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BI 276: How to Implement Advanced SEO Tactics to Influence Amazon Rankings


In today’s episode of the podcast, one of my favorite things happened: my guest and I ended up going down a rabbit hole and discovering some very interesting new tactics that can be employed by Amazon sellers.

So, what do I mean? Well….in this episode, my guest is Eugene Levin, Chief Strategy Officer for SEMrush, a tool that I have used on and off for years.

The original plan for the interview, which we covered in the first half, was to talk about split testing Amazon product listings, and how SEMrush’s new tool, Sellerly helps Amazon sellers to do just that – for free.

But how long can you talk about split testing? After all, the concept is pretty simple…and so once we’d completed that portion of our conversation, I asked Eugene to share with me some other ways that SEMrush is being used by Amazon sellers, and that is where things got really interesting.

Approximately halfway through our conversation, we ended up talking about building SEO optimized landing pages for Amazon product listings…and if this is something that you haven’t yet tried, I strongly encourage you to listen to this interview to see how you can get started.


Full Transcript


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Trent: Hey, Bright Idea {indistinct 00:59}. Welcome back to another episode of the Bright Ideas e-Commerce Podcast. As always, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. My job here is to help you to uncover the proven tactics and strategies that are working for e-commerce entrepreneurs today.

The ideal goal is you’ll come away from each and every episode with actionable golden nuggets that you can put into use into your business the same day you listen to the podcast.

On the show with me today is a fellow by the name of Eugene Levin. He is the Chief Strategy Officer of a company called SEMrush. And today, we are going to be talking about a new tool that SEMrush has just recently brought to the market. If you’ve been listening to prior episodes, you’ve heard me mention this tool called Sellerly. So, Eugene, welcome to the show. I think you might actually be on mute.

Eugene: Yeah. Thank you so much for the introduction. Really great to be here. Yeah, happy to chat about how Sellerly can help people to optimize their listings for Amazon.

Trent: All right. So, before we get into any of that, let’s just talk a little bit about your background. Who are you and what do you do?

Eugene: So, technically, my background is mostly in venture capital. Before joining SEMrush, I used to be partnering two firms; one of them was focused on seed-stage companies and it was actually named Top TMVC firm in Russia in 2013.

Then the second firm was growth-stage or late-stage VC firm. And in that one, we were focused on investing  in really big companies where there was still a lot of potential for them to get even bigger. I’d say the good example would be kind of company called Lyft that you might know about. Another good example for European market would be a company called Delivery Hero.

So, yeah, those types of deals. And then at some point, I started seeing that those kind of parts of the market started to be very inflated in terms of valuations. And at the same time, software-as-a-service market was not as hot as consumer Internet.

And I started looking into a couple of software-as-a-service companies, and specifically, at SEMrush because I’ve been user for many many years and used the products a lot myself, specifically for due diligence. And I knew the founders little bit. So, I approach them and very quickly learned that this is probably the best company I’ve ever seen, in terms of their financial performance and metrics, and gave them an offer to invest, but they didn’t really need any money. So, I just tried to stay around, be helpful, thinking that maybe at some point they will need it. And one thing leads to another, eventually, they said that they still do not need money, but they would love if I joined the company.

That was roughly three years ago; a little bit more than three years ago. And since then, the company experienced just enormous growth; including many things that we did on the product side and new products that we launched.

In general, we kind of try to help people optimize their online visibility, no matter where they are; be it a search engine or a social media or a big platform like Amazon. And that’s kind of what brings us to this to this discussion.

We are now thinking how we can help people who sell on Amazon to do better, to sell more. And one of the first things that we decided to explore is kind of small free tool that just allows people to optimize their listings and try different titles and pictures and so on.

Trent: Okay. Which is incredibly important thing to do because the title in particular, there’s no other aspect of the product listing that influences visibility for that product more than the title does.

So, the tool is called Sellerly and for people who want to give it a shot, they can go to… I think it… do we have a URL? I think it’s sellerly.com. Is that correct?

Eugene: Yeah. Or you can just do seller.ly.

Trent: Okay. So, run us through tool really quickly. How does it work? How easy is it to use and so forth?

Eugene: So, I think the most important thing is free. So, it costs really nothing to try it. And we do not ever plan to kind of take money for it. Because we believe that being able to try different titles and a pictures should be quite a basic thing that everyone should be able to do.

