The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Listing Optimization: 2020 Edition

Amazon Listing Optimization tips and tricks from professionals that'll help sellers solve problems with ranking, indexing, and converting in 2020!

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The whole appeal of Amazon to customers is that they can quickly compare any product they can think of. From miniature figurines to professional gym equipment, Prime users can find it all and choose the product to match their budget and expectations. When these purchasing decisions are made in an instant, as a seller, you need to be sure your products can compete, which is why Amazon listing optimization is important.

What is Amazon listing optimization? It’s a revamp of your product page as it appears on Amazon.com.

Picture this: an entire overhaul of your description, images, and branding assets to appeal more to customers and improve your sales, inspire product reviews, and improve your customer’s buying journey.

Overhauling your Amazon listing with optimized image and bullet copy assets is a full-time job. We, the Amazon optimization experts at Lab 916, do it on the daily. We believe that you too can DIY your Amazon listing optimization… but you’ll need to follow these guidelines.

If you’re looking for tips and tricks to solve a problem with ranking, indexing, and converting, here’s what our experience with helping hundreds of clients has revealed.

Resources for New Amazon sellers

Before we begin jumping into all the technicalities of Amazon product listing optimization, this is not a blog for brand new sellers who are looking for tips on sourcing products, seeking advice on how to organize products, or other set up logistics.

This is the right blog for sellers who are actively selling on Amazon and are looking for concrete ways to improve “add to cart” stats, increase revenue, and maintain their success over the competition.

If you’re a brand new business and need ideas on which products to sell on Amazon, you’ll want to reference our beginner blogs on how to source products that are low competition, how to find a reliable international supplier, and how to calculate Amazon selling fees to make sure your business is profitable from the start.

Amazon SEO: Copy is Kind of a Big Deal

seo for amazon

Consumer studies suggest that 80% of text online isn’t read by consumers in full. Though it’s more important that the text is, first and foremost, always written for the consumer, it’s also important to consider who text will always be read by: algorithms.

You’ll need to get comfortable with keyword research. Not only will you need this information to inform your product development decisions, you’ll be using that information to outperform competing products that show up alongside yours in the Amazon search engine.

We’ll say it again for the people in the back: the first thing you need to do, and in every step of your seller journey, is conduct. keyword. research. Trust us.

It’s likely that the Amazon SEO keywords you’re missing out on are affecting your performance. So read on, your product performance and visibility depend on it!

Identify Keywords First, Optimize Second

The first step you need to take to optimize Amazon listings is to make sure that your keyword research is solid. As an Amazon business, the most effective way, and most likely the cheapest way to begin supercharging your listing is by updating the copy. It will offer you the most control over both conversion rate and page ranking.

Keywords in text work like your body’s sense of touch. In this case, the words are the nerves and the algorithm is the brain. Nerves (keywords) send electronic signals to the brain (algorithm) so it can categorize what your skin (listing) is sensing (selling).

The point of conducting keyword research is to identify if you’re including all the right keywords in your product title, bullet points, back end search terms, and product description.

Incorporate High Volume Search Terms

The purpose of using SEO for Amazon seller tools is to help you identify top-of-the funnel keywords. These are a string of 2 or more words that are directly related to your product, have high search volume traffic, and are probably very high competition.

For example, if you’re selling a “windshield cover,” your product’s related top-of-the-funnel keywords would probably include phrases like “car accessories” or “car cover”

At Lab 916, our copywriters find these keywords by using Helium 10’s Magnet tool. If you’re looking to try a few free options, Amazon keyword generators like Sonar or Keyword Tool work similarly. You can also use Amazon as a free search tool itself! The great thing about using Amazon is that you’re taking direction from the platform itself about what types of descriptions customers like and estimate what keywords the algorithm responds to.

All you’ll need to do is insert a “seed” keyword phrase, press the search button, and voila! A large list of related search terms and phrases for you to choose from is now available for you to include in your bullets.

keyword generator seo

Helium10’s Magnet Tool

A Word of Caution, Pun Intended

Keep in mind, Amazon seller, that these broad top-of-the-funnel keywords are not necessarily meant to help you dominate your category. Because those general keywords are highly competitive, it’s not likely that you’ll end up as the product in position 1 for that exact phrase.

That said, integrating these high volume, broad keywords into your product title and bullets will increase the likelihood that your product will be associated with it, improving traffic, relevancy, and ranking.

Zero in on the Niche

After integrating the broad, top-of-the-funnel keywords, you’ll want to identify what more specific keyword phrases you can include in your copy. These very specific phrases are called long-tail keywords, which are a longer string of keyword phrases (about 4-6 words) that closely match customer search queries.

For example, a long-tail keyword that relates to “windshield cover” would be “windshield cover for Toyota Camry 2019 XLE.” As you can see, the second phrase is more specific, which means there are less results. Having a more specific keyword phrase in your copy means you’ve struck the gold mine on which customers are most likely to purchase your product, because they’ve been looking for you too!

