How to Complete Keyword Research on Amazon in 2019
The visibility of a (Terms of Service compliant) product listing on Amazon boils down to 1 thing: keywords.
I’ve been personally known to refer to keywords as many things…
“The puzzle pieces of visibility on Amazon”
“The potential Amazon market share”
And the like.
And they are probably all that – and then some.
It’s absolutely crucial for an aspiring or even substantiated brand to get keyword research and optimization right.
So when we approach the priorities for conducting keyword research at an expert level there are a few key points to consider.
Let’s call these the 3 rules of expert-level keyword research.
Rule 1: First, we put a disproportionate focus on Amazon data.
While it was a bummer that the search volume ‘loophole’ was effectively closed, Amazon didn’t suddenly become less powerful in the data it continues to provide. The great thing for proactive and engaged sellers is many of their competitors can (and we’ve seen this already) and have become apathetic on the other side of this update. This creates a very real market opportunity.
When you really drill it down, what we really wanted was an idea of which keywords to prioritize based on demand. Which, *shout out to the Seller.Tools team*, we deployed no later than a week after the update in the form of TSI+. A unique (and exclusive) Amazon datapoint that achieves this keyword prioritization objective in no time at all. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of alternatives.
Update as of February 2019: Within a matter of days Seller.Tools rolled out Brand Analytics data which became available to a very select few Seller Central accounts. While this has emboldened our existing data points and helps to corroborate (for new insights) it’s poked holes in other tools/resources not putting this rule in the forefront. Amazon data remains top of the heap and you should seek it out at all costs.
Rule 2: Secondly, you want MORE keywords on your radar.
The more the better. Without visibility, you’re ‘best guessing’ or assuming. This is not really the approach for a dominant seller. So it’s crucial, when conducting keyword research, to ensure your focus isn’t narrow and that you have as many keywords on your radar as possible.
In short: More inputs. More data.
Rule 3: Third, it’s ideal to have some amount of performance insight into how well you are performing for a given keyword.
There are obviously PPC metrics that help shine light on this, but pay to play insights are only half of the equation. I’m going to show my hand a bit here given that Seller.Tools does offer this insight at a glance (via Pulse), but if you can achieve the same objective of performance insights at the keyword level by another means definitely go for it.
The alternative is shooting arrows at a target blindfolded. Sure it’s fun for the first few hours, but at some point you’ve got to hit the target. Or make money. You know what I mean!
Keyword Research Process
So with some of the key takeaways ironed out, this jumps into the practicalities when it comes to getting your hands dirty with keyword research.
We’ll walk through the five key steps that you should take to complete expert-level keyword research. I’ll show you how to:
- Run an R2A for 5 of your competitors for your main keyword.
- Run an AMZ Report Card for 5 of your top competitors for your main keyword.
- Harvest keywords from your Auto Campaigns and add them to your Keyword Manager.
- Complete a Last Search for your main keyword and 4 secondary keywords.
- Get automatically harvested keywords from Seller.Tools on an ongoing basis to stay a step ahead of the competition.
Let’s jump in!
Reverse ASIN Search
One of the simplest starting points for gathering keywords is to run what is called a reverse ASIN search. For those not yet aware, this is a search (based on a product/ASIN) that yields the keywords that the product/ASIN ranks for. There is a beauty to its simplicity and, in truth, it is a great starting point. Simply hop on Amazon and input your main keyword to find top competitors already highly visible and input their ASINs to run your reverse ASIN search.
Pretty much done, right?
Not so fast.
Here are the first notable challenges when it comes to relying (solely) on a reverse ASIN search for your keyword research:
Results are only as a good as the tool you use
With the popularity of reverse ASIN tools, there’s no shortage of options for a seller to run to achieve desired results. Each and every tool uses their own logic to arrive at the data they capture. A notable consideration or variable is how many keywords they capture for the product in question. Does it display the 300 keywords (if applicable) that each product ranks for? Or 100? 75 even?
