Both Amazon and Walmart have complex algorithms for how they rank product search results.
Sellers can get overwhelmed with all of the different approaches to product page SEO, not to mention the ever-changing requirements.
Pauline Shiu from Zentail joined Andrew Johnson and Liz Downing from Teikametrics to discuss the most effective SEO practices from keyword placement to paid ads.
These 10 tips will allow you to cut through the confusion and improve your product pages so you can have the best chance at ranking higher and getting more conversions.
1. Don’t keyword stuff
The first thing to know is that SEO has evolved. It’s no longer about how many keywords you can fit in.
It’s about putting the keywords in the right places and making it easy to read.
“I’m glad we’ve moved beyond the keyword stuffing and now we’re really concerned about the user experience and how it reads to your end-user,” said Pauline
Putting keywords in your H1 headlines and your website titles and descriptions are all important and can help your listing in the algorithm.
But you want to make sure that the keywords and descriptions are human-friendly. They should be easy to read and resonate with your buyer because that’s who the descriptions are ultimately for.
2. Set up your sales page for SEO success
When people begin searching for products to buy, 50% of the time they’re not starting in Google – they’re starting within marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.
That’s why it’s critical to make sure that your product page is set up for discoverability within those marketplaces.
Make sure your title, bullet points, and descriptions are strong.
“We all know this by now, 70% of customers aren’t clicking past that first page,” Pauline said. “And so getting there at the top of page one is key. From there, you’re going to click into your products, landing pages, product detail pages, product listings, whatever you want to call it.”
It’s a numbers game. Only 10-15% of people who see your product on the search page will click into your product page. Your odds of increasing that number come down to good SEO.
Another thing to help your discoverability is to make sure your products work with the filters.
“When you think about your long tail keywords, not everyone is going to type in ‘size 2,’ whatever color dress, style,” Pauline said. “They’re going to type in dress, go to style, size, go to sleeve length, whatever. And all those filters really, really matter.”
When you optimize your product pages this way, you’re rewarded by the algorithms.
3. Create a strong listing before pursuing paid advertising
Paid advertising should be part of your strategy, but if you don’t already have a good foundation with SEO, it won’t help your sales.
“You have some customers that have very terrible listings,” Andrew said.
“Definitely advertise as a great way to get more traffic to your products, but if your listing isn’t a great listing, it throws maybe one or two pictures, not high def, poor descriptions, a couple of words here and there, you can do all the best advertising in the world and it’s not going to really do much.”
You need to make sure that your listing is already solid before you start advertising.
Then when you move into advertising, make sure your campaign structure is well thought out to see the most benefit.
4. Comply with current listing requirements
The listing requirements on the different marketplaces change regularly. It’s hard to stay up to date.
But if you don’t have a system in place for staying compliant, your listings can be removed.
“We call them taxonomy changes: categories, attributes, requirements, things like that,” Pauline said. “When there are changes, sellers don’t always know about them, which then result in listing errors.”
“If you have listing errors that are critical listing errors, then your listings are removed, they don’t meet requirements. And then you do kind of have to rebuild,” she said.
Zentail offers something called change management as part of their automation platform.
Whenever there is a change in a marketplace’s taxonomy, Zentail pushes that change out to every listing in their database.
Users may have to make small changes on their end, but it ensures that you never miss an update and never risk having your listings taken down and having to start from scratch.
“If you don’t have something like this, you will first have to find out what changed, make the change, re-push,” Pauline said. “And you’re going to have to find a way to drive that traffic again, get back in good graces.”
5. Use advertising to piggyback on organic sales
You might think of advertising as a separate path to conversions, but ads can actually be a crucial part of your SEO strategy.
Advertising drives more positive actions to your listing more quickly. More impressions, more clicks, and ideally more positive reviews and conversions lead to better SEO.
“As more positive things keep happening on your listing, both Amazon and Walmart, of course, their biggest interest is happy customers,” Andrew said. “So the more positive things happen on your listing, as part of their algorithm, to some extent, they’ll definitely start giving you more organic shopping, which will result in more organic sales.”
Organic sales are great because you’re not paying for advertising to get those.
So if you advertise effectively, you can see more ad sales, which leads to more organic sales. Then you can reinvest the increase in revenue into more ads, and you end up with a snowball situation.
