Many affiliate marketers err when they assume that Amazon’s search engine is much like Google’s. It isn’t.
Unfortunately, many affiliates are trained on and know only about how to rank well on Google’s search engine. They even optimize their Amazon listings for Google search, unaware that SEO for Google doesn’t necessarily translate to SEO for Amazon.
That’s too bad because many marketers and retailers agree that Amazon still beats Google hands-down when it comes to ecommerce potential. Due to Amazon’s large selection, low prices, fast shipping, and patented 1-click ordering, it is the place for consumers to go and shop.
In other words, you can’t afford to not know about how to optimize your product listings for Amazon (in addition to Google).
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How Amazon and Google are different animals
Search algorithm: Amazon uses the A9 search algorithm to locate relevant products for its users. It does this by taking into account “human judgments, programmatic analysis, key business metrics and performance metrics.” The focus of Amazon’s search engine is finding and displaying products that have a high conversion (sales) rate.
Google also uses an algorithm, but its algorithm is based on answering user search queries. To this end, Google relies on user engagement and external trust factors for judging the relevancy of a search result.
Also, while Google is slowly gaining momentum with PLA Shopping Campaign ads, the majority of its income is still derived from advertising, not products. Thus, the money is derived more from satisfied users than customer purchases.
On-page/off-page SEO: Amazon judges search relevancy by on-page factors like product sales and availability, customer reviews, price, image size/quality, and related products. Notice that all of these factors are included on the product page itself, not through backlinks or social media platforms. In other words, Amazon ranks products solely through on-page SEO.
Google calculates SEO using a range of on-page factors including session duration, bounce rate, click-through-rate, etc. as well as off-page factors including social mentions, quality backlinks, and domain authority.
Because of these differences, you should try different sales tactics (e.g., setting the price very low for a limited time), solicit customer reviews (perhaps in exchange for trying the product), and upload high resolution product photos/images when aiming for better Amazon SEO. It goes without saying that you should also resolve issues quickly to avoid negative reviews, keep your items in stock, and ship orders promptly.
Keywords/keyphrases: Amazon’s product listings rely on individual keywords, not keyphrases; this is also noted in Seller Central. Words listed in the product title, brand, etc. are automatically counted as keywords and do not need to be repeated in the product description or in the search term fields.
Because Amazon emphasizes individual keywords, there is little long-tailed SEO to consider with this search engine. This poses a challenge if you have a product that fits into a broad category and has to successfully rank against 100 identical or even similar products. To work around this challenge, you need to place your product into the most narrow yet still relevant category to get ranked well.
Also, as opposed to the nearly endless keyword insertion possibilities with Google, Amazon sets very defined parameters on where and how you input search terms. In the inventory management area, you are provided with five fields that can be filled with keywords. You don’t need to input quotation marks, misspellings, related keywords (e.g., listing king-size with queen-size) or word variations (e.g., glove vs. gloves). You should, however, input as many relevant keywords as possible into every field.
Results/conversions: Unlike Google, which focuses mostly on enhancing user experience, Amazon relies on results and conversions when ranking products. The more customer reviews and sales your products generate, the more prominently your products will get ranked by Amazon, initiating a self-perpetuating cycle of more conversions=better rank=more conversions.
Interestingly, while Amazon claims to not use positive seller feedback in its ranking algorithm, the search engine does keep track of negative seller feedback and uses it against you. Other ranking metrics include pre-fulfillment cancellation, exit rate, order defect rate, and the percentage of orders refunded.
While it can be a challenge for first-time sellers to create a wave of product reviews and/or sales, you might want to try generating that traffic via pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social posts or contests. You might also consider offering bonus items to buyers who leave a product review, for example.
How to track your Amazon SEO
You may have dozens of products to list on Amazon, so it never hurts to create an Excel spreadsheet and track your keywords, descriptions, reviews, etc. This way, you can also track which SEO tactics that have worked the best and improved your product ranking.
Luckily, in Amazon’s Seller Central area, there are several tracking tools that can make your life easier. These tools include inventory and order tracking, as well as a large performance tracking area that displays everything from service chargebacks to late shipping to seller response time.
Achieving good SEO with Amazon is certainly more formulaic and money-driven than with Google; however, this can also work in your favor as you learn how to better promote your products and generate sales. Likewise, achieving good SEO with Amazon is more straightforward; the engine’s algorithm is less affected by content/link farms and other black hat techniques that Google is always seeking and penalizing.
Do you sell products on Amazon? If so, how do you achieve high rankings and get your products noticed? Feel free to leave a comment below.