This is a simplistic example because it’s exactly the issue many sellers are unaware that they are running into. They may be very well putting the same weight on that 300th keyword as the top 10 keywords simply because the scope of the tool they use is far too broad. As you can imagine, this was something we addressed when rolling out our reverse ASIN tool R2A.
Results are only as good as your competitors’ optimization
Remember Rule #1? Well reverse ASIN results are kinda-sorta Amazon data. But not really – you arrive at the data by using a tool/platform. Yes, it is can be powerful to capture keywords that a highly visible competitor ranks for. But let me throw you a scenario.
What if a highly visible competitor is absolutely crushing it for their main keyword but is performing terribly for the majority of other keywords? This exact scenario dilutes the value intended by a reverse ASIN search. So handle with care. Use Rule #2 to welcome even poor (or let’s call them ‘mystery’) keyword inputs only to refine and optimize over time. You also may think the tool you’re using will help with this, but that brings me to my next point…
Results get muddied by vanity metrics
With the reliance on reverse ASIN to complete the entirety of keyword research, we’ve seen some interesting metrics introduced. The bulk of these metrics tend to put a disproportionate focus on the competitor(s) and not the keywords themselves. Bad idea. Really bad.
With insights into keyword demand with Amazon data (see TSI+), you have the ultimate priority. Essentially, with TSI+, you have the ultimate ‘potential’ to capture sales based on associated demand. On the other hand, other vanity metrics focus on how many competitors are ranking for a given keyword and taking that density as the ultimate metric.
The issue is obvious. Not only do the metrics not provide any utility, but they also steer your focus from potential market share in the form of high-traffic keywords (confirmed with Amazon data). At the end of the day, do you want to beat specific competitors or win the visibility game ( irrespective of who your competition is)?
Finally, it also fails the test of ‘What do I do with this information?’ The same that can be said for displaying the number of Sponsored/Headline ads. Does the quantity tell me the competitor(s) quality, performance, budget/spend, etc?
Quick hypothetical – 3 brands (let’s say Nike, Under Armor and Rebook vs. 100 Mom & Pop shoe brands. A small number of high quality, deep-pocketed omnipresent brands vs a large quantity of smaller players just trying to make it in the space. But on the face of it, simply viewing the # of Sponsored Ads, I’m embracing ignorance of context. With only quantity visibility I’m not only underinformed, but I’m also potentially misled. Having the other 50% of the equation is crucial. Call me old-fashioned, but making decisions with 50% of the critical information is something I don’t like to do. At Seller.Tools we hold ourselves to an exceptionally high standard with the vast data we have access to. It must be actionable or it doesn’t get into our platform. Period.
Results don’t include variations, hidden listings, etc.
OK – this is just a shameless plug for R2A, our reverse ASIN tool, and our exclusive feature ‘Cascade’. No other reverse ASIN tool available seamlessly captures each and every variation on listing AND includes hidden listings. These are listings that, as an example, may have realized sales for a variation but could now be out of stock. Those listings could very well have powerful, actionable keywords sprinkled throughout.
I’m actually starting to feel bad – like I’m giving reverse ASIN a bad rap. It’s really not all bad. It’s a useful tool and process to use in your keyword research effort. But what becomes all too clear is the now obvious dependency becomes problematic.
But let’s keep marching forward.
Let’s say you do run an R2A with Cascade against the top 3-5 competitors for your main keyword.
This is a great start as a first step in our keyword research process. But, of course, this is not the end of the process.
Note: At each step, you should complete some amount of manual reviews to your inputs. With a quick manual review, you’ll notice keywords that a competitor happens to rank for that may be completely irrelevant to your product. There’s no sense in holding on to low or zero value keywords.
This is where the Seller.Tools keyword processor really helps manage your inputs for both instant index visibility (index status for a given word) and relevance to your products by viewing both words and phrases.
