SEO will always be search engine optimization. But Amazon SEO and Google SEO are done very differently. As search engines, Amazon SEO targets product searches by online shoppers and Google SEO basically wants to know everything about everything.
Amazon, a Search Engine?
To take care of that elephant in the room, yes, Amazon is a veritable search engine.
Online shoppers make the choice daily of whether to go to Amazon or Google to find what they are looking to buy. In mid-2016, almost 40% of online shoppers were turning to Amazon to search for products, versus 45% still using Google. By the third quarter of that year, about 55% of them were on Amazon, leaving Google with less than a 30% share
Google lost its dominant status as the search engine of choice less than a year prior, with Amazon growing steadily as the preferred shopping search tool. Moreover, almost 80% of online shoppers will search on Amazon even after they have already found what they want on another website – likely searched on Google. Only around half will leave Amazon to search further if the marketplace has the product that they were looking for. Even when shoppers don’t have a specific product or category in mind, they will use Google less than half of the time to get ideas.
Google is the whole world at your fingertips, a wonderful place to explore. Amazon is only good for product searches, but it has become the clearly dominant tool in this area.
Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO
Anyone selling on Amazon can take advantage of this knowledge to get ahead of the competition. But the distinction must be made between Google and Amazon SEO for any efforts to be profitable.
The basic difference between Amazon SEO and Google SEO stems from the basic difference between Amazon and Google as search engines. Amazon is a marketplace – they are focused on selling product, specifically what’s available through its own eCommerce channel. Amazon also puts an emphasis on data gathering, but only in support of the selling focus, which includes their recent foray into the advertising market with Alexa. Google does some selling, too, but it’s not their main thrust. Google is all about data. They power a free search engine to collect as much data as they can from everyone, everywhere on the Net, for use in a variety of ways – mainly advertising.
Both Amazon and Google have a lot in common, but it is this key variance of focus that changes the Amazon SEO game significantly from what we have learned from Google for years about optimization. The way Amazon SEO works is different because Amazon’s focus is different. Google SEO accepts and processes a wide variety of searches at different levels by a wide variety of users. It therefore calculates a wide variety of factors with a much broader scope. Amazon SEO is concerned with only the sale and the factors that are relevant to it. It therefore focuses only on shoppers who are searching for product – specifically those who are ready to make a purchase. An Amazon SEO strategy must be informed on these focal points in order to trigger the restricted algorithm and capture the desired results.
Amazon SEO Strategies
Let’s take a look at how Amazon SEO strategies differ from Google SEO strategies as a result of their central differences by examining the basic components of optimization.
Google calculates relevance to rank pages based on the ratio and location of exact keyword phrases and supporting keywords. Amazon SEO looks at the simple presence of individual words, regardless of how they are strung together or what other words separate them. For instance, you will rank on Google for a certain key phrase if you have used it in perfect balance throughout your content, including the meta tags. Amazon SEO requires only that you have all the words in the phrase somewhere in your listing, and are given priority if they’re in the title.
Backlinks and Traffic
Google SEO says that having relevant page content linked to your page will give you a better chance of ranking high. This content can be from anywhere on the Web, as long as it’s from a Google-trusted site. Traffic from other sites and pages is also a major ranking factor. Amazon SEO doesn’t use external links at all in its algorithm. Brand or product popularity can help, however, if it brings a shopper to a listing from an outside source.
Note here that because of the way Google SEO works, actual content (e.g. product) reputation is removed from site reputation. Google tries to keep it accurate, but the algorithm can be manipulated to rank a new over an old site or less legitimate information over more authoritative content, for example, if keywords and links are expertly managed. Amazon SEO works in such a way that actual product merit is factored in so that a poorly performing item cannot rank over a well-liked one.
Search Volume and Advertising
The number of times a keyword is searched and whether that keyword is part of a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign are ranking factors on both Google and Amazon. Clicks and visits are top Google ranking factors, especially when PPC is involved, because it’s an advertising platform. It also tends to count organic brand searches more than other phrases, unless the keyword is part of a page’s PPC. Amazon SEO also puts emphasis on product page visits, but more as an indicator of an item’s popularity among shoppers. Seasonal product searches and trending items on Amazon can therefore make rankings fluctuate. Page visits – whether organic or powered by Amazon PPC – can work against a seller as well if the listing doesn’t convert – more on this below. In a way, this is similar to Google’s bounce rate as they both relate to page relevance. In addition, Amazon SEO subtracts points for stock outs in much the same way as Google would when a page is clicked but not available (the dreaded 400 and 500 HTTP errors).
To sum up for this specific area, an Amazon SEO strategy should focus on product quality and customer satisfaction to maintain consistently high review ratings, and on managing variable sales volumes to maintain inventory levels at all times.
Google SEO doesn’t really take conversions into account because it wasn’t specifically made for shopping on the platform. Amazon SEO, however, puts a very high value on conversions because it was specially designed for selling more product on the marketplace. Amazon SEO factors sales volume into product page rankings because this is a top indicator of how good a product is in real life. As a side note, this focus on actual product quality is related to how incentivized Amazon reviews were discontinued.
Google and Amazon SEO Together
Although the two approaches are very different, you can actually use Google SEO and Amazon SEO together. Amazon SEO takes product popularity and external traffic sources into account. Leveraging Google SEO to boost this side of things with valuable traffic from everywhere on the Web that isn’t Amazon can significantly improve your Amazon rankings. Amazon SEO also prioritizes products that shoppers are ready to buy. You can therefore use extra-Amazon sales channels to filter and guide shoppers and use Google SEO to drive those that are ready to make a purchase to the respective relevant product listings.