influencer partnerships, and more, but no channel will ever be as profitable as Amazon search.
Millions of people shop on Amazon every day, and by ranking your products with Amazon SEO, you can benefit from the insane brand recognition and customer retention that Amazon has.
This guide will be the last guide you’ll ever need on Amazon SEO. We’ll take you through five sections, teaching you everything from the foundational elements of Amazon SEO, to creating a strategy to rank on Amazon for each and every product you sell.
Feel free to use the links below to skip ahead to the section of your choice, or read from start to finish to learn how to 10x your business with organic Amazon traffic.
Introduction to Amazon SEO
Let’s start by examining the basics of Amazon SEO, and the Amazon search engine. Understanding the basics is vital, before you can move on to improve your rankings and dominate the Amazon search results.
What is SEO for Amazon?
SEO – search engine optimization – for Amazon means optimizing your product listings to generate as much organic search traffic as possible.
The idea is to convince the Amazon search algorithm to show your product listing at the top of the search results for a large number of search queries. Doing so will give your product more visibility in front of Amazon shoppers, resulting in more clicks to your listing, and more sales.
How relevant is Amazon SEO today?
It’s worth mentioning that organic search does not play as big a part of the Amazon shopping experience as it did in the past.
Today, there are more sponsored (paid) results in search results, and special results like editorial recommendations, Amazon’s choice and related searches, which take away from organic spaces on the first page.
Because of this, some would argue that Amazon SEO isn’t so important today, and that Amazon is now a “pay to play” platform.
This is not true. Amazon search is still extremely valuable, even organic positions. Some customers will click the sponsored results at the top of the page, but many more still scroll through the first page, and click on organic search results.
With the number of shoppers on Amazon constantly rising, even if organic search results are getting a lower share of clicks, the total number of customers clicking and buying from organic search results is going up.
The increase in Amazon’s customer base, particularly since 2020, is evidence that Amazon SEO is even more relevant than ever.
How the Amazon search engine works
Amazon’s search engine – up there with Google and YouTube as the biggest search engines in the world today – is the heart of Amazon SEO. To understand SEO is to understand how the search engine works.
The search engine is there for Amazon shoppers to be able to find just about anything they might need, all in one place.
Behind the search engine is the Amazon A9 algorithm – the software algorithm that determines which products show up, and in what order, for every single search query an Amazon customer makes.
The Amazon A9 ranking algorithm
Amazon’s A9 algorithm is what makes the search engine tick. This ranking algorithm is what you need to make friends with if you want to rank high on Amazon.
The A9 algorithm is a proprietary software designed and managed by Amazon itself. It takes all the products indexed for a keyword, and sorts them by factors that match what Amazon wants to provide their customers.
The ranking algorithm is designed to maximize customer satisfaction. To do that, it focuses on providing popular products, that are relevant to the given search term.
In this way, it minimizes the stress of shopping (giving customers relevant results at their fingertips), and maximizes the chance that customers will be happy with their purchase (by recommending popular, fast-selling products).
This leads to happier customers, who keep coming back to shop on Amazon, which is exactly what Amazon wants to see.
Keep in mind that the A9 algorithm is constantly changing. In fact, a fairly big adjustment took place in the last year, and many people now refer to it as the “A10” algorithm.
Regardless of the name, the core concept remains the same. The search algorithm’s goal is to produce happy, returning customers. Don’t lose sight of this.
Now we know the basics of how Amazon search and the A9 algorithm works, let’s look a little closer at how you will rank your products on page one.
Keywords, the Foundation of Amazon SEO
The core part of Amazon SEO is how and where you use keywords.
Since Amazon search is keyword-driven – customers need to type something into the search box for it to pull up results – the text on your product page is how Amazon knows what your product is about, and whether it may be a suitable result to show customers.
We can put this pretty simply, in one sentence. If you want to rank for a keyword, put it in your listing.
Don’t confuse this with thinking you can spam a search terms in your listing copy over and over and hope to outrank your competitors. This kind of low-effort spam is what search algorithms such as Amazon’s are constantly evolving to cut out.
This process, known as keyword stuffing, may have worked 5 or so years ago. But it doesn’t work now.
The best way to think of keywords in Amazon SEO is as a foundation. Keywords are the land you build your listing on. Using a keyword in your product description, bullet points, product title or backend keywords doesn’t guarantee you will rank for it, but it gives you a chance to.
Whereas if a term isn’t mentioned anywhere on your product page, you can’t expect to appear in the search results for it.
