Amazon has eclipsed Google and is now the # 1 destination for product search. With few shoppers looking beyond the 1st page of Amazon’s search results (one study found just 30% clicked to page 2), it is no surprise that Amazon SEO is a hot topic. One not just limited to those in the market of bookselling either.
Mastering Amazon’s search ranking algorithm has never been more important. But how do you get books to index against certain search queries? And what can publishers do to ensure their products win the race to the top?
Lets start with what we do know about the mythical beast that is Amazon’s algorithm. ow it works – determining the page results and in what order these show – is actually pretty straightforward.
Amazon wants to sell products.
In the split-second it has to answer a search query, Amazon filters for keywords and then ranks results based on purchase likelihood. Unlike Google’s algorithm, Amazon SEO is designed for driving sales conversions. So if a book appears in search results but customers don’t bite, it will most likely be bumped towards the bottom. And if a book ranks number 1 for a particular search, the algorithm has determined that it is the product that shoppers are most likely to buy from that search.
So, how does Amazon determine purchase likelihood?
It assesses historical sales performance. Everything from previous sales, page traffic, click-through rates to, of course, sales conversion rates – both real and predicted. It also looks at text match relevancy from the title metadata, product description, Search Inside (if applicable) and backend keywords.
Just to keep you on your toes, not all fields are fully indexed so if you want to make sure your book is indexing against certain keywords or keyword strings, pop those important words into a fully indexed metadata field. And there is no need to repeat yourself. Once you’ve indexed for a particular keyword or keyword string in one fully or (even part indexed) field, you’re in.
So which metadata fields are fully indexed and which are only part indexed for Amazon SEO?
- Book title: this is fully indexed.
- Subtitle, series title and author names: these are also fully indexed.
- Product description: this is part indexed. Single keywords in the product description are not generally indexed, but longtail keywords are *sometimes* indexed. Some Amazon SEO experts have argued that in some categories the first 2000 characters are indexed.
- Search Inside: this is part indexed.
- Backend Keywords: these are fully indexed. There is no need to repeat keywords from other fully indexed fields.
- A+ content: at the moment this isn’t indexed in search on Amazon’s site but it is a useful tool in helping drive sales conversions.
- Amazon Reviews: I’ve seen popular keywords from verified reader reviews index, but not always.
Reports on recent Amazon algorithm updates state that the keyword fields, which used to be weighted in the following order: title information, backend keywords, and product description, are now no longer weighted. With this in mind, it technically shouldn’t matter where you place certain keyword strings as they should all be treated equally, although I am not sure this is actually the case. The trend for descriptive subtitles, especially in ebooks, is certainly showing no signs of abating.
How to select keywords
There are endless tools available to help with keyword research for Amazon SEO and from those designed especially for Amazon sellers, some are definitely better for book publishers than others! I regularly use Publisher Rocket and Helium 10 for research, alongside pulling customer search term data from specific advertising campaigns. Whilst both Google trends and Google Search Console aren’t Amazon-specific, they can be very useful in helping get inside the minds of shoppers to pull out relevant search queries.
Single usage of a keyword in a fully indexed keyword field is enough to get you ranking for that word but for best results on Amazon target 2-3 word phrases in your keyword fields that you think readers might search for and then list their variations. There is no need to keyword stuff: if it’s not relevant, a customer won’t convert so you won’t rank highly for the keyword anyway. Keyword strings from the product description are likely to index if they exactly match what the customer is searching for, but any keyword strings you want fully indexed are best placed in the backend keywords.
It’s not just about keywords
Creating a banging list of keywords is only half an Amazon SEO strategy. Given the weight Amazon places on purchase likelihood, the focus should also be on conversion optimised content. In other words, knock-out product pages that have customers hitting the big orange BUY NOW button faster than you can say ‘Ker-ching’.
Controversially, when writing product descriptions my advice is to forget all about keywords. You can cover these in the backend keyword fields. The algorithm is designed to maximise sales so it looks at clicks to sales ratio. Higher conversion rates means more likelihood of purchase so the higher your product will rank. What information do customers want to know? Would your product page benefit for additional product images or persuasive A+ content?
When you need a little boost:
So you’ve nailed the keywords, created a killer product page and still your title is on page 6. Time to bring out the big guns: Amazon ads.
Why use them?
They can ensure your product appears on page 1 of the search page results for targeted keywords. Over the years, the system has become more sophisticated and you can now increase bids substantially to target the top of search.The number 1 spot is at least partly guaranteed, if you are willing to pay for it (and sales do actually convert).
You can also target shoppers browsing competitor titles and within key product categories with your books. Not only should the advertising platform improve Amazon sales and improve your Amazon Bestsellers Rank, it also provides useful data insights on customer search terms, keyword, category and ASIN conversion rates.
Want to learn more about Amazon Ads…? Check out the article here: https://bookmachine.org/2019/04/25/amazon-advertising-5-tips-to-get-the-best-results/
Kaz Harrison is a member of BookMachine Works – the fresh new creative agency for the publishing industry. The team work with publishers by offering Facebook training and other marketing services both on short and longer term projects. Kaz has over 13 years’ experience in publishing, managing online sales channels for print and digital books, and creating and managing consumer marketing campaigns. To work with Kaz and the BookMachine Works team email us here.