Its power can be a bit intimidating to some, so as you warm up to keyword mastery, don’t hesitate to mark all your inputs as ‘Relevant’. Add them all to your radar and refine over time – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So, back to our process. We now have the keywords our highly visible competitors are ranking for.
Run AMZ Report Card
The next step you can take is to layer Amazon data right over the top of your newly created keyword data set.
This is made easy with a Seller.Tools feature called AMZ Report Card.
AMZ Report Card queries Amazon to effectively describe a listing in keyword form.
Powerful stuff here. And my Rule #1 people are like “Yeah, Amazon data. Yeah!”
You take your top 3-5 competitors for your main keyword and run an AMZ Report Card for each. With literally a handful of clicks,you have Amazon data practically negating the laundry list of shortcomings I outlined before that come with using a run-of-the-mill reverse ASIN search.
Now we are cooking.
Harvest Keywords From Auto Campaigns
Next, incorporate keywords from PPC campaigns. And liberally (remember Rule #2).
This is where an automated keyword manager that quickly processes vast amount of data is essential. It’s a quick copy/paste from your Auto Campaigns search term reports right into your Keyword Manager.
Note: Seller.Tools makes sure you don’t duplicate work or run into redundancies with keywords. You have the freedom to be liberal with your inputs without worry.
Now our keyword data set is incredibly robust – including competitor insights, Amazon data and pay to play (PPC) insights. And nearly complete.
But there’s another step you should complete to truly round out your keyword research and discovery. – using a seed research tool.
Run Last Search
Now of course, at Seller.Tools, we had to knock this type of tool out of the park. It’s a tool we call Last Search. By tapping into billions (yes, billions) of keywords in a few clicks, you can complete searches for main and secondary keywords in no time at all. As part of this explicit step you can keep your focus that narrow or really deep-dive by running long(er) tail keywords through Last Search.
With seed keyword research tools. your outputs are generally as good as your inputs. Get an immediate glimpse into the supply and demand for a keyword with the power of Amazon data for insights like search volume and number of competitors. I like to refer to this as ‘keyword economics’. When we are at this phase in our keyword research, the focus is really on brainstorming, ideation and letting the tools do the heavy lifting to capture those gem or ‘blue ocean’ keywords.
You may have noticed this process takes no time at all. And that’s the point.
Automatically Harvest New Keywords
What I like to do is centralize all these powerful keywords in our Keyword Manager. This ensures we layer insights via exclusive features such as TSI+ (keyword prioritization), accurate historical search volume, Pulse (keyword performance) and more, all in one dashboard
What’s better? The ability to automatically harvest keywords for you – a Seller.Tools exclusive feature.
This is perfect for those who love automation and time-saving tools.
So there you have it: how to complete keyword research in 2019.
I’ve given you some clear rules to follow as well as an explicit set of steps with associated tools.
Again, you may have noticed how simple this process can and should be. Keyword research is an ongoing effort and rightfully so. But gone are the days of weeks of work and substantial opportunity cost to get this step right.
Let’s first sum up the process and then walk through an explicit example.
A quick note – your main (or master) keyword is the most succinct way of describing your product. A garlic press is a garlic press. A grill brush is a grill brush. And so on.
Back to the process…
1. Run an R2A for 5 of your competitors for your main keyword.
– Add results to your Keyword Manager
2. Run an AMZ Report Card for 5 of your top competitors for your main keyword.
– Add results to your Keyword Manager
3. Harvest keywords from your Auto Campaigns and add them to your Keyword Manager.
4. Complete a Last Search for your main keyword and 4 secondary keywords.
– Add results to your Keyword Manager
*optional: add in longer tail keywords for this step to round out your keyword data set
5. Let Seller.Tools harvest keywords for you on an ongoing basis to stay a step ahead of the competition.
That’s 5 steps to expert-level keyword research both initially and letting tools do the heavy lifting for us moving forward.
And now, with our process ironed out, let’s walk through a real example.
Let’s say we are evaluating the sourcing of our newest product idea – a foam roller.
