The ultimate goal of this post is to help you pick great Amazon SEO Service providers by helping you understand how Amazon SEO really works. We will show you examples of what types of strategies are available and what types of questions to ask your consultant. Once you know you have found a reliable partner, you can trust your Amazon business to work for you, rather than against you.
Amazon SEO Matters
Fact: People generally only click and buy the listing at the top of the search results.
We all know this from our own experience with Google.
There are millions of sellers on Amazon and they are all fighting for the same piece of the pie. A huge piece of consumer pie. With billions of monthly site views and purchase hungry wallets. Constantly changing in shape, size and appearance.
The thing is... most consumers are generally quite lazy.
For simplicity sake, assume that 90% of sales come from being ranked on page 1 in the search results. And that 80 % of sales go to products ranked in the top 3. No matter how good your actual product is.
So a professional seller needs to rank as high as possible on specific search phrases. To do that well, your listing first needs to be indexed for as many relevant keywords as possible. After being indexed, your product then needs to rank.
But there are many different rankings available on Amazon:
- Organic search result rank
- Sponsored search result rank
- In-Category rank (when the filter is set to a specific category, like Home & Kitchen)
- All categories rank
- Sponsored recommendations
- Organic recommendations
- "Frequently Bought Together"
A well-optimized listing consists of many essential components, including:
A professional and "healthy" Amazon account with Brand Registry and an Amazon storefront.
Copywriting for the product description, title, bullet points and the backend keywords. Ideally, use Enhanced Brand Content for your product descriptions.
Professional photography and design
Amazon’s A9 Algorithm
Amazon uses its A9 algorithm to decide whether YOUR products rank high or not.
A9.com is a global Amazon subsidiary established as a separate company in 2003 by Amazon. The company only has several hundred employees. Although it is small in size, it is responsible for developing and maintaining all of Amazon’s search algorithms for product search, cloud search, visual search, augmented reality, advertising technology and community question answering. (Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A9.com)
It is important to try and understand how the A9 search algorithm works.
It is similar to Google’s algorithm. It picks which URL is shown first. However, the one key difference with Google is that it promotes listings based on sales conversions (and many believe, PPC spend) on Amazon itself.
Many sales on Amazon take place due to related links and cross-sales on the page. A9 also decides where your product ranks in those cross-sales opportunities. If you master the ability to exploit these you can out-whit the competition.
Amazon Ranking Explained Further
To make sure your listing ranks well within the A9 algo, it is critical you understand the following three things:
1. Understand Keyword Volume vs Competitiveness
Know your high volume keywords and understand their competitiveness.
You can try and compete on a high volume keyword with 200,000 other products, but maybe it is best to compete on a medium-level keyword with only 2000 competing products.
And it’s not just about the number of competing products, but also about the number of reviews they have, and if any of them bring in substantial external traffic from sources such as Facebook, Instagram or their B2C websites.
Vital to ranking on a major keyword is often ranking on related keywords in the same category. If you want to rank a product in the camping mattress category, consider the following list of keywords you probably need to target:
Notice how the phrase “blow up mattress” may be quite attractive because of the fewer number of competitors.
2. Target The Long Tail
There is usually one or a few keywords that are the largest in volume, the rest of the keywords are considered to be “the long tail”. Each product niche or category comes with a long tail of keywords. Some as long as 5000 different phrases, each with different search volumes and competitiveness.
You don’t have to target the main keyword in your PPC. In fact, it is often better not to. You typically won’t be very successful if you aim for a major keyword straight out of the gate. Unless you are very aggressive with promotions and PPC.
Your listing needs to gain status and popularity first. Build your profile.
This goes especially for a newly launched brand.
Attractive launch products have a big long tail and some less competitive keywords to aim for. Your chances of success will increase exponentially.
You should also research:
How many similar phrases exist to describe your exact product?
More phrases = more opportunities to exploit.
What keywords do the main competitors rank for?
Which keywords are less competitive?
Which keywords may be cheaper to target with sponsored links
3. Discover High-Converting Keywords
This is the really tricky bit. A keyword phrase with 1500 monthly searches and 50 % conversion rate is in fact better than a keyword with 5000 monthly searches with only a 10% conversion rate. But how do you know? Only Amazon has this data, right?
At Generation AMZ we have developed a proprietary method to uncover keywords with high conversion rates. When you select your Amazon SEO service provider, make sure they can explain to you what they do to uncover these high-converting keywords.
Once you have a well-ranked product (with good reviews and a healthy seller account), maintaining the ranking becomes easier as your continued sales will keep your ranking high.
