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…Amazon keyword update ranking and all that stuff and what the heck does this mean now? Chris Shaffer is on with me. Chris, what’s happening my friend? Are you excited to talk about more updates and changes, about keywords in Amazon?
[00:00:30] Chris: Bytes and bits and characters and oh man…
[00:00:33] Scott: Commas. All kinds of stuff.
[00:00:35] Chris: I have to tell you this is the sexy side of Amazon right now man. We’re talking about characters and just all kinds of stuff and numbers and limits and it’s one of those things and I know people are going to look at this episode and go, “Oh I have to listen to this one,” and then they are going to hear us talking about bytes and bits and they are going to be really confused. But this one is absolutely important and any time Amazon makes a change we all kind of have a little baby heart attack. I’ve mentioned this before but really in this case it’s kind of going back to the way it used to be. It wasn’t all that bad before so it isn’t going to be all that bad. Now, it’s kind of interesting to see the full circle swing that Amazon has made in terms of keywords but it’s good to see at least in my opinion.
It is going to help clean up the site a little bit and it’s going to make it a lot easier for us as well at least in my opinion.
[00:01:27] Scott: Yeah, and really what I want to do here is I want to really just go over the update and also maybe best practices we can go over and then also I want to go back over once again kind of like the basics to keyword ranking and optimization like I want to dive into that to give everyone kind of like the basics to kind of go by to really start with and to really fine tune that stuff.
A lot of people are still wondering like Scott, like you’ve talked about like the new brand that you and Chris are working with and you guys are ranking on page one for some of your keywords like what are you doing? Are you using special maybe super URLs still? Like what are you doing and I want to clear all that stuff up and let people know what our strategy is moving forward and also now with this new search term, your back end keyword feels and kind of what that all means we can kind of clear that up. At least for right now.
They made a huge change before, I think that was a huge change of how many characters they were allowing us. Then people started to add as many as they could in there and we were doing the same thing. Obviously we were doing it when we weren’t stuffing… Some people were just stuffing random keywords to get traffic which I think it’s a no no. We were really looking at how can we optimize even further by finding other relevant keywords that could lead people back over to our listing. But now because they are bringing us back to where it used to be we’re going to go back in and probably clean up as a lot of that stuff isn’t’ even going to matter.
I’m not quite sure that will be part of our discussion, is even if it matters if it’s there or it’s going to hurt us negatively. Any of that stuff. Why don’t you just start by giving us like what was the announcement? What did Amazon say? What does it mean for us now?
[00:03:21] Chris: I feel like we need one of those like nightly news sound effects. The big “update” is that Amazon reduced and by reduced we mean returned to the previous limit on your back end keywords which for some people refer to as search term. Amazon refers to it as the generic keywords attribute so it’s where you actually are typing in the keywords on the back end of your listing. For a while it was either 1,000 characters per line, 5,000 characters total depending on who you asked or 5,000 characters on one line if you were in certain different categories or kinds of crazy stuff.
They never really cleaned it up and columned that into a single standard that made sense for everybody. So what they did is they basically went back to the way it used to be and you’re limited to 250 bytes, it’s what they are calling it because they are referring to the size of the total number of things that can be in the field. Just for reference for those of us in the English speaking countries one character in the alphabet or on number is generally considered to be a byte if we are looking at things like, you guys may or may not know, the little colon turned sideways that you see over the letter in German words, that’s two bytes.
If it’s an A with that would be two bytes. Any special characters are more than one character but for your standard letters, numbers any of those kinds of things you are going to have up to 250 total of those. So if you have “supercalafragilisticexpialidociousas” a keyword then you’re kind of in trouble. But for the rest of us who have garlic press as our keywords, it’s not really going to be a huge deal because what Amazon is asking us to do basically Scott is limit it to the things that generically describe the product. They are basically saying put in garlic press and if it presses ginger, put in ginger, the things that can be combined together to make up the fat head keyword, the main keywords that describe our product.
[00:05:41] Scott: Okay, so and that makes all sense, total sense. We had a discussion here on one of our Facebook Lives recently and I was confused actually because I was thinking it was now because it used to be 1,000 characters per line, correct?
