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The Seller’s Guide to Amazon Keyword Research

This is a guest post from Lena Einschütz. Lena is the marketing manager at BidX, which supports Amazon merchants with software solutions that automate and optimize advertising on and off the marketplace.

Google is no longer the top dog of product searches. Today, 61% of U.S. consumers begin their searches on Amazon, and more than half (56%) say they would pick Amazon if they were only allowed to buy products from a single store.

That’s a lot of money being thrown Amazon’s way. A large part of that success is due to the search engine algorithm that’s hard at work in the background: A9. Amazon’s A9 algorithm is the core of the platform’s superb user experience. To secure a higher ranking for your ASINs and boost your visibility on Amazon, you have to have strong keywords and optimize for back-end and on-page search.

However, you’ll also have to pay attention to other relevant factors. By refining your Amazon SEO with thorough Amazon keyword research, you can improve your rankings on the marketplace’s search engine results pages (SERPs), drive more traffic to your products, and increase sales.

A9 (often called A10) works much like Google’s algorithm: It analyzes a variety of signals to determine if a product matches what a buyer is looking for based on their query in the search bar.

Unlike Google though, A9’s primary focus is to encourage sales. It factors in signals that indicate if a product is relevant to the user and will deliver a positive buying experience (which is Amazon’s claim to fame). These signals now include:

  • Seller authority:
    Seller feedback, account performance, Buy Box win rate, etc.
  • Click-through rate (CTR):
    How often your product is clicked on
  • Organic sales:
    Sales generated through organic listings of your product
  • PPC sales:
    Sales generated through your Amazon PPC campaigns
  • Off-site sales:
    Sales on your Amazon listing gained from external traffic
  • Internal sales:
    Sales due to elements like Amazon’s Frequently Bought Together box
  • Conversion rate:
    How often a visit to your listing ends up in a sale
  • Impressions:
    How often your products show up anywhere on Amazon

Amazon SEO determines how highly your products rank on the platform, so every seller on the marketplace must invest in it to maximize their sales.

Why SEO is so important for Amazon sellers

Since 45% of Amazon shoppers don’t scroll past the second page of search results, if your products rank low on Amazon’s SERPs, you’re missing out on potential sales. That’s why strong SEO is crucial to your success on the marketplace. The right keywords and technical details help improve your rankings on Amazon’s SERPs, which increases the chances of potential customers seeing and purchasing your products.

Additionally, Amazon constantly changes their algorithm, which can impact your rankings over time. By periodically researching keywords and adjusting your listings and PPC campaigns accordingly, you can keep your products visible and drive long-term sales on Amazon.

Commonly, sellers break down SEO into an Amazon keyword research stage and a listing optimization stage.

How to do Amazon keyword research for your Amazon listings

You can conduct Amazon keyword research a few different ways, depending on your setup and preferences.

1. Learn your customers’ shopping behaviors

Online marketers use the term “buyer persona” to describe a customer’s needs, wants, and shopping habits. When you know your buyer personas well, you can better understand the types of keywords they’re likely to input when searching for products on Amazon.

To learn about your buyer persona, consider these factors:

  • Need: What problem are your customers trying to solve?
  • Want: Why would they want to purchase your product?
  • Location: Where are they searching from?
  • Language: What type of language do they use when searching for products?
  • Budget: How much are they willing to spend?

2. Find keyword combinations using the cluster method

The cluster method is a keyword research technique in which you brainstorm relevant keyword stems, then branch off of them with a list of related keywords.

First, identify the stems (or “seeds”) that best describe your product in a straightforward way. For this exercise, we recommend you hold off on using an online keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner to generate ideas; although useful, they can restrict your creativity.

Instead, think back to your buyer persona and the questions you answered about your customers’ wants and needs. What words or phrases come to mind when you think about what your product offers? How does it help your target segment solve their pain points?

For example, let’s say you sell a coaster that prevents glasses, cups, and mugs from sticking to it whenever a user takes a drink (as some plastic-coated coasters do). In this case, you might invest in a string like “non-stick coaster” or “non-slip coaster.”

Note: Amazon’s algorithm typically covers related keyword combinations and individual words, so the non-hyphenated “nonstick” and “nonslip” may also be included in the SERPs.

