Amazon Listing Optimization: A Comprehensive Guide (Using Free Tools)
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Definitions

Basic Definitions

  • Amazon 🡪 Will be referred to the Amazon seller central dashboard
  • Product In Question 🡪 Product that we are selling and creating an optimized listing for
  • SKU 🡪 Stands for “Stock Keeping Unit” is a product and service identification code for a store or product, each product down to the variation (color, size, etc.) has its own unique SKU
  • UPC 🡪 Universal Product Code (UPC) is a barcode symbology that is widely used in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and other countries for tracking trade items in stores. It is required for all new Amazon listing creation. It suggested that you get your UPC via GS1

More Definitions

  • Amazon Optimization (or simply Optimization) 🡪 Is a process of creating an Amazon listing where the front end and back end of the listings are completed with words, terms, and phrases that are related to the product
  • Amazon PPC 🡪 Just like Google AdWords, it is an Amazon advertising platform where you get to set a bid on a certain phrase or word from a customer search. If you win the bid, your product listing will show up first in the search results for that particular phrase or word
  • Seed Keywords 🡪 Are one or two deemed common, relevant, or high volume keywords that form the basis for creating a list of keywords that are the derivative of the seed keywords
  • Keywords (KWs) 🡪 Combination of words that are related to the products, or words where it is connected to the product. Keywords are inserted and advertised in the product listing and PPC campaigns.
  • Search Terms 🡪 Refers to the search term that the customer fills out on the Amazon search bar
  • ASIN 🡪 The Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) is a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier assigned by Amazon and its partners for product identification within the Amazon organization.

What is Amazon Listing Optimization?

Amazon listing optimization is the process of creating or updating an Amazon listing. It involves adding customer-facing information on the listing such as title, bullets, specs, and description. In addition, it also involves adding back-end information that is not customer-facing such as the search terms.

Why is Amazon Listing Optimization Important?

On Amazon, the beginning of the buyer journey will start on the Amazon search bar. For the Amazon A9 algorithm to pick up on your product listing, you will need to have the right keywords so the A9 algorithm can match the search term with the listing. Your listing keywords give the A9 algorithm signals that your listing is related to the current customer search term on the search bar.

Another component of Amazon listing optimization is also the human factor. You need your customer-facing information to be 1) informative and 2) to trigger an emotional response for the customer to purchase your product. So not only do you have to optimize for the A9 algorithm but also the customer. The perfect optimized Amazon listing will straddle a line between the machine and the human eye.

I need to point out just how fundamental Amazon listing optimization is. The positive effects of a well-optimized listing will filter downstream, vice versa of the negative effects of a poorly made Amazon listing. For example, a well-written Amazon listing will get more impressions 🡪 more clicks 🡪 higher conversion 🡪 lower CPC 🡪 higher ranking, and then more sales/profit.

Amazon Listing Optimization

As you can see, an optimized Amazon listing optimization can set you up for a positive flywheel effect. So yes it is that important and 100% worth spending extra time on.

Product Research

If you are selling a product that you have not personally used, this step of the procedure is crucial.

The goal is to find the following:

  • What is it used for?
  • Pain points this product will fix or alleviate?
  • What would the customer type when searching for the product? (i.e., figure out what the seed keywords are for the product)

Start your Search

To start, I would normally begin my research on the Amazon marketplace. Unless the product is not on Amazon (seldom happens), Amazon would be where I’d start my research.

Amazon Listing Optimization
Figure 1 – Example of an Amazon Product Listing

In the above Amazon listing, you will learn more about the product by reading the bullet points and the product description. Also, keep a note of what you can potentially improve on the existing listing. I would recommend reading 2-3 product listings on Amazon about a similar product. In figure 1, you can see the words that are highlighted in red in the title of the 2 listings. These are “Yoga Wheel” and “Dharma Yoga Roller.”

Seed Keyword

By just this title alone, I got two good seed keywords I can use to:

  1. Further my research off Amazon, or
  2. Use these seed keywords to get better seed keywords.

As a rule of thumb, if the keyword is in the beginning of the title, in this case “Yoga Wheel,” it is a good seed keyword to use.

Amazon Listing Optimization
Figure 2 – Search Results on “Yoga Wheel”

Upon searching for “Yoga Wheel” on Amazon, it is confirmed that a lot of listing has this term at the beginning of the title. This tells me that the “Yoga Wheel” is a good seed keyword to use. I can also search on Google or Youtube to learn more about what the “Yoga Wheel” does. This knowledge would set my job up easier once I start copywriting for the product.

