Big changes are happening now to listings. Are your backend search term keywords now limited to 250 characters? You need to test and check for yourself. There are conflicting reports out there and this is important because backend search terms help you rank organically AND help you advertise more effectively.
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This is the Ecommerce Roundup, it’s June 12th, 2017 and this is not a Roundup podcast, this is just a quick brief on a situation related to backend keywords, I’m your host Bryan, and let’s get into it. Okay, so last week I was talking about your listing, and what to do about it and how Amazon is always making changes and it’s so difficult to keep up-to-date with what’s happening. But I actually solve problems with listings that I manage and that I see related to backend keywords, and so I just wanted to correct the record and correct what I said, and I think that it this worth paying attention to now because it looks like big changes are actually on the horizon.
So what’s happened is that it seems like Amazon has changed the maximum number of characters that it will index in a product details page backend to 250 characters. This means those backend search terms, those keywords that you input into the backend of your listings within Seller Central so that you appear on organic search, and also it helps you run ads as well too, because when you have keywords in your backend, those are indicating to Amazon that that’s what your product is, and it helps you with relevancy related to Amazon ads which is a big factor actually in performing well with Amazon ads.
Anyway, so here we go. So there was an article on Seller Labs’ blog that I’m going to link to in the show notes that talks about this that I want you to go check out and read, because it’s going to be helpful for you to figure out how to test your listings if you don’t know how. So what I’m seeing, I’m finding through my testing about the first 250 characters of my backend search term keywords are indexing and actually it’s a little bit more than 250, I’m seeing about 260, 265, and then after that I’m not seeing any indexing.
This article from seller Labs’ blog says that the indexing placement order doesn’t matter, it can be random meaning that where your keywords are, say you put in 2,000 keywords for your backend search terms, any random 250 characters of those could be indexing. I don’t see that, what I’m seeing is that the first 250 characters are indexing from my five fields of backend keywords, and I just want to mention that my results could be different than yours, it’s really important that you just check your listing and investigate it.
That’s why you go and check out this article to learn how to test your backend keywords to see if they are indexing in search. So later in the article though it does say that the first 250 characters are indexed, and that would imply that order does matter, so this article is contradicting itself, that’s fine. I mean you really just have to investigate on your own, your own listings and to see what’s working for you right now, because it really seems to be that there are different things going on right now and people are having different results which I’m going to get to really soon.
Remember this is plus all five fields for your backend search term keywords. So what’s happening, what do we think is going on? It really seems to be the case that Amazon wants to get rid of irrelevant keywords being indexed for products; they want their search function to be better. They want people to be able to find products that fit exactly what they’re looking for in a more efficient manner, so they are getting rid of all these potential keywords that you could be using.
So here are three things that I read from the article that are interesting. Number one, keywords are going to be normalized which means that all upper and lower case keywords and singular and plural forms of the same keyword should not be added. If you just add the word – I don’t know apple, then apples will also be indexed as well too, you don’t need to put apples if you have apple in there too.
You don’t need to add keywords that already appear in the title description and subject keywords. One point about this which is interesting is that they seem to deliberately leave out bullet points, which to me is interesting, and also Amazon’s system ignores any keywords beyond 250 characters for every category. So this seems to be applying across the board for everyone. So the question now is what are you going to do?
First of all I’ve said this now I think three times, like check out the link; you’ve got to figure out how to test your listings if you don’t know how. So test your listings to see if you are indexing for certain keywords. Now if you look at the comments on the blog post, it’s clear that for some sellers, more than 250 characters of their keywords are indexing for them, so my guess is that Amazon is rolling this out slowly and that eventually all sellers will only index for 250 characters for their backend keywords.
We’ve seen slow roll outs of new features before and this is nothing surprising if some people are seeing this happen to their listings and others are not. So this if this is not happening to you, you should still be aware of it, and although Amazon is always changing, we can’t really make any long term predictions.
Who knows if your backend keywords might index for a long time if you haven’t seen the change yet, or maybe Amazon might even change back, maybe they’re doing a test right now with their algorithm and they’re going to see that, hey you know what, we do want sellers to have more than 250 characters in their backend to list and actually to index in our search engine because maybe the results for search are better if they in fact give you more.
So here is what you’ve got to do now, you’ve got to test your backend keywords to see if they are indexing and if yes, then great, leave them alone for now, that’s fine, and you want to make sure that you test again maybe next week because potentially this update might hit you soon and you don’t want to be left without any plan of action.
If your keywords are not indexing after 250, then what you want to do is go into your listings and first of all you must save your backend keywords in a safe place. So save what you’re currently using right now, put them in Google Drive, put them in DropBox, put them somewhere where you won’t forget where they will be safe for potential future use.
Then what you want to do is you want to pick your very best keywords that do not appear in your title up to 250 characters and put those in your backend for your keywords. Now I’m saying your very best keywords that do not appear in your title, and I specifically did not say your bullet points or description, because there seems to be uncertainty if your description or bullet points index in Amazon’s algorithm.
Now what I said before was that there was no mention of your bullet points in terms of your keywords. It said you don’t need to add keywords that already appear in your title description and subject keywords; they did not mention anything about your bullet points. So it seems to be the case your bullet points are not indexing. Your description is indexing, and so you don’t need to include those in the backend, but with your bullet points you do need to include those keywords on the backend.
My suggestion is that just whatever appears in your title, ignore those for your backend, but for your bullet points and description, you might want to include those because I’ve heard in the past that your description does not index and especially if you have enhanced brand content although for some people it seems to be the case that their enhanced brand content is indexing. You just don’t know, there are always changes happening between your description and your bullet points, and the keywords that are in there, but your title is always safe. I’ve never heard, I’ve never seen a case where the keywords in your title do not index, so your title is safe.
So therefore do not use the keywords in your title, and instead pick your best keywords up to 250 characters and put those in your backend. One thing you might want to do too before doing this is you can test the keywords in your product description and bullet points to see if they do in fact index. If they do then you don’t need to include those keywords in your backend, and if they don’t, then you do need to include them.
So once you have your 250 characters of your best keywords, put them in your backend, save it, wait 20 to 30 minutes, and then slowly add more keywords. Every keyword you add over 250 characters, you want to test just to see if it is indexing on Amazon search. Put in as many relevant keywords as you can.
So that’s the update on keywords, if I see anything else noteworthy and worthwhile to talk about, I’ll mention it in a different podcast. That’s it for today, thanks for listening, please hit subscribe now so you can be notified of new podcasts coming, let me know what you thought about this podcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, let me know, tell us, we want to hear from you, and if you need any help with your ecommerce business, we’re at azmarketers.com, let us know, and until next time keep selling and keep growing.