All the buzz these days is about Amazon’s new Add-A-Product interface in Seller Central. Not so much because it looks different, but because it expands the limit for search terms from 250 characters (5 lines of 50 each) to 5,000 characters (5 lines of 1,000 each). This is apparently a beta test as not every seller is currently seeing the new design or the increased search term limit and it is not showing in every category/subcategory yet.
For some, the immediate reaction is to rejoice! For others, there is a good deal of concern over Amazon’s decision to allow so much more space for keywords. I decided to take a quick survey of what some of the top-sellers on Amazon think about this change. I’ll share my thoughts at the end, but for now, here’s what others are saying.
Scott Voelker, The Amazing Seller & Author of “Amazon Selling Blueprint.”
I think the new 5,000 character search term expansion could be valuable for adding more keywords to help discover your product. The one thing to keep in mind is that just because you are allowed additional characters doesn’t mean you should use them. If sellers start to stuff keywords and receive traffic to non-converting keywords, that could hurt their listing instead of helping it. Amazon looks at conversion rates and adjusts rankings accordingly. It’s like anything else. Be smart and only use the additional space to help receive targeted traffic to your product listings.
I think that 250 characters are enough to take care of the main keywords for a particular product however having extra characters allows for those longer tail and fringe words that can help in search.
Christine Cobb, Discover FBA
I suspect that having 5,000 characters will tempt some sellers to put in keywords that are not relevant to their product. Amazon has just added this to their list of prohibited activity and so they probably are anticipating problems with unrelated products being shown for popular searches.
Debra Conrad, Bundle Basics & Advanced Strategies
Who wouldn’t love more room for keywords? It’s often frustrating to filter out keywords that may be long-tail, but you know are still valuable. After you spend time hunting down every keyword possible, it starts to feel a little personal when you have to put some of them on the chopping block.
I also see disaster looming for keyword stuffing. Amazon has lackluster monitoring when it comes to the tiny details. Seriously, how does a seller manage to fit 800 plus characters into a title? How does a seller manage to put words into titles that violate Federal Law? If Amazon can’t set up a simple system to monitor all product title configuration, how can we compete against sellers who keyword spam?
Steve Chow, My Wife Quit Her Job
The immediate pros of Amazon expanding the character limit to 5,000 is that experienced sellers who are in the know will immediately benefit which is why it’s always important to stay on top of the game. It will take a while for newer sellers to update their listings which should provide a boost early on.
The other pro is that more experienced sellers who understand the importance of keyword research will thrive and provide a means to further differentiate their product offerings. Overall, I see the new expansion as a means to further separate the pros from the newbies.
For general SEO purposes, it’s always good to include more legitimate, relevant, search keywords. In order to take advantage of this change, a seller will really need to dig in and think about all the different ways that buyers will find their products, including looking at Amazon’s suggested search terms, understand what problem/function their product solves (many buyers use “solution based searches”), as well as understanding what related searches could lead a buyer to their product.
Used correctly, this change will be beneficial for sellers who take advantage of it. For those who see this as an opportunity to abuse these expanded fields, it will continue to contribute to the degradation of the customer search and browse experience on Amazon. My concern is that this change will open up more opportunity for those who are using black hat/gray hat optimization techniques to stuff the Search Terms fields with keywords that are designed to manipulate Amazon’s search and browse function.
What Do I Think?
I, personally, believe this will cause a good number of sellers to experience lower conversion rates. People will tend to jump the gun and fill all 5,000 characters with any and every word they possibly can whether or not it is targeted to the customer/product. Because many of the terms will be arbitrary, conversions – for many sellers – could decline.
Your conversion rate is determined as a calculation of how many people visit your Amazon page vs. how many purchase. If you’re driving tons of traffic using keywords that don’t cause shoppers to buy, your conversion rate will drop because the ratio of people clicking to your page vs. those who purchase will decrease. When your conversion rate declines, Amazon takes notice and subsequently may reduce your visibility in the search results.
Just because you can have 5,000 characters for search terms doesn’t mean you should.
My recommendation is to continue to finely tune your keywords to be good matches with your target customers and the product you’re selling while staying within Amazon’s terms of service. This means NOT including:
• competitors’ brand names
• misleading keywords (aluminum if your product is plastic, for example)
• subject terms or sale announcements (#1, black Friday sale, etc.)
• disease/condition names (if you’re selling supplements)
• and more
What should you look at including with the extra space?
• Customer-based keyphrases – For example, if you’re selling backpacks, you’ll want to focus on the customers who would buy your particular type of backpack. Is yours for kids, hikers, laptop users?
• Solution-based keyphrases – Those that lead shoppers to a solution to their problem such as product descriptions (no oil popcorn popper or butt lifting jeans).
• Problem-based keyphrases – Just the opposite of solution-based, these phrases represent the problem the shopper faces, rather than the solution they hope to find. Examples include organize closet or cold runny nose.
Yes, if you’re included in this beta test and have the opportunity to add more keywords, do so IF they make sense. Keep in mind, too, that because this is a beta roll out, Amazon will be watching what sellers do. If they see that the immediate response to having more leeway with search terms is to abuse the privilege, they are likely to reverse their decision.
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