Amazon Marketing Tip: Understanding Keywords – A Critical Skill To Drive Sales

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Understanding Keywords on AmazonUnderstanding Keywords is critical inside Amazon.  The basic concept is very simple (the execution is somewhat more complex).   You create a Display Page – a Listing if you will.  The words in the Title Line and in five “Search Word” fields are placed in a database.  Potential customers enter something in the search bar and Amazon searches the database for the best match between what you say you are delivering and what the customer says they are looking for.  In order to sell more, you must understand this system and apply it to every Listing you create.  If customers never see your Listing they can’t possibly buy your product.  So let’s dive in.

The Keywords Are Not The Only Things That Count!

Note that Amazon takes more things into account than just the search words.  They will give preference to products that are selling well and products that have reviews.  They also give preference to sellers with good ratings and products that sell after a customer has found the product using the specific keywords being used.  That being said, we need to focus on what we can control in the Listing and then work to increase sales (coupons, discounts, PPC ads, friends and relatives, you name it) and get more good reviews (note that you have the phone number and an internal Amazon email system for doing followup and requesting reviews.)

Understanding Keywords for Your Product

You need to follow the chain from your customer’s point of view.  What are they looking for?  What words will they use to describe that they are looking for?  These are the keywords.  If you have a product that the customers are looking for, you need to do several things:

  • Describe Your Product using the words they will be searching for.  Try to use them ALL.
  • Look for as many multiple word (i.e. long tailed keywords) combinations as you can that different customers might use.
  • Make sure you use these words IN PLACES THAT AMAZON USES TO FILL THEIR DATABASE.

Where do YOU get Keywords for your Product?

Most of the things I have read talk about using your basic keyword and using tools like the Google Keyword Planner to get variations on that phrase.   You need to be much more sophisticated than that.

  • Go WIDE to Find Alternate Keywords
  • Go DEEP to find Supplemental Keywords

Go Wide to Find Alternate Keywords

You are probably wondering what I mean by that.  Going wide means to look for completely different words that describe the same product or that describe a feature/benefit that people might be searching for.  For example I might think my toy is a “Dog Tug of War Toy.”  By going wide I might find that people also call it a “Pull Trainer for large canines.”  This is not a synonym or closely related version of “Dog Tug” so Google’s Keyword planner wouldn’t necessarily show it to you.  I’ve even seen people use mistakes as their primary key words:  flying disk (people search for flying disc), elastic showlaces (people search for elastic show laces) and cellphone holder (people search for cell phone holder.)   You can use a paid website called to check for this kind of problem and when it is time to go deep.

Here are some places you can look when you are “going wide.”

  • Competitor’s Listing Pages
  • Reviews of Competitor’s Products
  • Reviews of books on your product.
  • Listings of similar products on eBay
  • The books themselves
  • Articles like “The best xxxx”  or “The top * xxxx products”  (Google treats the asterisk as any number so you get “The top 4…” and “The top 10…”, etc.

Spend sometime at the very beginning of your keyword research going wide.  Try each phrase you find in and use the one with the most searches.  Any others that have a significant number of searches should also be either in your Title or your Back end Search Fields.  (Note:  As of February 2016 you can now put up to 1,000 characters in the first of the five Search Fields.  It was 50 characters in each until now.)  For example the term Frisbee is searched for FAR more often than Flying disc.  While Frisbee is a brand name, it is one of those that has come to be the generic term for a particular type of toy.

Once you have identified your best keywords (you should have 4 or 5), we start to “Go Deep”

Go DEEP to find Supplemental Keywords

Going deep mean looking for variations of your primary keyword or words that are often used in conjunction with your seed phrase.  Note that a lot of these words can be used with your primary phrase and you get double duty out of them.   For example “Large Dog Tug of War Toy” gives us credit for the phrase with Large in it as it does the internal phrase “Dog Tug of War Toy.”  In fact when using broad match (which is all that Organic Search Uses) matches that phrase gives us credit for all of the following:

  • Large Dog Tug of War Toy
  • Large Dog
  • Large Tug
  • Large War
  • Large Toy
  • Large Dog Tug
  • Large Dog War
  • Large Dog Toy
  • Large Dog Tug Toy
  • Large Dog  War Toy
  • Dog Tug of War Toy
  • Dog Tug
  • Dag War
  • Dog Toy
  • Dog Tug Toy
  • Dog War Toy
  • Tug War
  • Tug Toy
  • War Toy
  • Toy Dog (oops)
  • And more

Here are some ways to Go Wide

  • Type your seed phrase into the Amazon Search bar and enter a space, then an A, replace the A with B, then C, etc.   These are some of the BEST supplemental words.  These are the words that people in Amazon are adding to your seed phrase.  (You should think carefully about including words in your title that do not show up here.  People aren’t searching (very often) using other words.
  • Do the same thing in the Google Search Bar.
  • Go Back to and copy those words
  • Collect 800 at a time from the Google Keyword Planner.