Once you’ve identified a few potential keyword stems, it’s time to branch out. Some keyword combinations for Amazon sellers might include the product’s material. For example:

  • “non-stick coaster ceramic”
  • “non-slip coaster silicone”

You could also target a particular use case like:

  • “non-stick coaster for wine glass”
  • “non-stick coaster for cold beverages”
  • “non-slip coaster for cold drinks”

The cluster method can help you generate a long list of relevant keywords. Once you’ve honed in on your desired strings, add them to a spreadsheet so you can track your progress as you optimize your Amazon listings later.

3. Use online tools to find additional keyword combinations

Once you have a list of seed keywords, dig deeper with your Amazon keyword research to find even more combinations that customers might use when searching for your product. You can do this in a few ways, which we’ve broken down below.

Amazon’s Autocomplete feature

Typing a word or phrase into Amazon’s search box will trigger a drop-down menu of suggested keywords based on the platform’s search data. For example, if you sell hiking boots, Amazon’s auto-complete feature might suggest the following keywords and phrases when you start to type “hiking boots” into the search box:

  • “hiking boots men”
  • “hiking boots women”
  • “hiking boots size 10”
  • “hiking boots waterproof”
  • “hiking boots men waterproof lightweight”

If any of the suggested keywords align with your buyer persona and your product, consider incorporating them into your product listings or PPC campaigns.

Research your competitors

Run a basic Amazon search for your main keyword stem and note the items that appear on the first page of results. These are your direct competitors.

Next, click on each product listing and take a close look at the keyword section. Notice the product’s title, description, and bullet points (if any). What keywords do your competitors include in their product listings? Are there any combinations that you haven’t thought of yet? If so, add them to your spreadsheet for further consideration.

Use keyword research tools

Keyword research tools provide valuable insights about which words and strings browsers are searching the most on Amazon (and other websites).

Common tools that Amazon sellers use include:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • SEM Rush
  • KW Finder

These solutions are especially useful in determining which keywords have “high-volume, low-competition” scores. That means a lot of people are searching for those keywords, but not many sellers are targeting them in their product listings or PPC campaigns. Therefore, featuring them on your product page may help you rank higher in the SERPs.

Run an automated campaign

Amazon is more than happy to help you search for high-performing keywords. Once you launch your product page and optimize the listing, set up an automated campaign so the platform finds keywords for you. You can establish your maximum budget and bid per click and see which keywords Amazon suggests and which ones convert. You can then add the best ones to your page and manual campaigns.

What are the different keyword types?

When conducting Amazon keyword research, it’s important to understand the main keyword types you’ll encounter. This is especially useful if you plan to run paid campaigns, as the keywords you choose to bid on will determine your ad’s success.

For example, say you sell sunglasses and advertise a product with the string “sunglasses men.” Your ad will appear at the top of the SERP (if you have a certain relevance and make an appropriate bid) when that keyword is entered into the Amazon search field.

Keywords for paid ads are separated into different match types:

  • Exact match:
    The search query must match your keyword verbatim for your product to appear in the SERPs. For instance, if you’re targeting the keyword “non-stick coaster,” your ad will only appear when someone types in that exact phrase or its plural form.
  • Phrase match:
    In this scenario, your keywords must be included in the customer’s search query but can appear in any order. For example, the phrase match keyword “non-stick coaster” could trigger your ad for a customer who searches “best non-stick coaster” or “non-stick coaster for cold drinks.” Your ad won’t, however, show up for a query like “no-stick coaster” (misspelling).
  • Broad match:
    These keywords will return your ad for customer search queries that contain all keyword terms or close variations, so words can be in any order, and additional words can be included. For example, the broad match keyword “non-stick coaster” could return your ad for searches like “ceramic non-stick coasters” or “coasters that don’t stick.”

Manual management of keywords is complex and time-consuming because you need to adjust bids regularly and move keywords to their respective match type. To remove that burden, we recommend adopting a PPC management tool like BidX, which automatically adjusts the bids for your strings and match types through machine learning algorithms.

How to optimize your product listings for Amazon SEO

Once you’ve finished your Amazon keyword research, you’ll also want to optimize your product listings. We’ve outlined certain steps you can take to push your ASINs to the front pages of Amazon’s search results.

Create detailed product listings

Accurate information is key to ensuring your customers are satisfied with their purchases, so you need to paint a reliable picture of your offering through its title and description. Clear descriptions, images, and A+ Content showcase the correct use of your product as well as its true size. Also, avoid vague or salesy language and instead focus on providing detailed copy that minimizes returns due to claims that the “item description was inaccurate.”

For utmost clarity, incorporate advanced product attributes as well when crafting your listing. Go beyond basic requirements and include optional descriptors like material or special features that matter to your everyday customer. If you sell skincare products for instance, it’s worth mentioning that your lotion is great for sensitive skin.

