When it comes to optimizing your Amazon listings, many tactics are shared with the SEO you do for Google, Bing, and other major search engines.
However, Amazon is unique in the way that it structures data within the marketplace.
In this article, you’ll find the common mistakes and hidden opportunities available for ranking and optimizing on the Amazon marketplace.
Common Mistakes in Optimizing Amazon Listings
Optimizing on Amazon comes down to attention to detail. Little things can help your conversion rate and ranking, thus giving you a leg up on your competition.
It’s important to look at every aspect of your listing and never undervalue any section, as they are all important and add to your listing’s performance.
Make sure you aren’t committing any of these preventable mistakes.
1. Incomplete Keyword Research
Proper keyword research is fundamental for good Amazon SEO.
However, it’s worth mentioning that one way Amazon differs from Google is that it can be oversimplified. Amazon will prioritize the organic ranking for a listing depending on how likely that product is to convert for that specific search term. Amazon looks past conversion as an important ranking factor.
When we are looking to optimize for organic SEO on Amazon, we are really looking at single keywords.
Therefore, if you are trying to rank for the keyword phrase “white chocolate fudge,” just make sure that you have “white,” “chocolate,” and “fudge” somewhere in your title or bullets.
Or, ensure that the structured data of your listing will allow you to index for “white chocolate fudge” as a phrase.
Then you can implement ranking campaigns, coupons, or drive external traffic to rank for that search term.
Keyword research for Amazon should start with a list of your most closely related competitors, as well as a list of the words that you feel are most important to incorporate into the listing.
By using third-party search volume estimators like MerchantWords and Helium 10, you can expand the overall number of keyword phrases you can optimize for.
I like to use a frequency counter such as the free tool WriteWords or Helium 10’s Frankenstein, in order to consider frequency, search volume, and relevancy when prioritizing individual keywords in the title and bullet points of our listings.
Both MerchantWords and Helium 10 are able to perform a reverse ASIN search.
This allows you to enter an ASIN to evaluate, and the tool will identify what keyword phrases the listing is indexing for and where those keyword phrases are ranking.
It will then filter them to compare how many keywords are in the top 10, 25, or 100 positions on Amazon.
If your listing is not selling, redo your keyword research and compare that to the number of keyword phrases for which a listing is indexing.
Additionally, you can compare the number and ranking of important keyword phrases to identify missing opportunities.
2. Not Maximizing for Indexing Opportunities
In your research, you will identify single keywords that you would want to incorporate in your title, bullets, and the structured data of your listing.
As you’re crafting your copy, make sure that you’re focusing on maximizing the number of different keywords.
Keep in mind that on Amazon, keyword density is not a ranking factor so it’s best to include as many different high-ranking keywords as possible, rather than simply adding the same one several times.
Scribbles from Helium 10 can help ensure that you are using as many relevant keywords as possible in your listings.
When you are looking to maximize the number of keyword phrases you index and rank for on Amazon, it comes down to writing your copy in a way that incorporates the most relevant keyword phrases derived from your research. This can include different kinds of conjugations and pluralities.
Keywords that you want to index for but do not want on the front of your Amazon page (or keywords that don’t seamlessly fit into your copy) can be added to the back-end search terms of your listing.
Therefore, even though the customer can’t see them, you can still potentially gain traffic through those specific keywords.
I’m often asked, “Should I be optimizing for misspellings on Amazon?”
The answer is yes, but not on the frontend and only if they are nonconventional and highly relevant to your product.
Amazon will correct simple misspellings automatically in the search bar. For example, if a customer searches for “reciever,” it will automatically show them the results for “receiver.”
However, if you have a less common misspelling of your product that Amazon might not anticipate, it can be important to add them to your optimization strategy (but never in your title or bullets, as that could make your listing look cheap or unpolished).
Highly relevant misspellings should be added in the backend keywords.
If you are trying to narrow down which misspellings are important enough to add into your backend keywords, you could run A/B tests using advertising to see which of those misspellings produce results.
3. Keyword Stuffing Titles
Amazon listing optimization is a balancing act between trying to index for the maximum number of keywords and having a user-friendly, easy-to-read listing.
