ER 014: SEO & Content Marketing, 250 Character Search Term Limit, Playing by the rules
Check out our Amazon SEO guide for optimizing your product listings: http://azmarketers.com/listing
This is The Ecommerce Roundup, Podcast 14, today is September 1, 2017, I’m your host Bryan, and here’s the ecommerce news roundup for this week –
- SEO & Content Marketing
- The new 250 character limit for backend search terms
- Playing by the rules on Amazon
- Wall Street Segment
SEO & Content Marketing
Lately I’ve been seeing some Shopify sites that do get a lot of traffic through their blogs and so it’s time to quickly discuss SEO and content marketing. I’ve never really been a huge fan of SEO consultants, or even an doing an explicit SEO strategy for a business. My thoughts have always been that if you do the right things, SEO emerges over time. That it’s an effect of good marketing rather than an actual task. SEO gurus say that it takes time to rank in Google, and I’ve certainly experienced this. So that’s guided my belief that SEO isn’t something you manufacture, but it’s a reward for doing legitimate marketing online.
It also seems that SEO is getting simpler as Google gets smarter. I’m seeing fewer SEO tactics being advertised out there as it’s getting harder to game the system, and now SEO is being distilled into a few basic points. It’s still not easy but it is simple.
My understanding now is this. You will organically rank in Google and Bing search results if you provide the best content most relevant to the particular search. How do the search engines know this? From legitimate links to your site and how people behave on your site.
If people spend a long time on your site and a lot of people are linking to your site, then the search engines think your site is good and they’ll reward you with good organic rank.
That’s 80% of SEO. Good content and links.
If you’re not already blogging then you should be. Organic traffic is amazing because it compounds over time. Don’t psyche yourself out by calling it SEO marketing or content marketing. Just blog and you’ll get results if you do the 80%. Results might take you 6 months or longer so stick with it too. This week I came across some good tips that make this process easier so let’s talk about it.
First step, make good content.
Start with keyword research. This informs you what to write about.
This is easy. What is your product? What does it do? Type that into Google.
Check out Google’s auto suggestions and related searches at the bottom of the page. These are the keywords you want to use to create blog posts on your website.
Until you’ve covered these auto suggestions and related searches in blog posts, don’t write about other stuff. If you’ve covered them already then you’re more advanced and you’re probably bored listening to me talk about this right now.
If you haven’t done this yet, then pick a keyword and type it into Answer The Public, http://answerthepublic.com. This is a site that gives you the questions people are asking about a keyword on Google. It makes it super easy to find blog topics. I just learned about this site this week so this is what prompted me to talk about blogging on this podcast because finding topics to write about is a struggle and this makes it much easier.
Pick one question to write about.
Search Google for this question you selected.
See what comes up, and write a blog post better than the blog posts of the top search results.
Second step, get links.
I’m lazy and I don’t want to spend time doing email outreach for links. I get emails from people asking me to link to their blogs and I delete them immediately. Who’s got time to read a 2,000 word blog post and then go into their own blog to link to it? This strategy is overrated and a waste of time.
Instead, run ads to your blog content.
Your blog content is already great, so you should be proud of it. So instead, run Facebook ads to your blog post.
This will prime the SEO pump as the search engines will see activity on your blog post.
Because your blog post is awesome people will naturally share it, and over time you’ll get links and more organic traffic.
While people are on your site, get them to give you their email address through some sort of amazing offer so you can hit them up again when you’ve got more things to share.
Beyond that, you’ll share your blog post to your own social media channels and your own email list.
One last thing, I like using a service called Quuu Promote, http://quuupromote.co. This helps spread your blog post around Twitter.
Obviously you can get way deeper into better content writing strategies and promotion strategies but this is the realm for actual SEO or content marketing people who make this their full time job.
So this is the SEO and content marketing strategy in a nutshell for lazy people like me. Focus on making money from your ecommerce site and reinvesting some of it into content marketing with Facebook ads to grow the marketing flywheel. It’ll build up over time.
The confirmed 250 character limit on backend search terms
The big news this week is that Amazon finally confirmed that there’s a 250 character limit for backend search terms for products in the United States. Keep in mind this is less than, so your real limit is actually 249 characters.
One critical point to this is that spaces do not contribute to the character limit.
Also, now Amazon explicitly says do not include brand names, even your own brand name, which is a big change.
I’m going to link to an article about this in the show notes so you can read more about it. https://www.sellerlabs.com/blog/amazons-250-character-indexing-maximum-means-merchants/.
So, what does this mean for you? It means you need to adapt and adjust. You must play by Amazon’s rules (which I’ll talk about in the next section for today).
For old listings you should soon edit the backend search terms so that they’re less than 250 characters. Yes, you might be grandfathered in for a while for those olds listings, and ranking for more than 250 characters in your search terms, but who knows how long that will last?
Ultimately, this is just another indication that Amazon is pushing for relevance when it comes to search terms. You now need to be highly targeted with your keywords when writing your listing and search terms.
However, this doesn’t change the Amazon listing optimization process. It’s the same as before. You write the best listing you can after doing stellar keyword research and then pick out the best keywords that don’t appear in your listing and put those into your backend search terms up to 249 characters.
What about those other competitor brand names and keywords that don’t make it into the listing? Target them with Amazon ads.
Playing by the rules on Amazon
I’m seeing indications that Amazon is tightening up the marketplace. This is a good thing and a bad thing.
Recently, I’ve seen seller accounts get suspended and shut down over minor Terms of Service infractions that were mistakes, and this is scary. Amazon’s policy has always been guilty until proven innocent.
I’ve recently seen listings taken down because of competitor keywords in backend search terms, or because of technical words that relate to medical devices that require FDA approval. Clearly, Amazon is using an algorithm to scan all parts of your listings and if there’s a word in there that they think shouldn’t be your listing will be shut down and you’ll have to open a case and try to get in touch with seller performance to get it back.
So, in light of this, my warning for you now is play by the rules.
I’ve always been one to dislike black hat tactics and cheaters, but now more than ever I’m seeing Amazon police the marketplace.
If you’re unfamiliar with Amazon’s Terms of Service then update yourself on them. Also, watch your seller performance and follow the rules related to the new 250 character backend search term update. If you don’t you do so at your own risk.
Wall Street Segment
Shopify stock has been on a tear this week.
I still think Shopify’s growth is linked to Amazon’s so I think Shopify is only going to continue to grow and become a big company unless it’s acquired, which I hope it won’t be.
Amazon closed it’s Whole Foods purchase this Monday, and celebrated by lowering prices for avocados and other healthy organic foods. I went into a Whole Foods this Monday and saw them selling echo devices.
Amazon is now also selling Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value products online
It’s amazing how quickly these two companies have started to integrate.
Amazon is aggressively investing in non North American markets and is now delivering in 50 European countries and has FBA delivery in 26 countries. I’ll include a CNBC article about this in the show notes, https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/30/amazon-in-europe-citi-map-shows-rapid-expansion.html.
Last, I want to close with an article I found about unethical tricks Amazon sellers are using to rank fast. There’s a link in the show notes, https://selleratheart.com/amazon-seller-tricks/. Obviously I don’t endorse any of these tactics, nor do I think you should do any of them. But as an Amazon seller you need to be aware of the things bad actors are doing out there so you can protect yourself as much as possible.
Unfortunately, whenever there’s money involved, and in Amazon selling there’s a lot of money involved, you’re going to get a ton of bad actors operating and trying to game the system for their own benefit.
I’m not trying to be so negative but as in anything it’s just always best to be prepared.
So that’s it for today. Thanks for listing.
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Until next time, keep selling and keep growing.