Let’s go over a few things you need to know in regards to keywords and Amazon SEO.
The best places to add keywords
The first thing to understand is that keywords carry more weight in some parts of your listing.
Thus, you have a better chance of ranking for search terms if they’re in one of these places.
Your product title is most important. The ranking algorithm ideally wants to show a collection of results with the given keyword in the title.
So if you really want to rank for a keyword, it makes sense to put it in the title. However, you have to consider that the amount of space you have in the product title is extremely limited (especially with your brand name in there too). There’s not enough space to list all the keywords on your wish list.
Reserve the space in your title for only the most important and relevant keywords. Think about which keyword defines your product perfectly, matches your target audience, and has enough search volume to bring in the traffic and sales you need.
After your product title, move on to the bullet points. This is where you can start to add long-tail keywords, related to different use cases. “Running shoes for _____”, for example. Also synonyms for your main keyword, such as “backpack/bag”.
Try to include as many keyword variations in the bullet points, while keeping it brief and readable. Amazon only indexes the first 1000 bytes (characters + spaces) in the bullet points, so if you go overboard, the algorithm will just ignore the excess.
Next, move to your product description. Add anything here you haven’t mentioned yet.
It’s worth mentioning that, if you replace your product description with A+ content (formerly Enhanced Brand Content or EBC), like the screenshot above, the text is NOT indexed. That means it doesn’t matter which keywords you use in your Enhanced Brand Content or A+ content (at least not for Amazon SEO).
Finally, backend search term fields can be used to include any more keywords you weren’t able to incorporate on the customer-facing side.
How to find keywords
How do you know which keywords to use, and which to prioritize?
From your product research before launching, you should have a few main keywords in mind. This is a good place to start.
From here, you can plug the keyword into the search bar (without pressing enter). The search engine will give you a bunch of suggestions, which will give you some long-tail keyword ideas (though not all may be relevant to your product).
Repeat this with more of your original, or “seed” keywords, to come up with more ideas.
You’ll also want to use a software tool to help with this. First, to determine the search volume (roughly how many searches) for each of your keywords, to know which are the most important.
Obviously, you want to be ranking for keywords that have a lot of searches. This means more visibility than search terms no one is actually using.
Second, you’ll also want to use software to automate some of the research process. Tools can give you a list of recommended keywords, based on keywords commonly found together on other product listings. You can also reverse-engineer competitors’ product listings by seeing which keywords they rank for, and including these on your product page.
How many keywords should you include in your listing?
There’s no catch-all answer to this. The short answer is as many as possible. BUT, not so many that your product listing looks like a dumping ground for keywords.
You need to ensure your listing is easy to read, and convinces people to click through and buy. It’s not worth sacrificing this to squeeze in another long-tail keyword variation.
If you’re struggling to fit all keywords for your product, try being creative. Rewrite your copy in a way that casually mentions your keywords. But consider that the increase in conversions you’ll get from a well-written listing will probably offset a messy listing that mentions more keywords.
You may be forced to pick and choose only the right keywords to give space to on your product listing (as well as product title, bullet points, and product description).
Next up: we’ll look at how to maximize your rankings for all the keywords you’re now indexed for.
The Key Amazon Ranking Factors: Performance & Popularity
A product’s performance and popularity is what really matters for Amazon SEO.
Keywords get you indexed – they get your foot in the door. Keywords tell Amazon’s A9 algorithm what your product is, and whether it’s a fit for a certain search query.
But performance and popularity signals get you ranked #1 for your target search terms. Or conversely, get you ranked on the bottom of page 12.
These signals, such as Amazon sales, conversions, and reviews, are vital for Amazon SEO. Don’t expect to rank for long if you’re lacking in any of these areas.
Why Amazon ranks popular products higher
Amazon wants customers coming back over and over again. They’re doing a pretty good job of that, too, with US Amazon Prime members averaging over $1400 spent each year.
The best way to do that is with a reputation for high-quality products. Amazon doesn’t want to be known for crappy knock-offs. They want customers to be confident that they’ll get the best when they shop on Amazon.
Amazon also, obviously, wants to make as many sales as possible, from each shopper and each visit.
That’s why Amazon’s search engine is rigged to push high-performing products to the top. Products that have a proven history of sales, conversion rate, and a lot of good reviews are clearly going to make more money for Amazon.
As a result, it makes perfect business sense to create a ranking algorithm that gives these products more visibility in the search results.
With this in mind, you can tip the Amazon SEO scales in your favor by showing Amazon that your product is a proven performer.