Sometimes that process includes writing longer titles and bullets.
However, we want to make sure we also consider how this listing will read for the customer, and most importantly if the customer will be able to quickly identify whether a product is the right fit for them.
Titles that are too long or that look like they were keyword-stuffed can cheapen a searcher’s impression of your product and come across as spammy to customers.
Shorter titles are easier for customers to read, and they allow customers to quickly identify whether a product is potentially the right fit for their needs.
We also want to make sure that the most important keywords are in the first 72 characters or so, as titles can be truncated in the gallery view, as well as in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) on Google.
Sellerly (a division of Semrush) recently posted data from its Listing Quality Check tool that showed that of listings ranking in the top 100 sales ranking positions on Amazon, the average length of top BSR (best selling rank) listings was 108 characters long.
4. Field of Dreams Strategy
Five years ago, you could count on getting some initial traffic and sales just from having your listing on Amazon.
However, as the marketplace has become more competitive, it has become harder to rank organically without doing something to jumpstart the conversions on your listing.
Today, if you simply put your listing on Amazon, even if it is a well-optimized listing you cannot maximize your sales potential.
Amazon is the most capitalistic search engine out there.
While there are a lot of ranking factors, you could say that Amazon primarily looks at what listings have the highest likelihood of conversion in the future based on how that listing has converted in the past for specific keyword terms.
This creates a chicken and the egg kind of problem. Therefore, the field of dreams strategy doesn’t work anymore.
Nowadays, you must trigger some initial conversions in order for your listing to rank competitively.
In general, the more competitive your category is, the more initial sales are going to be required to have your listing start to rank organically for specific keyword phrases.
We generally jumpstart those conversions with a combination of coupons, ads, and driving external traffic. By pushing these conversions, we can start to organically rank for important, highly relevant keyword phrases.
Ads have a significant impact on organic SEO because of the way the Amazon marketplace has been crafted and how the algorithm looks at conversions as a ranking factor.
In our experience, running ads is still the primary factor for us to be able to take a well-optimized listing that is not currently ranking or selling well, and jump-starting it to rank organically and to increase its overall conversion.
5. Not Incorporating Customer Reviews & Questions
When auditing a listing, one of the first things to look at is what customers have said in their reviews and questions on a specific product detail page.
Make sure you look at the same thing for a competitor’s listing, too.
What we want to identify are key aspects that our product might have or might not have that could create a negative experience for the customer.
The idea is to pinpoint specific features that customers mentioned in reviews as reasons why they bought the product, then highlight those features in the bullets (and possibly the images).
The same goes for any questions asked by potential customers.
If you think about what it takes for a customer to leave a question on a listing, they would have had to come to the page, read the content, and ask a question, hoping that maybe they would get a response.
I look at questions as key indicators to help identify whether there was something that stopped a customer from making a purchase.
Make sure you are routinely looking at customer questions to identify points that need to be highlighted in the title, bullets, and images, or in the A+ content.
Hidden Amazon Listing Optimization Opportunities
Every section of your listing plays an important role in optimizing, ranking, and converting on Amazon. Here are some features that offer opportunities to take your listings to the next level.
1. Maximizing Image Slots
This might seem like common sense for many sellers on Amazon.
However, I’ve found that large and small brands alike tend to default to only include pictures of their products and their packaging, and maybe their product folded or expanded out.
The hidden opportunity in maximizing your allotted image slots does not just refer to the number of images, but how you utilize each one.
When searching for products on Amazon, customers do not have the same experience as when they are buying products in retail stores.
They are not able to touch and feel your product; they can’t see the smallest details, and it’s harder for them to imagine your product in their life.
This makes it important to graphically convey as much information as possible to help them understand how your product meets their expectations.
To better assist your customer in making the decision to purchase your product, utilize all available image slots or mirror the bullets in the images.
This ensures that customers are clear and informed regarding the important details and benefits of the products.
Include the following (there are very specific requirements for your primary image; these suggestions are for your secondary images):
- Lifestyle Images: Images that show your product being used. These usually include some variation of product photos in combination with stock images and call-outs identifying some of the primary features or benefits of your products.