If people are looking for PINK xxx and yours is PINK, put that in the title.  If they want Stainless Steel and your is Stainless Steel, put that in the title, etc.

NOTE:  Amazon’s Organic Search And Their Sponsored Ads system are Different

One of the confusing things about keywords in Amazon is that the rules are different when you are talking about the Organic Search engine (how your product gets found when customers search in Amazon) and the Sponsored Ads engine (often call the Pay Per Click – PPC – engine).  One major different appears to be bullet points.  They appear to be used as a source of keywords by the Organic Search Engine and they appear to be ignored by the PPC engine.   Be away that when you read about the rules for keywords in Amazon some people are talking about Organic Search and a few are talking about PPC.

Where does Amazon Look in Your Listing to Get Keywords?

Here is a link to a page on Amazon.  I will note that they have pages that are out of date, but I think this one is correct.

From everything I can find Amazon takes keywords from  1) the first 80 characters of your Title line and 2) the five Search Word  Fields. As stated on the page referenced in the link above Bullet Points and the Item Descriptions are not used.  (It appears that Bullet Points ARE used for Organic Search, but are not used for Sponsored Ads.) This means that those words you found earlier MUST be in those two places if you are going to get any benefit.  There are a couple of other fields:  The manufacturer of your product, your seller name and events.  (I’ll have to look further to find what that last one means.)  I will also note that the rules change if you are uploading products using a text filed or an XML file.   So some common mistakes:

  • Ignoring key words – probably the most common mistakes for beginners.
  • Not putting all the long-tailed keywords in the first 80 characters of the Title or in the Search Term fields
  • Forgetting that you are writing your Listing for Amazon’s search  engine AND your customers.   Make the title human readable.
  • Wasting space by duplicating words that are already used.
  • Ignoring the fact that Amazon will create words using common additions to the keywords you provide (known as stemming)  For example< f you enter “sled”, Amazon will automatically create “sleds”, “sledding”, etc.   They will not usually add words like “sleigh”  That is your job.
  • Using commas – don’t waste the space.  I will note that according to the link I gave you above, there are times when you may want to use quotation marks.  For example, I have dog products where “no stuffing” is important.  Putting the words NO and STUFFING in my keywords field mill match the word NO with every other keyword I have – not what I want AT ALL.
  • Not using a tool like  I’ll show you why in the case studies below.
  • Using the Wrong Word!

Understanding Keywords – You Need To Use the Right Words

This is actually the topic that prompted this article.

I was recently looking at some Listings and noted three cases where things could have been done better by using the right words. I mentioned this before.

Case 1:   The listing was for a “Cell Phone Holder”   Here are some results from Merchant words showing how often this phrase is searched for:

  • cell phone holder     3,005,000
  • cell phone desk holder     272,000
  • cell phone car holder     38,500

The actual word used in the Title of the Listing was:  “Cellphone Holder.”  Here are the search results using “cellphone.”

  • cellphone holder for iphone     < 100
  • mickey mouse cellphone holder     < 100

Now the person may have the better term in the hidden  search fields, but we need to talk ro our customers using the words they are using.

Case 2:  The listing was for “Elastic Shoe Laces”   Here are the results in Merchant Words

  • elastic shoe laces     22,000
  • hickies elastic shoe laces     3,500
  • elastic shoe laces white     2,500
  • elastic shoe laces brown     2,500
  • elastic shoe laces kids     2,500

The actual term used in the Listing was “elastic shoelace”   Here are the searches for that keyword phrase

  • elastic shoelace     1,500
  • elastic shoelaces for adults     900
  • shoelaces elastic     500

This isn’t quite as bad as the previous example, but still 22K is better that 1.5K.

Case 3:  Some dog toys are “flying discs”  Here is Merchantwords results for that phrase

  • flying disc    21,000
  • kever flying disc    3,500
  • flying discs    3,000
  • flying disc dog    2,000

The actual term I saw used in the Listing was “flying disk.”  Let’s look at that one:

  • flying disk toy    500
  • rc flying disk    < 100
  • flying fun disk    < 100
  • led flying disk    < 100

Again 22K worth of searches is a while lot better than 500.   (Of course Frisbee shows up in 208,000 searches – GO WIDE.)

I hope that your can see that for sellers on Amazon Understanding Keywords is a critical skill.

I’ll talk more about keywords later:

Until Next time, you have a Great Day!  Oh Hale Yes!

↓ ↓ If this post gave you some ideas – Go ahead & comment below.  ↓ ↓

Hale Pringle

Hale Pringle Ed. D.

Hale Pringle – Hale Yes!


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