There has been a seismic shift in consumers search behavior as an estimated 56 percent of people begin their product search on Amazon, not Google.
If 2018 was the year in which Amazon finally began to overtake Google as the predominant ecommerce search engine, then 2019 will be the year in which Amazon comes to fully dominate consumers’ product searches altogether.
If your brand is not selling on Amazon, you’re losing out on sales, and if you’re not optimizing your organic listings in Amazon, you’re already one step behind your competition.
As more and more consumers embrace Amazon search for their shopping needs how do sellers position themselves to achieve maximum visibility on the search results page? And what factors or tactics will be imperative to visibility in 2019?
Keywords will still be key
At the core of Amazon optimization is keyword research. This will not change as Amazon’s A9 algorithm is highly dependent on text match relevancy (how well your product matches the search queries of the customer) to serve the most relevant products to searchers. Your product can only be found for a specific search query if the product listing contains the keyword searched.
However, the way in which people search on other search engines compared to Amazon is very different. Searchers on Amazon are closer to the point of purchase. With that said, 70 percent of searches on Amazon are long-tail searches, so identifying what queries your target audiences are searching for within Amazon will help you determine what keywords you should be targeting.
Other Amazon specific keyword research tools like Sonar, a platform that collects keywords used by Amazon shoppers will also help identify what keywords are being searched for by target audiences.
Focusing on the factors you can optimize for will still be fundamental
While there are several things that determine a products’ rank in the algorithm, there are some factors we can optimize for (product listing title, key product features, product description, images, backend search terms, text match relevancy) and others we cannot (sales performance history, price, availability, fulfillment method, promotions).
Amazon optimization of product listing pages won’t change much from 2018 to 2019 as SEOs looking to maximize visibility should continue to focus on product listing titles, bullet points, product description and backend search terms. Continue to incorporate keywords into those four main fields. However, emphasize placing keywords in product listing titles and key feature bullets as Amazon may place less value on backend search terms or even devalue them (much like Google did with the meta keywords field).
Lastly, ensure that your product images are of high resolution and show all angles of the product. Product images play an important role in consumers decision to buy as they want to know exactly what they are buying. This will increase their purchasing likelihood and thus increase your sales performance.
Voice search will redefine the kinds of keywords targeted in optimizations
Each day more and more people are using voice-equipped devices to search. It is said that by 2020 50 percent of all searches will be from voice search. With an influx of people using voice search to search for products search queries will only continue to be more long-tail in nature as these types of searches tend to be comprised of 5 or more words.
While conversational voice search is convenient for shoppers, it creates a new challenge for optimization. How do we optimize for these types of voice searches within Amazon?
1. Optimize for Amazon’s Choice
If you’ve ever searched for anything on Amazon chances are you’ve seen the “Amazon’s Choice” badge on some products.
Not only does Amazon’s Choice get awarded a special designation within the search results page, but the famed badge also marks items that Amazon’s cloud-based voice service Alexa utilizes to determine what products to recommend to users.
While brands and sellers have been trying to crack the Amazon Choice algorithm, there are no set guidelines to follow as to how one can earn this famed badge. However, the company has revealed some of the requirements for being chosen:
- Popularity (sales)
- Rating and reviews
- Shipping speed (FBA)
TL;DR: utilize Amazon fulfillment services, increase product popularity and sales through having thoroughly optimized product listings and potentially driving traffic and conversions through paid search (which has been known to increase best seller rank for organic listings), ensure that your product is satisfying consumers (while continually monitoring reviews and answering any negative feedback), and price your product competitively.
2. Start developing Amazon Skills
Alexa Skills are much like apps you add to your phone based on your needs and preferences. You can enable Skills in the same way you install apps on your phone. Skills, however, are voice-driven capabilities you add to your Alexa account to make it smarter and bring products and services to life.
Brands (or anyone really) can build capabilities for their audience in voice form. These types of capabilities or content can come in a multitude of forms. If you’re a CPG brand think recipes, a clothing brand think fashion advice; anything to help consumers. Take Tide stain removal, for example, a brand that is currently leveraging Amazon Skills by enabling customers to ask questions about any and every stain they may encounter.
First creating compelling content to help fill a consumer need and then offering an in-skill purchase (ISP) of products can help brands monetize these skills.
As voice search grows and more and more people use smart home devices for all their needs the best way to get in front of consumers in a non-intrusive way is through Alexa Skills.
Create compelling content in product descriptions with a focus on conversions
If you aren’t currently utilizing A+ content or EBC you should be. Amazon has said that these types of content increase conversions by 10 percent.
While recently it has been found that A+ Content and EBC are not currently indexed for Amazon search ranking, both content types offer possibilities to increase conversions. If product titles and bullet points are the ranking factors that will get you higher organic visibility in Amazon search, then product descriptions are the key to increasing purchasing likelihood and conversions once a consumer is on your product listing page.
With that said, when creating content focus less on optimizing for keywords and more on optimizing for user experience. This includes crafting content in a conversational manner focusing on unique value propositions and detailing how the product will enhance consumers lives. Lifestyle images of people using the product in some capacity will also go a long way in amplifying conversions.
Better performing products (via sales/conversions) is a ranking factor for products which equates to higher visibility.
Use both paid and organic optimization for maximum visibility
As Amazon internally places greater emphasis on sponsored brand placements, expert recommendations, video-based buying guides and Amazon’s private-label products (i.e., “Top Rated from Our Brands”), organic real estate on the search results page will continue to shrink. Implementing a hybrid approach to your Amazon marketing strategy and utilizing both paid placements and organic product listing page optimizations will ensure that you are visible across the results page.
Amazon search will be the largest movement in 2019.
Amazon has the chance to be the new Google; becoming the #1 search engine for all things ecommerce. Neglecting to first leverage Amazon, and second, optimize product listings will deprive brands of exponential revenue. As the Amazon search results pages shift and the way in which consumers search for products also changes, Amazon marketing strategies will too have to transform.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.