When you think of SEO, the first thing that typically comes to mind is optimizing your website for Google.
However, you can optimize content/service/products on any platform with a heavy focus on search—YouTube, Pinterest, and yes, even Amazon. All of these are heavily focused on helping connect searchers with content or, in Amazon’s case, products.
First, an overview of Amazon SEO:
What is Amazon SEO?
Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your product listings so that they appear higher on Amazon search results. It’s much like optimizing for any other search engine—Google, Bing, and other search-focused websites.
Just like with Google, searchers won’t go much further than beyond the first page. Customers are interested in popular, highly-rated products and rely heavily on ratings and reviews to make purchasing decisions.
To help customers find highly relevant products, Amazon uses an algorithm called A9 to help sort products that appear in the search results.
That’s where Amazon SEO comes in. Once you understand what ranking signals Amazon uses to rank products, you can improve on these areas to help your products rank higher in the search results.
How Amazon Algorithm (A9) Works
Unlike more complex search engines like Google, which are designed to analyze search terms and return queries based on location, perceived searcher intent, and other factors, Amazon is designed to do just a handful of things very well.
Amazon’s algorithm doesn’t care much about searcher intent—they’re already on a platform designed to connect buyers to products. Its sole purpose is to find the products someone is most likely to buy, so it focuses more on sales conversions.
That means finding highly relevant, quality products based on the search terms provided. Keyword optimization is a huge part of getting your products in front of buyers—you’ve probably seen listings with fairly long names, stuffed with related keywords.
In the next section, we’ll cover ranking signals and which ones are the most important to focus on.
Amazon Ranking Signals
1. Conversion rate
Assuming you’re selling directly to customers through Amazon Seller Central, you have access to all the data you need to track the most important metrics. (If you’re a manufacturer or distributor selling wholesale, things get a little tricky.)
Your conversion rate can be found in your Seller Central account under Reports > Business Reports > Detailed Page Sales and Traffic Reports by Child Item.
Unit Session Percentage is your conversion rate. This is different from the conversion percentage shown in the Brand Dashboard, which tracks page views. Unit Session Percentage only tracks sessions, which are all the visits by a viewer within 24 hours.
This is one of the most important metrics and one of the most difficult to optimize due to how many different things can impact a person’s decision to buy.
Everything from titles and other product copy to reviews and images can have a significant impact on your conversion rate.
Having accurate product titles and descriptions, high-quality images, and positive reviews can certainly help your conversion rate, but it can take some trial and error to figure out what converts best.
Amazon search has drastically improved over the years. While it’s still important to have an exact match for search terms in your title and other product copy, search improvements have made Amazon a little more forgiving in this regard.
Now, it better accounts for errors, omissions, and extra search terms present in the query that may not be in your title or description.
Previously, having an extra term that wasn’t in your title or description would cause your product not to show up at all. This is still typically true, but there are many more exceptions now. Searching for “headphones,” you won’t start seeing results that don’t contain the exact search term until page 6. (In this example, it was a pair of Apple AirPods.)
3. Customer satisfaction and engagement
Customer satisfaction has been a somewhat controversial topic when it comes to Amazon products. Since ratings can so heavily influence how a listing performs, many sellers attempt to incentivize reviews, which is now against Amazon’s terms.
However, reviews are only a piece of the puzzle—many types of customer engagements factor into things that can signal satisfaction.
Things like answering questions, review responses, and other factors can play into conversions. Buyers are more likely to engage with sellers who are responsive to questions and upfront with all the relevant information about their product.
Having clear, helpful images of your product play a big part in conversion and, eventually, customer satisfaction.
Product images should clearly show your photo (preferably on its own, so there isn’t any confusion as to what comes in the package). Especially when it comes to sets that allow you to order individual items as well, you need to make it clear what customers are getting.
Many items will show sets (or multiple items) that are only for a single item. Combined with a lack of descriptive copy, this can lead to a poor customer experience which will ultimately lead to bad ratings and low conversions.
It’s okay to get creative with your photos, but make sure that at least the first couple feature only the product you’re shipping. You can show other images (and even videos) of people using your item later on after it’s clear what you’re offering.
Images on a neutral background (usually white, or something that contrasts a bit with the product) are best, as it makes it easy for mobile users to see the product from the search results, even if the image is small.
Price plays a huge part in whether or not a potential customer decides to buy—if it’s too high, buyers will likely look elsewhere.
However, it’s not always as simple as having the lowest price. Amazon looks at the price point at which customers typically buy. Too low of a price can also be off-putting, as customers often associate lower prices with low quality.
