Like Google, Amazon has an algorithm that ensures it’s providing the most relevant results to its users. Known as A9 (or A10 depending on who you ask!), this algorithm is how Amazon sellers can get their products in front of the right eyes at the right time.
The algorithm works by looking at what shoppers are searching for and matching these search terms with the terms that sellers are using to describe their products.
To boost rank and ensure your product shows up on the most relevant results pages, it’s important to incorporate the right keywords – keywords that your audience is searching for – into your product listings. However, this is sometimes easier said than done.
The SEO Problem
Amazon sellers wanting to optimise their product listings encounter the same problem as content marketers writing for websites and blogs: they must find that often elusive middle ground between writing for people and writing for algorithms.
Writing for algorithms would ideally mean stuffing your product listing with all the relevant keywords you possibly can, helping the ranking bots to scan your page.
On the other hand, writing for people would ideally mean forgetting about keywords and instead focusing on providing engaging information with natural text.
They are polar opposites. But the good news is that you can create product listings for both algorithms and people by using frontend and backend keywords in your listings.
What are Frontend and Backend Keywords?
Frontend keywords are your customer-facing keywords, the keywords that audiences can see in your product listing. You might include these keywords in your title or your product description or both. Either way, they’re keywords that are visible to buyers.
Backend keywords are different. They’re built into the backend of your product listing – the behind-the-scenes area – that Amazon’s algorithm can see, but audiences can’t.
The benefit of backend keywords is that you can add keywords that you want to be associated with your product for ranking and indexing purposes without impacting the audience experience or creating content that isn’t enjoyable for audiences to read.
What do Backend Keywords do?
While backend keywords do impact ranking, they’re primarily used for indexing. They ensure your products show up on the relevant results pages.
Indexing = The searches your product is displayed for
Ranking = How high up in the results page your product is displayed
For example, you might be selling a facial moisturiser and using this term as a frontend keyword to maximise your rank in the ‘facial moisturiser’ search results page.
However, by adding ‘facial lotion’ into your backend keywords, you can also make sure your product is indexed in this search. So even though it won’t rank as highly as products with ‘facial lotion’ as a frontend keyword, it will still be listed to give audiences an alternative.
How to Add Backend Keywords
Unlike frontend keywords that can be added to your product titles and descriptions, backend keywords must be added and managed through your inventory.
In your Seller Central Account, select ‘Manage Inventory’ in the ‘Inventory’ dropdown menu. Here, you’ll see a list of all products you’re currently selling through Amazon. Next, click to edit the listing you want to optimise and choose the ‘Keywords’ tab.
There are several fields here, and the one we’re interested in right now is ‘Search Terms’. This is where you can add your backend keywords. It’s not to be confused with the ‘Platinum Keywords’ field, which is on the same page. Even though you can edit this field, it won’t do anything for your ranking or indexing if you’re not a Platinum seller.
Don’t forget to save the changes you’ve made. But, of course, you’ll need an idea of what backend keywords you want to add first. We’ll take a closer look at that below.
Choosing Backend Keywords
While it’s tempting to fill your ‘Search Terms’ field with everything under the sun, this will do more harm than good. The field has a maximum limit of 250 bytes, which equals 250 standard alphanumeric characters (special characters take up more space). It’s important to select your backend keywords wisely. If you go over the 250-byte limit, Amazon won’t be able to index any of the backend keywords for that ASIN, meaning you’ll only show up in search results pages for the frontend terms you’re using.
Are you shocked by the low limit? You’re not alone. Many sellers remember the older system that offered five separate search term fields and up to 5000 bytes. However, Amazon determined that this was facilitating keyword spamming and reduced the limit to 250.
The question now is, how can you select the right backend keywords? Here are some ideas:
● Use Synonyms
The most obvious option is to add keywords that mean the same as your frontend keywords but are less likely to be searched for. While the obvious keyword would be ‘dog bed’, for example, people may also search for ‘pet bed’, dog cushion’, ‘pet pillow’, ‘donut bed’, ‘calming bed’, and so on. These are great backend keywords.
● Run PPC Campaigns
Run an Amazon keyword targeted PPC campaign like Sponsored Products to help you identify the keywords driving the most conversions for your products. Then, you can add these as backend keywords into your product listings and add any that aren’t producing results to your negative keywords list so that you’re not wasting clicks.
● Download a Search Terms Report
Amazon offers sellers several different reporting options, and one of the best is the Search Terms report. You can run this report in Seller Central, and you’ll find it in the ‘Advertising Reports’ dropdown menu in the Reports tab. It will show you keyword search volume to help you find high converting keywords to add into the backend.
● External Keyword Tools
As well as using Amazon’s keyword reporting tools, you can use any one of the many online tools available today. These tools will give you insight into what people are searching for and what keywords may help you connect with them. They may also be able to suggest some keywords you may not have already thought to include.
● Manual Research
Although it might take a bit of time, it’s worth clicking onto a few competitor listings on Amazon and skimming through the customer reviews. You can see the words that genuine buyers are using to describe the product themselves. These are terms that might also be used to search for the product in the first place, so they can be beneficial.
These ways can help you find keywords you should use, but what about the keywords you *shouldn’t* use? The obvious answer is frontend keywords. You’ve used these in your product titles and descriptions already, so don’t waste your limited 250-byte space repeating them.
There are also a few things that Amazon prohibits in its search term field:
Brand names (either your own or your competitors)
- Temporary words, e.g., ‘new’
- Subjective words, e.g., ‘best’
- Abusive or offensive words
Steer clear of these, and you should be fine.
How to Check Indexing
Of course, you’re not adding backend keywords just for the fun of it. You’re doing it to ensure your product is searchable, that it’s indexed and that it shows up in the right results pages.
This means that you can’t simply add backend keywords into your listing and leave it at that; you must check that your keywords are helping you show up in the right places.
Doing this is easy but a little time-consuming. The trick is to search Amazon for one of your backend keywords and your product’s ASIN. This should generate a results page with one result: your product. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to head back into your inventory and check what’s going on, as you may have slightly gone over your 250-byte limit.
If your product does show up, you can repeat the process with the next backend keyword, and so on. If you really can’t spare the time, a quick Google should show you some automated tools that can make checking indexing much quicker.
Backend Keyword Optimisation Is Not a One Time Thing
Customer behaviours and needs are constantly changing, meaning that the terms they use to search for products will continuously evolve too.
Sellers have become accustomed to updating their product titles and descriptions in response to these changing behaviours, but it’s important to remember that backend keywords need updating, too. Unfortunately, hidden away behind-the-scenes, they can be easy to overlook.
When it comes time to change your backend keywords, A/B testing can help. A/B testing allows you to run two separate product listings on Amazon to see which results in the best experience for shoppers.
Then, using your previous sales data, conduct competitor analysis to identify new search terms to add to the field, and run an A/B test to determine the best combination of keywords to help with your indexing efforts.