Most eCommerce stores will feed their products to 3rd party shopping sites like Amazon, Bizrate, Shopzilla and others since they provide extra streams of revenue for an eCommerce store. Considering that Amazon has a Domain Authority score of 100/100 according to Moz’s OSE Tool, you want to leverage this ranking power of Amazon with traditional, natural SEO techniques…yet also be very careful not to cannibalize the optimization of your own eCommerce store.
Amazon product feeds must be optimized separately from the product optimization on your own eCommerce site in order to avoid issues like duplicate content, and thus, burying your own site’s product pages in the search results. Below, I advise on how to optimize products for Amazon, without compromising the onsite optimization and organic traffic potential of your own eCommerce store.
Amazon’s Product Detail Page
Also known as the DP or product page, the product detail page is dedicated to the individual product that you feed to Amazon. There are several elements to the page, and we’ll discuss how to optimize them individually below.
The Product Title, Subtitle & Author/Editor
This is the title of your product, subtitle that accompanies it and the author or editor. With Amazon, these elements are used within the meta title on the product detail page, and are part of Amazon’s internal search algorithm. Therefore, it’s an essential place for keywords. The subtitle should be added to the title in your product feed, in order for it to appear in the product title. If your product name is not already keyword-rich, then the subtitle can be used to combine keywords with compelling messaging about the product. The Meta Title format is as follows:
Amazon.com: <title – subtitle>: <author/editor>: (ISBN#): <category>
Let’s look at the meta title for an example product page, Paint Acrylic Landscapes – Understanding Sun & Shadow:
Amazon.com: Paint Acrylic Landscapes – Understanding Sun & Shadow: Mark Mehaffey: Movies & TV
Here’s how the page looks live on the site:
The Product Description
This is the descriptive copy found on the product detail page that is supplied by the merchant, such as a publisher via an ONIX feed, or from other data aggregators. At one time, it was not part of Amazon’s internal search engine, but regardless…it is certainly not wise to keep it blank. In the above example, it appears that the product description is used in the “Editorial Reviews” section lower on the page, so the product description section “above the fold” is blank. Looking at a product page for The Secret (the acclaimed book about using the Law of Attraction), we see a more compelling “above the fold” experience for an Amazon product page:
The product description is (of course) searchable on Google and other search engines who crawl Amazon (…err…everyone!), so using keywords relevant to your product (within the product description) will help to further optimize it. Ideally, you will use the same keywords as used within the product title and subtitle…and also some variations to keep it reading naturally for your potential customers.
Repeat after me, “I…will not…give Amazon…my content.” It’s also imperative that the product description you feed to Amazon is not the same description used on your own eCommerce store. This is quite possibly the most important part of optimizing for 3rd party vendor sites, and one that is very expensive and time-intensive to reverse. The only solution is to rewrite your product pages…either on your own store or for the 3rd party product vendor feed. But, it’s very much worth the effort.
Below are organic search traffic graphs for two store sites that I helped lead the efforts of rewriting half the product pages coupled with basic keyword research and on-page optimization. The project began in the summer of 2012, and the traffic growth from fixing the duplicate content was tremendous.
eCommerce Site #1
eCommerce Site #2
That should be proof enough that ensuring different product descriptions end up on Amazon is worth the effort. The ideal way to approach this is to ensure that your eCommerce site has robust product descriptions targeting keywords and outlining the benefits to user with as much detail as possible. Then, give basic (but informative) descriptions to vendor sites via shopping feeds.
The Meta Description
Amazon uses a script to create the meta description for the product detail page, should one not be provided in the feed. It uses this format (or very similar):
<title – subtitle>: <category>, <brief category description>
Product reviews add unique content to your product detail page on Amazon, so they help provide more value to Google’s index since they offer more unique content about the product. While conducting product review campaigns is not within the scope of this article, let’s just say that it should be part of your marketing strategy to grow your shopping site revenues…especially with Amazon.
Other “Publisher” Elements of Amazon Product Optimization
There are some publisher-specific elements of feeding products (like books) to Amazon that I picked up during my days at F+W Media, so I wanted to ensure that I passed along these tips in case you’re an SEO or online marketer for a publishing or media company.
ONIX/Data Feed Keywords
Amazon will use the keywords from your feed in combination with the other elements of the page to create the meta keywords for the product page. As every SEO should know by now, these are not used by search engines like Google to impact rankings…but these are used as part of Amazon’s internal search algorithm. Thus, using meta keywords can help your product page be found within Amazon’s own internal search results. That is critical.
BISAC Codes (for the Publishing Industry)
For a good overview on BISAC codes, visit this page. There are apparently ways to influence the Amazon 100 System to get on the lists (source), and it’s about the metadata, specifically better utilizing your BISAC codes.
BISAC codes are critical to the physical bookstore (it ultimately tells the store where to shelve the book), less so to Amazon and many online vendors who sell books…but can have some bearing on the categories on Amazon (but not a 1:1 match).
For example, many art products (like art books) on Amazon live under Arts & Photography. Without a BISAC code named Arts & Photography, a merchant could use ART / Techniques / Drawing or ART / Techniques / General. You can assign up to three BISAC codes per title (there have been some discussions in the industry of expanding it to 10…which may have happened by now). If you have an eBook of a Print book, it does not have to have the same BISAC codes as its print edition since it will never be shelved. Therefore, you can add different codes to narrow or broaden the focus of the title so that it will be cross referenced in multiple ways with accounts that use all the meta data provided.
This is a searchable field containing contributor names such as Authors, Editors, Translators, etc. in line with ONIX standards. Amazon’s internal search results will show all products from an author. A name that is hyperlinked indicates that the Contributor is participating in Amazon’s Author Central program.
When Amazon has a “bargain” edition of a product or book title, it only pulls the bargain product page in the search results and you have to use the ISBN to pull up the real page until the bargain sells out. So, keep this in mind when discounting products on Amazon.
Final Thoughts on Optimizing Amazon Product Pages
The bottom line is that you want your Amazon product pages and your own eCommerce site product pages to each rank highly in Google, and of course you want to help your Amazon product page better compete in Amazon’s internal search results. To best achieve this, treat them as separate entities. Both need care and attention regarding the uniqueness of content, where keywords are placed, etc. Therefore, Channel Managers and SEO Teams should collaborate to find ways to help each other achieve optimal results without stepping on the other’s toes.