Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production
Amazon SEO: Challenges for Brand Manufacturers
Advertising Agency
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Lara Muller explains what Amazon SEO is and how you can use it to your advantage
Several million products are available on Amazon and thousands more are added every day. The first search results page shows only sixteen products, and very few customers look beyond the first page. Anyone who wants to achieve long-term success on Amazon needs to ensure that customers find their products amongst the endless variety of offers. This is why you need Amazon SEO, to position your products on the platform successfully and sustainably, thus generating more sales.

How to achieve optimal performance on Amazon

The key factor leading to success on Amazon is content optimisation. In this context, achieving success means ensuring long-term customer satisfaction. Customers are usually happy when they find exactly the products they are looking for quickly and easily among a large number of different products.

Amazon uses its proprietary A9 search algorithm to ensure customer satisfaction. A9 uses various relevance and performance factors to determine which, of all the products sold on Amazon, most closely match the customer’s needs, and will display these options on the first search results page.

The goal of every Amazon SEO optimisation measure should not only take into account the relevance to potential customers but also, first and foremost, ensure that it pleases the critical eye of Amazon’s search algorithm. Thus, it is important to understand how this algorithm works. So, let’s put it simply: on Amazon, the better a product sells, the more visible it will become, and the more visible an item is, the better it will sell. Performance and relevance factors are co-dependent, and should therefore never be considered or treated in isolation.

For example, you create a product detail page that is brimming with keywords. Initially, potential customers are able to find your product easily, but since you have neglected to include attractive product images or an appealing description, they leave the product page without buying. The listing doesn’t perform well, so Amazon lowers its visibility in the search results. On the other hand, even the most fantastic product detail page is no use if you fail to select and deploy suitable keywords and your product cannot be found.

Content optimisation is also an important prerequisite for a large number of follow-up services, such as paid advertising campaigns. If an ad is linked to a non-optimised product detail page, it’s quite unlikely that this will convert to a sale. The marketing budget would then be wasted.

Prerequisites for products to be found in search results

It is advisable to begin the process of maximising product findability by means of a generic search. Comprehensive keyword research forms the basis of efficient optimisation. Start by getting to know your customers. What do they think is important about your products and similar products? Only sellers who really understand their customers will increase in relevance and thus visibility and only those who are visible will generate more sales.

A content relevance analysis represents another important step in the optimisation process. Customer feedback on your own products and those of competitors can be used to analyse which characteristics of a product are important to customers. What do they rate as positive or negative? The knowledge gained should be incorporated into the content creation process.

Find relevant keywords and optimise customer reach

Before creating content, a thorough analysis of customer search behaviour is required. This is the only way to take account of all possible search queries and cover all the relevant keywords in the back-end.

To reach Amazon customers, you first need to know how they actually search for products. The way that manufacturers and marketing departments describe products only plays a secondary role. Here’s an example: let’s say you’re selling waste bins. Potential customers might search for “waste bins”, “pedal bins”, “rubbish bins” or “garbage bins”.

Another challenge is to find and cover relevant “long-tail” keywords. In contrast to Google users, Amazon users usually search with the intention of actually making a purchase, and already have a solid idea of the product they want. This is reflected in long-tail keywords. Users describe products in more detail. Using the example mentioned above, people might search for “Swing-top waste bin”, “Kitchen waste bin” or “50-litre pedal bin”.

What makes Amazon customers tick? Finding the right balance

Optimally prepared content should not only contain appropriate keywords, but it should also include all the information that potential customers need to make a purchase. Certain characteristics of your product should be highlighted, in order to make it stand out from the competition. This is where the content relevance analysis comes in. The trick is to find the right balance between conversion-optimised content and targeted keywords in order to create maximum visibility.

Five challenges for brand manufacturers

1. Keywords: Assessing the competitive environment
Amazon does not differentiate between well-known and unknown brand manufacturers. The competitive situation thus relates to all products ranked on the basis of the same keywords, but not to actual competitors.

To return to our example with “waste bin”, let’s evaluate the competition in regard to the keywords “waste bin” and “rubbish bin”. If you type that in, the results show that your product needs to be better optimised than approx. 5,000 products that are also ranked on the basis of the keyword “waste bin”, but only 2,000 competing products for the keyword “rubbish bin”.

2. Brand communication vs search queries
In most cases, a manufacturer’s product name differs from the search terms that are actually used by Amazon customers. From the manufacturer’s point of view, “pedal bin” may sound better than “waste bin”, but the latter may be much more search-appropriate.

3. Manufacturer’s USP vs customer opinion
The more divergent the ideas about a product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) are, the more difficult it becomes to create optimal content. In the case of the waste bin, for example, the manufacturer may be convinced that the material it is made of is important, while customers are more concerned that the surface is as durable as possible and doesn’t show fingermarks.

4. Amazon updates
The Amazon algorithm is very opaque. Various key factors change at regular intervals, such as the byte limit for back-end keywords. Such changes are usually made with no prior notice. In case of uncertainty, this results in the destruction of content that has already been optimised.

5. Maintaining a brand image
Some manufacturers refuse to work with Amazon. This may have negative consequences: potential customers expect brands to maintain a certain quality level and image. If brand manufacturers leave the design of product pages to third parties (sellers), this may result in low-resolution product images, incomplete content and negative customer ratings. The more unattractive a brand’s presence is on Amazon, the more likely it is that customers will migrate to competitors and that the brand’s image will suffer.

Addressing challenges and finding solutions

The good news is that mastering the challenges of SEO is a decisive step towards success on Amazon. By understanding your consumer and competition, you can easily optimise your content from title to product description. Ultimately, the balance between search-relevant keywords and customer needs is the be-all and end-all for optimal Amazon content.