The hot SEO debate rages on. Many enthusiastic readers of the BBE blog have asked whether they should focus on Amazon SEO or Google SEO. Clearly, there’s a lot of confusion around how the two strategies compare. And for some, nearly everything about Amazon SEO is head-scratching (isn’t Amazon an ecommerce website?).
Actually, Amazon—which has its own search engine and ranking algorithm—has become Google’s biggest competitor in recent years. A Wunderman Thompson Commerce (WTC) report revealed that 63% of consumers begin their online searches for products with Amazon. Also, 52% of consumers use Amazon to get inspiration for products to purchase.
So while people may use Google to find a dentist or restaurant near them, when it comes to product searches, Amazon has the upper hand.
Other facts about Amazon’s search engine:
- Almost 90% of all product views on Amazon come from its own product search and not from ads, merchandising, or product aggregators. (Source)
- During the holiday season, shoppers who already know what to buy start on Amazon (59% prefer Amazon over traditional search engines). (Source)
- 50% of mobile shoppers start on Amazon, with only 16% going directly to retailers and 34% using other search engines. (Source)
It’s all because of SEO, which works differently for Amazon than Google. As a seller and entrepreneur, it’s worth learning the key differences so you can adjust your strategy according to the platform.
Differences Between Amazon SEO and Google SEO
1. Keyword usage
Amazon and Google have different procedures for how they utilize keywords.
Amazon places a stronger emphasis on individual words instead of keyword phrases, as Amazon users often have more specific queries. Although keywords may come naturally when writing the product copy, breaking them into individual phrases doesn’t limit your ability to rank for those search terms.
For instance, if you’re targeting “coffee machine with espresso maker,” Amazon will index your product even if you break the long phrase into individual phrases like “coffee,” “machine,” and “espresso maker.” In other words, Amazon is okay with you using “short-tail keywords,” and you just need to integrate them once to get the A9 algorithm to index them.
When it comes to Google, it’s important to use long-tail keywords as people often conduct a wide variety of searches on its platform. A user might turn to Google to learn more about a product, then narrow their queries down to “brands offering x product” and “buy x product” to make a purchase. If you want to capture both awareness-level and transactional-level searches, you’ll need to include a range of keywords, including long-tail ones, in your web pages.
2. External links
One of the core aspects of Google SEO is linking. Google’s algorithm frequently tracks the number of links to your pages on external websites. This allows it to measure your website’s credibility based on how trustworthy it is to other businesses. If you earn many valuable links from relevant, credible sites, Google will see your website as an authority in your niche and increase your ranking to allow more people to find your content.
Amazon, on the other hand, determines a listing’s credibility by how many people make a purchase. Backlinks from other websites are not awarded in any way. That said, you can promote your listing on external websites, which may result in increased searches, rankings, and conversions on Amazon. Note that Amazon doesn’t allow merchants to link to external pages from their listings.
“Engaging the Amazon flywheel drives organic results/rankings and that can be done by positively influencing the Amazon Algorithm that allows sponsored ads to be more efficient and capture top search results. DSP can influence the Algorithm by driving traffic from off of Amazon on to the Amazon platform, sending traffic to the brand store, providing high conversion rate traffic from retargeting campaigns and increasing the amount of branded searches. This is how you can rank using Amazon’s tools and adhering to Amazon’s code of conduct.” –Dave Vermeulen, BBE Director of DSP Advertising
Note: The latest A10 algorithm update now sees external traffic as an influencer factor in Amazon product rankings. Product impressions and seller authority are among the top factors affecting search rank, while internal advertising tools such as pay-per-click are given less weight.
3. Content and conversions
On Amazon, certain types of content play a crucial role in ranking and subsequent sales of a product. Reviews are one such type of content. Listings with MORE reviews AND HIGHER STAR RATINGS often rank higher in Amazon because they’re considered to affect the customer’s buying decision. Potential shoppers often scroll straight to the feedback given by previous buyers, so it’s important to earn great reviews if you want to improve your Amazon SEO.
Amazon also accounts for conversions when determining your search position. If your listings attract thousands of views but have a low conversion rate, it will negatively impact your Amazon rank. Therefore, you need to optimize your listings for conversions, which involves writing great product copy, displaying high-quality product images, and keeping your prices lower or more competitive than other sellers.
Google’s algorithm is more click-focused compared to Amazon’s. Google looks at SEO metrics like the click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate, duration of a user’s session, and other KPIs to rank a page. High CTR and longer sessions mean people deem your page to be relevant to their search queries.
A form of content that is particularly important to Google’s algorithm is information-oriented content. This can include recommendations, magazine articles and blogs, among other things. Google wants to deliver the most in-depth results for every type of query, so it ranks even high-funnel content that feeds the broader research and discovery phase. Google does some selling, too, but it’s not their main goal. Google is all about providing audiences with valuable results.
“Unlike Google, Amazon’s rankings are conversion focused. The amount of time a customer spends on your product page doesn’t matter as much unless they actually end up purchasing the product. When it comes to placing high on their rankings, their algorithm is naturally weighted towards products making the most money. This means our goal when optimizing an Amazon listing needs to be single-mindedly conversion-focused. We have to convince the customer to buy on that visit, whether the visit is 30 seconds or 5 minutes.”
“There are a lot of SEO and technical tricks that go into optimization and ranking high on searches, but we can’t forget to also speak to the customer through polished, persuasive copy and design as well. Working the algorithm can only go so far. At some point, you need to connect on a human level with the customer. You want them to feel an emotional bond to the brand, to really visualize how this product solves their problem. You want to inform and engage them quickly, and in doing so really set them up to become a future five star review. Combining skilled techniques that cater to the algorithm with really great sales content that hooks the human is key to organically finding your way to the top search results page.” –Bridget Callahan, BBE Creative Brand Strategy Manager
Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO: Summary
To conclude, optimizing for Amazon and Google involves getting into different mindsets. Both search engines play an invaluable role in a shopper’s journey, but the foundation of Amazon’s algorithm is meeting shoppers’ needs and displaying the products that are most likely to be sold.
In summary, here are some things that Amazon and Google consider when it comes to search engine optimization:
|Amazon SEO||Google SEO|
|Sales performance, product pricing, and stock availability can impact your Amazon ranking.||Clicks, session length, and other KPIs are measured to determine a page’s credibility.|
|Use of individual keywords is the top priority, though long-tail keywords may appear naturally in the product description.||Long-tail keywords are the name of the game when it comes to optimizing for Google Search.|
|Sell authority is a vital ranking factor.||Domain authority defines a website’s credibility.|
|Earning reviews is an integral part of Amazon SEO.||Informational content is added to boost shoppers’ experience.|
|External traffic is now regarded as crucial for product rankings.||External links form the backbone of Google SEO.|
|Photos in the listing are high-resolution.||Visual elements (photos, videos, infographics, etc. are added to boost user engagement).|
|PPC sales may influence search engine position.||PPC traffic sends a positive signal to Google’s ranking algorithm.|
If you dig in deep, many areas within an Amazon listing can be optimized to provide users with a great experience. Don’t know where to begin? Get help from our Amazon SEO consultants. Our experienced staff of Amazon veterans will help you with keyword placement, listing optimization using A+ content and visuals, and customer outreach to get positive reviews and more.