The basics of keywords for Amazon SEO

16 January, 2019
4 minute read
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It’s perhaps the most basic tenant of selling on Amazon: Customers must to be able to find your product in order to purchase it. If you fail to account for search engine optimization by not properly keywording on Amazon, you risk less traffic and fewer sales.

Amazon’s search algorithm is slightly different than that of Google’s or other websites. Because people on Amazon are searching solely for items to purchase, meaning purely transactional, the algorithm is focused mainly on relevancy and performance. 

The good news is both of these factors directly influence one another and you can manipulate your sales performance by improving relevancy. Strategically using keywords is one of the most important ways to do this. Before you begin uploading or updating, checkout Amazon's info on, "Using search terms effectively."

Product titles

Keywords in a product title are indexed in Amazon’s algorithm. You’ll want to format and keyword them correctly. In addition to your brand name and what your product is, it’s important to include keywords that are specific enough to help the customer and capture customers narrowing their search. An example formula:

Brand + Product + Clear Description + Key Features + Size + Color

[Pet Life]  [Memory Foam Dog Bed with Removable Cover] [for Small Breeds] - [20x16-inch], [Blue]

This title works because it is clear and readable but covers a range of things customers may be searching for, such as: pet, dog, bed, removable cover, small, breed, memory foam, etc. It also avoids keyword stuffing, which could look like spam to the system and will hurt your ranking and sales. Customers often scroll past these listings, anyway, because they are not appealing. These missed opportunities can also hurt your ranking.

Backend keyword field

Amazon also allows sellers to use a backend, hidden field to add more keywords that don’t fit naturally into the title. These are invisible to the customer. The basic rules for hidden keywords are:

  • As of 2018, Amazon only indexes 250 bytes of backend keywords. For sellers, spaces, hyphens, quotes, and special characters are included in this count, so be efficient and just list your keywords with a space in between each, or using a hyphen where necessary. If you are over the limit, none of your search terms will be indexed, so it's best to mind the limit. Bytes correspond to 1:1 for alphanumeric characters (for example a – z, A - Z, 0 - 9), but can require more for special or foreign characters.
  • Don’t repeat keywords. There’s no need to include “dog” three times in different iterations. (Example: You don’t need “dog bed,” “dog mattress” and “bed for dogs.” If you’ve already have “dog bed” in the title.)
  • Don’t worry about plural and singular forms. These will be included automatically.
  • Don’t pack this field with competitor brand names, unless it is a common synonym. (Example: You might include “Hoover” for a vacuum.)
  • Don’t use phrases like best, cheap, good, deal, etc. These won’t help you with Amazon’s algorithm.
  • Include synonyms and alternate spellings, or even common misspellings. (Example: Include “bike” but also “bicycle,” or “grey” and “gray.’)
  • Backend keywords are not mandatory, but are also indexed in the algorithm, so use your space wisely to optimize your listings.

Product listings details

As far as keywords go, product feature bullets are also important for Amazon's algorithm. It is easier to incorporate good coverage in these fields, as you have a bit more room and the ability to include complete sentences of content.

For these fields, be sure to read Amazon’s guidelines and follow them. For sellers, Amazon allows up to 500 characters maximum. It's better to keep each feature focused, and ideally, around 250 characters.

Bullets should be short and to the point. Customers are hoping to glean product benefits and understand what makes the product unique. Use important keywords and distinguish your product from competitors’.  Example:

  • Safe: Uses only organic, stain-resistant fabric and non-toxic filler, making it great for puppies and senior dogs.
  • Durable: Double stitched and reinforced seams and non-skid, waterproof base ensure long life.
  • Cozy: Soft, plush cover and 5-inch thick memory foam is comfortable for your best friend.
  • Removable Cover: Strong zipper unzips for easy cleaning. Machine-washable/tumble dry low.
  • Sizing Guidelines: The small size pet bed is ideal for dog breeds up to 20 pounds.

Product descriptions factor into the algorithm as well, and they can have a big effect on bounce rate, which certainly will impact your ranking. Tell your story in the description. Be creative, informational and avoid repetitive or non-helpful information. Consider incorporating a sentence or two about your brand. Avoid rambling on too long, and again--avoid keyword stuffing in a way that’s not natural.

Keyword tools

Because good keyword coverage can greatly impact sales, you may want to use a keyword tool to research before completing your product listing. There are many keyword tools, both free and paid, that can assist you. You can even do things like perform a reverse search on an ASIN, gauge a keyword’s popularity for a particular product, look at detailed metrics, and investigate keyword hits on different Amazon marketplaces.

More help

These keyword basics can help you dramatically improve your product listings. If done correctly, you should be able to watch sales improve. Of course, these are just basics and are not a one-size-fits-all fix.

For personalized, professional SEO help, contact eCommerce Nurse and learn how we can support you with product listing optimization, keywording, and content solutions.

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Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem

Katy Luxem is the senior content manager for eCommerce Nurse and Vendor Society. She has worked for Amazon in both Seattle and London, delivering results for multiple different teams and product lines across the U.S. and Europe. Katy's experience is centered on making sure customers have a best-in-class experience. She enjoys helping businesses and brands succeed and grow with next-level content.

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