Amazon Sellers Central Backend Keywords (New 250 Character Limit) Explained + Plan of Action
On the 28th of August 2017, Amazon officially announced Seller Central backend keywords are now limited to 200 bytes in India, 500 bytes in Japan, and 250 bytes in US and Europe marketplaces to improve the quality of search results. Characters that exceed the limit prescribed by Amazon however will not be indexed. See the below image for Amazon’s statement in full:
Knowing Amazon’s official announcement, I highly recommend sellers who are still being indexed for the previous 1000 characters per field to make the necessary adjustments before the new changes affect their products.
What does the 250 bytes limit mean for your products?
First of all, by 250 bytes, Amazon means 250 characters for alphanumeric characters and some symbols can be 2 characters or more. For instance the symbol ¥ is 2 bytes while ❤ is 3 bytes. In addition, the 250 bytes does not refer to a single line but the TOTAL of all 5 search terms lines (see image below). Simply put, if your backend keywords exceed the 250 character limit they will not be indexed by Amazon, and your product will no longer be displayed for those keywords in Amazon’s search results.
Knowing Amazon there is always the possibilities that there are different roll out times, so there may be sellers and products where the new character limit has not taken effect yet.
However, I strongly recommend sellers to be proactive and make necessary updates to their backend search terms to prevent any keywords from being de-indexed once the new changes have been fully rolled out.
What is your plan of action?
Whether it was for Google or Amazon, I constantly emphasize the importance of relevancy for search terms keywords. It’s the biggest and most important factor right now.
Since there are limited characters available, it’s vital to have your main keywords in the search terms before inserting secondary keywords. There are a few ways to find your main keywords and one of them is to download the ‘Search Term Report’ from your sellers account. Note that you will need to run Amazon PPC automatic targeting ads in order to obtain accurate data. In the report, you will find keywords customers searched for, clicked on, and converted into sales. Using these converted keywords as one of your main keywords to rank on Amazon, insert them into your backend search terms.
You can also use ZonGuru’s keyword tracker to track and measure effectiveness of keywords used in your product listing. Highly effective keywords can be used in the backend search terms. There are other online tools you can use to extract and download keywords used by customers when searching for products on Amazon.
According to Amazon, spaces and punctuations does not contribute to the length limit so be sure to calculate the amount of character used accurately. Here’s an online character count tool that you can utilize.
Pro Tip: To test if your keywords are still being indexed you can perform a search in Amazon using a combination of keywords from your backend search terms, and observe whether your product shows up or otherwise. Or, better yet, you can check with our friends over at MarketHustl who have a great Index Checker available which can do this for you easily and quickly. Check it out here! Keep in mind that it might a couple of hours for changes to take effect.
Ultimately, the main goal is to rank for keywords relevant to your product and to do so, you will need to have your main keyword in your product title, bullet points, description and backend search terms. Refer back to this post and the attached image above when you are updating your backend keywords.
Pro Tip: Go easy on the subjective language. The use of “Best Seller,” “Awesome,” “No.1,” and other similar phrases are not in line with Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon do not want these keywords used in product title, bullet points, description, or backend search terms.
Amazon’s New Returns & Refunds Policy Could Destroy FBM Sellers
Here’s another change of policy made by Amazon that could affect third party sellers in the marketplace significantly. According to CNBC news, “Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse — rather than using Amazon’s facilities — were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be “automatically authorized” for return.“
The objective of the policy change will make it easier for Amazon customer to return an item, while the seller won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. For instance, if a customer is returning a fishing rod because it’s difficult to use, the seller won’t be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund.
3 things you need to know about the new Amazon return policy:
- There are two major changes regarding returns and refunds: Automatic Authorization (also referred to as Pre-Authorized Returns) and Returnless Refunds.
- The changes affect sellers who ship products themselves rather than using Amazon’s warehouses and FBA.
- Changes take effect on October 2, 2017, and sellers are required to have a return address on file by this date (failure to do so means that the business address you’ve provided will be used as the return address).
Now that the refund expense is automatically placed onto the seller, there is growing fear among some small operating FBM sellers that they will go out of business due to the financial burden of return shipments. This leads to the question, “Should I proceed with FBM or FBA?” for new sellers.
This update will encourage sellers to move more of their inventory into Amazon’s fulfillment warehouse or adhere to the new customer friendly terms, both of which improve the customer experience. Amazon sellers who aren’t already leveraging FBA are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to maximizing product visibility and also conversion rate with this update serving to accelerate that reality.
Amazon Alexa Skills
Alexa is Amazon’s voice service and the brain behind millions of devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show. Alexa provides an impressive number of capabilities that enable customers to create a more personalized experience from streaming music to motivational Ted talks.
Major brands have already jumped on the bandwagon and more are soon to follow, especially if the popularity of products like the Amazon’s smaller-sized Echo Dot smart speaker continues to grow. Since Amazon opened Alexa to outside developers, there are now more than 15,000 skills from companies like Ted Talks, ESPN, and GaryVee 365 as well as other innovative designers and developers.
Amazon is currently the leader in voice-powered devices, where it’s expected to control 70 percent of the market this year — well ahead of Google Home and others. No doubt its success played a role in Apple releasing its own Siri-powered device, the HomePod.
While there’s been some criticism that many of Amazon’s skills are low-quality, it’s remarkable for being able to build out an app store in a short time span. Maybe not all the skills are as useful as getting your daily dose of sports news or being able to order an Uber by voice, but having so many skills to choose from means you have a great chance of finding something that suits your needs.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Eugene is an Amazon business coach, consultant, and blockchain enthusiast. He helps aspiring and established entrepreneurs build a highly profitable Amazon FBA business so they can unlock their true potential. Learn more about him at wiseintro.co/FreedomProfitsBlueprint