Staying competitive with your prices and researching the current highest ranking products can help you find the best price point. Just be careful—sometimes products rank despite their price point, so you’ll also want to look at what’s typical outside of Amazon as well.
6. Exit rate
Exit rate refers to when customers view your product and then leave Amazon.
Making sure your products clearly match what customers are looking for and have useful specifications, descriptions, and other product copy can help keep them on your page. You can also include links to other relevant products in your shop. (If someone is searching for a certain type of yarn, you might want to include other similar types of yarn.)
7. Order processing speed
One of the major things that sets Amazon apart from other online retailers is its quick and efficient shipping.
If you’ve ever ordered something via Amazon Prime, you know how quickly packages can get to you—sometimes even the next day! While offering this kind of shipping isn’t always feasible, there are a few things you can do to improve your customers’ experience:
- Set expectations for shipping times
- Make sure shipping is quick and consistent
- Offer compensation for delays, such as discount codes or complimentary items
Shoppers have become accustomed to shipping times between a couple of days and about a week—be clear if your shipping times are significantly longer. Amazon favors merchants that consistently offer great shipping times.
8. In-stock rate
Making sure your products are in stock is vital to keeping a good conversion rate. Otherwise, you’re losing out on lots of potential buyers who visit your page and bounce when they see you’re out of stock.
Even if you update your listing to notify buyers of when items will be back in stock, they’re still more likely to look for other similar items that are available to ship sooner.
One of Amazon’s biggest selling points is the quick shipping. Buyers often make purchasing decisions based on what ships the fastest, if they’re choosing between similar products. Proactively order ahead, within reason, to avoid going out of stock.
9. Perfect order percentage (POP)
A “perfect order” is an order that’s been completed without incident—negative reviews, refunds, messages from the buyer indicating an issue with the order, late shipments, and other factors that can indicate a poor customer experience.
Amazon recommends a perfect order percentage of 95% or higher, but some categories, where a higher return rate is expected (like clothing), have somewhat lower expectations.
Here are some things that can help your POP score:
- Make sure you have a clear, up-to-date product description
- Meet or exceed shipping expectations, with compensation if you fail to meet deadlines
- Provide accurate tracking information
- Address any customer concerns after the order has been shipped
10. Order defect rate (ODR)
Your order defect rate is affected by a few factors:
- Negative Feedback Rate
- A-to-Z Guarantee Claim Rate
- Credit Card Chargeback Rate
Sellers must maintain an ODR of less than 1%, or they risk having their account deactivated.
Negative Feedback Rate refers to one- or two-star ratings. These should be addressed promptly, especially concerning defective or damaged products.
A-Z Guarantee allows buyers to file claims fulfilled by third-party sellers. Buyers can file a claim when:
- They haven’t received an item over three days since the maximum estimated delivery date
- They received an item that was different than the expected item
- They sent the item back and didn’t receive a refund
In general, these issues can be resolved long before a customer has to turn to claims to get their issues resolved. Be proactive and communicate any order changes, availability issues, or shipping delays.
Credit Card Chargebacks are similar to the A-to-Z guarantee, but claims are handled through the credit card company rather than through Amazon. These may occur for the same reasons mentioned in the above section.
Chargebacks are categorized by either fraud or service-related issues—fraudulent charges don’t count towards your ODR.
Your product title is one of the most important parts of your listing—this is the first thing potential buyers will see when looking for your product.
Titles should be helpful, descriptive, and include any additional keywords that a buyer might search for. In a listing for earbuds, you might want to include keywords like earphones, headphones, and other similar keywords that buyers might use to describe your product.
12. Product description
You have a little more room to work with your product description (2,000 characters), so this area is a good place to take a more detailed look at your product. You can talk about the benefits of your product and give potential buyers an idea of how it fits in with their life.
However, you still want to keep your copy clear, concise, and conversational. Be relatable and avoid overly-promotional language. Make sure any claims you make can be substantiated and that none of your copy is misleading. (Copy isn’t always intentionally misleading! Read it out loud and think about if it could be misinterpreted in any way.)
13. Product features and bullet points
Some product categories allow you to highlight the features of your products with bullet points. Put the most important features first and explain how your product solves your buyers’ problems.
These bullet points are often the only meaningful part of your copy that buyers pay attention to. You need to grab their attention, convince them your product is the answer to their problem, and give them all the necessary information they need to make a purchase decision.
14. Product specification
Product specifications often get ignored but make sure it’s there for buyers that have specific requirements. Nothing is more annoying than finding a product that looks like a great fit, then having to wait on a response from the seller for clarification.
