Amazon is the biggest name in the game for selling products online. But with 1.9 million trading partners, the competition is fierce.
To claim your market share, you need to show up in the searches people do.
And it starts with keywords.
Just like optimizing a webpage for Google, you need to include the right words and phrases on your product page to ensure you show up in relevant searches.
Your titles, features, and descriptions need to be optimized, but that’s not enough.
There’s another factor that Amazon takes into account when delivering results to queries that many third-party sellers aren’t aware of: hidden keywords.
If you’re completely clueless about what they are and how they work, or want to learn the secret to using them to your advantage, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at hidden Amazon keywords and show you everything you need to know to put them to work for your Amazon store.
What are Amazon’s hidden keywords?
Hidden keywords, sometimes called main keywords, are any words related to your product that are not included in the title or description.
For example, these are the terms returned by Amazon after displaying a sponsored product ad for an item, clicking on the ad and purchasing the product, or queries that a customer entered in an Amazon search.
These are all words related to your product that are not in the product title or description. These can be generic terms or synonyms for your product.
And they should be included in the 250 characters per field (up to five fields) you provide to Amazon to help improve discoverability in their search results pages.
So search terms, right? Not exactly. I know it’s not very clear, so we’ll try to clear things up.
(And yes, the fields where you enter these hidden keywords in Amazon’s user interface are also called “Search Terms” to confuse things a bit more.)
Additionally, the report you upload to Amazon to report on these search terms for advertising efforts is called a “search terms report.”
In Google’s paid search, we would call it a “search query report”, which seems more logical, but apparently Amazon disagrees.
Calling hidden keywords simply “keywords” also gets confusing, especially when choosing keywords for sponsored product campaigns.
And while I hate the name with every search bone in my body, Amazon calls them hidden keywords, which helps differentiate them.
How to think about hidden keywords
Here’s the best way I can think of to help you figure out how to think about these terms, how you might best use them, and where you might get future terms from:
Do you remember the board game Taboo? You split into teams and drew a card with a word or item.
Your goal was to get your partner or team to guess the word without saying it or several other restriction terms before time runs out.
If you said a forbidden word, the other team “buzzed” you and your turn was over.
For example, the main word is “football”, but you cannot say football, touchdown, end zone, pigskin or NFL. What words would you say to get your team to say “football”? These would be your hidden keywords.
Let’s take an example of a product.
If the item was a Michael Kors shoe, you would include the brand name, shoe type, size, and attributes like color or pattern in the title.
And if you couldn’t get all of that in the title, it should be in the product description, alongside additional details like material type or comfort.
These details in the title and description are not what you would like to use for hidden keywords. Instead, you want to use terms that would help someone find your product if they hadn’t searched for what you obviously provided on the page.
You could, in this case, try using: closed toe evening slip-on under $100.
Amazon Help gives these examples:
But even these examples wouldn’t begin to fill the first 250-character search term box. It can be quite difficult to fill in every search term slot without resorting to extreme stuffing, especially if you type in manually.
Choose hidden keywords
Choosing hidden keywords is where I see the most crossover between search engine research and Amazon research. What tools can you use for each other?
Many blogs recommend Google Keyword Planner, Keywordtool.io, Ubersuggest, or Shopping campaigns search query reports.
I don’t disagree with these suggestions at all – just to generate ideas or starting points.
The way people search on Amazon and the way Amazon presents results differs from Google, so the best way to populate and perpetuate this field is to use data from Amazon or your own listings whenever possible.
This means that a report on search terms, a list provided by the customer, product details, attributes or features will perform better in terms of compliance and maintenance.
Similar to search keyword listings or text ads, you may not include inaccurate or misleading information, promotions (such as buy-to-get one), subjective claims, or profanity.
You use a single space to separate the terms and nothing else, which makes the searcher in me cringe (I want to add that comma or semicolon so badly).
It also means that when you review a bunch of hidden keywords for a product, it looks like a line of nonsensical gibberish, even if you follow best practices and use a logical order with your best keywords first.
Also, thanks to the good old “+variants” exercise that Google made us researchers undergo, you no longer have this reflex of pooling spelling errors, title cases and pluralization.
The same goes for hidden keywords, which makes them even harder to add, especially by the time you reach the fourth search term box and are running out of ideas.
However, one big difference that I tend to overlook as a searcher is that these hidden keywords aren’t relevant or don’t rank the same as they do on Google.
That’s why you need to change them regularly to track incoming queries and impressions on Amazon.
This makes your product pages more likely to be listed on a search results page.
This is especially true if Amazon finds that some of the terms you submitted are irrelevant or don’t use them. If so, replace them and submit them again.
Adding hidden keywords
Now that your hidden keywords are selected, it’s time to add them to your product. Here’s how to do it by product in the Amazon Seller Central user interface.
- Log in to the Seller Center and click on the Inventory tongue.
- On the right, find the “Edit” button and click on it.
- You will see the “offer” tab; click on “keywords” to open the hidden keywords section.
It might take some time, but if you have an army of content writers or interns to do it for you, go for it. If not, you might want to brew a new coffee maker as it might take some time.
However, you may not like the re-evaluation and adjustment time, especially if you have a catalog of more than a few hundred products.
You may find it useful to investigate your feed capabilities, whether you use a feed tool provider or generate your product feeds in-house and send them to Amazon.
Dynamic build capabilities can scale this process for sellers with large catalogs depending on the level of sophistication.
The output would look more like my previous gobbledygook comment than if a human had to enter them manually, but again, at scale.
How to check if your hidden keywords have been added
Unfortunately, the only way to check if your hidden keywords have been added is to do random checks. And unfortunately, this is a manual process.
Copy the entire string from a search term box (wait at least 24 hours after submission before doing so) and search for it on Amazon.
If the list of products supposed to be associated with these search terms appears, it works. If not, try another group of terms from another search box and repeat.
But what if the product list still does not appear? It may be that not all of the terms you provided have been used (there may have been an editorial or duplicate error), or you need to continue through all five boxes.
I’ve seen cases where only one out of five boxes is fetched, indexed, and used. As you can see, it’s not a great system in terms of tracking and adjustability.
Fun little tip: If you remember Yahoo SSP feeds (also known as paid inclusion), this process and indexing might remind you of something. In 2008, you sent content through a feed to supplement Yahoo’s organic search results, which meant information perhaps faster and more frequently than a crawl.
Final Thoughts on Hidden Keywords
Hopefully by this point you have developed a working understanding of Amazon hidden keywords and how to add them on the backend to drive more traffic to your product pages.
Finding the perfect blend for your needs takes a bit of work, but it’s worth it.
Remember to follow the rhythm. Keep testing and identifying which keywords are working and which are not.
Replace underperforming keywords with new keywords until you find the perfect combination. And then start all over again.
Amazon is an amazing tool for online retailers. And using primary keywords is a great way to make sure you’re getting the traffic and making the sales you need.
Featured Image: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock