Amazon Alexa’s multiple uses in smart home design, music, and even the ability to call you an Uber have made it easy and convenient for a larger audience set to adopt the technology.
But while the Echo makes up the lion’s share of smart speaker adoption in the US, Amazon doesn’t provide clear insights on how to optimize or even how many people are using the speaker to purchase physical products.
Amazon directly benefits from making customers dependent on Alexa, as it only allows you to purchase physical products from the Amazon marketplace.
This means understanding and optimizing for Alexa are more important than ever.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to optimize for Amazon Alexa.
Alexa was introduced in 2014 and built into the Echo, Amazon’s high-end smart home device. Since then, Amazon has come out with a dizzying array of ways to interact with Alexa.
While most users primarily think of Alexa as part of their Echo devices, she is also a part of the Fire TV products, Echo Frames (glasses), and Alexa Auto.
Alexa can not only play you a song, teach you how to spell Antidisestablishmentarianism, offer restaurant recommendations, and even share some Star Wars jokes, but it has the ability to purchase goods from Amazon at your command.
If you sell or market physical products on Amazon, Alexa’s most enticing feature is how she lets customers order products with a spoken command.
The company’s representatives have said that Alexa utilizes the new Amazon’s Choice program to determine what products to recommend to users.
Amazon’s search algorithm is generally orientated toward sales. This means that a history of successful conversions for a set of keywords is incredibly important to be offered as a product selection for Amazon Alexa.
How Do You Get Alexa to Choose Your Brand Over Others?
Two different algorithms are used for search: products versus places.
Alexa SEO for Brick-and-Mortar Stores
If you have a restaurant or other service-based business and want to rank on Alexa, being in the Yext and Yelp directories is essential.
This is because Alexa seems to pull information from both sources.
Alexa primarily uses the Yelp Star rating and distance to make recommendations. This means that the same tactics you used to have your listings found on Yelp would be just as effective with Alexa.
This also means that keeping your hours, locations, and other information on Yelp as up-to-date as possible is key in converting traffic from Alexa.
Alexa SEO for Physical Products
The process for optimizing physical products is a bit more complicated.
When a customer gives Alexa a query for a physical product, she will first check if you have ordered a similar item in the past. If you have, she will offer you that same product to re-order as your first option.
If you have not ordered an item that matches the query, then Amazon will look for the product that has the Amazon Choice label.
What Is Amazon Choice?
If you have searched around on Amazon, you have probably seen the “Amazon’s Choice” badge on some products (see above image) and wondered what it is.
Amazon Choice recommendations are selected by taking a variety of factors into account, including popularity, ratings and reviews, availability, and shipping speed.
At least, this is the explanation given by Amazon representatives in the past on the Seller Central Forums.
Amazon Choice labels are helpful to sellers in various ways, such as the following:
- It means you will be the offered product for that search term for Alexa.
- The badge shows on the search engine result page (SERP) for a query and the product detail page for both desktop and mobile.
- Many customers think Amazon Choice is an endorsement of Amazon of your product, so it can help with conversion.
We have identified a few key points that will help you get on Alexa’s good side, including capturing an initial sale for consumables, quick shipping times, excellent product feedback, best search engine optimization (SEO) practices, and, most importantly, making your item available via Amazon Prime.
Amazon does not provide an official list of ranking factors. However, over the years, we have seen that this is what works for winning Amazon Choice badges.
Remember, it will be a combination of conversions for a specific keyword, product reviews, shipping speed, inventory levels, and perhaps even account health metrics that will contribute to winning Amazon Choice badges.
When a merchant questioned on the Amazon seller forums the appearance of an Amazon’s Choice logo at the top of one of his listings, an Amazon representative replied,
“The Amazon’s Choice feature makes product recommendations for searches where we believe customers would like assistance in quickly finding a high-quality product. Please keep in mind that we don’t offer Amazon’s Choice for all searches. Amazon’s Choice recommendations are selected by taking a variety of factors into account including popularity, rating and reviews, availability, shipping speed, amongst other factors.
“There is not currently a means of requesting that your product be selected as Amazon’s Choice for a given search (keyword). Selections are constantly updated, so continuing to offer high quality, well-priced products to your buyers will give you the best chance to be selected as Amazon’s Choice.”