Most customers don’t reach out to sellers—they’ll just hunt for products from another seller until they find one that has the specifications they’re looking for.
If someone’s looking for a chair, make sure it has specifications like weight and height limit. If you’re selling a pre-built computer, make sure it has everything from dimensions to the breakdown of individual components.
You can always update your listing based on common questions that you get from potential buyers. If you get a lot of the same questions, consider adding that information to your listing.
Lastly, keywords—these are what you weave into every part of your listing, from title to description, and even in your answers to buyers.
You’ll want to include all the terms a buyer might use to find your product. Going back to the “earbuds” example. Buyers may not immediately think of that particular term when looking for your product.
They may search for things like headphones, headsets, earphones, wireless headphones, and other similar search terms.
Someone searching for something as specific as AirPods could just be looking for something similar. You could include something along the lines of “a great alternative to X product”—just make sure it’s clear that you are not selling that particular product.
How to Optimize Your Product Listing on Amazon
Now, we’ll go into more detail on how to optimize more informational parts of your product listing. These are just some general guidelines. Things are always changing on Amazon and even vary based on the product category, so it’s important to look at what’s working for those categories.
1. Include your keyword and product specification in your product title
Titles should only describe your product and include relevant keywords. Things like free shipping, quality guaranteed, or other descriptors are useless and/or redundant to searchers. (Amazon already indicates shipping prices on the search results and marks items with free shipping accordingly—you don’t need to double up.)
Instead, focus on including things that describe the details of your product like measurement, weight, and other specifications that are useful to have immediately available. If you’re not sure what’s typical of a certain product, do a little research on products in the top results.
This doesn’t go for just titles—many “best practices” for search optimization are heavily dependant on your niche or product category.
What’s typical for titles in one category might not be a good idea for another. It’s important to do your research and find what’s working for specific categories, rather than relying on potentially dated “best practices.”
2. Use high-quality product images
Having high-quality product images helps convert buyers and keep your listing visible.
If your product images don’t meet specifications (or updated specifications, if Amazon has changed their requirements), your listing could be at risk of being suppressed and not showing in results.
Having large, high-quality images that work nicely with the “hover-to-zoom” feature are a necessity. Make sure they’re at least 1,000 by 1,000 pixels, preferably larger for the best results.
Especially if you have a product that relies on design and aesthetics to appeal to customers, they need to be able to see smaller details that tend to be lost in image thumbnails.
3. Include key product features
One of the most important parts of a product listing is making sure potential buyers have all the information they need to make an informed decision.
Many products fail to include some of the most important information, including things like dimensions, weight limits, and describing how the product should be used. (If it’s a more complex product, you can even include video guides or encourage product testers to create videos.)
Highlight the key features of your product in your bullet points (when available) and include more benefits and detailed information in the description.
Fill out the information for technical specifications and other details as completely as you can, updating it as you answer any questions from potential buyers.
4. Provide a compelling product description
The description is a great place to make your listing shine with clear, compelling copy. You’ll still want to focus on outlining the features of your product, but you’ll want to close with a few strong benefits.
Here, you’ll want to show how your product can solve their problem. Whether it’s a chair that perfectly fits their body type or a cooker that you can just set and forget while you’re working, paint the picture. Show them how it makes their life easier.
5. Include other important keywords in your listing
You do want to include as many related keywords as possible, especially since your buyers won’t always use exact search terms to find your product.
However, you don’t want to detract from your conversions by including misleading or irrelevant keywords. Many textiles on Amazon incorrectly state what they are and just try to include as many keywords as possible.
This creates a terrible experience for the buyer and they’ll typically avoid (or report) your listing when they find it’s not what they’re looking for.
The best thing you can do for them is to create a listing that accurately represents what your product is and contains all the search terms they might use to find your product. Don’t stuff it full of loosely related keywords.
Performance Optimization for Amazon Product Listings
Next, we’ll go into performance optimization. This focuses more on reviews, sales, conversions, and engaging with your buyers.
1. Find a comfortable price point
Setting your prices too high can tank your listing’s performance, but selling at the lowest price points can be just as bad.
A little on-site research and the use of tools like Camel can help you find the best price point (we’ll cover more SEO tools later in this post).
As we talked about earlier, Amazon has one job—to connect searchers to products and convert them into buyers. They’re solely focused on showing products that potential buyers will be most likely to buy. So if your price point is driving searchers away, you’ll have little chance of ranking well.
