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June 1, 2020   |   7 min read

Optimization for Amazon? Established SEO Practices Need Apply

With sights set on Amazon, don’t forget what Google taught us about search engine optimization.

Since the late 90’s, Google has been a driving force in search. While other platforms have slyly encroached on its territory in recent years (YouTube as a video search platform and Facebook as a contender for local search), Google has remained largely undisturbed—until now. What platform has awakened the sleeping search giant?


In the e-commerce arena, this powerhouse platform has been pulling rank. For proof, a 2019 study conducted by CivicScience showed that 49% of surveyed consumers are now choosing to start their shopping endeavors on Amazon, while only 22% reported starting with Google.


So how can digital marketers capitalize on this shift in product search? Ultimately, it’s sales that do wonders for Amazon rankings. But for many, that might be putting the cart before the horse. Let’s take a couple steps back. Step 1: Create Amazon listings for your products (obviously). Step 2: Optimize them by taking organic search practices and tweaking them to fit Amazon’s algorithm. Allow me to explain:

Conduct Keyword Research for Amazon SEO

That’s right! Just like you would do before optimizing a webpage, the basis for any quality Amazon listing is keyword research. And while the research approach is fundamentally the same, the tools you use may differ.

Familiar SEO resources like Google Keyword Planner and UberSuggest are good starting points. However, to optimize for an Amazon user, you must think like an Amazon user. Try expanding your toolset to explore search terms used to accurately describe your products. Specifically, modifiers that can be appended to your target keywords. Keep in mind that most Amazon users are close to converting—focused on finding a product that meets their exacting wants and needs. For example, they are more likely to do a straightforward search like “dog collars for small dogs,” rather than a question-based search such as “what is the best type of collar for small dogs.”

Product-keyword-diagram by Sellics is one Amazon-friendly tool that produces a list of modified keywords based off a broad term. It also displays frequent words and relevant products for more insight. But don’t neglect the value of good ole’ fashioned “manual labor.” Looking for additional terms to optimize for? Go straight to the source!


Amazon, like Google, is kind enough to produce a drop-down list of related terms when you enter an initial keyword. Like the example above, these auto-lists offer good general direction as to what users are searching for.

Have enough stamina left to take your research to the next level? Conduct a few searches and comb through the top ranked product listings to see additional terms sellers are optimizing for. When done within Google in the name of traditional SEO, this approach is often referred to as content elements research. I guess it can be re-coined as product elements research to appease the folks at Amazon!

Optimize the Main Elements of Your Product Listings

Once armed with keywords, it’s time to use them. The following areas of an Amazon listing provide good opportunities for doing so:

  • Product Title
  • Key Features
  • Product Description
  • Backend Keywords

Product Title
Think of this element like a title tag or a main header. It’s usually the first thing a user sees when your listing appears in search results and should be succinct yet descriptive. Good news though! Unlike Google’s approximate title tag limit of 78 characters, Amazon has given SEOers up to 200 characters in some categories (including spaces). Hurray! In general, follow these familiar practices when optimizing your title:

  • Place your target keyword as close to the front as possible.
  • Hold back the urge to stuff it full of keywords—include the target term once and flank it with modifiers as necessary.
  • Use as many of your 200 characters as possible (the more descriptive your title is, the better chance it will have of ranking well).

Key Features
This section, just as it’s named, highlights the top features of a product. Basically, what you think is most important for customers to know upfront. If you aren’t quite sure which facts will resonate, look to your keyword research to see if any insights emerge.

  • Were units of size commonly appended to similar products? Include your product’s dimensions.
  • Did users seem to be searching by age range? State who your product is most appropriate for.
  • Are people looking for products that come with warranties? Let them know yours does (if it, in fact, does come with one).
  • Are questions relating to quality coming into play? Express how durable, resistant and well manufactured your product is.
  • Does type of material seem to matter? Let consumers know what your offering is made of.

Per Amazon’s request, DO NOT insert promotional language (i.e. best seller, top product), pricing, shipping or company information into this section.

Product Description
A spin-off of Key Features, the Product Description allows sellers to get a bit more granular—which means more room for keywords! In addition to a comprehensive listing of your main product features, be sure to include:

  • What it is used for
  • How to care for it
  • Warranty information

Like the Product Title and Key Features sections, refrain from keyword stuffing in this area (always a good SEO writing rule to follow). Look for opportunities to naturally weave search terms into your description, just as you would do when optimizing a standard webpage.

Backend Keywords
Very similar to the meta keywords field on the backend of a webpage, these keywords are not visible to the user. However, unlike meta keywords’ lost relationship with Google, Amazon indexes these search terms to help users find your listings. That makes this section the closest to “keyword stuffing” as you can get, without being penalized.

When deciding on terms to list in Amazon’s Search Terms field, keep in mind there is a limit. You’ll need to pare your list down to only the best; think terms that accurately describe your product and have decent search volume.

Please do consider using:

  • Synonyms/alternative product names
  • Common abbreviations associated with your product

Please don’t use:

  • Commas in between your terms (a space is preferred)
  • Promotional modifiers like “best” or “top”
  • Subjective language like “high quality”
  • Misspelled product names

Give Customers a Reason to Convert

After your listings have been optimized for search and traffic is flowing, the next step is getting users to convert. Remember, more product sales can lead to better rankings, too.


So how can you inspire visitors to make a purchase? Through the resources you supply on your product pages. Just like site visitors stemming from Google are looking for certain elements to help in their decision-making process (videos, testimonials, spec sheets, guides, etc.), so are those on Amazon. Here are a few key on-page elements that can influence whether customers add your product to their cart:

  • Pricing – The more competitive your price point is, the more likely you are to score sales. Also, pricing can have an impact on ranking, as Amazon’s search algorithm assumes that better priced products are more likely to convert. Before determining your price, look to see what similar products are going for and stay within a reasonable (or cheaper) range if possible.
  • Images – Being unable to inspect a product when shopping online makes quality images an e-commerce must-have. But don’t get “quality” confused with “creativity.” Keep your images straightforward for the best results. A clean, clear image of your product on a white backdrop will do. Make it free of funky borders, decorations, Photoshopped illustrations or distracting backgrounds.
  • Customer Reviews – You might not be optimizing for Google anymore, but reviews are still just as important—if not more! In addition to validating the awesomeness of your product with actual human in-put, reviews are factored into Amazon’s ranking algorithm. In general, products with the higher volumes of review quantity and quality will be jettisoned to the top of the search results.

Ready to Add Amazon to Your Search Optimization Repertoire?

If you’ve mastered the fine art of optimizing for Google searches, you might be itching to tackle Amazon! In addition to these basic optimization and conversion practices, it’s important to note that the platform has its own unique set of listing criteria—the dos and don’ts for each section. While these rules may differ slightly based on your product category, Amazon’s Quick Start Style Guide is a good resource to check your listings against.

Overall, if you follow the basic optimization best practices you’ve come to know and love, you’ll find yourself on the right path toward product listing domination.

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