Amazon and YouTube SEO: A start-up’s secret weapon

With such a focus on Google, businesses may be missing a trick ignoring two of the biggest search players. Here's how to win on Amazon and YouTube

When discussing search engines, Google naturally springs to mind. As any start-up should already know, learning SEO techniques (particularly aimed at Google) is an indispensable part of growing a fledgling business in the digital age.

Focusing on Google results is no bad thing, given it’s the largest search engine, but it’s not the only one. Amazon and YouTube are also hugely significant search engines, and optimising your content for their algorithms offers advantages for your start-up. Here’s a breakdown of why this is the case, and how to achieve it.

Amazon SEO

You may not think of Amazon as a search engine, but in fact it’s arguably more lucrative for e-commerce businesses. This is because Amazon is exclusively a transactional platform, not an informational one, so users are almost always searching on Amazon with a purchase intention.

Therefore, conversion rates tend to be higher than Google. For instance, if someone searches for a bestselling book on Amazon, chances are they’re looking to buy it, whereas they may simply be looking for informational content through Google. For this reason, start-ups should not only be selling their products on Amazon, but also optimising the visibility of those listings.

It’s all in the algorithm

The key to Amazon SEO is understanding the logic on which the algorithm is based. As previously mentioned, Amazon is focused entirely on buying and selling, and Amazon earns a commission on each sale, so it stands to reason that their search algorithm is designed to maximise profits.

This means that Amazon measures the worthiness of product listings based on how relevant they are to particular search queries and how well they perform sales-wise. The good news is that the motivations of your start-up and Amazon are aligned: to increase sales. The following approaches are aimed at this goal.

Product data and keyword integration

Your first step should be to provide Amazon with as much data as possible in order to rank your product in the relevant categories. This partly means filling out as many fields as possible when creating a listing – this is how your product will be found through the search filter categories.

However, diligent keyword research to find appropriate search terms and integrating them optimally is ultimately what will determine your ranking position within these categories. Using a combination of a standard keyword research tool (to determine search volumes) and Jungle Scout is a good tactic, as the latter provides you with sales statistics for your keywords. Focus on long-tail keywords, as these have a higher conversion rate.

It’s essential to integrate your main keyword into the product title – along with information such as brand, product name, and core characteristics – but avoid stuffing. The bullet points on the product page are also important ranking factors, so don’t be afraid to include several long-tail keywords, ideally ones that indicate its qualities and USPs.

The description has a slightly less direct impact on rankings, but it’s a great opportunity to write persuasive, user-focused copy. Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that, unlike for Google, you don’t need to repeat words for Amazon or include multiple variations of the same term.

Optimising the search term field is also important, but it works in a different way to Google keywords. For example, whilst you should include synonyms, repeating words and variations of the same word is unnecessary.

Conversion rates

Your conversion rate is a direct performance ranking factor, which reflects the Amazon search algorithm’s focus on sales success. Persuasive, keyword-optimised copy helps a lot in this regard, but you can improve your conversion rate further. Price competitiveness has a particularly large impact: if your product is significantly more expensive than your competitions’, your conversion rate will suffer, and your ranking by extension.

Sufficient images also help, particularly when they are large enough for the zoom function (at least 1000×1000 px). Lastly, the impact negative reviews have on your conversion rate is significant. Although there’s not much you can do to stop them – besides improving your service – responding diligently to complaints will help mitigate the damage.

YouTube SEO

YouTube is a valuable brand-building platform for start-ups, and is actually the second largest search engine behind Google. As it is owned by Google, it’s fairly unsurprising that certain elements of YouTube SEO are very similar to normal website optimisation. Nevertheless, there are some key differences.

Keyword research techniques

Like optimising for Google, your YouTube content creation should be informed by keyword research, in order to ensure you’re targeting high search volume keywords.

For keyword inspiration, it’s a good idea to use the autocomplete function of the YouTube search bar, as this article suggests. In addition, test out your keywords with a Google search to see if they yield video results. These so-called “video keywords” will help you to generate traffic from Google searches as well as within YouTube.

Keyword integration: title and description

As with web content, the placement of these keywords is also impactful. There are four areas you should integrate them: title, description, tags, and file name. Tags and, to a lesser extent, file name are helpful, but the title and description are the more crucial elements to YouTube rankings. Be sure to include your main keyword at the start of your title.

Both ought to feature your chosen keywords in a way that is still appealing and relevant to the user; you need to both pique the user’s interest and demonstrate relevance to YouTube’s search algorithm. Approximately the first 25 words of the description will appear as a snippet in the search results, so it’s a good opportunity to include your main keyword and a link to your site.

YouTube offpage optimisation

There are three main aspects to YouTube off-page strategy: external links, user behaviour, and views. The former works in a similar way to normal website SEO, where links to your video from other authoritative sites are considered endorsements, and therefore please the algorithm. Therefore, share your video widely across social media and reach out to blogs in your niche to secure backlinks. Similarly, user behaviour is akin to engagement in social media, where likes and comments indicate the quality of your content.

For this reason, engaging with your viewers will help your content climb the ranking. Views also work in a similar way to website SEO: essentially, the more people who view your content, the better it will rank. However, the time they spend watching and the percentage of viewers who immediately leave (bounce rate) are also important ranking factors.

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