Amazon SEO Ranking Factors Explained for PPC’rs [2020]

Often Amazon advertisers can fall into the trap of only pursuing a paid PPC strategy or an organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. But as it turns out, a good Amazon PPC’r knows a thing or two about SEO, and a good Amazon SEO’r has a solid grasp on PPC as well. 

While these two methods acquire traffic in different ways, they’re not actually competing with each other. Instead, think of them as two sides of the same ranking coin. What’s useful for PPC is useful for SEO, and vice versa.

The Amazon Ranking Cycle
SEO and PPC boost each other in a positive feedback loop.

Let’s break down these two strategies and figure out how you can use them together to fuel growth and create new types of engagement. Here’s what we’ll be covering: 

  1. The differences between Amazon SEO and PPC
  2. Amazon SEO ranking factors
  3. How PPC can fuel organic growth

The Differences Between Amazon SEO and PPC

No matter your platform, whether it be Facebook, Google, or Amazon, there are specific strategies that cross-over well and some that don’t. Generally, if you can apply organic techniques to the world of paid traffic, then you’ll be in a good position.

Let’s think about why this makes sense. Organic techniques often boost metrics like click-through-rates (CTRs) and engagement rates. If you take those same principles and apply them to your paid advertising, you’re going to end up with more people interacting with your ads.

However, you can’t just copy-paste the exact same strategies for SEO and PPC.

To illustrate this, we’re going to show you what would happen if you tried to use the same keyword strategies for SEO and PPC.

Beware the Keyword Dump

One of the major concerns with Amazon advertising is that people don’t realize that PPC keyword strategies are pretty different from SEO keyword building.

Let’s set the scene for this example. You’re ready to launch a new product, so you start by using an SEO keyword research tool like this or this. The tool spits out about 500 terms that are very useful in building your product page and driving organic traffic.

Possible results from a keyword research tool
Here's what you might get if you input 'kitchen' into one of these tools.

However, when it’s time to create a Sponsored Product campaign, most sellers typically plop that same list of 500 search terms as their keywords. 

Notice that these terms aren’t optimized at all. They’re just a list of terms that relate to your product. There’s been no keyword research done on them to refine them or filter out poor performers.

This keyword dump wreaks havoc on your campaign.

You’ll inevitably have hundreds of keywords that get no impressions, Amazon has never indexed before, and are irrelevant.

If you’re someone who has done this, you might have ad groups with 50 or 100+ keywords. We highly recommend you listen to Episode 10 of our PPC Den Podcast to learn more about keyword dumping and how to fix it. 

As you can see, copying techniques exactly from SEO to PPC leads to disaster. So how do we fix this? Is there some way to easily translate SEO techniques to PPC? To answer these questions, we have to dive into the heart of how Amazon SEO ranking factors work.

Amazon SEO Ranking Factors

When you put up a new product on Amazon, like an iPhone charger, it needs to determine where this product fits in with the billions of its other products.

To do this, it looks at two main groups of factors: relevance and buyability.

Relevance

Relevance ratings come from your keyword terms and other descriptive data. It includes factors like:

  • Product title
  • Description
  • Image metadata
  • Any other words you write about your product

This part of the SEO world is all about optimizing your data, so people can find your product easier. However, when you’re first launching a new product, you have no data on what will convert.

To solve this, you need to do a bit of keyword research. You can either do this manually or use a keyword research tool like Ad Badger. You can use information like search volume and difficulty ratings to decide which keywords seem like the best match for you.

Once you have your preferred keywords, insert the ones which you want to rank for into prominent areas of your product page.

Target keywords in product listing
This listing is chock full of keywords it's trying to target. We've color-coated each one.

For keywords with an exceptionally high difficulty, like “kitchen” for example, it’s not enough to have them peppered throughout your product page. You’re also competing with everyone else who has “kitchen” as a keyword (over 100,000 products in this case).

In that case, Amazon needs to incorporate even more ranking factors, which is where buy-ability comes into play.

Buyability

Buyability is what drives a consumer to convert and buy your product.  It includes factors like:

  • Price
  • Style of your title and description
  • Image appeal
  • Review quality
  • Add-to-cart rate
  • And more…
Low buyability vs high buyability
Which one looks more appealing to buy to you?

Having high relevancy helps people to discover your product, but it doesn’t guarantee any actual conversions. You may get high traffic volume, but none of it matters if people immediately bounce because of high prices or ugly images. 

On the other hand, you could make the most desirable product listing known to the Amazon jungle, but if no one can find it, then you’re an equally bad position.

You need to create strong relevancy and buyability for your product before your organic conversions start to take off.

Having a strong organic presence will benefit your paid advertising, but there’s also a way to use PPC to boost organic traffic.

How PPC Can Fuel Organic Growth

When you first launch a new product, it can be a bit like a catch-22. To rank high, you need to convert more, but to convert more, you need a high ranking. So which one do you go after first?

Even if your product is highly relevant, with no reviews and no history, it’s not going to be showing up at the top of search results. The inherent low buyability of new products will hinder its ranking.