[00:05:58] Chris: It’s what they moved to, yes.
[00:05:59] Scott: Okay, that’s what it used to be. They went from 250 per line, and then they went to 1,000 characters per line for five lines and then now they went back to 250 but I was thinking it was 250 per line. I was thinking they were just taking it from 1,000 to 250 per line and then you corrected me you go, “No, Scott. It’s actually 250 total.” So if you want to use 250 characters on line one then you’re done. You’re not going to use line two, three, four or five. If you want to break those up and you want to have a 50 on each line you can or 75 and then you break them up on each line, my question then is if they are giving us these lines is there any importance to having those broken up per line?
That’s something I don’t think we know right now. But you would think if they only want us to have 250 characters why would they even give us extra lines?
[00:06:52] Chris: Well in some categories they did do and in some categories they don’t. If you use and I know Scott it’s your favorite piece of Amazon technology, the flat file, they default to having one line in the flat file. Now, you can edit the header and have additional lines but you don’t need to. There’s really no reason to. If you want to break it out and make it look pretty then you can do that but if I were Amazon I would just reduce everything to a single line. There’s no real reason to have those five lines unless you want to make sure that you’re separating those things out.
Another thing that’s important and |I know it’s a question a lot of people are asking themselves right now and they are going back to the debate that has raged through Amazon like a fire since the beginning of all this private labeling stuff and it’s commas or no commas. We always say no commas and that’s because Amazon says that you don’t’ need it and they specifically call it out in this update. They say spaces and punctuation and Scott they actually clarified this when you and I first looked at it. It’s spaces and punctuation do not contribute to the length limit. Words should be spaced separated, punctuation between words is not necessary.
They are telling us what punctuation is here and what they mean by that. So semicolons, commas, commas, they have commas in here twice, and periods. I’m assuming they meant to put a colon in here. You don’t need any sorts of punctuation whatever your favorite punctuation symbol is, you guys can have that debate. You don’t’ need to put it in your keywords, it’s just a string of text with spaces separating it. They did come in here and clarify after the initial update and they said that spaces do not count towards that total length limit. So you have 250 letters or numbers to use.
[00:08:41] Scott: Okay. So if you did use a comma and then you hit the spacebar and you separated it with, if you did, you don’t need to technically but if you did you’re saying that that comma would not count as a character.
[00:08:53] Chris: According to Amazon.
[00:08:53] Scott: Exactly. That we don’t really know because sometimes it says stuff like that and it’s not true. We’re just trying to go by exactly what they are saying. So what they are saying in a perfect listing in their eyes they are looking at like words separated by a space and that’s going to separate it. So if I want to go after the keyword ‘long handled stainless steel garlic press’ then I would put those all in just as it would be if I was to spell that out. I wouldn’t need to go stainless steel, space, garlic press, space. I wouldn’t need to do any of that stuff. They are going to recognize those words and they are going to start pulling words from different parts of that line because they are in there. Technically that’s what they are stating in that they are going to do.
Now, with that all being said, I like to make sure that the stuff that I want people to find are in the exact order that they would find those. So we talked to our good friend Dom Sugar about this and he is always leading with the more important keywords. In this case and we’re going to experiment with this. I know our good friend Sean Madison has done this already and he actually gave us a little update and said that it’s working really well for him. He’s seen a bump in sales and a bump in rank since doing this. What exactly Chris did he say that he has done, where he seen the positive change?
[00:10:22] Chris: What I believe Sean did and if I’m misquoting him on this I’m sure he’ll yell at me but he went through his search terms report and his PPC and pulled out his top performing terms from that and then added those in. What Amazon is really saying here Scott is that you don’t need… like this is an extra attribute for things that aren’t in your title or your bullet points. So alternate ways or other ways that people might describe your product. The example that they gave her is whisky, which depending on who you ask is either spelt with an E or without an E. W-H-I-S-K-E-Y or W-H-I-S-K-Y. So they are saying if in your title you’re calling it whiskey, that your back end keywords might be a good place to put whisky.
