Amazon sellers know that optimizing their Amazon listings can directly impact their product rankings — and sales.
But what most sellers don’t know is how to make a winning Amazon SEO strategy and crack the Amazon A9 algorithm. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Amazon SEO and how it works. In this article, we’ll share some of the most recent findings from our experience optimizing Amazon content.
Let’s get started!
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Amazon search engine optimization (Amazon SEO) is the process of optimizing your Amazon product listings to rank more highly in Amazon searches for related keywords. When you optimize your product listing, you make it easier for Amazon to find your listing and show it to shoppers who are looking for something like your product.
Amazon SEO involves:
- Amazon keyword optimization
- Amazon product title optimization
- Product image optimization
- Backend keywords
- Pricing strategy
- The Amazon A9 algorithm
Let’s dive into how Amazon ranks your products: The Amazon A9 algorithm.
A9 is the algorithm Amazon uses for product searches. The Amazon A9 algorithm is a ranking process that influences where products appear for a particular keyword on the Amazon search engine results page (SERP).
Amazon ranks products based on how likely the searcher will be to purchase the product. But how does the Amazon algorithm figure that out?
First, Amazon looks at the keywords in the shopper’s search query. If your product listing doesn’t have every keyword in the search query, it probably won’t appear in the search results, which is why keyword optimization is a big piece of Amazon SEO.
Next, Amazon tries to assess purchase likelihood based on how well your product has performed in the past. To do this, the algorithm looks at these metrics at the keyword level:
- Search result click-through-rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate on the product page
- Overall sales
Your product might get more clicks and conversions for one search query than others — for example, if a searcher is looking for a specific color or size of the product and your product matches that description, they’re more likely to click on (and buy) that product.
To increase your CTR, conversion rate, sales, and rankings, you can use a variety of tactics and tools. Keep reading to learn how to optimize your keywords, product listing, and more to increase your Amazon SEO ranking.
To find keywords for your Amazon listings, you can use an Amazon SEO tool like Merchant Words or Helium 10. Tools like these can tell you what people are searching for on Amazon when they want to buy your product (or your competitor’s product). This can be especially helpful when you have a brand-new listing when you don’t have any product data to lean on; you can learn from your competitors’ rankings. To learn more about Amazon tools, here are 51 indispensable Amazon seller tools.
From there, you can use Amazon PPC to gather data on which keywords help your product listings convert — then optimize for those keywords. To learn more about Amazon keyword research, check out our complete guide to Amazon SEO.
Without paying to be a sponsored brand or sponsored product listing, there’s no guarantee that your product will show up in a particular place on an Amazon search result page.
That said, you can make the most of your Amazon product listing and SEO presence with Amazon Brand Registry. This program allows sellers who manufacture or sell their own branded products to have higher authority over their product listings’ content.
Amazon Brand Registry enables brands to:
- Influence the product detail information for branded products: As the registered brand owner, the information they submit to the product detail pages for registered branded products is displayed automatically, which then helps brands to specify the correct titles, details, images, and other attributes for their products.
- List products without UPCs or EANs: Registering a brand enables manufacturers to specify an alternative key attribute that they can use to list branded products instead of a standard product ID.
- Leverage additional content options: Registered brands can use Enhanced Brand Content, Amazon Product Listing Video, and Amazon Storefronts, all of which can help your products rank more highly in Amazon’s search results.
“If your products are not being found it doesn’t matter how compelling your offer is, it doesn’t matter how good your images are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re using FBA.”
– Pat Petriello, Director of Amazon Strategy at Tinuiti
The best way to think about Amazon’s search engine ranking system is to envision yourself as the shopper. When shoppers are searching for a pair of “red sunglasses”, they’re more likely to type their query into the Amazon search bar rather than filter through the “Categories” section.
Most shoppers search for products, so it’s important to develop optimized product titles and descriptions to stand out on Amazon’s search engine results page and rank against competitors. According to Amazon, “The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term – if it’s a relevant and compelling term.”
Other factors such as price, availability, selection and sales history will also help determine where a product will appear in the search results. Typically, products with higher sales will be placed higher up on the Amazon ranking search list. The more sales, the better the chances of ranking higher.
What makes a great Amazon product listing?
A great detail page, as seen below, accurately presents all the product information a customer would want and need in order to make a buying decision. In creating these detail page elements, it is critical to be as accurate as possible with the product information. Customers want to know exactly what they’re buying.
Important components of a detail page include:
- A concise, unique, and Amazon-optimized product title
- Bullet points conveying the most important information about the product
- An accurate description of the product, discussing all its major features and benefits
- A clear product image of exactly what the customer will receive
Next, we’ll cover how to optimize each piece of your product listing for Amazon SEO.
Amazon product titles must meet the following qualifications for character length:
- General characters: 80-250
- Right rail ads: 30-33
- Mobile: 55-63
What to include in Amazon product titles:
- Capitalize the first letter of each word
- Spell out measure words such as Ounce, Inch, and Pound
- Focus on benefits – and be descriptive
- All numbers should be numerals
- Don’t use ampersands (&) unless it’s part of your brand name
- If the size is not a relevant detail, do not list it in the title
- If the product does not come in multiple colors, the color should not be noted in the title
- Include your brand name
- Include manufacturer part numbers and model numbers as necessary
- Include Amazon keywords
What not to include in product titles
Within the character limitations, you should not include:
- Price and quantity
- All caps
- Seller information
- Promotional messages such as “Sale”
- Suggestive commentary such as “Best Seller”
- Symbols ($, !, ?)