One way of getting around this problem is by using paid advertising to boost your listing to the top of search results and other areas.

A strong PPC campaign can catapult your product into the eyes of consumers, giving it a chance to build up its buyability quickly. 

In essence, it’s kind of like you’re paying Amazon to increase your buyability naturally and quickly. Furthermore, it builds up some real data you can use to re-optimize your SEO factors.

Re-Optimizing SEO with PPC Data

Keyword tools and research are great ways to start when you have no data on how your product performs. However, once you start a PPC campaign for your product, you’ll obtain real performance data.

You can use your PPC data to see what factors work and what don’t to re-optimize your product listing.  

For example, let’s say you were launching a new metal spoon product. In the beginning, “metal spoon” might’ve seemed like a good, straightforward keyword. However, after running a PPC campaign, you see that “metal spoon” isn’t all that great after all. There’s too much competition, and conversions are low. 

Instead, the PPC data reveals that “aluminum camping spoon” is a much higher converting keyword. In fact, your product would be much better off if you adjust the whole listing to contain more of this keyword.

And just like that, you’ve used PPC data to directly improve your SEO relevance factors.

Key Takeaways

It’s time to close the gap between Amazon SEO and PPC and recognize them for what they are two different methods to accomplish the same goal.

Hopefully, now you know more about the inner workings of Amazon SEO factors and how to use PPC to boost your organic traffic.

As always, leave any questions and thoughts in the comments below. Badger out.

Discover Us on our PPC Den Podcast

If you prefer learning via audio, we cover this same info in the podcast episode below. You can also find us on your favorite streaming platforms like Apple, Google, Spotify, and more!

  • 4:00 We’re hiring at the Badger Den!
  • 6:04 You need paid and organic to thrive
  • 7:17 Beware the keyword dump (and learn more about it on Episode 10)
  • 9:26 ‘Kitchen’ is not a good keyword for ‘kitchen towels’
  • 12:03 Google’s SEO ranking factors
  • 16:03 Aiming for 1 keyword can be highly competitive
  • 18:30 Amazon’s ranking factors – Relevance & Buy-ability
  • 20:21 Discoverability vs. Desirability
  • 22:10 Amazon has a bias for products that earn them more revenue
  • 23:21 Bridging the gap between PPC & organic (Check out Episode 17 for more info)
  • 26:45 Fueling organic growth with PPC data
  • 28:00 The intangible ROIs of paid advertising
  • 31:47 It’s all about ratios, ratios, ratios!
  • 34:11 Check out our PPC automation tool
  1. Why We’re Living In The Golden Age of Amazon PPC
  2. The Bid+ Conundrum
  3. Amazon’s New Product Targeting Features
  4. The Advanced Basics of Amazon PPC
  5. Amazon PPC Advertising Stats
  6. Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sponsored Products (Part 1)
  7. Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sponsored Products (Part 2)
  8. Campaign Naming Systems
  9. Product Targeting – Into the Great Unknown
  10. The Strangest, Most Popular PPC Strategy: The Keyword Dump
  11. Dissenting Thoughts on PPC Budgets
  12. First Look on New Bid Options in Amazon
  13. What We Love About Amazon PPC
  14. The Dreaded Amazon Data Reporting Delay
  15. All Things Negative Keywords
  16. Cranking Up Conversion Rates
  17. The Star-Crossed Lovers (Organic & Paid Traffic)
  18. How to Scale Using PPC – A Case Study
  19. The Ultimate Amazon PPC Roadmap
  20. Amazon Advertising Launch Strategy for New Products
  21. Our Gripes About Amazon Sponsored Brand Ads
  22. Should You Bid on Competitors’ Branded Keywords
  23. Making Sense of New to Brand Metrics
  24. Defining Your PPC Goals & Setting ACOS Targets
  25. The Latest Sponsored Brand Ad Updates
  26. An Introduction To Bulk File Operations
  27. Click Through Rate (CTR) Rundown
  28. The Importance of Indexation for Amazon PPC
  29. My 5 Predictions for the Future of Amazon PPC
  30. A Round-Table Discussion About Placement Settings
  31. The Complete Guide to Self-Auditing Your Campaigns
  32. Improving Your Account With Amazon Reports
  33. A Data-Driven Approach to Prime Day PPC 
  34. Clickfraud, Who to Hire, and More Common Amazon PPC Questions
  35. Increase Conversion Rates for Sponsored Brand Ads
  36. Amazon DSP with Kiri Masters
  37. 4 Things Amazon Does Better than Google and Facebook
  38. Three Effective Ways to Optimize Amazon PPC Bids
  39. Promoting your Products with Amazon Coupons
  40.  Should You Segment Your Branded Keywords in Amazon Ads?
  41. What to Expect From 30 Days of Running Amazon Ads
  42. 4 Reasons Why Lowering Your Bids Won’t Always Lower your ACOS
  43. The Problem With Optimizing Low-Converting Products (And How to Solve It)
  44. Listener Q&A: Optimizing Placement Settings
  45. Amazon’s New Sponsored Display Ads (Beta)

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