That’s an alternate way that people will describe it or an alternate way that people might search for it. You search terms report is absolutely a great place to go and that I believe is what Sean did. He said, “Okay, I like my title, I like my bullets, what’s in my search terms report that I’m not already using?” And then he used his top performing terms from pay-per-click which again guys is what people are searching for. We know that they are searching for that and we know how those perform on our listings because we can look at the PPC data. He took those and he said, “Okay. Here’s 250 characters that make up the top search for keywords or top search for search terms that are driving pay-per-click traffic to my listing.” So I’m going to start with that.
[00:11:42] Scott: Okay, yeah. That makes total sense. So now the next question would be is if I already have stainless steel garlic press in my title do I repeat it in the back end search term or keyword field?
[00:11:54] Chris: Do not duplicate content present in other attributes such as title and bullet points. It’s something specifically that they are calling out. Now, whether or not that is the best way of going about it is a different question. For me like I would still probably put my main one in there. How many characters is garlic press? 10 characters. Let’s just call it 10. Okay, that leaves us with 240 other characters to describe it. Is that going to hurt us? Probably not. I don’t think Amazon is going to penalize us for it. At worst case it’s just not going to help us to have it in that second spot but I would make sure that my main keyword is still there at least for now and then maybe take it down and test it.
[00:12:56] Scott: So really anyone right now that’s listening that has five lines filled with keywords maybe 1,000 per line, at this point Amazon is going to take the first 250 and use those and the other ones will probably be discarded or they just won’t even be indexed, is that what you’re saying?
[00:13:18] Chris: That we haven’t heard on yet either. Now what they are saying is the whole entry is rejected upon exceeding the limit. Now to me the way that has worked in the past is if you typed in 251 characters and hit save, it just won’t save. That to me is what like the whole entry being rejected means. But you would have to check to see what you’re being indexed for currently. You would have to see Scott and this is something that we would need to do. I think we’re just going to go through and adopt the 250 character limit because that’s what Amazon is telling us we have to use.
You would have to look for things that are in your search terms that aren’t anywhere else in your listing and see if you’re being indexed for those, if you are over that limit. It’s one of those things where I would just go through unless you have thousands of listings. I would go through and adopt that limit this week because it’s not that hard to do. It will take you half an hour and you can be done with it. Then you’re sure that you’re being indexed for everything that’s there.
[00:14:22] Scott: I think going back to this is why also it’s pretty critical that you run some sponsored product ads because you’re going to start to get data. If you’ve been doing it for any amount of time you can go back in and look at your report and see those keywords especially the ones that have converted. In a perfect world we’d like the ones that get a lot of impressions, a lot of clicks and a lot of sales. But even if you have some that are low impressions, a good amount of clicks and then they turn into sales well we want to show up for them but obviously we’d like more traffic so that means more impressions.
But a lot of times when you see more impressions you see that your clicks are maybe a little bit lower because there are so many impressions. But then we want to again at is it a relevant keyword that people will click on and then turn them into a sale. We just don’t want the traffic. People get confused and they say well I want to just get traffic to the listing and by doing that I can go of a generic keyword but then when they get there it’s not exactly what they were looking for so then they abandon that page that hurts our conversion. Don’t always look at impressions as much as you are how well that keyword will convert for you.
That’s another important takeaway. Okay, let’s just recap here on that part of it. 250 characters total. Total. That means on your first line if you want to, you don’t even use the additional lines, don’t even use the additional lines, just use first line, 250 characters. Try to find the ones that are your top performers that you would want to rank for. Also I would look at what you are currently ranking for and then once you make the change see what happens to your ranking. Give it some time though. Don’t just give it a day and say, “Oh my gosh, it dropped.” They could be re-indexing and stuff like that. Give it at least seven days to look at that stuff. Then start to play around with that but also I want to go into now Chris is just basic optimization 101.
[00:16:24] Scott: Like so when we are building out our listing your top keywords is number one should probably be in the title anyway. Right Chris?
[00:16:30] Chris: Right.