Another key takeaway is that second keyword phrase is specific to a car model, which means to you, the savvy entrepreneur, is that it less competition and will be easier to rank for on the search engine results page.

Incorporate Lower Volume Search Terms

To hone in on these more specific, long-tail relevant keywords you’ll have to search through keyword generator results with less search volume. The Lab 916 copywriting expert recommends looking through keywords in the list you generated earlier to find top-of-the-funnel keywords.

This time, instead of zeroing in on top-performing phrases with the highest search volume, you’ll want to pay close attention to phrases that are ultra-relevant to your product that net about 300-500 searches month. This is to ensure you receive a fair return on how much time you invest.

Another way to identify long-tail keywords is to use the information you uncovered during your competitor analysis. The free, but not bulletproof, way to approach this is to take note of who your competitors are targeting in their product listings. For example, if in your competitor’s product description or customer reviews are specifically stating that their “windshield covers are ideal for dark cars” you can assume those are product features that buyers are searching for.

If you’re looking for a data-backed way to identify long-tail keywords, our experts recommend using Helium10’s Cerebro tool to extract keyword phrases that your competitors are ranking for and converting into sales.

After identifying about 10 long-tail keyword phrases, go through your product title, bullets, and product description again. Think about where to integrate these phrases, making sure that you are always using language that is not only searchable, but relevant to your product.

Meet Spam’s Cousin: Keyword Stuffing

We get it, after seeing such huge list of related keywords with such high search volume, how could you not include every single variation of a phrase or word? Surely it could only help your listing’s ranking, right? WRONG.

Amazon’s A9 algorithm (rumors now say A10) is smart. Like, seriously smart. Stuffing irrelevant keywords into your product title, bullets, and product description will be more likely to harm your listing than help it if you put in too many.

On that note, consumers are also more sensitive to text than you think. Having too many misspellings, too many grammatically incorrect sentences in your description, and too many keywords in the product title are all factors that will likely turn off customers.

The good thing about writing for humans first and algorithms second is that there’s no formula to know exactly how many keywords to include in your product description and titles. This actually makes your job easier! The rule of thumb you should follow here is that you should only include as many keyword phrases that reads as “natural” in your copy.

Backend Search Terms

Backend search terms on Amazon are often overlooked, which is a HUGE mistake that can limit your product listing page visibility. The tricky thing about it though, is that Amazon doesn’t really tell you how to utilize this field.

The field for backend search terms are located in the “edit” portion of your inventory in Seller Central, where you input other product information like product title, product features, and variant information.

Backend search terms amazonThese relevant keywords are hidden search terms that shoppers won’t be able to view. They should consist of synonyms that are related to your product, identified by the keyword research you conducted, that you couldn’t find a place for within the bullet points, title, or product description.

For example, if you didn’t want to include the high-ranking misspelling “windsheild” anywhere in the product listings, you could include it in the backend search terms section to still index for that term in Amazon’s eyes.
Here are a few rules that Amazon recommends you follow when filling out the backend search terms field:

  • Limit length of total search terms to less than 250 bytes
  • Don’t separate words with punctuation other than spaces, such as commas, periods, or semicolons
  • Avoid using brand names
  • Don’t include words like “and,” “of,” “with,” etc.

Pay close attention to these rules. Not abiding by what may seem like “small rules,” like the character count, can get your product banned from indexing:

“If Search Terms are over the limit, none of the Search Terms for that ASIN will be indexed by Amazon Search. Being indexed means that your ASIN is eligible (but not guaranteed) to appear in search results for matching Search Terms.”

Additional Expert tip #1: Don’t include restricted relevant keywords that can get your ASIN flagged for suspension. For example, if you’re selling CBD oil, you won’t want to include related words like “THC” or “vape.” Basically, if something is illegal or can’t be sold on Amazon, don’t put it in your backend.

Additional Expert tip #2: Avoid duplicate words. Don’t include words that are in your product description again in your backend search terms. You’ll be wasting precious SEO cargo space for a word you’re already indexing for on the front end. To make sure you avoid duplicates, use a free duplicate keyword editor.

Once your keywords are dialed in, the next step here is to focus on your content and media assets so that the visual part of your Amazon listing optimization looks as professional and effectively communicates its benefits. Your Amazon listing is well on its way to becoming a shining example of an expertly optimized listing.

Optimizing Amazon Product Images

Imagine you’re searching for a windshield cover for your Toyota Camry. When you enter in your search query for the exact product, you’ll find a full page of LITERALLY identical main thumbnails. Which one you are drawn to first?

Amazon Listing Optimization Service by Lab 916

If you are buying a windshield cover for your Toyota Camry, you will most likely be drawn to the first image that’s displayed, also known as a main thumbnail image, that shows your exact vehicle in it. There are a few intuitive reasons why:

  • You know exactly how it’s different from the other products, because it’s made for the specific model, make, and year of your car
  • You know you’ll save yourself the time of having to return the product
  • You know exactly how to use it and how it’ll look

Amazon’s Image Rule You Shouldn’t Follow

There are image rules set by Amazon to ensure consistency and quality that you’ll have to abide by, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. 😉

Amazon specifies that product shots must be displayed on a white background, but only the main thumbnails need to be formatted that way. Read on for more ideas about how to create captivating thumbnail images.

