Technically, search engine optimization (SEO) is a means of optimizing your website’s ranking in just about any search engine. However, since Google is by far the most popular search engine in the US, most SEO agencies and gurus abide by Google’s standards of SEO best practices. Although the search engine giant is notoriously secretive about the details of their algorithm, they’re open about general best practices such as producing high quality content, good link building, avoid black hat tactics and the like.
There are many guides to SEO such as that published by Search Engine Land, but there’s a problem: Following Google’s preferences might no longer be the best bet. Of course it’s wise to optimize your website for Google standards, but competition is creeping close. Amazon, traditionally not thought of as a “search engine,” might actually be an SEO game changer.
Define “Search Engine”
While it’s still true that you probably go to Google when you query things like “guitar lessons Nashville” or “flu symptoms,” you don’t actually go to Google for everything. More and more people go directly to Amazon when shopping for products. It’s simply easier to find things like “Stephen King books” and “LED Christmas lights” on Amazon. It’s easily the biggest e-tailer in the US and has become a shopping search engine in its own right.
This of course means there are best practices if your website is connected to Amazon. You need to optimize your site by what your shoppers/customers are querying, which may not necessarily be the official name of a product. For example, maybe you sell accessories for the iPhone 6 and have an Amazon merchant account. You can’t expect all of your customers to know the exact name of each accessory as it appears in your product description/inventory—they’ll be search Amazon for things like “iPhone case” or “Hello Kitty iPhone6.”
What this means for website owners
Since people are treating Amazon like a search engine, you need to follow suit if you plan to sell there. Whether you sell Halloween costumes a la Mashable’s list of most popular Amazon outfits or used books, your SEO strategies may need to be modified. Now, you don’t just have to optimize for Google, but also for Amazon (not in lieu of). Unfortunately, the best practices for Amazon have yet to be widely established. What’s an SEO guru to do?
Just like ‘regular’ SEO, it’s all about common sense and thinking from the perspective of your shoppers. You can still use Google’s Keyword Tool to find the most recent variables for your keywords, but you may also need to re-write your existing website content to reflect the querying habits of Amazon shoppers. This is a huge undertaking for some businesses, but worth the effort. The good news is that, unlike speech to text querying, there are many similarities between how people search on Google and how they search on Amazon.
In other words, if you’re not optimized for Google, you’re also not optimized for Amazon, and you need to catch up.
Is it really paramount that you optimize for Amazon? Yes, if you want to increase your revenue on the biggest e-tail platform in the country. Know what shoppers want (MarketWatch gives some great tips) and respond accordingly. The days of only optimizing for Google may be coming to a close, but it opens up brand new opportunities for online stores. You already have the perfect platform in Amazon to connect with buyers, now you just need to make sure those connections are solid.
The good news? Few sites have actively optimized for Amazon yet so you can get in on the ground floor. Clean up your site, appease Amazon and Google, and you can essentially double down on your SEO efforts in one fell swoop.