One of the most frustrating parts of working with organic SEO is that it’s so, so difficult for small- and medium-sized businesses to really compete with massively well-known large corporations that traditionally dominate search.
Amazon is perhaps the best example of this, having product pages that typically show up before those on smaller sites. Ecommerce sites of all sizes often struggle to outrank Amazon, which largely comes down to their extraordinarily high domain authority.
A lot of sites have tried their best to outrank Amazon in organic search only to get frustrated and settle on falling in search results underneath the enormous online marketplace. This doesn’t need to be the case, however, as the right strategies can help much smaller sites beat Amazon in organic search. There are 6 specific strategies that are particularly reliable; let’s take a look at each one.
1. Leverage Backlinking
Part of the reason Amazon is so difficult to beat is because of their high domain authority, which is essentially a score that tells sites the level of priority they may get in Google’s search engine. Older sites that are deemed to be credible and trusted have higher authorities, and one of the best ways to boost yours is by increasing your backlink profile.
Backlinking is one of the best ways to beat Amazon in organic search, hands down. Keep in mind that plenty of articles online will have affiliate links to Amazon to try to make some cash, but they use “no-follow tags,” which tell Google they don’t want them to create a backlink between the two sites. They do this so that their online reputation isn’t affected if the Amazon page does poorly online.
Getting quality backlinks to your site will help, therefore. Consider reaching out to trusted bloggers or publications and ask them to check out what you have to offer. You can also write guest publications, or create valuable resources on your own site people will want to link to. The more credible sites who link back to yours, the better.
2. Make Sure Your Site is In Good Shape
When you’re running that backlink audit with a tool like SEMrush or Moz, go ahead and run a full Site Audit. You want to look for technical errors that could be dinging you in SEO, including any broken links, duplicate content, or crawlability issues. Remember that if Google can’t find your content easily, they can’t rank it well, and you’ll never be able to outrank a massive site like Amazon even if your product is a better fit.
Look for any crawlability issues, and fix them as soon as possible. You also want to have a strong mobile-responsive site, because Google is now utilizing mobile-first indexing. Ensure that your site speed is as fast as possible, or you’ll lose both Google’s interest and users’ alike.
3. Create a “Keyword Theme” For High-Value Products
I have a strategy that I’ve used for my site copy clients for several years now with great success, and I call it creating a “keyword theme” or a “keyword profile.”
Here’s how it works: You identify your high-value, high-margin products that you really want to rank well for, and then create a full list of possible keywords that users might use to search for the item, and place them throughout the product listing and on different similar products.
Let’s say, for example, that you sell multiple different versions of a pocket knife. You’ll want to optimize each one for different keywords, increasing your likelihood of catching as many customers as possible no matter what specific language they’re using. One, therefore, may be optimized for “pocket knife.” Another may be optimized for “swiss army knife,” and another for “folding knife.” By doing this, you’ll get people on your page to view all of your products with multiple terms.
4. Use Content & Long-Tail Keywords
Content is your friend. Amazon only has product pages and product listings, meaning that they have an enormous amount of products all competing for the same short-tail keywords.
You can use this to your advantage very easily. Targeting long-tail keywords that indicate search intent in your product pages, product copy, and even on your on-site blog posts can be the way to go. The competition will be less for these keywords, and since Amazon typically tries to target shorter keywords, this is your opening.
If someone searches for “yoga mat,” the first results that will show up are for Amazon (and this is after a PPC ad that led to Amazon, too).
If, however, you search for “best yoga mat for travel,” multiple other sites show up before Amazon.
This is true even for “thick yoga mat,” which links to on-site content that offers information about the thickness of the company’s yoga mats and how to choose which one is right for you.
Consider search intent when choosing whether you should use a specific keyword for a product listing or a blog post. Question-based keywords are often best for traditional content instead of product listings, while descriptive keywords can work well in product listings.
5. Write Individual Copy for Each Product Listing
If you look at most Amazon listings that come from the same brand, they almost nearly identical copy.
I understand the appeal of this; it’s cheaper and faster to reuse copy and just change what you need to. That being said, if you want to outrank Amazon, you’ll want to have individual copy for each product listing.
When you’re writing separate copy, you can really highlight what’s great about each product. You also have more opportunities to target unique keywords, hopefully helping you rank for more searches across a variety of different search terms.
This tip is simple: Keep the general voice the same, offer the same general information on each product listing (like weight, size, and care instructions), but write a unique product description for each one.
6. Take Advantage of Reviews
Reviews. Reviews, reviews, reviews.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Reviews can do wonders for sales online, but they can also make a big impact for SEO, especially when you’re leveraging them properly.
Do what you can to generate reviews, and use SEO-friendly review software like Yotpo, which allows all the reviews to be searchable. If a customer writes that your running shoes are “the best running shoes for the desert” and someone happens to search for that random phrase, you could show up.
You can also use review schema markup on your site. This will help you rank well in Google, and it will also signal to users that whatever you’re advertising has a five star rating (or close). This can boost your positioning and draw more clicks, both of which will help you to beat Amazon in search.
Trying to compete against Amazon is difficult. Many ecommerce businesses would much rather sell directly from their own sites even if they have listings on Amazon, too, and using the right strategies can help you outrank the online-selling juggernaut so that you have a lot more of a fighting chance in organic search.
In order to succeed, however, it will be important to follow all 6 steps discussed here consistently so that you can boost your domain authority, increase search relevance, and ensure that Google is able to see everything you have to offer.
Need some extra help rising in the ranks of SEO? That’s our jam. Learn more about what we can do for you here.