Let’s look at each of these five points in greater detail.
1. Make It Available With Prime
The first step to having your product accessible to Amazon Alexa customers is to be available via Amazon Prime. Alexa will not offer your products if you do not have an active Prime offer.
If you are unfamiliar with Prime, here’s a quick explanation. It allows customers to subscribe via a monthly or annual fee to have all of their items available for two-day shipping.
There are a few ways to have your product be a Prime offer on Amazon:
- Sell your item to Amazon through the Vendor Central Program or the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
- Sell your products on Seller Central with the FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program.
- Sell your products on Seller Central with the SFP (Seller Fulfilled Prime) program.
For most companies, utilizing the FBA program is the best, quickest, and least expensive option.
The FBA program lets third-party merchants send their products to Amazon warehouses, where Amazon handles delivery, returns, and customer service.
There is a complicated fee schedule for Amazon’s FBA program, and you should review and understand it before you participate. Amazon does have a calculator that can help you figure out if Amazon’s FBA Program will work for you.
2. Stay in Stock
Staying in stock is important to keeping your Amazon choice status and your overall organic ranking on Amazon. This means understanding your lead times and actively managing your storage level.
Amazon now limits storage of Seller Central sellers with Inventory Performance Index’s (IPI) lower than 450.
Monitor your IPI and prioritize items for FBA with a quick sell-through rate if you do not have unlimited storage.
3. Optimize Your Listings
You want to follow the fundamentals of listing optimization for Amazon.
The conversions and experiences that customers have when they buy on desktop and mobile devices will have a large bearing on whether your products are awarded the Amazon Choice Badge.
High-quality listings not only help increase profits by allowing you to sell more items but also reduce refunds and increase the number of high-quality reviews you receive.
Here are the fundamentals of listing optimization for Amazon:
Using tools like Helium10 and Merchant Words can help you identify all the potential search terms a customer might try to use to find your products.
You can also use a “reverse ASIN” search with both tools as it allows you to discover what keywords are driving sales for your competitors and existing listings.
We always recommend that you focus on the most relevant terms, even if they have less search volume.
If you have a locking beach bag, [bag] is a relevant term; however, it will not bring in the most qualified buyers. Even though [beach bag] and [locking beach bag] might have fewer searches per month, the likelihood of a customer wanting your product is greater with these more specific results.
It is easy to fritter away your ad budget on words that are overly broad, which fail to effectively drive sales.
Title and Bullets
Incorporate your most important keywords in your title and bullets. Repeating keywords is not a ranking factor for Amazon. Try to limit repeating words unless it is required for the copy to make sense to the customer.
When you are writing your title and bullets, you are balancing two goals. One is to incorporate as many potential keywords as possible.
The second goal is to make sure your copy is compelling to your target customer and answers questions that might prevent them from clicking that “Add to cart” button.
While images on Amazon do not play a role specifically for Alexa recommendations, they do make a crucial difference in overall conversion. On mobile devices, images are the only thing besides title and brand that appear above the fold.
Do not limit your secondary images to just product photos. Infographics, lifestyle images, and close-ups can help make sure your customers quickly identify if a product is a good fit for their needs.
Use all available image slots and add a video whenever possible.
It’s important to fill out as much of the structured data as possible when creating your Amazon listing.
Because listings are so uniform and Amazon controls exactly how the listings are structured, SEO on Amazon is a lot less about maximizing crawlability than ensuring you are maximizing the number of relevant keywords for your products.
Completing the structured data can increase the number of words you are indexed for on Amazon, on top of making sure that your product shows when customers narrow their searches with the filters on the left-hand side of Amazon search.
Once you have these fundamentals, you can learn more about listing optimization in this article.
4. Drive Conversions
If we were to oversimplify the entire article, we would say that the way to optimize for Alexa is to try to earn as many Amazon Choice badges for your products as possible.
Conversions are a big part of winning those badges. This means that we need to take some action to drive the conversions needed to accumulate enough positive reviews and customer experiences as well as sales to generate winning the Amazon Choice badge for a set of specific search terms.
We focus on a launch or relaunch strategy that includes at least the following:
- Well-optimized listing.