2. Get customer reviews/feedback
Public reviews are a huge sales driver. You’ll want to make sure to deliver the best experience possible and address negative reviews to turn them into positive ones.
You’ll also want to respond to feedback. Some feedback requires a response, especially when it’s related to incorrect orders or negative experiences. Letting this feedback go unanswered can negatively impact metrics like your ODR.
On top of that, customers that see negative reviews that go unanswered are likely to either address those publicly in questions or look for a buyer who stays on top of their customer service. Don’t let this be what negatively impacts your listing!
3. Answer customer questions
Answers are a great way for potential buyers to get additional information before they buy. However, you can’t rely on other buyers to answer those questions all the time.
Lots of unanswered questions and an overall lack of communication can lead to lost conversions. Buyers are more likely to convert if you answer their questions clearly and completely.
While Amazon does a great job of prompting other buyers for answers, you’ll want to answer these yourself, even if the question has already been answered. It’s always a good sign to see confirmation from the seller, as it indicates you’re paying attention and you know your product.
4. Look for ways to improve your product ratings
Always be accepting of feedback. That doesn’t mean you have to make everyone happy and implement every piece of feedback—otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have the same product anymore!
However, when it comes to product quality issues, address the feedback you get. Let buyers know you’re listening and consider implementing changes to your product if that’s within your control.
Ratings aren’t always just about the product, but the entire buying process. Sometimes you run into complaints about shipping, handling, and customer service issues. It’s your job to help make the buying process as painless as possible.
You can also make buyers’ experiences more personal. If you’re selling on a smaller scale, consider including a quick note or business card with a simple “thank you.” Handwritten notes go a long way and it’s a little something extra to show buyers you appreciate them.
Don’t incentivize reviews or try to influence customer reviews. Not only is this against Amazon’s policy, but it often doesn’t comply with FTC guidelines.
Even if you’re doing it “correctly” by having reviewers state that they received something in exchange for their honest review, there’s too much of a grey area to deal with this on a platform like Amazon.
Amazon SEO Best Practices
Plan and strategize
The worst thing you can do on a highly competitive platform like Amazon is to head in without a plan.
You’ll need a way to drive sales and encourage reviews both on Amazon and off. That includes having an active social media presence and/or email list where you can drive more traffic to your listing.
If you have an existing website where you sell products, you can even incentivize buyers to buy from Amazon.
You may not want to treat this as a long-term strategy if you want to continue selling on your website, but it’s a good temporary measure to help boost your sales and ratings on Amazon.
Research your competitors
Product research is an ongoing thing and while you don’t want to copy your competitors, you do want to keep an eye on what’s working (or not working!) for them.
This is often the best place to find gaps in the market. Look at issues they’re not addressing or potential marketing segments they’re neglecting. See where you can improve where they’ve failed while staying true to your brand.
Stay up to date on the latest trends
Amazon is a great place to look for trending product sales, but some other tools let you keep an eye on the latest trends.
Exploding Topics is also a great place to get ideas on upcoming trends, whether you’re looking for new products to sell or a new marketing angle.
Check for orders and inventory regularly
You’ll want to check for orders daily to make sure you stay on top of things. Once you start getting orders more frequently, this just becomes a habit.
However, one of the biggest things is making sure you stay on top of your inventory. When you’re out of stock and buyers can’t buy immediately, it can severely impact your conversion rate.
While there’s the occasionally unavoidable circumstance where you just can’t get things in stock, proactively managing your inventory and planning for holidays, increased demand from season-to-season, or based on current events can help your conversions.
You don’t want to overdo things, but you need to stay available for your buyers as much as possible.
Do not overprice
This is probably the most obvious, but many sellers will try and squeeze out as much as they can. Unless you’ve got a great reputation and a customer base of raving fans, it’s unlikely that people will be willing to pay for overpriced items from a seller they’re unfamiliar with.
Overpricing is one of the easiest ways to kill your conversions and drive buyers away. Do the research and find a balance between staying competitive and making sure you have enough of a profit margin to sustain your business.
Build rapport with your customers
As you make more sales, get more reviews, and interact with more customers, you’ll slowly gain a better reputation and rating on Amazon.
The key to building rapport with your customers is taking the time to really understand where they are, what their problems are, and how you can help them. Be empathetic and understanding, especially when issues arise with orders, delays, or miscommunication about your product or policies.
Provide clear information about policies (shipping, returns, warranty, etc.)
Make sure you set proper expectations upfront. Be clear about your shipping times, warranty information, return policies. (Especially return policies! Be very clear if you don’t accept returns.)