Major Amazon ranking factors
Here are the main factors that show your product is worth ranking high in Amazon’s search results.
Sales – volume & consistency
Sales is the most important measure of a product’s popularity. It’s essentially the only metric Amazon wants to see. Thus it’s comfortably the most important ranking factor.
You can be safe in assuming that if you sell a lot, you’ll probably rank high.
When we talk about sales, it’s not just the volume, but the consistency. Amazon wants to see products that maintain their sales over an extended period, not just those that spike one day and die the next.
Another key part of measuring popularity is how well your product page converts clicks into sales. From the customers that land on your product listing, how many go on and buy?
It makes perfect sense why Amazon would want to promote products with a good conversion rate. By playing your part in converting Amazon shoppers into buyers, your product listing will benefit from increased visibility and search rankings.
Reviews are a key metric to show popularity and customer satisfaction. If a customer has a bad experience on Amazon, shown by a negative product review, they may not come back. A good review, on the other hand, signifies the opposite – that they’re likely to shop on Amazon again.
Total rating (star rating out of 5) is not the only important ranking factor – it’s also the total number of reviews. More reviews shows your product is memorable, and attracting engaged buyers, where a product with few reviews may be forgettable. Boring, unreviewable products are the type Amazon is not as excited to promote.
Relevant sales & conversion rate
It’s not just your product’s overall sales and conversion rate that matters. It’s also the metrics you get relative to specific search terms.
Amazon tracks the search queries that brought someone to your listing, as you can see here in the URL:
If your product listing has a really good conversion rate and a high number of sales for customers who search for a certain keyword, you’ll rank higher for that keyword.
The reason for this is customers are clearly happy with your product showing up for this search result. It’s selling a lot and it’s converting at a high rate. So why wouldn’t Amazon push its search rankings higher?
How to Boost Your Amazon SEO
So far, we’ve covered how Amazon ranks products. Armed with this information, we can begin to craft an Amazon SEO strategy to boost rankings.
Here are actionable tips for you to increase your Amazon SEO.
Make sure you include all relevant keywords
First, make sure you aren’t missing any keywords that could be sending sales.
If you don’t mention a keyword anywhere on your product listing (such as title or bullet points), or in the backend keywords, you won’t be indexed by the search engine. That means you won’t have a chance of showing up when someone plugs this keyword into the search bar.
Do a second, third and fourth round of research, including competitor analysis, to catch any long-tail or low-traffic keywords you may have missed, and include these somewhere in your listing – title, bullet points, product description or backend.
This tip is not going to increase your SEO by making you rank higher, but it will increase your overall search traffic, by way of ranking for more keywords. Amazon SEO is not always about ranking for one high-traffic keyword – 10 keywords generating 10 sales each is as much as 1 keyword generating 100 sales.
Create listings that convert
The most overlooked tip to improve your SEO is to focus on copywriting for sales, rather than for the search algorithm.
I see hundreds of Amazon listings, even today, that are clearly written for an algorithm. This is a poor approach to Amazon marketing – real people buy your products, not a computer.
Plus, conversion rate is an important ranking factor, and poorly Amazon product listings do not convert.
Write product descriptions and listings to tell a story, and emphasize product features and benefits. Doing so will improve your rankings, by boosting both sales and conversion rate.
Don’t throw all your keywords in the bin, but find a way to write convincing copy that drives sales, while incorporating all your important keywords.
To condense “how to boost Amazon SEO” into one short sentence would be this: sell more products.
If you show Amazon that a lot of people are buying your product, you’ll rank higher. If other areas of your listing aren’t optimized, it might take a little while longer, but sales will still have a positive impact on your overall SEO.
There are a few ways to do this. You can increase spending on Amazon PPC campaigns (or start up PPC campaigns if you aren’t already). This is a good way to boost overall sales.
You can also drive traffic to your product listing yourself, using ads or promotion methods outside Amazon. This method, called external traffic, is extremely effective at increasing SEO rankings.
Not only do you have a lot of control over the amount and quality of traffic you send to your products, Amazon appears to like it – many sellers claim they see bigger ranking boosts when driving sales from outside Amazon.
Maintain your sales over an extended period
When you drive a few extra sales to your listing, it’s important to maintain a consistent flow of sales – rather than a big spike, followed by a big drop.
It’s better to drive 30 sales a day for 7 days, than 100 sales in one day, completely stopping the next.
If you’re running paid ads, spread your budget out over at least a week. Don’t allow your whole budget to be used up right away.
