Amazon is the biggest name in the game for selling products online. but with 1.9 million selling partnersThe competition is fierce.
To claim your market share, you need to appear in people’s searches.
And that starts with keywords.
Just like if you are optimizing a webpage for Google, you need to include the right words and phrases on your product page to ensure that you appear on relevant searches.
Your titles, features, and descriptions need to be improved, but that’s not enough.
There’s another factor that Amazon takes into account when providing results to queries, and one that many third-party sellers don’t know about: hidden keywords.
If you are completely unaware of what these are and how they work, or if you want to discover the secret to using them to your advantage, you are in the right place.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Amazon’s hidden keywords and show you everything you need to know to get them working on your Amazon store.
What are the hidden keywords on Amazon?
Hidden keywords, sometimes called back keywords, are any words related to your product that are not included in the title or description.
For example, they are terms returned by Amazon after a Sponsored Product ad appears for an item, clicks on the ad, purchases the product, or queries a customer enters into an Amazon search.
They are any words related to your product that are not in the product title or description. These may be generic terms or synonyms for your product.
It must be included in the 250 characters per field (up to five fields) that you provide to Amazon to help enhance discoverability on their search results pages.
So, search terms, right? not exactly. I know this is not very clear so we will try to clear things up.
(And yes, the fields where you enter these hidden keywords in the Amazon user interface are also called “search terms(To make things a little more confusing.)
In addition, the report that you download from Amazon to report these search terms for advertising efforts is called the Search Term Report.
In Google Paid Search, we call it “Search Query Report”, which seems to make more sense, but Amazon doesn’t seem to approve of it.
Calling hidden keywords just “keywords” also gets confusing, especially when choosing keywords for your Sponsored Product campaigns.
And while I hate the name with every search bone in my body, Amazon calls them hidden keywords, which helps differentiate.
How to think of hidden keywords
Here’s the best way I can think of to help you decide how to think about these terms, how you can best use them, and where to get future terms from:
Remember the taboo party game? I broke into teams and pulled out a card with a word or something.
Your goal was to get your partner or team to guess the word without saying it or several other related no-go terms before time runs out.
If you say a forbidden word, the other team “hammers” you, and your turn is over.
For example, the keyword is “football,” but you can’t say football, touchdown, end zone, pigskin, NFL — what words would you say to get your team to say “football”? Those will be your hidden keywords.
Let’s use the product example.
If the item is a Michael Kors shoe, you can include the brand name, shoe type, size, and attributes such as color or style in the title.
And if you can’t get all of that in the title, it should be in the product description, along with additional details like material type or comfort.
Those details are in the title and description Not What do you want to use for hidden keywords. Instead, you want to use terms that will help someone find your product if they weren’t looking for what you presented visually on the page.
You could, in that case, try using: Slip-On Toe Closure Under $100.
Amazon Help provides these examples:
But even these examples won’t begin to fill the first 250-character search term box. It can be very difficult to fill in every field of a search term without resorting to extreme padding, especially if you are entering manually.
Choose hidden keywords
Choosing hidden keywords is where I see the most intersection between searching in search engines and searching on Amazon. What tools can you use on one to the other?
Many blogs recommend Google Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.ioUbersuggest reports, or queries from Shopping campaigns.
I am not against these suggestions at all – but only for generating ideas or starting points.
The way people search on Amazon and how Amazon surfaces results differ from Google’s, so the best way to populate and maintain this field is to use data from Amazon or your own listings whenever possible.
This means that deciding search terms, customer-submitted listing, product details, attributes, or features will perform better in compliance and maintenance.
Like keyword search listings or text ads, you can’t include inaccurate or misleading information, promotions (such as buy one get one), personal claims, or profanity.
You use a single space to separate the terms and nothing else, which makes the search person in me cringe (I want to add that comma or semicolon a lot).
It also means that when you review a bunch of hidden keywords for a product, it looks like a nonsensical line of gobbledygook, even if you follow best practices and use logical order with your best keywords first.
Also, thanks to the good old “+variables” exercise that Google got us into searching, you no longer have that reflex of putting together common misspellings, title cases, and plurals.
The same goes for hidden keywords, which makes adding them even more difficult, especially by the time you get to the fourth search term box and run out of ideas.
However, one big difference that as a search person I tend to forget is that these hidden keywords don’t carry importance, scores, or rank the same way they do on Google.
That’s why you should change them regularly to keep up with inquiries and feedback from Amazon.
This increases the likelihood that your product pages will be listed on the search results page.
This is especially true if Amazon finds that some of the terms you submitted are not relevant or don’t use them. If this is the case, replace it and send back.
Add hidden keywords
Now that you have your hidden keywords identified, it’s time to add them to your product. Here’s how to do this on a per-product basis in the Amazon Seller Central UI.
- Log in to the Seller Center and click barren tab.
- On the right, find the Edit button and click on it.
- You will see the “View” tab. Click on “Keywords” to open the hidden keywords section.
This can take a long time, but if you have an army of content writers or interns to do it for you, you should do it. If not, you may want to brew a new pot of coffee as this can take a while.
You may not want to re-evaluate and adjust time, especially if you have a catalog size of more than a few hundred products.
You might find it helpful to check out your feed capabilities, whether you’re using a feeder provider or creating your product feeds in-house and submitting them to Amazon.
Dynamic generation capabilities can scale this process to vendors with large catalogs depending on the level of sophistication.
The output will be more similar to my previous comment from gobbledygook than if a human entered them manually, but again, scale.
How to check if your hidden keywords have been added
Unfortunately, the only way to check if your hidden keywords have been added is through random random checks. Unfortunately, this is a manual process.
Copy the entire string from the search terms box (wait at least 24 hours after applying before doing so), and search for it on Amazon.
If a list of products that are supposed to be associated with these search terms appears, then it is working. If not, try another combination of terms from another search term box and repeat.
But what if the product list does not appear? Perhaps not all of the terms you provided were used (there may have been an editorial or redundancy error), or you need to proceed through all five boxes.
I’ve seen cases where only one of the five boxes is captured, indexed, and used. As you can see, it’s not a great system in terms of tracking and tweaking ability.
Fun fact: If you remember Yahoo SSP (aka paid embedding) feeds, this process and indexing might ring a bell. In 2008 I submitted content via a feed to supplement Yahoo’s organic search results which meant that I could get information faster and more frequent than crawling.
Final thoughts on hidden keywords
Hopefully, by this point, you’ve developed a working understanding of hidden Amazon keywords and how to add them on the backend to generate more traffic to your product pages.
Finding the perfect blend for your needs is a bit labor intensive but well worth the effort.
Just remember to keep up. Keep testing and identifying which keywords are working and which are not.
Replace poor performers with new keywords until you find the perfect combination. Then do it again.
Amazon is a great tool for online retailers. Using keywords in the background is a great way to ensure you get the traffic – and make the sales you need.
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