Keyword Research (Reverse ASIN)

Now armed with the seed keyword, in our example, “Yoga Wheel,” we will select one top competitor Amazon Listing that is organically ranked in the top 5 for the keyword “Yoga Wheel.”

Going back to the “Yoga Wheel” search results, we will pick the listing with the badge “Amazon Choice.” Click on the listing and save the link of the listing somewhere, save only up to the ASIN only. In this case, the link is (https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Dharma-Wheel-Petes-Choice/dp/B06W9K1W4F). You will use this for later.

What is Reverse ASIN? It is actually a known keywords gathering process in the Amazon community. There are free tools out there that can take an ASIN and show historical keywords that customers have used to search for the product. It is a great way to gather keywords and intel on your competition.

The free tool that I have found with the best reverse ASIN result is Sonar.

Add the ASIN “B06W9K1W4F” and you’ll get the following result.

Amazon Listing Optimization

Feel free to download the result into a CSV format which will be used for further analysis in the next couple of sections.

Using Brand Analytics for Keywords Research

In 2019 Amazon, released a new reporting function called Brand Analytics that allows Amazon seller’s market intelligence data directly from Amazon. Much like reverse ASIN, you enter a seed ASIN and get a result of the popular Amazon search term.

Amazon Listing Optimization

Unfortunately, this reporting is only available for sellers that have registered for the brand registry. Which means you would have to trademark your brand. So this part might not be applicable for all sellers

Although the search results are not as numerous as other 3rd party tools such as Sonar, you can rely on the accuracy in terms of relevance and relative search volume.

There are two was to use the brand analytics report:

  1. Enter a seed keyword and get a list of relevant keywords
  2. Enter a seed ASIN and get a result of the popular Amazon search term.

Using both ways you can gather a larger list of keywords along with the 3rd party tool like Sonar.

Amazon Listing Optimization

Understanding Keyword Relevance

For anyone that has experience in keyword research, they can skip this part. Before we move further into actually creating the listing, I feel I need to explain keyword relevance.

After consolidating all the keywords in the previous steps, you will now refine the list down to around 50-60 KWs, only if it is over that range. Some products will have less than the 50-60KWs range. You will probably not be using all 50-60 KWs in your product listing. You want to leverage this process so you can use the same list of KW to launch your PPC campaign.

The goal here is to eliminate keywords that are relatively less relevant to each other.  This step is more subjective than the others. It will come down to part common sense and the research you did in the product research section (step 1).

Determining % Relevancy

The mindset is that you want to get 50-60 keywords that are at least 60% relevant to the product. In other words, your product would be at least a 60% match to the customer searches. This is just a general relative guideline for Amazon listing optimization. The 60% relevancy might be flexible if your keyword list before refining is less than 50 keywords, than your 60% relevancy threshold might be a lot less.

So how do you know a keyword is of a certain % relevant? The below example will serve as your start. For example, we have a “Yoga Wheel” that is 10 inches in diameter in size. The following are the keywords and the relevancy:

Amazon Listing Optimization

Now that you have the guidelines on refining the keyword list, you will refine the list by removing keywords that are not closely related to the product.  You can use the MS Excel/Google Sheet filter function to remove any keywords that do not fit your relevance criteria.

Tips on Filtering Relevant Keywords

Here are some points on filtering to help you remove none related keywords more efficiently:

  • If you have a large list of keywords, remove the keywords that have more than 4 words.
  • Look for terms in the keyword list that are NOT related to the product. For example, if you are selling a 10 inch Yoga Wheel, any terms that are not 10 inches, such as 12 inches or 11 inches, can be used in the filter. Filter the keywords that contain these terms, and remove these keywords.
  • Continue from the last point. It can be vice versa, where you are looking for keywords that must have a certain word. Our example can be “Yoga.” I am looking to remove keywords that do not contain the term “Yoga.” Since “Yoga” is the actual niche of the product, you have to make this word mandatory.

**Please note if there are doubts on any of these keywords, verify them by searching these keywords out Amazon or Google, see if the search result given is the same as the product in question.

Narrow to 6-8 Keywords

With a list of keywords from the previous step, you will further refine this list to 6 to 8 keywords. These 6 to 8 keywords will be used in the listing copy. This ensures that a customer search in the Amazon A9 search algorithm can be matched/indexed to your product. Targeting the right keywords and having them in the front end (part the listing customer sees) are good fundamentals in Amazon SEO.

