The Importance of Optimizing Amazon Keywords in Product Listings

The perfect Amazon product listing will always be a delicate balance of form and function. Choosing useful Amazon keywords is generally easy enough but implementing them in a way that feels natural requires nuance.

Despite what some sellers seem to believe, it is possible to create text that is both expertly optimized for organic search and doesn’t look like a mess. Gone are the days when it seemed like a smart idea to sacrifice readability to stuff in as many search terms as possible. Don’t do this. No one likes this.

It’s important for brands to optimize their Amazon keywords for the A9 search algorithm while still prioritizing a positive shopping experience for the customer. In fact, how you choose to respect the customer’s intelligence in your product listings can directly affect how your product ranks in Amazon search engine results pages.

How Brands Should Think About Product Listings

Product listing elements that directly influence the Amazon search algorithm are also a brand’s best chance to make a good first impression on a potential customer. This starts with the product title, which must concisely convey what your product is. Next, the bullet section must emphasize the product’s features and benefits to convey to the customer what is does. Seems simple, right? You’d be surprised how many brands mess it up.

For practical reasons (and reasons that please the algorithm) your product’s most important keywords need to be featured first, at the beginning of the title. The A9 search engine values relevance highly, and correlates higher relevance with keywords placed at beginning of the product title.

Keywords used in bullets don’t rank as highly toward keyword relevance, but they are still indexed, and play an important part in increasing a potential buyer’s understanding of the product. This above-the-fold real estate in the product listing is invaluable, and should be utilized to give clear, concise information about the product’s features and benefits.

Effective keyword usage is only part of what drives the A9 algorithm. It also looks at sales metrics, and while that’s obviously harder to control, product listings with clear information that tells a customer exactly what they need to buy the product (without stuff they don’t need) is a reliable way to increase conversions.

Stuffing titles and bullets with every possible keyword is entirely unnecessary now that Amazon offers brands extensive backend keywords that aren’t seen by customers. Want to include a specific term to be indexed, but can’t find a logical way to use it in a bullet or in the product description? That’s what backend keywords are for. There is no excuse for forcing customers to read bad copy for the sake of getting more eyes on your product listing.

Examples of Effectively Integrated Amazon Keywords

Let’s look at a product that shows up first in the Amazon SERP results and see if they’ve done a good job diversifying their keywords in the product listing. Since moving away from Seattle, my options for authentic, delicious Chinese food have dwindled, so I’ve been forced to learn how to make it for myself.

I searched for “whole Sichuan peppercorns.” The top result, both sponsored and organic, was “Soeos Authentic Szechuan Grade A Red Sichuan Peppercorns.” The brand does something important in this title: use both spelling variations—“Szechuan” and “Sichuan”— without making it feel clunky.

amazon keywords

The rest of the title: “Less Seeds, Strong Flavor, Essential for Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu, 4 oz.” does cram in some unnecessary information (“Less seeds” is bullet material), and while the recipe names may feel like keyword stuffing, it’s actually kind of brilliant. Many Americans don’t know what Sichuan peppercorns are, but they may be familiar with the delicious, numbing spice they had in Mapo Tofu at a restaurant. Since Amazon is the #1 place product searches begin on the internet, someone who simply types “Mapo Tofu pepper” would be served this result.

Meanwhile, the bullets do a great job describing the product’s features and benefits in a relatively small number of characters. They tell you what the peppercorns taste like, their unique effect, different ways you can use them in your cooking, and offers a money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with the product. There are a lot of good keywords in here: Chinese peppers, seed pods, numbing, chili peppers, Szechuan pepper oil, Nepali, Tibetan, and Bhutanese cookery of the Himalayas. Soeos also has over 10,000 reviews and a 5-star rating, so it’s no wonder A9 chose this product to be the first one listed.

amazon keywords

For an example of a product listing that isn’t optimizing its Amazon keywords, let’s jump to page 4 of the search results.

Burma Spice didn’t include their company name in the product title, which can be a logical choice for a product where the shopper isn’t likely to be searching by brand name. But the title “Szechuan Peppercorns | Chinese Spice – Chinese seasoning | Ideal for Soups, Meats, and Chinese Cuisine 1 oz.” doesn’t include both spellings of Sichuan. That term doesn’t show up until the second bullet.

Otherwise, this product listing has a lot going for it. It covers virtually all the same points as the top-rated product, and from a reader perspective, it’s actually better written. So why did Amazon show me so many other products that weren’t Sichuan peppercorns at all before it showed me these? Most likely because of the price. The A9 search algorithm sorts products based on relevance and performance. The relevance here was pretty good, but the performance? Which product am I more likely to buy: the peppercorns that cost $2.25 an ounce, or the ones that cost $19.77? Burma Spice never had a chance.

Amazon Keywords and Indexing for A+ Pages

As far as anyone knows, Amazon is still not indexing A+ content for internal search on their product pages, but you should absolutely still bother integrating keywords into your A+ copy.

Remember: Amazon’s search engine isn’t the only way people land on product pages. Plenty of people still use traditional search engines like Google, and Google still indexes the content included in A+ pages, as that text is hard-coded into the product page. Having strategic keywords in your enhanced product page can still influence off-site search, which can increase sales, which can increase on-site search results.

The Takeaway

It is possible to have product listings that are both well-written and expertly optimized, and Amazon certainly prefers that your product pages are both. You don’t have to sacrifice readability for discoverability, though finding the right balance may take a little work.