How to optimize titles with keywords
Keywords are a vital component of any product title, but retailers should be wary of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing means including as many keywords as possible just for the sake of including keywords — a practice that can be detrimental to your ranking.
Products with clear and detailed information are more likely to earn a higher click-through-rate and convert. The increase in sales will ultimately lead to better ranking.
Below is an example of an optimized product listing for a bubble sleeve case. As you can see, when a shopper is looking for an iPad cover, the product’s main details are listed in the title, including the brand, color, and type of devices it is compatible with.
Title formulas for categories
Depending on the category, there may be additional product title formulas for each item. Each product category has a specific product title formula.
All categories start with the brand and list the product name, but other attributes of the title may include:
- Model number
- Power output
- Size, color, quantity (if there is more than one)
Since the title is the first source of information for the customers during a search, all titles should follow Amazon’s style guidelines and have correct capitalization and spelling.
The Amazon product detail page bullet points — aka the “Key Product Features” section — is located under the “Descriptions” tab (as seen below). Product features are the second most important part of your product listings to optimize for search rankings.
Amazon shoppers rely pretty heavily on bullet points to gather product information. The more descriptive the bullet points for your product pages are, the more you will sell on Amazon. And the more you sell on Amazon, the higher your product will rank.
Best practices for key product features:
- Highlight the top five features that you want your customers to consider, such as dimensions, warranty information, or age appropriateness
- Begin each bullet point with a capital letter
- Write in fragments and do not include ending punctuation
- Write all numbers as numerals
- Separate phrases in one bullet with semicolons
- Spell out measurements, such as quart, inch, or feet
- Do not write vague statements; be as specific as possible with product features and attributes
- Do not enter company-specific information; this section is for product features only
- Do not include promotional and pricing information
- Do not include shipping or company information. Amazon policy prohibits including the seller, company, or shipping information
Below is an example of a well-built out key product feature section for an Amazon Product Detail page:
Best practices for product descriptions:
Product descriptions are typically a few paragraphs long, and they may require some light HTML. If you’re selling products in a category that Amazon regulates, make sure you follow all requirements — otherwise, your listing might get taken down for using the wrong terms.
Every product detail page should also describe the major product features, such as size, style, and what the product can be used for. Amazon encourages sellers to include accurate dimensions, care instructions, and warranty information and use correct grammar, punctuation, and complete sentences.
Do not include any of the following types of information:
- Seller name
- Email address
- Website URL
- Company-specific information
- Details about another product that you sell
- Promotional language such as “SALE” or “free shipping”
Try using light HTML to better split up paragraphs and bold certain important words or phrases. For example:
Registered brands let you use Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) for sellers and A+ Content for vendors on your product listings.
Amazon does not index enhanced content for search. If the relevant keywords only show up in your enhanced content, the product won’t appear in search results. That said, while EBC and A+ content may not be direct ranking factors, we’ve been creating them long enough to know that they can have positive effects on your sales.
EBC is visually pleasing, but it replaces the regular product description and can’t be indexed. But you can still use keywords in your backend keywords, title, and bullet points. Because your sales directly impact your ranking, and EBC can help you increase sales, premium content can help your product rank higher on the SERP — even if it can’t be indexed by Amazon’s A9 algorithm.
You can learn more about Amazon A+ content and EBC content in the posts below:
- What is Amazon A+ Content?
- Amazon Enhanced Brand Content | Ultimate Guide
- Images should have an all-white background
- Images should be square
- Images should be at least 1,000 pixels wide by 1,000 pixels tall (1,000 x 1,000) so that shoppers can zoom in
- Product video and 3D product images can increase sales
- No illustrations: Main images must show the actual product (not a graphic or illustration)
- Images must accurately represent the product
- The product must fill 85% or more of the image
- Amazon accepts JPEG (.jpg), TIFF (.tif), or GIF (.gif) file formats
- Product must not be on a mannequin or pictured in packaging
- Product must be clearly visible in the image (e.g., if on a model, s/he should not be sitting)
- Image must not contain nudity
- On the Inventory tab, select Manage Inventory
- Click the Edit button on the far right of the listing you want to edit
- Select Manage Images from the drop-down menu
- In the next window, click Browse File for the first empty image area
- Select an image from your computer and click Open
- Click Upload images to add your image to the listing
- In Manage Inventory, click Add a product, located near the Search box
- For images, click Add Images
- In the pop-up window, click Browse File for the first empty image area
The Main image is labeled in the top left corner
- Select an image from your computer and click Open
The image path appears below the Browse File button for that image space
- Click Upload images to add your image to the listing
- You don’t have to repeat keywords in a phrase — it doesn’t have an impact on your ranking
- Use either singular or plural versions of your keywords — adding both is not necessary
- It doesn’t matter whether or not you capitalize letters
- Amazon will match small typos to the correct spelling, so you don’t have to add misspelled versions of keywords
Every product on Amazon needs one or more product image. The primary image of your item is called the “MAIN”. The MAIN image represents an item in search results and browse pages, and this is the first image customers see on an item’s detail page
According to Amazon, advertisers should choose images that are clear, easy to understand, information-rich, and aesthetically pleasing. Images must accurately represent the product and show only the product that’s for sale, with minimal or no propping.
