What Marketers Should Know Before Building an Amazon Keyword Strategy

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Performance marketers shouldn’t just transfer their Google keywords to Amazon. Consumers intending to buy products search for them on Amazon and Google, but they become customers on each platform differently.

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Before building an Amazon.com keyword strategy, SEO experts advise marketers to remember that Amazon is a search engine housed in a marketplace. The entire point of the site is to sell things. Consumers visiting the site know that and may not be typing in its search engine “buy now.” 

Amazon keyword advice for sellers

Amazon says ephemeral words like “now” shouldn’t be in sellers’ keywords, which the platform deems search terms. The company also advises against using subjective claims like amazing, or stop words such as for.

WordStream suggests they pay the most attention to the product listing title, because it’s the main part of the product listing customers scan on the results page. From there, Amazon says sellers should use spaces and not commas or other punctuation in the search terms. Similar to saying search terms instead of keywords, Amazon employs the term bytes instead of characters, because some keywords have characters that are more than one byte. So to optimize the keywords, marketers need to have fewer than 250 bytes.

After that, Amazon says this is what a good keyword list looks like for a cutting board: “cutting chopping board butcher block bamboo wood wooden large hybrid polypropylene food grade plastic non slip kitchen dual sided surface anti microbial natural bpa stain scar resistant eco friendly drip groove”

You won’t be the top search result with keywords alone

Amazon prioritizes itself in its search results. Previously, Amazon had been showing customers the most relevant and best-selling products first. In September 2019, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Amazon’s search results prioritized whatever was most profitable for the company, including its own brands.

That change appears to still be the case. When an Amazon Prime customer searched for “white sneakers” on Wednesday, Amazon.com’s first line of results were irrelevant (pink running shoes, white tennis shoes and black walking shoes). After scrolling past a rotating banner ad for Amazon’s fashion gift guide and early Black Friday fashion deals, the customer found a listing for an Amazon brand shoe and then a full page of sponsored and Prime product listings. Granted, most of those were for white sneakers.

It’s hard to tell if this drop in immediately relevant search results is having an impact on Amazon, because its net sales were up 37% year-over-year to $96.1 billion in Q3. Clearly, Amazon is seeing a huge slice of the pandemic’s rising ecommerce market share pie. But in 2018, 54% of all product searches began on Amazon.com, in 2019 it was 49% and as of May 2020, that number was down to 47%. 

If this change is a trend, it may be because Americans can be brand-loyal. As of Nov. 2, brick-and-mortar websites have been the fastest-growing retail channels during the pandemic, rising more than 75% year-over-year.

Amazon advises sellers that brand terms aren’t welcome in keywords; Amazon itself advises sellers: “Don’t include your brand or other brand names in Search Terms.” (The company does differentiate between sellers, brands and other marketplace users, though. And brands other than Amazon’s do come up in search results.)

Before Amazon started prioritizing its brands and got rid of A9, which the Wall Street Journal called the search team and just about every SEO expert called the search algorithm, WebFX said in a January 2019 blog post: “While 70% of searches on Amazon focus on generic terms like, ‘white sneakers’ versus ‘nike sneakers,’ more than 80% of clicks on the first page of search results go to brands.” And in March 2020, Innovell and PPC Hero found that Prime products also tended to top search results.

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