Note: you should be completing some level of keyword research as part of your product discovery. Without knowing the ‘keyword economics’ (as I alluded to before) you’re prioritizing other variables ahead of what could be argued as the most crucial. Ignore keywords at your own peril.
It’s time to kick off our expert level keyword research. Since our product isn’t live yet we aren’t in the ‘top 5’ for our main keyword (foam roller) but let’s take a look at who is…
Next, we run R2A on those top 5 products we’ve identified.
Make sure Cascade remains selected so you get every color, size and type variation imaginable – even those that are ‘hidden’ listings. If there are powerful keywords associated with the listing(s), we want them! Plus, it would take an additional hour or two to make sure you captured all of these data points with your run-of-the-mill reverse ASIN. Major time waste.
After a few quick clicks, we now have over 7,000 keywords. Each and every keyword associated (and currently ranking) for highly visible products on Amazon. As easy as that.
Most sellers will want each and every one of those keywords on their radar (remember Rule #2). Those that are just starting out and not yet ready to invest in a powerful tool to manage all these keywords may look to refine this list down a bit, but proceed with caution. You could very well be missing out on those gem, ‘blue ocean’ keywords.
With what’s working for our competition on our radar, it’s time to leverage Amazon data.
We take those same 5 competitors and in only 5 clicks capture Amazon data to layer over the top via AMZ Report Card. We’re leveraging our keyword processor to ensure you make a decision once, remove word/phrase redundancies and add all this powerful Amazon data right into your Keyword Manager.
With this step alone we’ve captured well over 3,000 keywords (in aggregate). With some amount of overlap from our R2A search, we have netted an additional 1,000 keywords to our keyword data set. Nice!
For our next step we want to hop into Seller Central to capture our latest Search Term Reports from our Auto Campaigns. Once we download our report we simply carry over all keywords making up our campaign and drop them into our Keyword Manager. Yes, you can do all kinds of parsing, date range selection, etc. to your Search Term Report, but as a foundational step I’d encourage you to welcome these raw inputs to supplement your keyword research.
Our last and final step is to run a Last Search for as many as 5 keywords (1 main and 4 secondary) to ensure we cast a wide enough net and ensure we don’t miss out on other revenue generating keywords.
By running our first Last Search for the keyword phrase ‘foam roller’, it’s clear there are many words and phrases we can tap into. By saving this as a final step, we take insights from each prior step to get creative with our seed keywords.
As an example, running an R2A for one of my competitors, I noticed the a few keywords and phrases like ‘rehab roller’, ‘therapy roller’, and so on. Really great keywords that speak to a unique kind of customer, so I spend a bit of time isolating those keywords to do more discovery to capture longer tail, use/benefit specific keywords. The keyword processor makes this a breeze to review words and phrases to determine relevancy for my product (and avoid duplicating decisions).
At this point, I have done some exceptional keyword research in an intuitive flow, meeting all 3 rules and letting tools do the heavy lifting for me moving forward. This is literally what the top 1% of Amazon sellers do to capture visibility on Amazon.
So now’s your chance to complete expert-level research in no time at all. I’d encourage you to put the best tools to work in your business. At Seller.Tools, we really pride ourselves on the success of our team and the expectations we require of tools showing up on our platform. So, of course, the tools I mentioned are simply unmatched in their insight and automation.
Now that you’ve seen the power of these tools, it’s time to get access! You can get started with your free 14 day trial here.
Troy Johnston Co-founder, Seller.Tools
Troy Johnston is the Co-founder of Seller.Tools, a robust suite of optimization tools leveraging actual Amazon data. He sold one of his flagship brands for multiple 7 figures and quickly moved to consulting for 8 & 9 figure clients on Amazon.
Troy is obsessed with creating data-driven solutions for Seller.Tools clients by empowering sellers with the best data alongside exclusive features. You can find Troy and an amazing community of FBA sellers through the Facebook community FBA Kings.