Teikametrics uses this flywheel strategy to boost paid and organic conversions for their clients.
6. Find the right keywords
There is so much focus on keywords, but how do you find the keywords people are using to find products like yours?
Here are five ways.
- Amazon search bar
“When you’re looking for keywords, there’s a couple of things you can do free of charge,” Pauline said. “This is suggestive search. So as you type items into the Amazon search bar, it gives you other alternatives.”
Look at these suggestions for keyword ideas.
- Google Trends
Another free tool is to look at the trends for the keywords you already use in Google Trends. It will show you other relevant keywords as well as their popularity in search.
- Similar search terms
Sometimes search results for very similar terms can be pretty different.
“You have to consider what are all the ways that someone can search for your product,” Pauline said. “So I did the difference here between spelling out barbecue and then abbreviating BBQ. And you can see that it’s close, but it’s different.”
Experiment with different terms like “tools” instead of “accessories.” See what the results show and try the terms with search results that seem most relevant to your product.
- Spelling variations
Sometimes it can be worth it to capture the search results for misspelled words or for alternate spellings.
For instance, if your item is gray, also include grey in your keywords.
- Advertising keywords
Another tactic is if you’re using paid advertising, look at your metrics and see which keywords are performing well in your ads.
Those same keywords may perform well in organic search, too.
7. Use strong titles and bullet points
The most important thing to keep in mind when writing your titles and bullet points is character count.
“So your Amazon and Walmart character counts can go up to 100 plus. Focus on the first 70,” Pauline said. “It could relate to mobile shopping and that really, they see the first 50-70 characters on mobile. And so you want the most relevant keywords to show up earlier on.”
Put the brand and most important keywords in those first 50-70 characters, but you do want to use all of the characters you have.
Even though the words won’t show up for mobile users after that cut-off, they will still count towards your SEO.
Bullets are also weighed heavily in the algorithms.
Those can have character counts of up to 1,000 – 1,200, but as with titles, place your most relevant keywords first, in the first 700 – 800 characters.
Character count isn’t everything though. Make sure that it makes sense to your reader in terms of content and context and that it has good readability.
8. Focus on a clean listing and test often
While misspellings can be a small part of your keyword strategy, readability is far more important.
“You have to make sure that you’re putting them in a way that it still makes sense to the reader, because if it’s just like littered with all these things that when grouped together don’t make a lot of sense, my guess is that you’re not going to have a lot of conversions, my guess is that your placement within the algorithm is going to go down and you’re not going to want to do that,” Pauline said.
Anything you put in your description should have the purpose of helping the user find and understand your product.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a listing shouldn’t be optimized and then forgotten. Test different descriptions and keywords often.
“It really comes down to have a testing framework,” she said. “Have a spreadsheet that says, this is what my product description was for these two weeks, these are the results, try something new next two weeks, compare the difference.”
9. Solicit customer reviews
Reviews are a big part of SEO, not just because of the stars, but for the content itself.
“It’s all of that written in content, is what goes towards the algorithm,” Pauline said. “And then further it’s the ratings and the reviews. So it’s the number of stars, your star count and the content within those reviews that all feed into the algorithm.”
People rely on reviews to find products they trust, so reviews are crucial for conversions.
“Amazon knows that’s one of the big things that really set them aside to start,” Pauline said. “And obviously it’s a continuous success strategy for Walmart and Walmart sellers as well. The reviews are key.”
A bonus is that what people write in reviews can also be used to discover new keywords, whether that’s for the search box or competitors.
10. Utilize competitor insights
An additional step you can take to improve your SEO and advertising strategy is to take advantage of competitor research tools.
Teikametrics offers market intelligence which shows you who your top competitors are for your top keywords.
“I can give you a really good idea of really what percent of the time are they beating you either organically or through advertising,” Andrew said. “So in this example, you might find this one brand, maybe you have a much better product than them, more reviews, all that, just an overall better listing, but maybe you can find on this, that they’re actually really doing a great job with advertising.”
Based on what you find, you can create a new strategy to go after those competitors with better advertising, offering incentives like two-day shipping, or targeting specific keywords.
With these 10 tricks, you can start improving your Amazon and Walmart product pages today.
These SEO strategies will give the advantage of hitting all the key parts of the algorithm so that you can get your highest conversions.