Then, to optimize your product listings for Amazon SEO:

  • Use keyword-rich titles:
    Make sure your product’s title includes the main keyword you’re targeting.
  • Craft keyword-rich descriptions:
    In the Product Description section of your listing, you can include a longer explanation of your product. As with the title, be sure to feature keyword-rich phrases and bullet points to optimize your listing.

These efforts help boost conversions, collect more positive feedback, and reduce returns. Relevant keywords spice up your product descriptions — just make sure they flow naturally and don’t repeat.

Build your credibility

To meet A9’s seller authority criteria, your customer service needs to be top-notch. Answer shopper questions promptly and be quick about shipping orders and handling order-related issues. If there’s a problem with an order, communicate it to your buyers right away. If you’re part of the large majority of Amazon sellers who leverage FBA though, the program will handle customer service inquiries for you.

Keep an eye out for frequently asked questions too. You can address them within the listing itself if you observe the same concerns expressed repeatedly. Adding an FAQ to your listing also boosts both your search and your space for keywords, so include these sections where you can.

Once you’ve completed an order, take advantage of Amazon’s Request a Review button to remind customers to leave feedback. Alternatively, the platform’s Vine program can help you beef up reviews on new or slow-moving products.

Promote your products

Increase off-site sales and overall conversions using cross-channel promotions. As noted earlier, Amazon likes to see buyers discover your products outside the marketplace as well. The A9 algorithm will also notice if you use social media or Google ads to drive more traffic to your ASIN: Says one source, “By giving greater search priority to products that drive traffic to Amazon from outside sources, the Amazon A10 algorithm update is Amazon’s means of taking aim at competing eCommerce marketplaces.”

While Amazon PPC reportedly carries less weight on your rankings with the most recent algorithm update, it’s still a valuable avenue for earning your first sales or inducing more clicks on your listing. Experiment with a mix of Amazon and non-Amazon promotions to entice more traffic to your products.

Use back-end keywords

Back-end keywords help Amazon’s search engine better understand your product. Because they’re invisible to customers, they’re also called hidden keywords or meta tags. These are typically synonyms, abbreviations, and other related terms you can add to your listing from your Amazon Seller Central dashboard.

How does Amazon SEO differ from Google SEO?

Google and Amazon both function as search engines, so it’s understandable to think the basics of SEO would be the same for both, but that’s not the case.

For starters, Amazon ranks products according to:

  • The relevancy of a product’s title, bullets, and description to the customer’s search query
  • Seller authority (historical sales data, reviews, etc.)
  • CTR (the number of clicks the product receives from the SERPs)
  • Conversion rate (the number of sales the product generates)

In contrast, Google ranks websites based on factors like:

  • The quality and quantity of a website’s backlinks
  • The relevance of a website’s content to the customer’s search query
  • The website’s domain authority (the higher the score, the higher the ranking)

While there are some key differences between Amazon and Google SEO, optimizing your product page for relevant keywords is still a best practice for both.

Amazon A10 vs. A9

“A10” is the common term for the December 2020 update to the A9 algorithm (although Amazon sticks with “A9”). The update signaled a major shift in how rankings on Amazon are handled. The greatest change is that A10 prioritizes products that are relevant, as opposed to those that are more profitable (via vehicles like Amazon PPC).

A10 also grades based on dozens more variables with varying weight. It’ll look at everything from stock availability to catalog breadth and seller feedback to find products that have a positive track record.

The implication is that, the longer you’ve been on Amazon, the better chance you have at ranking, according to one source that noticed a drop in Amazon PPC traffic after the algorithm update. The change represents a renewed focus on buyer behaviors, rather than what sellers insist buyers want.

Wrapping up — Find the right keywords to shine a spotlight on your Amazon listings

Amazon keyword research is an essential part of SEO on the platform. By targeting popular and relevant strings, you can improve your listing’s visibility in search results and increase your chances of making a sale. Remember to craft keyword-rich titles and descriptions as well, and take advantage of back-end keywords.

To be successful on Amazon, you also need to hone your PPC ads for widespread exposure. This is a time-consuming chore that requires a lot of expertise, so we recommend a PPC management tool like BidX to lift the burden from your shoulders. BidX continuously analyzes your keywords and bids and adjusts them accordingly so you receive the most bang for your buck. With some effort, you can optimize your listing for Amazon’s search engine as well as your PPC ads to drive more traffic to your product page.