If you want to rank high on Google you need to have your URL appear on lots of other relevant websites (also referred to as backlinks). Google also scores websites on many other factors including, for example, relevancy, completeness of content, bounce rates and mobile readability. Sometimes people may want to buy something, other times they are just researching a topic or want a simple answer to a question.
Google is a search engine that aims to get the most relevant search results for whatever it is you’re looking for. Amazon aims to get the most relevant search results for whatever it is you’re looking to BUY.
This is why Amazon has recently become a major competitor of Google in the advertising space.
Look for “headaches” on Google and you get this:
Look for ‘headaches’ on Amazon.co.uk and the result is this:
So should Tiger Balm just put the word headaches in their listing, advertise it and hope for the best?
Not quite. This Tiger Balm product does not even have any bullet points or a particularly good title. So they must have had success ranking through:
Their enhanced brand content
Targeting of keywords, related keywords and competitors through Amazon’s Advertising tools
Organic search behaviour and brand reputation
Now consider the following list of keywords this product also ranks in the top 10 for.
These keywords are mostly in some way related to treatment of aches and you can find tiger balm in the top 10 for all of these. Amazon A9 has a system in place to link all related keywords together and their algorithm then decides who is most relevant to be displayed. Aim to rank for the entire list above (and more), and your product may also rank on the phrase "headaches"
Ultimately, customers must be buying your product when they click on your listing though.
If not, your listing will soon deteriorate.
NOTE: On Amazon you can advertise your products directly on your competitors product pages (and vice versa). It can be a powerful strategy to gain rank on a high volume competitor keyword and for competitors to rank on yours. You can target competitors such as Voltarol and Vicks Vapour Rub directly through Amazon and then rank on the keywords people use to search for these products.
Questions To Ask Your Amazon SEO Services Provider
Before you approach any service provider, consider the following:
- What is your main goal? Defend or attack?
Some brands just want to defend their reputation on Amazon, other brands want to increase their incremental sales. Some agencies may be better suited to deal with infringement claims, gating your listings or getting an account unsuspended. Some agencies may be better suited for growing your sales and managing your PPC. Ask the agency about its key strengths.
- Is the agency purely focused on Amazon or is Amazon SEO just a smaller service as part of a larger agency?
To be knowledgeable on Amazon you need to live and breathe Amazon. Amazon often makes unannounced changes that could impact your business. You want to work with someone who is connected to the Amazon seller community and ideally work with someone who is a current Amazon seller themselves.
- What is your budget?
A good agency hired specifically for sales growth and listing optimization should be able to clarify the value proposition and give you some indication of return on investment. When is your break-even point? After 3 months, 6 months, 12 months? There is always some guess work involved here, but ask your agency for some scenarios. So you can make a judgement call on the feasibility of its success.
- Which other clients has the agency worked with?
Do they have experience in your sector? Have they advised a competitor? If it's a good agency, you may want to be first in your category to use them. Ask for references if need be. But do remember: Smaller agencies with a smaller client list may have more time to dedicate to your work and may be more involved with the success of your engagement.
- Is the agency prepared to do some example work on one of your SKUs?
Many specialists in this field may not agree to do work for free, but you could agree with your agency they optimise one listing for a small fee. This is so you can check their work and review the results over a period of a few weeks to see if it makes any impact. Bare in mind, you may have to spend some money on PPC to get your new keywords indexed and ranked.
Projects To Consider
In order of priority for an offensive approach:
- Prioritise your listings. If you have 3000 SKUs, maybe prioritise 10% of those.
- Optimise your listings, this includes photos, text, backend keywords, etc.
- Launch and manage Sponsored Links PPC campaigns (this will be covered in a different blog post).
- Add Enhanced Brand Content.
- Create a storefront.
- Launch Sponsored Brand PPC campaigns
- Implement strategies to gain more reviews
- Track your P&L with 3P software
- Rinse and repeat or launch more projects.
Why You Need An Expert
If you still think your company would rather do all this in-house. Ask yourself:
- Do I have the time or expertise to do all this myself?
- Will training my employees have the same effect as hiring an expert?
- Am I keeping up to date with Amazon's changes?
- Will any of my staff be dedicated enough to listen to podcasts or attend all these focused masterclasses and events that take place in the industry?
- Should I not be focusing on our core activities?
If you pick a good partner, the external service should pay itself soon enough.
This article was written by the founder of Generation AMZ, Joppe Coelingh Bennink. Generation AMZ is an Amazon-only consultancy, focused on high-impact returns for its consumer goods clients.
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