You’ll also want to have a reasonable return policy. Some sellers just don’t want to deal with returns and won’t take returns unless they’re forced into a situation by Amazon or another third-party company that would require them to do so.
Strict return policies are better than none, but be very clear about your returns. Issues with returns and exchanges are a very common cause of poor buyer experiences.
Be accessible to your customers
Last, but certainly not least, be accessible to your customers. Be there to answer their questions, help them with order issues, and show them you appreciate their business.
Make it easy to get in touch with you and give them an idea of when they can expect to hear back. How long do you typically take to respond? 24-48 hours? Within the week? This is important information to disclose, so they’re not wondering when they’ll hear back from you.
Best Amazon SEO Tools
If you’re looking for a quick overview of popular products and recent price changes, this is a great free tool that can help you stay on top of the price points of top-ranking products.
However, one of the most powerful features is the ability to view price history charts from a convenient add-on. The Camelizer, a browser add-on for Firefox and Chrome lets you view price history charts and create price watches without leaving the product page.
Keyworx is a much simpler solution than a lot of the Amazon tools out there. It only tracks keywords, but it does that one thing really well.
This cloud-based solution makes it easy to track the most important keywords and analyze your competitors’ performance for those keywords.
The base plan starts at $27/month and allows you to track up to 500 keywords. However, they have a free trial that allows you to try things out before you buy for a full 20 days.
3. AMZ Tracker
AMZ Tracker is probably one of the most comprehensive analysis tools available for sellers on Amazon. They offer a great competitor analysis that tracks sales and Best Seller rankings, keyword tracking that’s updated daily, alerts about negative reviews, and recommendations to help increase your conversion rates.
You also have access to DeepWords, a long-tail keyword search tool for Amazon sellers.
If you’ve been selling on Amazon for quite a while and things seem stagnant, AMZ Tracker is a great option. It can give you an overview of listings and show you what could negatively impact your listing’s performance.
Sellics is another great option if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution. They have plans for vendors, sellers, and agencies and a wide range of tools that start at $47/month for seller plans.
But one of the big things we’re concerned with here is Sellics SEO and Sonar, their free Amazon keyword research tool. You don’t even have to sign up to use Sonar, so if you’re just looking for some free tools to start with, this is a great option.
Their SEO tools offer a more targeted approach to optimizing your listing. You can track changes to your content, including notifications whenever unauthorized changes are made to your products.
My favorite part of this tool is the clean, easy-to-use dashboard, where you can track your keywords and performance history and compare to your competitors’ performance.
Sellics offers a 14-day free trial on all of its products, as well as a host of free information on their blog.
If you’re looking to get ahead with advertising on Amazon, Zon.Tools is a great way to maximize your Amazon ads performance and automate your processes.
There are tons of Amazon PPC tools on the market, but this one packs a lot of functionality into a single tool at a fairly low price (starting at $9/month). They may as well offer a free trial—the first month is just a dollar.
It might seem a little overwhelming at first, but they also offer lots of resources for Amazon ads, SEO, and more to help you get started with their tools.
Tracking Your Results
While optimizing your listing for ranking and performance is important, none of that means anything if you’re not tracking the results.
Tools like AMZ Tracker and Sellics are a great way to track your progress over time and keep a record of everything. As you make improvements to your listing, you can see exactly how that changes over time and what changes make the most impact.
As with everything in SEO, improvements don’t matter until you can prove they’re getting results. Luckily, we have lots of tools to help us track your progress, improvements, and see how they impact your sales.
Why Amazon SEO is Important for Your Business
If you’ve already read this far, you probably already have a good idea of why SEO is important for your business.
By constantly optimizing and improving your listings and appearing higher in the search results, you’ll improve on other areas—sales, conversions, customer satisfaction, and other key metrics that are important to your goals.
While SEO does have a lot of technical aspects, the end goal should be to offer your potential and current customers the best experience possible.
Summary & Takeaways
In this post, we covered:
- An overview of Amazon’s algorithm (A9) compared to other search engines
- Important Amazon ranking signals
- How to optimize your listings
- How to optimize performance and engage with buyers
- Amazon SEO best practices
- The best tools to help you succeed on Amazon
SEO is an ongoing process—it can seem a little daunting at first, but you can take just a few small steps at a time and see how they affect your performance.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. SEO does take time, but by keeping up with trends, constantly looking for ways to improve your listings, and learning from competitors, you’ll see huge improvements and growth over time.
Have you found success with any of these optimizations? We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.