Ultimately, you just connect it with your seller account and pull all your listings and then you can start changing titles or prices or descriptions, pictures. And then you just push a button and run tests and everything else is happening in the background. We will update your listing for you and then monitor the results.

And if we see that, statistically, your new listing is winning over previous one, we will suggest you to apply this changes permanently or alternatively, if we see that changes are negative, which also unfortunately happens sometimes, we will ask you to revert back to original.

Trent: Okay. So, it makes the whole process of split testing the four key elements of a product listing really really easy to do. It’s recording the data for you in the background so that all you need to do is a week later, you come back and you look at the results and say, “Hey, version A was better than B. I’m going to go with A.”

Eugene: It really depends on volume. So, for a high volume listing with a lot of transactions you made the last time for not-that-popular product, you’ll need more time. Like two weeks on average works fine, but the system will calculate statistical significance of changes anyway.

Trent: How many impressions does a product listing need to be in the range of, you know, “Hey, we can get some statistically significant data that we can actually trust”?

Eugene: So, we usually would suggest to make decision not based on impressions, but based on revenue. So, ultimately, you care more about money than other things.

And then also, the questions like how many conversions. So, I would say, from top of my head, you’ll need over 100 conversions to make {indistinct 08:23} if that’s the case.

But sometimes, you see it earlier because impact might be kind of multidimensional. So, look let’s put it this way. If you change only title and description, that already can impact two things; a) Conversion and b) Rankings. So, sometimes you’re just a ranking higher.

So, you can very quickly see that if ranking was impacted, that might lead to a very fast decision and you would not {indistinct 08:53} with conversions. But if it all comes to technically, conversion rate optimization, in this case, usually you would try descriptions or price or pictures. That takes more {indistinct 09:08 – 09}. That’s where we are talking about; probably hundreds of conversions. Dude, we have real {indistinct 09:14} statistically significant results.

Trent: And how will rank tracking? Does the tool do that or is that something you would have to use as a tool for?

Eugene: Yeah, you’ll probably, at this point, have to use another tool. Eventually, yeah, we’ll probably add this functionality as well {indistinct 09:29}.

Trent: Okay.

Eugene: Yet again, we’re just starting. There will be tons of many new exciting features down the road.

Trent: Well, yeah, that’s what I want to talk about. Because I’m sure you didn’t introduce a free tool of the charitable goodness of your heart to never generate any revenue; this is just a way to get going.

What are the plans for the future? Because SEMrush is not really known at this point in time as one of the key tools for Amazon sellers. As a matter of fact, I venture to guess that most Amazon sellers don’t use it at all. There’s a big market there for you guys. Obviously, you want to get a piece of it.

What are some of the pieces of functionality that we could expect in the next 6 to 12 months?

Eugene: So, unfortunately, at this point, I’m not a developer, so I cannot say about 6 to 12 months, since I’m not writing the code anymore. But in terms of overall direction where we want to focus and why I think this is important is there are a lot of tools that help you to kind of do things that happen within Amazon ecosystem and that’s one part of the equation.

But what we see getting more and more important is building your brand versus just relying on let’s say, search-out-of-the-trash inside Amazon.

Many people made money (which I think is a brilliant tactic, a year ago, two years ago). You know, search for keywords with high demand and bad supply on Amazon, find great products on Alibaba, ship them and make money. I think that’s awesome. That was brilliant.

Unfortunately, the more people do this, the harder it gets. And in general, what we see is that right now, there is starting to be less and less opportunities for this stuff where you can make money just by purely manipulating the system; manipulating in a good way.

So, we believe that more and more people will start thinking about, “Okay, how do I actually build my audience, build my brand. And when you start by asking those questions, you need to think beyond Amazon. Even if you optimize your listings for Amazon.

So, one of the things that people sometimes overlook is that Amazon listings actually rank quite well on Google. And people also underestimated that there are things that you can do to make your Amazon listing rank better.

Many people now started doing Facebook Advertising, many people now kind of think about having dedicated Skype kind of for the brand and still do most of the shipments and demand through Amazon, but have something that belongs to them to {indistinct 12:33} from competition. And I think that’s where even existing tools that SEMrush offers would be helpful.

But what we want to we really want to do is to kind of take all this information about Amazon listings that we have and provide it to Amazon sellers. This information will be not only about what happens within Amazon, but also what happens with this listings outside of Amazon. So, how they rank on Google, who links to this, who is writing blog posts about those products, who are your competitors, who are their affiliates, how traffic gets into specific listing.