- Consistent stock levels.
- Clippable Coupons.
- Amazon Advertising (including multiple match types, targeting, and products).
When you are running your ads, of course, you will be looking at ACOS and ROI for your ad campaigns.
However, when you are launching or relaunching a product, sometimes it is okay to sell your product at a loss for a short period, especially if those ads are helping your products rank better organically or helping drive significant brand adoption.
If you have a consumable item, you also want to consider that customers using Subscribe and Save or reordering with Alexa will create repeat purchases. This sometimes makes it acceptable to have a campaign with a slightly lower ROI.
Amazon now provides “New to Brand” data within the advertising console to help you identify customers who have not purchased your brand in the last year.
Amazon has also been rolling out new audience targeting for some ad types, allowing you to target customers with specific behaviors on Amazon.
5. Encourage Product Reviews
Of the many things that have changed about selling on Amazon in the last 10 years, the one thing that has had the most sweeping and business-changing effects has been in the area around product reviews.
The most recent change was the end of the Early Reviewer Program earlier in 2021. However, there are still some great ways to encourage customers to leave product reviews.
- Amazon Vine: Available only if you are enrolled in Brand Registry, this program is coordinated by Amazon. They handpick reviewers based on their expertise and history in a certain product category, so you can expect extremely detailed and honest reviews.
- Request A Review Button: Recently, Amazon released a new tool in the form of a button for each order that a customer has placed in the last five to 30 days. You simply click the button and the buyer is emailed, soliciting a star rating for both the product and the seller.
- Third-Party Tools: There are some great tools. However, you want to make sure that whatever tool you use complies with the terms of service.
In most cases, we focus primarily on utilizing Amazon Vine when appropriate and available along with utilizing the Request a Review Button.
You should expect that about 1% to 3% of customers will leave a review for your product. This means that increasing conversions with ads and coupons can also help the total number of reviews your products receive.
When it comes to Amazon, you need to be proactive. If you see that customers are having negative customer experiences, then you may need to change your listing to better describe your product.
This means if people keep saying that your product is too small, even if you already say that it is tight-fitting in your bullets, you may need to add something to your title and an infographic image of your product on a person showing how customers should expect the product to fit.
At times, unclear listings lead to customers buying products and expecting a product to have a feature or capability it does not have. If you see this, you need to be proactively addressing it in your listing.
You should check your Voice of the Customer report weekly. Any items that fall out of the green statuses should be looked at for potential listings or packaging changes.
6. Keep Your Nose Clean
While Amazon had indicated that customer experience plays a role in Amazon Choice badges, they did not specifically say that your account health metrics would or would not play a role in badge awards.
However, Amazon’s Voice of the Customer (VOC) metrics consider refunds, poor reviews, and return requests all as negative customer experiences (NCX). So it is not outside the realm of possibility that your account health or VOC scores could impact Amazon Choice badges.
Even if they don’t, keeping your account healthy and proactively dealing with potential customer issues are how you can guarantee that your products or account do not face temporary suspension.
How to Track Amazon Choice Badges
If we know the goal is to increase the total number of Amazon Choice badges for your products, the next logical question is how to best identify the total number of Amazon Choice Badges your product has and how to do the same as your competitors.
You can identify how many Amazon Choice Badges a listing has with third-party tools like Helium10 and Merchant Words.
For both tools, you can use their Reverse ASIN search tools and then filter for Amazon Choice. With Helium 10, you need to make sure that you only select “Analyzed Product.”
Neither tool scrapes the SERPs on demand, so the data can sometimes be several days old. Make sure you consider that as you look at the total number of badges awarded.
You may only want to look at this number once a week since there is currently no way to get fresh data or even see how old that data is for the results.
Focus on Best Practices
Overall, to optimize for Alexa, you want to do the same things that you do to keep your general Seller Central account healthy and promote sales on desktop and mobile.
This means making sure your product is available via Prime, you have healthy stock levels, and you are using best practices for listing optimization and advertising.
Another thing to note is that having more badges in and of itself will not increase your overall sales from Alexa. It is about focusing on getting the Amazon Choice badge for the most relevant search terms for your products.
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All screenshots taken by author, May 2021