Similarly, if you’re running a Seller Central promotion to drive sales for your product, set up a daily limit for how many promotional sales can be claimed, so you can drip feed a sustained increase in Amazon sales over a week or more.
Get more positive reviews
Getting more Amazon reviews, especially positive reviews, will have a beneficial impact on your SEO.
Reviews should be a priority for you already, even before considering SEO, as they’re important for converting shoppers into sales.
Any efforts you make to get more Amazon reviews will therefore benefit you in multiple ways.
Don’t resort to anything against Terms Of Service to get reviews, like buying reviews or offering incentives for customers to leave a review. This can result in a lot of reviews fast, but will end up hurting you a lot when Amazon catches on.
Instead, prioritize smart after-purchase funnels using product inserts, to get customers into an email or Messenger flow where you can ask for a review.
Boost your conversion rate with high-intent traffic
High-level sellers use this trick to boost their Amazon SEO. They don’t just drive a lot of traffic to their Amazon product – they drive high-intent traffic.
If you’ve been sending a ton of people to your listing, you’re getting a lot of sales, but still aren’t increasing in rankings, this might be why.
You need to set up step in between your traffic source and product page, so people can learn about your product before actually landing on your Amazon product listing.
By filtering your traffic, ensuring the only people who click through to your listing are invested and in the mood to buy, you’ll dramatically increase your conversion rate, and thus your rankings too.
A landing page works great for this. Generate a page with your Amazon product images, bullet points, product description and all relevant buying info, hosted outside of the Amazon platform.
Also ensure your target audience is optimized for the type of people who are going to bring in sales.
A large audience sounds great, but it’s almost always better to market your products to a more narrow group of people, who are more ready to buy.
Drive sales through keyword-optimized URLs
External traffic lets you use another little trick to boost your Amazon SEO for specific keyword(s). Instead of sending people straight to your product page, send them through a special keyword-optimized URL.
We call these URLs “2-step URLs”. First, the customer lands on a search page, showing your product, with a keyword search filled out.
The next step is the customer clicking on the product, where they go through and buy the product as normal.
This is powerful because Amazon sees this sale as a result of the search the customer initially landed on. The algorithm then gives more ranking “juice” to this particular keyword.
To target more keywords, you can send each subsequent customer to a separate page with a different keyword. Repeat with 2-3 keywords, and you can spread the ranking juice several ways.
Another option is Search Find Buy, where you direct your customer to search for the keyword you want to rank for, with instructions on how to find your product.
This is a powerful way to get targeted ranking power towards a specific keyword, but it does need to be paired with a big incentive to convince the customer to go through the extra steps required. So it can be expensive.
Keep in mind that both 2-step URLs and Search Find Buy increase friction, and some potential customers will drop off because of this.
So you’ll need to send more traffic to get the same number of sales, as you would if you use a more direct route. But keyword URLs are a good option for those high-traffic keywords that make all the difference to your overall SEO traffic.
Helping You Craft Your Amazon SEO Strategy
Now, let’s see how you can put these tips into action, and create an Amazon SEO strategy to increase traffic and rankings for all the products you’re selling right now, and any you launch in the future.
Step One: Optimize your listing for keywords
First, make sure your keywords are optimized. Do extensive keyword research, making sure you’re capturing all relevant keywords with search traffic, and you have a priority list of the most important keywords (the most relevant, with the highest traffic).
Optimize your listing to put priority keywords in the spots with the highest visibility (like the title), and check that all the other keywords on your list are included somewhere, in the product description or backend keyword fields.
Step Two: Audit your listing for conversions
Once your keywords are found and optimized, run through your listing to optimize for conversions.
This means making sure your listing is easy to read, easy to skim (people don’t read product listings in extreme detail), and convinces customers why they should buy your product.
Here are some things to take into consideration with a listing audit:
- Your copy should speak about benefits, not features. Don’t talk about the product, talk about how it helps the customer
- Tell a story – how your product is going to make your customer’s life better
- Write for people, not for search engines
- Keep it brief – cut out unnecessary words (unless you need them for long-tail keywords)
- Audit your images as well – make sure you have a good range of high-quality images, showing the product in different angles and use cases
Here are two examples of effective and not-so-effective copy.
The first talks about features – “Velocity Flow Ventilation system”, “NutraFog II anti-fog, anti-scratch and UV-protected shield”. While these lines partly describe benefits, they’re quite cold, and don’t speak directly to the customer.
This example focused more on benefits – what the features mean to the customer. “FOR SMALL & BIG HEADS”, “NO PINCHING”.
The latter is generally a better way to drive sales for your product.