Sometimes, some listings get traffic mostly from Amazon search, which is great, but there are listings where traffic gets from other sources. Some sellers heavily on social media ads for example and we will be able to kind of highlight “what are the odds successful people at Amazon?”

Trent: Eugene, I’ve turned your video off because we’re having a little bit of a bandwidth issue today and I want to make sure that we preserve as much of the audio quality as we can. So, we’ll continue with the video for you. So, go ahead.

Eugene: That’s disappointing. {indistinct 14:00} like my thing shows that it’s getting better, but okay.

Trent: So, it’s very interesting that talks about how SEMrush (the tool I’m familiar with and have used on and off for years) can provide valuable information for an Amazon seller because that was something, in my own Amazon business, I don’t use the tool currently, I didn’t know that it would be of any value to me.

So, let’s unpack that a little bit and help both myself and the listeners understand what the current feature set on SEMrush; what are some of the things that you have your customers doing who are Amazon sellers and how is it benefiting them?

Eugene: I can give you a couple of examples.

Trent: Okay.

Eugene: So, SEMrush, historically, is very well known for a search engine optimization. And as I said earlier, Amazon has tremendous amount of organic traffic from Google. Technically, most of product searches, even if they originate on Google, they still end up being purchases on Amazon. So, people may search for something there, but they will still buy it on Amazon.

So, ranking on Google with your Amazon listing makes a lot of sense. And as I said, technically, optimization of the page on Amazon for Google is technically the same as optimizing your own or any page for Google. Technically, you need to understand competition, you need to understand what keywords Google believes are relevant, you need to use this keywords in a description of the product on your Amazon page and then if it’s really competitive, you may want to have back links. That’s kind of in a nutshell what will give you ranking on Google.

Trent: Okay. So, let me give a scenario. Let’s say that I’ve got my listing in position 7 and I want to get to position 1. You’re telling me that I could use the URL of the top listing and I could put that into SEMrush and I could get some information and see, “Hey, they’re getting backlinks from here. They’re doing this. They’re doing that.” Things that I might not be doing for my listing.

Because a lot of times, I remember when I was first started on Amazon, I was selling dog bark collars. It was a private label product. And I mean, I just could not get those things to rank. No matter how many {indistinct 16:39} I gave away in promotion and then I was having to spend a fortune on ad clicks.

And I was so naive at the time; it never occurred to me to think about, “Well, maybe there’s some off-page SEO that is influencing the visibility of the top ranked product.”

So, for example, if they’ve got a bunch of backlinks and they’re showing up for a lot of Google searches and then they’re processing transactions, the Amazon algorithm is saying, “Hey, look. This one has a higher sales velocity. Therefore, a lower best seller rank. Therefore, it’s going to rank higher than me.”

So, what you’re telling me is, “Use this tool and figure out, well, what kind of off-Amazon SEO tactics might they be using, which is then positively influencing their rank on the Amazon platform.”

Eugene: Right. So, I was almost getting there, but you nailed it.

Trent: Okay.

Eugene: The nicest thing about ranking high with your listing on Google is that ultimately you’re getting traffic that has relatively high intend, probably low convert.

Trent: Yeah.

Eugene: What it means is that will indirectly impact your Amazon ranking. So, even though it’s hard to say that there is a kind of direct causation between ranking on Google and ranking on Amazon, there is very significant correlations between those two for the same group of keywords.

Trent: Would it be effective… and I was listening to another show where I got this idea about a SEO. Let’s say that I sell six or eight or nine products that are all kind of related. Let’s say they’re all for dogs. They’re all maybe there is a dog collar, there’s a dog this, a dog leash, a dog the other thing. Would it make sense (and I’m guessing the answer is yes) but I build some landing page on a WordPress site, for example.

I, from that landing page, could have links to one of my Amazon listings. And then I’m applying at SEO both on-page and off-page SEO strategies to my landing page and building a lot of links to my landing page so that that landing page would then rank for whatever keywords would be relevant to the products that are on that page.

So, that’s like a whole another level of SEO trickery or strategy; all with the intention of benefiting how my products show up on the Amazon Marketplace.

Eugene: I’ve seen those things. One thing you have to keep in mind is that this original off-Amazon part with the content still should be valuable for end user.

Trent: Oh, clearly.

