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How to Optimize Your Amazon Search Terms Backend?

Let's talk about the search term attributed to your ASIN. Also known as Backend Keywords.
Last updated:
February 9, 2022

Let's talk about keywords!

No, not those in the product title. Those need to be both the best performing out of all the keywords you have AND they need to be written so that a real person can glance at the title and go: “Ok, I know what I’m looking at!”

Instead, we’re talking about another kettle of fish: the search term attributed to your ASIN. Also known as Backend Keywords.

These are different from the keywords you’d normally build into your human-readable product fields, as they are meant solely for the Amazon A10 algorithm.

Picking Amazon search terms in 2020

amazon backend keywords 2020

Let’s see which keywords should actually go into the backend.

A seller needs to inform both the buyers and Amazon A10 algorithm about their product.

The buyers may be not as attentive or smart about interpreting the keywords they read… but they are the ones paying you the money.

And this means that you MUST write things that make sense and bring your message across.

Whenever you work with a ready set of keywords (regardless of how you got a hold of them), you want to make sure that both your product title and your bullet points (at least the first two ones) are perfectly readable by humans.

And upon reading the said title about a couple of product’s features, the customer will go: “Ok, that’s exactly what I need!” and add it to the cart. Although technically your top-performing keywords are indexed both from the product title’s (250 characters) and from the first 100 characters from every bullet point, those are meant for human eyes.

The 2015 way of stuffing your product title full of keywords is annoying in 2020. And since customers want to make their decisions much quicker now — you should really optimize the parts they actually read. That leaves even less space for keywords that the algorithm can get a grip on (certainly not all 250 and 5*100 characters in the title and bullet points).

If you did your keyword research well, even after filling those important fields with human-friendly text containing your best keywords, you should be still left with plenty of unused keywords that would be great to index.

These can be more exotic or slang names of your product commonly used alternative descriptions or even words in foreign languages. If, say, you were dealing with dog’s products, these would be words like “fido,” “doggo,” “pup,” “canine,” etc.

amazon search terms

Those would look pretty weird even in bullet points describing your product's supposedly key features, wouldn’t they? And this is exactly what back end keywords are for.

Clean ’em and fry ’em — Amazon search terms 250 bytes limit

Back in the day, you could’ve put as many as 1000 characters worth of backend keywords into the product’s attribute field. Even with comma delimiters, this was still plenty of space to work with your “for computer’s eyes only” keywords.

amazon search terms 250 bytes

However, now we’re limited to only 250 symbols total. Actually, it’s 249 bytes. Which is equal to symbols only if you use English letters and numbers. Any fancy foreign words, emoji, or symbols that are outside the first 128 ASCII characters will be taking up 2 or more bytes each.

You could type more, but those wouldn't count towards indexable ASIN keywords after the 249th byte.

Because of this, there are a few rules as to “stripping” any keywords that are deemed worthy to be put into this field:

amazon product listing search terms

If you’ve read all the above carefully, you could be asking: “How can such a list make sense to anyone??” How can a spaghetti of words like “professional ping-pong racket competitive game set hard surface lightweight table tennis orange balls boyfriend gift...” ever do your product any good —- be it in the eyes of a human or the algorithm?

But it turns out it can.

And you can improve them even more!

Now, with all the limitations, there seems to be very little space to include any but a couple of keyword phrases into your listing — even if they were high-volume search phrases that describe your product perfectly.

So here is a little trick:

amazon search terms optimization

Don't just dump all the relevant keywords into the backend, like they were some ice cubes and the backend field was the whiskey glass. Instead, try arranging them a little. 2-3 keyword combos that make sense (and can potentially be typed in by a human searching Amazon) will allow Amazon to index your product for all three keywords separately and give it a chance to match your product with the exact matching 2-3 keyword query.

How do Amazon product listing search terms help the business?

If your product ever got shown on a keywords’ combination, and this has led to even one purchase…. Amazon has clicked. From then on, your product WILL be indexed with this particular search query (search term) for the purpose of any future customer interactions.

So by cleverly combining heads and tails of your backend keyword phrases (and not just in backed keywords), you can do that little extra that will help the search engine to start working its magic on your product listing.

Essentially, backend keywords are a booster of your sales for less frequent search terms and long-tail search terms.

Not carved in stone

amazon search terms keyword

Amazon is a vibrant aggressive and profitable marketplace. Your competitors are always on a look out for new ways to index their products, to sell more and to secure more buys. This can be done in a number of ways, but checking the relevancy of your keywords’ pool is certainly one of them. My point is that the pool of “golden: keywords are not static — but a dynamic construct.

Some keywords are used so often that they will go nowhere, But others like slang words or fashion mentions can come and go. So as a seller, you would be wise as to not take your set of listing keywords as a given.

I suggest getting into the habit of checking your lower frequency keywords against things like Search Term report — just to see if you’re not missing out on some new well-performing keywords that drive you real sales because things like a backend keywords list are already full. No, no, no…. You DO want to challenge your old sets of keywords from time to time to replace the old and decreasingly useful ones with those that get the job done here and now.

Backend keywords and PPC Synergy

Backend keywords and PPC

One more thing. It has to do with Sponsored ads.

Being indexed for a keyword is not merely a matter of showing somewhere on organic search results. You may have the most solid keywords reach and relevant Amazon PPC campaign (like the ones that can be made for busy sellers by Profit Whales.

But Amazon will still keep your Sponsored Ads under a glass ceiling, if your PPC keywords are not indexed in some way with regards to your product listing. So getting as many promising keywords as possible to get indexed via backend search terms attribute is a boon to your Amazon PPC launch. That will most certainly save you money dwindling near the bottom of page 2 search results or even lower. Don’t miss out on this free opportunity to get things right!

And that is mostly it for backend keywords.

I hope you find this subject description useful for your business. And in any case, good hunting to you out there, my fellow amazonians!


Ihor Dubovetskyi
Co-founder, Profit Whales

Ihor Dubovetskyi is the co-founder of Profit Whales, the accelerator for Brands selling on Amazon based on advanced decision-making technologies using Big Data & Data Science.

“I’m obsessed with scaling brands beyond their expectations and building tools that will help Brands on Amazon to scale faster more efficiently.”

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