So how do you pick the keywords? You will pick the keywords that have the highest search volume which also have strong relevancy.

Previously, we hit on the relevancy concept and have a list of 50-60 highly relevant keywords to show for it, so how do we find the search volume? Unfortunately, Amazon does not make search volumes available. There are paid software tools out there that, in my opinion, give a good estimate of Amazon search volume such as Helium10. In this guide, I want to be budget-friendly and only suggest free methods. Hence my suggestion for getting search volume data for free is by using Google Adwords.

You probably are asking why are you getting search results data from Google since we are selling on Amazon? Well other than the fact that Adwords keyword planner function is free, we don’t care about the exact search volume since it is not data that Amazon provides anyway. What is important is to know the volume of the relative keywords so you can prioritize and choose your 6-8 keywords.

Using Keyword Planner

You’ll need to sign up for a Google AdWords account. Once inside the AdWords accounts, go to the reporting tool called the Keyword Planner. This should be under Tools & Settings 🡪 Keyword Planner.

Amazon Listing Optimization

On the keywords planner page, click “Get Search Volume and Forecast,” enter your list of 50-KW and click “Get Started.”

Click on “Historical Metrics” and then sort “Avg. Monthly Searches” by descending order.

Although you can not see the exact monthly searches, you can still see the search ranges. The most important intelligence you can gather from this process is to see the keywords volume relative to each other.

From the list, you will pick those 6-8 keywords that are A) relevant, and B) have significant search volumes, based on the results on the keyword planner.

I will probably use the below 6-8 keywords in my listings for the combination of search volume and relevance:

  • yoga wheel
  • dharma yoga wheel
  • yoga roller wheel
  • cork yoga wheel
  • yoga wheel for back pain
  • massage yoga wheel

UPC

Universal Product Code (UPC) is a 12-digit bar code used extensively for retail packaging in the United States is required code to put on your listing. In the case of creating an Amazon listing, putting the UPC into the product ID field is a requirement.

There was a time about 2 years ago where you could get really cheap UPC codes that are reused and are actually registered with another entity. But now Amazon will actually verify your UPC to your Amazon account. So it is suggested that you purchase your UPC via GS1. If you choose to risk it or test the waters by getting cheap UPCs, you can look into getting a nationwide barcode.

Listing Title Optimization

Still working with the 6-8 keywords that you have picked in the previous step, you will curate the title of the product. This is key step of Amazon listing optimization.

Amazon title has a 200 characters limit.

There are 2 goals for the title:

  1. Using the first 50 characters to explain what the product is to the customer, the customer needs to know quickly in their minds within 5 sec what the 50 characters in the title describe
  2. The rest of the 150 characters you will use to talk to the Amazon search engine adding search word or words that have “-“ in-between for easy understanding. The template for a good Amazon title is as follows:

{main keyword 1} – {variation} – {words in search term the describes product 1} – {words in search term the describes product 2….} – if it is an accessory to a main product add: “for {main product} – by {Brand}

A Good Title

In our example: a good title will be as follows:

“Yoga roller wheel – 10” inches – dharma – power roller wheel yoga accessories – for stretching handstand abdomen exercise By Your Brand”

**Please note to try your best not to repeat the keywords. The words only need to appear once for the Amazon A9 to pick up. Repeat words or word density does not help with Amazon SEO.

**Please note that for products that are accessories for a registered brand (e.g. Texas Instrument/Netgear Arlo), we have to follow the below format for the first part of the title.

[Product Main Keyword] + For + [Third Party Branded Product] by [Your Brand]

E.g., Large TV Mount for Sony By [Your Brand]

The symbol ” – ” is a breaker recognized by Amazon as the separation between keywords. Therefore we add “–” between distinctive keywords.

Bullets

For the 5 bullets point, you will basically further expand on the benefits and features of the product. You can look at the competition listing for further ideas on proper Amazon listing optimization.

The bullets should be formatted this way:

“[Short bullet point on feature] – Expand on the short bullet point with keywords.” Example is below with the keyword in bold.

You will add keywords to the sentence of the bullets only when it makes sense to do so. Make sure that the sentence makes grammatical sense when incorporating the keyword.

So you are trying to write your bullet points for the browsers. Remember that people don’t want to read too much of the details. Hence you will write short bullet points that are 5 words or less. Then after the short bullet, you will further expand on that point for more detail-oriented readers.