[00:16:31] Scott: Right. That’s the most weighted spot that’s being said in our Amazon listing so that’s where we want to be. Now obviously it needs to make sense. They do not want you to just plugging in just something in there just to plug it in there. That’s where the backend keywords would go is you’d be able to do that but you want it to make it sense and I think they are going to make it even more strict with that moving forward. So you don’t want to have to do something and then reverse it later. So I would say just go with those… Again, stainless steel garlic press, that’s in the title. It’s going to be in the title. I’m probably going to end up putting that in my backend too because that’s my top keyword. Makes sense?
[00:17:06] Chris: Just to be safe and I think that’s what you’re saying. Amazon is clarifying exactly what that back end is for. And they are saying, you should be… This is why Scott you’re saying put it in the title because it’s the most heavily weighted section. The front end is the most obvious way of describing a product. The back end is really for other ways of talking about the product and Amazon uses a great grammar word which I didn’t even realize was a grammar word. I’m sure my dad’s going to have a heart attack when he hears that. They say, “Use keywords that are synonyms, hypernyms which is the word that I didn’t recognized off the bat or spelling variations of your main keywords.
A hypernym for those of you guys who aren’t grammar nerds is like the high level way of describing something. So Scott if our keyword was coke, a hypernym would be soda or cola. It’s what that thing is at a higher level. If we was selling something red, a hypernym of red would be color. It’s like the category level. They are saying use either synonyms or other ways of describing it or even more generic ways of describing it in that back end. Now, like you said, I’m probably still going to throw my main keyword in there just to make sure. For sacrificing 10/15/20 characters out of the 250 character limit not a huge deal to me especially since they are not counting spaces or punctuation.
[00:18:26] Scott: Exactly. Okay. So title still the most important part of your listing as far as being found indexing. The next thing is I want to mention here and this is not really to do with your keywords but it kind is because your images, they need to represent your product and it needs to represent if you’re searching for a stainless steel garlic press, it better be a stainless steel garlic press in the picture. So I just want to really just stress the optimization is so important because everything kind of goes into when you’re found, how you are found and then someone clicks into your listing if it converts into a sale.
Images are great for obviously representing what the keyword is visually but then from there if we are looking at how do we actually get Amazon to notice us without us even like showing an image would be the title but it’d be your bullet points, again your bullet points are indexed and then from there we would go to description and then of course we would go with the back end keywords which we just talked about. Now, my opinion on the description is really that’s not really heavily indexed but it is in some way and it also to me is just another place to put keywords and if they are they are. But they wouldn’t be the ones that I would put in there so this way here I know that I’m going to be getting indexed for those.
I’d be using my bullets and I’d be using my backend keyword fields to do that but I would definitely not skip the description because of that. What’s your thoughts on that Chris?
[00:20:02] Chris: I’m on the same boat on that. The description is indexed but being indexed doesn’t mean that they are using it as a ranking factor inside of their ranking algorithm. Just because you’re putting stuff in that attribute doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what they are using to determine if you’re relevant for that. Now they probably are at least to some extent because to completely ignore that would be silly but it’s not going to play the same role as the title or the bullet points because that’s what customers see and that’s going to be the first thing that everybody looks at.
I would prioritize it in description it, I wouldn’t worry too much about just using different words just to try to get them in there. If you have to repeat your main keywords in your description go for it and it’s not going to hurt you. Focus the majority of your time on the three sections Scott, you just talked about the bullets and then the back end keywords because that’s really where that weight is placed. Amazon tells us that right in this update. They said, do not duplicate the content present in other attributes like title and bullets. So they are saying you don’t have to, we are already looking in those places for those keywords. Now, again if you happen to put the same keyword both places it is not going to hurt you. That word is just not going to help you either.
[00:21:21] Scott: 100% and here’s the last thing that I want to wrap up with here. I wanted this episode to just be the update kind of like what’s the black and white of the update. What does it mean? And translate it and then also best practices. But I always get people that are always asking like all right, so how do you rank for keywords now? Is it just a matter of just doing what we just said there and then just sitting back and letting Amazon get us exposure? My answer to that is not necessarily and probably not. The reason why I’m saying like that is because if you went after something that was like totally, totally like you were finding this diamond in the rough that no one else was going after and there was only five listings and you were targeting this keyword, you could probably just do everything we just said, without even getting sales and probably eventually rank there.