- Infographics: Informative images that highlight key features, benefits, or important details that could help you convert or keep a customer from buying.
- Measurements: Details of product dimensions that show scale; using size charts can be vital in making sure that customers are able to quickly identify whether this product will work for their specific needs.
- Close-ups: Show details and emphasize product quality, functionality, texture, and any other feature that might convey to the customer that this solves their problem or meets their requirements.
When you combine these four types of images with your standard product images, it’s easy for even a simple product to maximize all of the available image slots.
Additionally, as you add images, make sure that your most relevant or important images go in the second through sixth slots, since only the main image and six more will appear in the thumbnails on the product detail page.
Make sure you test how the images look on both desktop and mobile, since the display interface changes.
For a long time, video was only available to brand registered sellers or through vendor central. However, Amazon recently made video available to all sellers.
This allows customers to get a better idea of how your product works and provides customers with something closer to a showroom experience.
Incorporating video can play a key role in conversions, especially if your product makes a sound, moves, transforms, or has a use case that isn’t easily identified by simply looking at your primary product image.
Videos can help customers understand how your product does and does not work.
It is important to note that videos cannot include any websites or direct traffic off of Amazon.
Because video is currently being underutilized across the platform, it provides the opportunity to make your listings stand out from the competition and convert at a higher rate.
3. Store Pages
Amazon has been working on trying to incorporate new features for Amazon store pages, which can be used to drive traffic from your Sponsored Brand Advertising.
However, they can also allow customers to shop within your product mix. Optimizing your store page can mean higher average order totals for your brand.
Store pages have also been seen as appearing within the product detail pages on select listings.
4. A+ Content
Formerly known as Enhanced Brand Content on Seller Central, A+ content has been a great way of potentially increasing conversions and giving brands the opportunity to highlight aspects of their company or product that don’t fit in the title, bullets, or image.
This might not seem like a hidden opportunity; however, we see a lot of brands, both large and small, either not utilizing or underutilizing it.
A+ content should match the look and feel of your independent website. Make sure that the corporate image, brand guidelines, and writing style are consistent with the content that existing customers would see on your other channels.
We also want to make sure that we’re utilizing high-quality images and not simply repeating the images that we used on the product detail page.
This is the hidden opportunity in A+ content. It gives you the ability to expand the content you have in your title, bullets, and images, rather than repeating the same features over again.
You are able to highlight the additional benefits and features of your product as well as your brand story.
You can also use A+ content to help you cross-sell your product line, increasing your overall average order total.
As with your regular images, it’s important to test and verify that everything is being displayed correctly and looks appealing to your potential customers in both the desktop and mobile versions of the platform.
5. Amazon Special Programs
At this point, so many people have written about Amazon Special Programs and how they can increase conversions that you might think it’s not such a hidden opportunity.
However, the truth is that most sellers are not utilizing all of these features, or in some cases, any of them.
Here’s an overview of the Amazon Special Programs:
Amazon Vine: An internal service that allows manufacturers and publishers to receive reviews for their products on Amazon.
Brand Registry: The program allows Amazon sellers who manufacture their own products to register as the brand owner, list products, and manage their brand identity on the Amazon marketplace more easily.
There is no fee for this program, but a registered trademark is required. This program focuses on copyright and trademarks; however, it opens access to other programs on Amazon, such as Amazon Vine, Sponsored Brand Ads, and A+ content.
Subscribe and Save: For subscriptions on your products. You must provide a 5% discount.
Small and Light: A program that allows for lower fees and the Prime Badge for items that are small, light, and inexpensive. Shipping for these items will be four to five days instead of the normal two-day shipping.
Amazon Business: For sole proprietors, big businesses, and for purchasing pros and occasional buyers. Amazon Business has solutions and benefits that meet the needs of all businesses. Allows for purchases via purchase orders.
While some of the aspects of this article might seem like common sense to someone who’s been heavily immersed in the Amazon marketplace, it never hurts to take a fresh look at your strategy.
I hope that you find this helpful in ensuring your Amazon listing is not only seen but that your conversion and profitability are maximized.
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All screenshots taken by author, March 2021