Eugene: Yeah, it cannot be some random {indistinct 19:31}. But if it’s high-quality content that brings to your listing, yeah, that would be value.

Trent: Yeah. Because you could have a large body of copy, you can have videos, you could have links to download. I mean, you could pack a ton of value; educational, non-salesy value onto your landing page, which is then going to rank and hopefully get backlinks. And all the while, you’re now going to be linking to your Amazon listings.

Now, I know how link juice gets passed around in the world of Google, but does link juice also get passed around in just the Amazon algorithm? Do you know or pay any attention to link juice that you might be passing from your landing page?

Eugene: Inside Amazon or…?

Trent: Inside Amazon. I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that one. Yeah, that’s… And you have to be kind of patient here because people have been researching Google for decades.

Trent: Yeah.

Eugene: A lot of things we know now and things that are not necessarily confirmed by Google, but we know work. It took years to get this knowledge. I think eventually, people will get much more sophisticated about Amazon.

Also, Amazon these days makes way more changes. So, their algorithm way and more unpredictable comparing to Google. Even if I tell you today, “Okay, it works this this way.” It might be irrelevant tomorrow.

So, I think Amazon is still at this point where they’re still learning a lot themselves.

Trent: Yeah, no question.

Eugene: I can, for example, share with you some tactic.

Trent: Please do.

Eugene: That’s another SEO guys told me about their listing. So, technically, what they’re doing is they are not just creating content around the topic. What they also do then is that they do kind of not fake check out, but not real check out and make people click on a little buy button. And only after people click on buy button, they will send them on their Amazon listing. So, technically, they’re just filtering part of the audience who are not super serious and may kind of decrease overall conversion rate for the listings.

And by kind of creating this additional kind of pre-check out button, they’re kind of getting only super super-high quality buyers to their actual Amazon listing. So, that’s one of the things that I’ve seen recently.

Trent: Let me unpack that to make sure I understood it. So, I’ve got my landing page, I’ve got some great content, I’ve got my products on my landing page and there’s an “Add To Cart” button under each one of those products that is going to take them (the buyer) to the product listing on Amazon.

Eugene: Yeah.

Trent: So, that would be the high-quality buyer. Because if they’re hitting “Add to Cart” they’re trying to buy the thing. So, they’re going to send them to Amazon and they’re going to go, “Oh, cool. It’s on Amazon. I’m a Prime member. Added to cart.” Is that basically what you’re saying?

Eugene: Right. So, I would give you an example. So, sometimes you can just say, “Here is the product that you’re reading about. If you want to read more, go there.” and just send them to Amazon listing and maximize traffic.

Or alternatively, you can kind of have this more the e-commerce interface with the checkout button and send people to Amazon listing only when people actually push the checkout button to make sure that they are actually ones who want to buy and not some people who want to learn more about {crosstalk 23:24}.

Trent: Okay. So, again, I want to make sure I understand this. So, I’m on this landing page. There’s an “Add to Cart” button. I add it to cart. I’m going to what looks like a shopping cart and then there’s a checkout button that takes me to the Amazon product listing?

Eugene: No. Once you push checkout, it goes to Amazon.

Trent: Okay. So, “Add to Cart” button right under the product takes me right to Amazon where I add it to cart again and I check on Amazon.

Eugene: Yeah.

Trent: Now, are they embedding keywords in the link?

Eugene: I’ll have to check the site.

Trent: Okay. That would be a little bit great had if they were.

Eugene: I don’t think they would.

Trent: Yeah.

Eugene: But, yeah, I mean, as you said, that would be little bit great to have. You don’t want to do something that Amazon would treat as manipulation.

Trent: Yeah.

Eugene: While filtering users who might be not super interested to buy is one thing, but then proactively spamming, that would be different.

Trent: Yeah. There’s nothing wrong with putting up a landing page that has a whole bunch of content and then linking those people to Amazon, so they can go buy it. Amazon is not going to have any problem with that because there’s nothing spammy about that at all.

So, what would be, within the SEMrush tool, what would be the key features that someone would use to put themselves in a position to create the best possible landing page for the right keywords?

Eugene: So, for example, we have a product called SEO Content Template. So, exactly you tell us what kind of keyword you want to target or multiple keywords. And then based on keywords that you enter, we analyze everyone who ranks for this and then we put it through machine learning algorithm and technically we give you suggestions; specifically what keywords you should use, including all the related keywords, what websites will provide you highest quality links for this topic and also what kind of length of content should be because for some topics you need long read, for some topics not necessarily.