Step Three: start Amazon PPC to get sales coming in
If you’re launching a new Amazon product, or trying to increase rankings for an existing one, you need to start generating sales. The easiest way to start doing this is with Amazon PPC (sponsored ads & placements on Amazon).
The majority of sellers use PPC while launching, though it is not a must for product launches.
Utilize bids on your target keywords, as well as placements on product listings and other areas of the Amazon site.
Be pretty aggressive with your ad spend at first. Once you start generating organic traffic, you can start to scale back on your PPC.
Amazon PPC is an important marketing tool to master for long-term success on Amazon, but right away it can be an effective way to begin ranking your product and making sales.
Step Four: generate sales velocity with an external traffic funnel
For the best results, combine your PPC spend with traffic sent from outside Amazon.
This will allow you to control and scale the amount of traffic you’re sending to your Amazon product listing. It will also let you filter traffic to increase your conversion rate, and use keyword-optimized URLs to rank specific keywords faster.
There are two external traffic sources we’d recommend for this.
First, and best – an email list. If you have a launch list of potential buyers, you can send traffic for extremely cheap. You need only the cost of an incentive for them to buy (such as a Seller Central promotion). You may even be able to get away with sending people to your listing to buy at full price, if your audience is engaged enough.
Not many people have a large, engaged email list. If you do, then absolutely use it. If not, this is a great reason to start building an email list straight away.
If you don’t have a list, or any kind of organic community you can start using to send traffic, go for Facebook Ads.
Facebook Ads let you scale up and reach a ton of people, fast.
The best practice for launching is to create a promotional funnel. Advertise an offer – this could be a coupon code for a discount, Buy One Get One, or a rebate after purchase.
Run the ads to a landing page, where the shopper can redeem the offer, and check out your product (this is also a great way to start building your list, by requiring an email optin to get the offer.
Finally, send the shopper through to your Amazon product listing. Run this funnel for at least a week (more for competitive categories).
Step Five: nurture your long-term SEO
If you run through the first four steps, you should see your Amazon keyword rankings start to rise.
However, you don’t want to drop everything now and rely solely on organic traffic.
You want to scale down, but keep driving traffic, to nurture and continue boosting your SEO.
Once you’re at the top of the SERP, and dominating all your target keywords, you may be able to let your listing breathe. But remember that your competitors will be driving their own traffic to try and outrank you again. So it pays to be proactive, and continue working on your SEO.
A good way to pivot once you start ranking is to run Google Search Ads. Google Ads don’t provide as much of a spike in traffic that Facebook Ads do, but are really effective at driving a steady increase of sales (and rankings) over time.
Running Google Search Ads also let you reuse a lot of the same principles and learnings from Amazon PPC, which you’re likely running at the same time.
Google Ads are probably the most underutilized external traffic channel by Amazon sellers, and work great at increasing your long-term Amazon SEO footprint, without a ton of legwork required.
In Summary: Final Thoughts & Extra Resources
To recap, in this guide we’ve covered the following:
- An introduction to Amazon SEO & the A9 algorithm
- Keyword research & optimization to increase overall SEO traffic
- Generating popularity and performance signals to encourage the search algorithm to rank your product higher
- Actionable tips to optimize Amazon SEO
- An Amazon SEO strategy to adopt for all your products
Here are a few more things to help you master SEO in your Amazon business – final thoughts, resources to help with Amazon SEO, and recommended Amazon SEO tools.
The cost of Amazon SEO
There’s unfortunately no getting around one fact: Amazon SEO in 2021 is not cheap.
There may be a few tiny niches in which you can rank without spending a lot of money, but for most products, you’ll need to spend on things like discounts, Amazon PPC, Facebook Ads, and time-saving software tools.
The good news is, this is not a sunken cost. Think of it as an investment. You’re investing in growing your Amazon SEO (and your Amazon business), to the point where you can start benefiting from organic traffic.
Organic traffic from Amazon search is about as powerful and profitable as it gets. Once you begin generating the majority of your sales organically, you’ll start to recoup the money you spent on launching and ranking.
That’s why you should be willing to spend money and invest in Amazon SEO, with an eye on getting visibility in front of millions of Amazon customers.
Amazon SEO resources
Amazon SEO tools
LandingCube – generating landing pages, keyword URLs, and product insert review funnels
Keywordtool.io – free keyword tool
Sellics – listing optimization, keyword research and rank tracking
Jungle Scout – listing optimization, keyword research and rank tracking
ZonGuru – keyword research and rank tracking
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