Because you don’t have that many pages to compete with. But that’s generally not the case. What we are talking about is when you are optimizing your listing everything we talk about, your title, your bullets, your backend search term, your description, all that stuff. When you have that in place, that’s going to allow Amazon to see what your listing is about. It’s going to scrape that, it’s going to look at that stuff and start to sort by that. But the way that you are going to get yourself seen is by getting sales through that listing. That’s the secret sauce. That’s the ingredient that needs to really make this all happen.
We found that happening over and over again with this new brand. No super URLs and anybody that’s new to this game what a super URL was and is for some people that are still using them is it’s a way for us to in a sense game Amazon’s algorithm by doing a search for a keyword, finding our listing using that link when we have people buy through it. Hopefully that makes sense. It’s a little bit confusing. But what it means is if someone was just randomly searching for a stainless steel garlic press and then they found your listing at the end of that string in the web address, you would see keyword equals and then it would have stainless plus garlic plus press. It’d have that.
[00:23:47] Scott: We would use that link drive traffic through that link and it would act as though someone searched for that product and found it through that search. That would tell Amazon what we bought it from. Now, does this still work? Don’t know. I would think that they are probably getting wise to that so more so now what they are doing is sales are coming and now they are going to scrape that listing and say this listing is all about stainless steel garlic press. Sales came in, we’re going to start to rank them and we’ve been finding it to work. Now, the other way to do that is to then drive traffic through stainless steel garlic press through sponsored product ads which is very similar to the super URL. It’s just you’re paying for it but people are searching and then you’re being seen and then they are clicking on that ad which was led by the keyword.
So understand that you need to optimize your listing regardless because that is what’s going to tell Amazon what you are selling. Once you do that and you add some sales to the mix that’s when you start to rank. Chris, you want to add anything to that?
[00:24:56] Chris: I think that is the secret sauce Scott. That is the big secret to ranking on Amazon, is getting sales. I would not use a super URL, I would not use any service that promises me to rank for a specific word at this point because Amazon has specifically called that out and I know there are a few out there that are still doing that. Someone actually asked about one in the class the other day and that was kind of my gut feels like, “What?” No, do not do that.
The reason is Amazon just considers that to be a potential manipulation. They are wise to that super URL tactic. It probably does still work but I want to risk the health of my account on it especially when I don’t need to. If my listing is properly optimized, if I’m using my keywords in my title, in my bullets, in my backend and I’m using some of those synonyms, alternate spellings, hypernyms, any of those kinds of things that we’ve been talking about, I think you’re going to be fine.
Scott what we’ve seen is even just promoting it generically, right, we talked about maybe you go have people search for the keyword and then buy your product if you control the traffic. You don’t’ even need to do that. You just drive sales and Amazon goes, oooh, they are related to all these keywords and it goes back to the old saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” You get a little bit of credit on each of those keywords and then you get another sale and you get a little bit of credit on each of those keywords and you start to drift up and as your organic sales take over on each of those keywords you drift up faster on certain ones that you do on other ones because that’s where the organic traffic is.
As long as you can drive sales in the beginning you’re going to be ranking for any of the keywords that you optimize for. Now, the real kind of secret ingredient in there is how much volume you need to rank for each of those and over what period of time and that varies from market to market. That’s a question you and I get asked on the back of that. How many sales do I need to rank? The answer is, the world famous, “It depends.” But you can kind of get a good idea of that by looking at the first page and seeing what they are selling on a daily basis and you can work backwards from there.
[00:26:54] Chris: In the new brand we’ve between 50 and 100 promotional units at least intentionally on some of those products and we’ve been ranking within a week or two for almost all of our major keywords, either top of page two, bottom of page one without really doing anything other than that email to our list.
[00:27:10] Scott: Yeah and I actually as you were just talking I went through one of our more popular keywords and there’s 2,000-ish a little bit more, 2,200 results that we are competing with and all we did was drove sales to our listing, we optimized it and we are ranking page one, middle of page one for that. It’s a very popular keyword and we are ranking for that. I also did it for another one that’s more… It’s actually a newer product which is only probably about four or five weeks old and that’s on page one as well. That one it’s a little bit less than 1,000. But again, it’s because we optimized and again like you said Chris, I think that’s another important point.