First Impressions Really Are Everything

The main thumbnail is the most important aspect to your customer’s interaction with your product. In a sea of competitors, that single image is the first thing that will set your product apart from others.

When investing in product photography and thumbnail image design, consider how you’ll display your product’s most important features and benefits in the first thumbnail. It should visually showcase who you’re selling your product to, because that’s how you’ll get clicks that increase your conversion rate.

The goal here is to eliminate all sense of doubt from your customer possibly turning away from your product. To do this, think of how users are shopping. Are they shopping on mobile or desktop? If you’re selling a beauty or food item, will they want to know what’s in the product?

Supplementary Thumbnail Images

Instead of reading through the bullet points, shoppers are more likely to go through the images to find the information they’re looking for.

If your thumbnails only showcase technical specs and do not visually portray the benefits of those specs, your customer will likely leave your unoptimized listing without an “add to cart.”

Why? Because their questions haven’t been been answered, and shoppers know there’s someone else out there who can provide them. Un-optimized product listings are lose-lose situation all around, as bounce rates are one of the important factors that helps Amazon calculate SERP ranking.

To keep customers happy from the moment they choose to view your product page, make sure that the rest of your Amazon listing’s product images–called supplementary thumbnails–are also created with solving a customer’s pain points in mind.

Amazon Listing Optimization Service by Lab 916

Let’s think again about the windshield covers from above. Supplementary thumbnails of an optimized product listing reinforce which car types it works for. It accomplishes this through showing you its exact product features (height and width specs, in this case) and its corresponding compatibility through a simple diagram.

This thumbnail also takes it step further by also showing you other vehicles that the windshield shade will fit which helps you further identify if this is the right product for you.

As you scroll through the additional thumbnails, you’ll see that this product takes it a step further by showing you the pros and cons of having this product in your car versus if you do not. Each additional thumbnail, up to 8, should either answer a question, solve a problem, or inform the consumer.

Amazon Listing Optimization Service by Lab 916

This creates an emotional desire for your product now because your customer can totally see, feel and imagine what it would be like to have the windshield cover versus if they do not have it. An important lesson to remember is that in sales, you will sell your product based on emotional appeal. In other words, how your product makes people feel, not on qualifications, words, or other means.

You won’t necessarily need to invest thousands into product photography, graphic design, and branding to create product images that improve your shoppers experience. As you can see from the examples above, creating even simple images can effectively communicate features that users will find helpful.

Branding on Amazon

The final portion step to creating a fully optimized Amazon listing is to unlock and utilize A+ Content, also called Enhanced Brand Content or EBC. If you have a trademark for your business, take advantage of it! Consumer studies suggest that enhanced brand content has worked to increase conversions up to 30%.

A+ Content is only available to sellers and accounts with brand registry 2.0 access. Sellers can find the A+ Content Manager, which is where you can create and edit content, can be found under the “Advertising” tab in Seller Central. From there, you can pick and choose which “modules” or preset templates to fill and include in your EBC.

This content, when applied, takes the place of your product description. The benefit of this is that shoppers will be able to see that your brand is legitimate enough to be granted this section by Amazon, and that you’ll be able to share with users more about your product benefits, brand, and additional product lines.

What to Include in an Optimized Product’s EBC

The information in your EBC does not always have to be about your product specifically but would be a good place to begin discussing your brand, history, or any extra supplemental information to really complete the look and feel of a professional brand instead of a simple reseller of rebranded goods from overseas.

In the EBC’s we create for clients at Lab 916, each module serves a different purpose. It should present different information, or at least present information in a different way, than the thumbnails and bullets.

A+ Content Footer Module

ALTRU sells Antioxidant + Electrolyte Infused Water. Their feel-good footer module resonates with online customers.

For example, to improve shoppers understanding of the brand values, we often include a brand story within one module. Customers are more likely to send an item to their cart if the brand values align with their own.

Sellers likely aren’t able to include this information in the images and bullet points because that space is limited. However, within A+ content, because that text isn’t indexed, you don’t have to worry so much about incorporating keywords. That makes this section of an optimized product listing ideal for including extra information that you couldn’t share in the thumbnails and text.

Conclusion

There you have it! A full backend to front-end Amazon listing optimization cheatsheet. From keyword research, to bullet copy, to images, to branding, you can work to improve your listing’s performance with these essential building blocks.

Your Amazon business, storefront, and listing should be treated exactly like a professional business; it should have assets with a refined look that provides value to customers and feel that give it personality.

Your customers are not able to see, touch, or actually test your products so investing in what you can control, your Amazon listing, is the best chance for you to win over your customer and keep them coming back.

If you have any other questions about the nitty gritty of Amazon, let us know in the comments below. Happy optimizing!

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