Descriptions

The description loses its importance after you you have brand registered and created an A+ content for your listing. A+ content in your description is the fastest road to Amazon listing optimization.

For the description, it affects Amazon SEO, but to a much lesser extent than the title and the bullets. Feel free to expand your sales copy. Make sure to describe and let the readers envision how using the product will make their lives better. Include product information such as the exact items that come with the packaging and if there is any product warranty? Also, clarify any potential misunderstanding from the customer’s standpoint.

In your description, add additional keywords that you haven’t used in your 6-8 keywords. Don’t need to force and stuff the description with your keywords, but incorporate the keywords as naturally as possible. You can use simple HTML such as bold <b>, and next line <br>.

Backend Search Terms

The backend search terms are on the backend of the listing and are not customer-facing. They are also one of the data points picked up by the A9 algorithm that it uses to match the customer searches. You will fill in the backend search term field within 249 bytes limit restrictions, excluding spaces or punctuation such as a comma.

Since there is a 249-bytes limit (normally 1 byte is a character) it is important to not repeat words inside the search term field. Also, you have to make sure that the characters you are using are also not in the title and bullet.

Another thing to note is that the text inside the search term field does not have to be in a sentence structure and there’s also no need for punctuation. Therefore, you do not need to use filler words such as “for” or use any periods or commas to separate words.

You can use your 50-60 keywords list to develop words that you have not added in your bullets, title, and descriptions to fill out the search term field.

Product Images

A lot of Amazon optimizing how-to articles do not mention or dive deep enough into photography. Customer online purchases are made mostly with their eyes, and having poor product photos will negate any well written Amazon SEO.

Amazon allows you to have a total of 9 photos. These 9 photos are as follows:

Main Photos

The first impression counts! So show as much of the product as you can in the main photo. It’s a photo where the customer understands what the product is and its use with one quick scan of the photo. 

The main photos will also show up on the search result thumbnails. It is imperative that this photo is crisp and clear. Below are some guidelines:

  • Use the 200×200 photo as much as possible and minimize the amount of white size on the edges.
  • One-shot and on a white background canvas only.

Product Call Out/Instructional Photos

I have decided to put these two together because you can do both in one photo in some cases. The product call-out photo is to highlight the benefits/uniqueness of the product, while the instructional photo shows how the product is used.

Guidelines:

  • Use symbols/badges for branding and trust, just don’t overuse it
  • Can be in a wider aspect ratio than other photos because more space might be needed
  • Neatly and creatively designed
  • Call-outs with clear and neat fonts
Instructional Photo with call outs

Lifestyle Photos

The lifestype photo should show your product being used in its most positive atmosphere.

Guidelines:

  • Show the daily uses of the product in action
  • Elicit positive emotions using the product (fun, feel good, intensity). See examples below:

Scale/Sizing Photos

Illustrating the size or relative size of the product in question. See examples below:

Packing List Photos

Does each order come with multiple items in the package? Use an image to make clear what the customer is ordering to prevent any potential confusion.

Comparision Photos

A photo to illustrate how your product compares against your competitors. Lay out all the solid reasons why the consumer should purchase your product instead of a similar item.

A note about the photos

Although this guide is about using free tools, photos would be the one expense that I would not try to save. Unless you are well versed in graphics design, I would strongly recommend finding a freelancer or professional service to produce your product photos. I have written a piece on how much approximately how much photos cost here. Saving on photos could be one of those cents saved and dollars lost kind of endeavor. I know because that was the exact mistake I made when I first started.

Videos

The last photo tile in your Amazon listing is reserved for the your videos.

Video is a great way to bring your product to life and give the customer that one last push towards purchasing. The video can be uploaded here:

Of course, you can create using a video production company to produce high quality, storyboard video for your product. Or if you are on a budget, you can just create a video slide with your existing photo using tools like Canva. Having decent to good videos will help conversions.

Conclusion

Amazon optimization seems like a lot of work. Well, it is! But when it is done right this one task can give you the best ROI out of all the front end work you can do when you start on Amazon. Keep grinding and best of luck!

If you have questions or insights to share, please feel free to post them via the comments section. Please also consider joining our Facebook Group where we discuss any questions you may have about running an Amazon business.

We are SellerMetrics, our Amazon PPC Software helps Amazon sellers, brands, KDP Authors and agencies navigate Amazon Advertising PPC via bid automation, bulk manual bid changes, and analytics.

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