And then lastly, we’ll provide recommendations on readability because Google also kind of pays attention to how easy content is to consume.

So, that would be one of the best products. And it’s also simple to use and actually allows people to really rank well, especially in not super-competitive niches. Like in some niches, it’s just pretty much impossible to rank because you need like 2,000 backlinks.

Trent: Yeah. Okay. So, let me unpack this; make sure I get it right. So, I want to rank for “Blue dog collar for small dogs.” Reasonably long tail keywords; shouldn’t be like too terribly difficult to rank for.

So, I’ve done my keyword research. I’m going to go to the SEO Content Templates and I’m going to start off the process by saying, “Hey, I want to build a page for “Blue dog collar for small dogs.”

Eugene: Yeah.

Trent: And then it is going to guide me through. This is approximately how much content you should have and this is where you should try and get your links from and it’s going to list off a bunch of your URLs and it’s going to tell me what my on-page SEO meta tags or whatever the right phrase for that is.

Eugene: Absolutely.

Trent: Wow. SEO by cookie cutter; I like that.

Eugene: Yeah. Technically, we even have a product called “Writing Assistant.” So, that’s the next step. Once you have all those recommendations, you can also go into Writing Assistant. It can connect with WordPress or Google Docs. So, you have to try to optimize Amazon listing properly. Google Docs is the better option.

But technically, once you start writing, it kind of checks boxes like {indistinct 27:54} the keywords we suggested you; how easy content is to read, is it long enough or not long enough.

Trent: Well, there.

Eugene: All those things. So, it’s also easy to use. And especially if you’re trying to create many many many many different pages or listings. That would be super helpful because kind of it tracks, “Are you doing your content in line with best practices on a go?” So, you don’t have to kind of keep it all in mind.

Trent: Yeah, that is right up my alley because it’s a repeatable process. I love it. Okay. I think we can probably wrap there. I mean, we could be talking about SEO all day long, but that wasn’t the goal we set out to create this interview.

But that was a most unexpected golden nugget; the SEO Content Template and SEO Writing Assistant tool and I would strongly encourage folks; if you liked the thing that we’ve just been talking about (about creating off-Amazon landing pages) to and give that a go and then let me know how it works.

Eugene, if people want to get in touch with you is there any way they can do that?

Eugene: With me personally?

Trent: Let’s say someone is listening to this and they want to do a joint venture of some kind or what have you; is there a way for them to reach you?

Eugene: Yeah. I mean, I have LinkedIn account. I always reply.

Trent: Okay. We’ll use that. I’ll make sure that I include a link to your LinkedIn account in the show notes, so people can reach that way.

Eugene: Yeah, sure. I mean, you want to also share email? Is that…?

Trent: If that’s… yeah, I’m happy to put that in the show notes too if you’d like.

Eugene: So, I think Valeria will be able to… I mean, like there is my email like main email {indistinct 29:51} not anymore, but that would be better for…

Trent: No problem. We’ll put something into the show notes. So, there’s it people. So, if you want to get a hold of Eugene, there will be a link in the show notes for you to be able to do that.

Alright, Eugene, thank you so much for making some time to come on the show.

Eugene: Thank you.

Trent: To get to the show notes for today’s episode, go to brightideas.co/276.

If you enjoyed this episode, I have two small, but very important requests. Number one; help another entrepreneur discover all of the golden nuggets by sharing this episode on your social profiles or wherever else you would like to.

And then number two; if you would take a moment and head on over to the iTunes store and leave us a 5-star rating along with your comments. Man oh man. I would be eternally grateful for that. Thank you so much.

Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas Podcast. Check us out on the web at brightideas.co.

Alright, show is over. I’m tired.



Questions Asked During the Interview


  1. How does split testing on Amazon work?
  2. What are some of the elements that the Sellery tool allows you to test?
  3. What are some of the other ways sellers can increase traffic and sales on Amazon?
  4. Are there off-Amazon SEO tactics that you have seen sellers using?
  5. How does SEMrush help sellers to determine which keywords they should be targeting with their landing pages?
  6. Does SEMrush have features that will help sellers to create these landing pages more easily?


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This post first appeared on Blog - Bright Ideas For ECommerce Entrepreneurs, please read the originial post: here

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