One of the primary areas of focus for any SEO or content strategy is that of user intent. Whether you are B2C ecommerce, B2B lead generation, or anything in between, it is very helpful to consider the sales or lead “funnel” relevant to your business. For example, a potential sale in retail starts with awareness, the forming of an opinion, a period of consideration, determination of preference, and then, if those hurdles have finally been overcome, the purchase.
Being aware of this funnel is important when selecting the keywords to target in search and the relevant content you can create to speak to potential buyers at every stage. It is something we look to on the SEO team and across all Wpromote digital marketing service channels to dictate our clients’ content strategies and attract qualified visitors to their sites.
That sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? Especially when, as a B2C ecommerce brand, you’d rather just skip straight to the sale. However, people use search engines like Google and Bing for a whole host of reasons including answering queries, research, consideration, comparison, and post-sale follow up. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a search engine that was, for the most part, just for those people that wanted to buy something?
Well – There is one. You already know it, and probably use it pretty often, but it is regularly neglected when it comes to “search optimization”. Does this look familiar?
It’s the behemoth that is Amazon. For product searches, Amazon has about three times the search volume of Google and has the obvious benefit of being purely product-focused. Obviously, to take advantage of this, you have to sell your products on Amazon which can eat into your profit margins more than if you were selling directly from your own site. However, if you are already an Amazon seller, there are plenty of Amazon SEO tactics you can employ to get the top “ranking” in this search engine too. These tactics are very different from traditional SEO. Here’s a high-level overview:
1. Amazon Conversion Rates
The objective under-mining the Google algorithm (and the basis for every strategic decision in your organic search campaign) is to display the most relevant pages for any given search query. That furthers Google’s business goal of being the most helpful search engine so people choose Google over other competitors. Amazon, on the other hand, wants to sell as much as possible, as it makes money off each sale. Therefore it wants the products that are most likely to sell to appear at the top of its search results. This means that when it comes to Amazon, conversion rate is king.
Obviously, that leads to something of a catch-22. You need high conversion rates in order to appear at the top of the search results, where people are more likely to find your product to buy it. However, you will struggle to get higher conversion rates without that sort of visibility.
So how can you improve conversion rates quickly?
In order to kick-start an Amazon SEO campaign, some sellers deliberately undercut the competition (and even their own website) to get the initial boost to conversion rates, before adjusting prices to more realistic levels once a higher position is secured. Obviously that strategy has inherent risks. While this article is not necessarily advocating this approach, it is worth noting for the sake of completeness.
You also have the option of Amazon paid search – or “Sponsored Products,” which might be a smart way to drive traffic and sales for a new product. Unlike Google search, utilizing Amazon paid search should have an impact on the organic side due to improved conversion rates through increased visibility (whereas paid search success is not a ranking factor for the organic algorithm in Google).
2. On-Page Factors
Given that selling at a loss is not the most appealing prospect, and a Sponsored Products campaign would involve a larger upfront investment, let’s focus instead on other elements an Amazon seller can control, such as the Amazon equivalent of “on-site optimizations”.
One cool thing about Amazon is that every product page already has the equivalent of schema (i.e. structured fields) that its search engine uses to organize listings. Therefore it is extremely important to fill out as many of the filter fields as possible so that Amazon’s algorithm knows exactly what you are relevant for.
Here are some other helpful hints for adding pertinent on-page information:
- Product Category – Choose this carefully as it is commonly used to refine searches or in the “Browse” search feature. Few things will hurt your product visibility more than being lost in the wrong category.
- Search Terms – These are like the meta keyword tag of SEO-past. You have 5 fields of up to 50 characters each, and you shouldn’t be shy to use as much space as possible. There is no room for keyword repetition or misspellings, but the order of words may matter (as it does for Google with regular Page Titles) and synonyms or correct spelling variations may also be useful.
- Product Titles – The character limit for this field varies by category, so take a look at your top competitors to see what the standard is. The title can include the brand, description, product line, material, color, size, and even keywords, but focus on clarity and don’t be tempted to add offer language to the title. Amazon offers title guidance for certain categories, so be sure to leverage that information, as well as seeing what’s working well for that category already.
- Images – Images are very important in Amazon listings. Be sure to follow all the guidelines Amazon gives you. They recommend a minimum size of 1000 x 1000px to ensure effective zooming, and it’s good to have at least 4 or 5 images in the selection. All pictures of products should have a plain white background and 80% of the image should be the actual product. We also recommend adding product videos if you have them.
- Price – Much of Amazon’s functionality is based upon providing extensive options for prospective buyers, so choose your price carefully, as this is the easiest metric for instant comparison. It is also key (along with shipping costs) for winning the “Buy Box,” i.e. the list of sellers Amazon displays for the same product.
- Bullet Points & Description – The product details are broken down into bullet points up near the top, then a longer description further down the page. The bullet points appear to carry more weight in Amazon’s algorithm, so pay careful attention to the information you use here. It is always helpful to explore your other digital marketing channels for data on what might play well with buyers. For example, you can utilize the most successful ad copy from your paid search campaign or the email marketing subject line with the highest clickthrough rate.
Another benefit of Amazon is that there is plenty of advice, so make the most of the resources they give you to optimize your page. Their Getting Started Guide is particularly helpful.
3. The Customer Experience
Reviews are huge in the Amazon universe, and the feedback in them also seems to contribute to Amazon’s algorithm (as well as having a big impact on conversion rates of course). Have you ever noticed that a significant number of the poor reviews have nothing to do with the product itself, but are more geared towards customer service issues?
Here are some of the most common complaints seen in Amazon reviews and definitely things to look out for:
- Item is out of stock
- Item is not as described
- The shipment was late
- The incorrect item was shipped
- The product didn’t match the image exactly
- The return process was overly complicated
The main takeaway is that optimizing your product pages is only step 1 to Amazon success. Pay close attention to availability, the ongoing accuracy of the description and images, and the customer service element of delivery or returns for sustained Amazon success.
4. Other Considerations
Obviously the idea of appearing at the top in Amazon is an attractive one to get those sales rolling in, but there are a number of other elements to consider before embarking on an all out Amazon SEO campaign.
- Competing Against Your Own Site – Although the point of Amazon SEO is to appear high in Amazon search, keep in mind that Amazon product pages also appear in other search engines, like Google and Bing. You could end up competing against your own site for product-related keywords.
- Duplicate Content – Amazon does not appear to mind if your product description is identical to other listings on the site or indeed, other pages on the web, but be warned, Google definitely still cares a lot about this. Be careful not to use the same product descriptions on Amazon that you use on your own website.
- Tracking – Do you ever get frustrated with Google Analytics? Does implementing tracking code correctly drive you to distraction? Well, after a little time with Amazon, you’ll be begging GA for forgiveness because Amazon tracking for sellers is woeful in comparison. Some metrics Amazon does provide that may be helpful are the “Best Seller Rank” where you can find your ranking within a certain category, and the “Unit Session Percentage” which is equal to the number of units sold divided by the number of relevant sessions. A quick point to note is that a “session” is actually a specific user’s activity within a 24-hour window, not per visit like in Google Analytics. There is also no search volume data for Amazon, so you’ll have to rely on your standard SEO tools such as the AdWords keyword planner for relative comparison data.
OK, so what are the main takeaways for businesses selling on Amazon?
- Conversion rate is king!
- Use every field you can when creating a product page.
- Pay careful attention to images.
- It’s very different from organic search so don’t feel weird about getting keyword-happy.
- Remember that ultimate Amazon success may come at a price when it comes to product keywords on Google.