Amazon SEO product image best practices
Here are some best practices to follow for your Amazon product images:
“Amazon has the right to remove images that do not meet their image standards. It is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that they have all the necessary rights for the images submitted.”
– David Cooley, Sr. Marketplace Channel Analyst at Tinuiti
How to add Amazon product images
You can provide one main product image and up to eight alternate image views (depending on your category) for your product listings on Amazon. You can add an image either when you create a product page or after the page is already created. It can take up to 24 hours after adding an image for it to appear on your product listing.
To add an image to an existing listing:
To add an image to a new listing:
Aggregate Amazon product images
Amazon content is not always based on just one seller that submits content. Amazon aggregates relevant product information across sellers who are selling the same Amazon item (as identified by ASIN or UPC).
Amazon compiles all the submissions into consideration and creates the best title or bullet points — but there is no guarantee the title you type in the backend is going to be exactly the same as the public-facing title.
“Images, much like product titles are also aggregated. In our experience, if a vendor and a third party are both selling the same item, Amazon will typically pull images from the vendor side. If there is no vendor present, then the images from the third party that is brand registered will outweigh the other sellers. Of course, like many components within Amazon’s algorithm, there is room for some variation but this what we’ve historically seen among our clients.”
– Jordan Gisch, Sr. Marketplace Channel Analyst at Tinuiti
The Amazon Brand Registry is a critical component for manufacturers on Amazon.com who want to gain better control over their product listings. To learn more about how Amazon Brand Registry can help you, visit our blog post here.
Amazon allows sellers to provide a list of keywords on the backend to influence product discoverability. These are 250 characters maximum length and invisible on the main listing, so it’s a great opportunity to ensure you’re covering all of your bases for keywords.
One key thing to remember is that these keywords must be “phrase match” – the order of the keywords matters. For example, “black leather shoes” and “shoes black leather” make a difference in visibility.
Amazon backend keyword best practices:
You can upload keywords in three different ways:
- Seller Central
- .xml file
- .csv file
Take advantage of these backend terms, and include alternate spellings of your products, add in related search terms, and create queries that your target audience is likely to search.
Here are 6 more tips for creating the best Amazon product listings, from Tinuiti experts.
1) Avoid double-dipping keywords
A question we get from a lot of sellers is: Should I use the same keywords in my content and in the backend?
“Technically, you shouldn’t have to. If you have a keyword in the title, you are not going to rank any better if it’s in the product description, the title, and the backend. If the content is customer-facing, you run the risk it could look like spam and from the backend perspective – you are essentially just wasting character count.”
– David Cooley, Sr. Marketplace Channel Analyst at Tinuiti
2) Answer seller questions
If a seller receives questions from their potential customers about products (especially if they are the same questions over and over again) – that’s probably an indication to include an answer to those questions in the content. For example: If you advertise cell phone cases and your shoppers keep asking if it will fit the new iPhone, then you should probably add that information into your content section.
3) Focus on the 4 content components – but don’t forget about reviews
There are 4 main content components to focus on when it comes to selling products via Amazon, including titles, bullet points, product descriptions, and backend search terms.
We rank discoverability factors:
- Fulfillment method
Sellers should focus on how to optimize and build out each piece of content thoroughly. Reviews also play a big role in your sales, and, therefore, to your ranking. Make sure to focus on both the number and star rating of your reviews — but make sure you stay within Amazon’s review guidelines.
4) Avoid claims & offers
When sellers build out their content (bullet points or descriptions) they should not include any offer-specific content. Sellers can’t put offer or promotion information in their bullet or product descriptions such as “buy 1, get 1 free.” You also can’t make a specific “health claim” for supplements. If you do include claims or special offers in your description, you’re violating an Amazon policy and your account can be suspended.
5) Remember content is aggregated
Amazon content is not always based on just one seller that submits content. Amazon aggregates relevant product information across sellers who are selling the same Amazon item based on the ASIN or UPC. Amazon compiles all the submissions into consideration and creates the best title or bullet points.
6) Maximize your character count
Advertisers should maximize the character count for their product’s title, bullet points, product descriptions, and backend search terms. When you fill out the product descriptions and bullet points completely, it helps the product rank higher. You also give shoppers a better understanding of what your product is, which helps with conversions.
“Because your product description is indexed for search, the more information in your backend search terms, title, the more content you will get indexed for search. This will also help you rank better and for more keywords,” Cooley says.
Amazon listing optimization: The bottom line
While you can spend hours optimizing each and every listing, we highly recommend you focus on your top sellers. Not only will you see better results faster, but you’ll also find that you’ll learn more about the way your searchers seek out your products, and you can apply that knowledge to your other listings.