You have to figure out what the current competitors are selling and you need to match that in order to have a chance to rank on page one. So if you know that they are selling 300 units a month, that’s ten units a day, that means you need to match that or do better. We found doing a little bit better and optimizing the listing, you rank really, really quickly. But again, you gotta have it optimized and we are. We are not over optimizing either. We’re not like stuffing keywords and stuff. We are going after those handful of really good keywords that we know will convert because it’s what they are looking for. We are not trying to maybe go after a keyword that’s kind of related and they might buy it.
We’re going to get a ton of traffic, that’s going to actually hurt us. We are not doing that. We are going very, very concentrated. I thought it was interesting Chris. I just did a quick search and we are page one out of over 2,000 results and we are page one and we’ve done nothing other than just drive sales to our listing and pay-per-click. That’s it. So, cool. Anything you want to wrap up here with Chris on keywords and ranking and all that fun stuff? The update, anything you want to wrap up with before we call it a day?
[00:29:19] Chris: Yeah, let’s just recap that really fast if you are in any market except for Japan and India guys, they reduce that keyword limit to 250 characters. If you’re in Japan or India it’s a little bit different. You guys can take a look at the update insider you seller’s central headlines for that. India I think was 200 and Japan was 500 just because of different alphabets but if you’re in US, Canada, UK, anywhere else in the world except for Japan or India. It’s going to be 250 characters total. Make sure that you’re not including brand names at least according to Amazon. Even brand names that you own, you don’t need to duplicate keywords unless you really want to, like your main one might not be a bad idea to put in there.
That backend section really is for those synonyms, alternate spellings, those kinds of thing. That would be how I would fill those up unless you have data from search terms report. Scott that’s something we really should touch on. Using that data from the search terms report is great if you have it but if you don’t that’s when I would focus on those synonyms, those misspellings some of those kinds of things to fill up that back end, 250 characters and then revisit it in a month maybe after running sponsored products to see what word you can put in there that might drive additional traffic for you.
[00:30:27] Scott: Yeah, love it. Cool, so this has been fun. Always fun with these updates. I know a lot of you have said, “Man when is Amazon just going to stop changing things. They constantly keep changing things.” Just welcome it, it’s going to happen, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing this within Amazon, you’re selling within Amazon or if you’re on eBay or if you’re on Etsy or if you are a brick and mortar. There’s going to be things that change. Your town is going to come up with a new rule that you can only have a sign on one side of the building. You can’t have it on the front. Now, how do you advertise your business? There’s going to be things that happen that you have to adjust, you have to pivot.
These are just telling us the guidelines, the rules that they are putting in place and they are putting them in place for reason. They are not doing it for just to hurt us, they are doing it there really help the platform, to make it a better user experience so that way when we search for something, it’s going to be more direct and more relevant to what we’re searching for. It’s the same thing with Google. Google has been doing it for years, they come up with a new update and the reason why they are doing it is because they want us, the user not us as the seller they want us as the user to get back the information that we’re looking for really, really targeted and really specific to what we are searching for.
That’s what Google is for, it’s what Amazon is for, that is what eBay and Etsy, all of them are for. We type something in, the results come back, we want to say, “That’s exactly what i was looking for.” So just understand that’s what it’s there for. Little frustrating at times, I’m not going to lie but it’s part of the game. It’s part of the process. So Chris, that’s going to wrap it up. Guys, the show notes can be found at theamazingseller.com/408. So the transcripts, the show notes, any links we talked about will be there and yeah. So guys, just get out there and do it. Chris, we are going to wrap this up. I think you’re going to it with me this time, right? We are going to do this on the exit here. Let’s do it.
[00:32:20] Scott: Guys remember. As always I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to, you have to… Come on, say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, Chris is going to say it with me today on the count of three. Chris are you ready?
[00:32:35] Chris: Oh, I’m ready.
[00:32:36] Scott: One, two, three, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day guys and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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