Pay to Win with Amazon PPC to Rank High on Product Search Results

Pay to Win with Amazon PPC to Rank High on Product Search Results

Have you ever bought something on Amazon from beyond page 50? I bet you haven't unless you're incredibly picky. And it's not just because you don't have the time to browse that much. Typically, you find what you need on the first couple of pages.


Don't worry. You're not the only one who buys on Amazon like this. Study shows 75% of Amazon sales happen on the first page of search results. The rest are on the following ten pages.


Now, here's the problem: When you launch a new product on Amazon, you can't expect it to show up on the first page of search results right away. It might be hidden within the last few pages, depending on the size of your current following and how well you optimize its description. 


Why? – Because Amazon ranks listings based primarily on daily sales velocity. This means the first pages are reserved for bestsellers. 


Can you cheat your way to the top?


There's a way to reach the top of search results, but it's not cheating. It's a legitimate method recommended by Amazon called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Using PPC lets you create ads that appear on the first page of search results. But instead of typical listings, Amazon will show your listings as "sponsored" ones. 


These sponsored listings usually appear at the top, middle, and bottom of a search results page. Amazon may also place them on each relevant listing page. The higher your products are on the first page, the more likely they will sell.


How do you make Amazon place your ads in those spots?


Most buyers don't have time to scan each Amazon page to find their desired products. Instead, they search for those products by typing keywords on the search bar, just as they would when searching for information on Google. 


Some keywords are used more often than others to search for specific products. As a seller, your goal is to have your products appear on the first page of the results when buyers use those keywords in their searches. Unfortunately, there's not enough space for everyone on the first page. 


So, what does Amazon do to select which products appear on the first page?


  • They prioritize the bestsellers through organic placement.
  • They auction off some of the slots.


If you're new to Amazon and your listings have zero daily sales velocity, your only option to catapult your listings to the top of search results is to bid on the auctioned slots. That's where PPC advertising comes in. How to do it? Two steps—


Step 1: Bid on keywords.

Step 2: Create ad or PPC campaigns.


How do you get a list of relevant keywords to bid on?


There are three ways to do it: manually, using free keyword research tools, or using paid keyword research tools. While manual keyword research will save you money, its results are often unreliable. Our limited ability to analyze massive amounts of data prevents us from producing rich keyword lists that bring ad campaigns in front of the consumer's eyes. 


Consider using free keyword research tools, such as Sonar or Google Trends, especially if you're a new seller trying to minimize operational costs. However, these may not be enough either. Eventually, you must invest in paid tools like Keyword Scout or Magnet to compete with big brands in your niche or category. 


Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a keyword list:


  1. Choose a seed keyword and run a search on your keyword research tool. A seed keyword is a short phrase that best describes your niche or product. For example, if your product listing is a tennis racket, your seed keyword can be 'tennis racket.'


  1. Sort your list by search volume, starting from highest to lowest. Then, export the data by downloading the .csv file on your keyword research tool.


  1. Open the file with MS Excel or Google Sheets. This will show you all the keywords you've researched and a bunch of other information, most of which you won't need.


  1. You can create another list and combine it with the first one. This new list should contain the keywords your top competitors (bestsellers, Amazon's choice, and top 3-5 listings) are using on their organically ranked listings. Go to those listings, copy their ASINs, and run them on your keyword research tool.


  1. Combine the lists into a single file, removing unnecessary columns and duplicate and irrelevant keywords. Only leave the keyword and search volume columns.


  1. Narrow your list further by removing all keywords with less than a thousand monthly search volume and categorizing what's left into main and relevant keywords. This well-organized keyword list can go a long way in helping you experiment with different PPC strategies.


Creating PPC Campaigns for Your Amazon Listings


Now that you have your keyword list, it's time to create your PPC campaigns. Amazon provides well-defined and easy-to-follow procedures for setting up these campaigns.


Step 1: Understand keyword-matching types.


There are three types of keywords you can bid on to match your PPC campaigns—exact, broad, and phrase. This means you can set up your ads to only show up in searches that use the exact same keywords, related and synonymous keywords, OR keywords with affixes. 


Amazon allows you to use all keyword-matching types to optimize your PPC campaigns. However, you may also not use phrase match since they are technically under the broad match type. Running ads using only exact and broad keyword matches will save you time and resources.


Step 2: Set up your PPC campaign.


Log in to your Amazon seller account. On the Menu, hover above 'Advertising' and click 'Campaign Manager.' Then, select 'Sponsored Products.' The first PPC campaign you'll create is an exact match campaign. The keywords you'll bid on here are from your main keyword list. 


Name your Ad Group. Choose a name that best identifies your campaign to avoid confusion should you decide to make changes in the future. Then, choose a targeting method. For this campaign, it's best to use 'manual targeting' and, under it, 'keyword targeting.' Under 'keyword targeting,' click 'enter list,' and since this is an exact match campaign, deselect 'broad' and 'phrase.'


Go to your Keyword List Sheet and copy all the main keywords you want to target. Paste it on the box in your PPC campaign setup and click 'Add keywords.' Next to this box, you'll see Amazon's default suggested bids for the keywords you've added.


Here comes the tricky part—deciding on a bidding amount for each keyword. Many Amazon sellers make the mistake of holding back when making a bid. As a result, and it's pretty obvious, they lose out. Yes, they save money since Amazon only charges them for the clicks made on their ads, but ultimately, they do not gain anything from it. 


Here's a tip: 


Be aggressive when bidding. Consider the default bids as the minimum. Your bid shouldn't go below them. Overbid by at least a dollar to have more chances of outbidding your competitors. Don't worry about the likely costs. First of all, you won't get charged unless your ads get clicked. And when they do get clicked, your potential sales could easily cover the costs. 


Also, your bid isn't precisely what Amazon will charge you for each click. It's only the maximum amount you're willing to pay for. Amazon will still charge you based on the second-highest bid. For instance, if your winning bid on a keyword is $2.50 and the second-highest bid is $1.70, Amazon may only charge you at least $1.8. However, if you don't want to be this aggressive, you can opt to outbid competitors by at least 20%.


Step 3: Choose a campaign bidding strategy.


Scroll down, and you'll see two choices: dynamic bids (down only), dynamic bids (up and down), and fixed bids. Choose a campaign bidding strategy depending on how aggressively you want to compete, dynamic bids (up and down) being the most aggressive. 'Up and down' means you let Amazon adjust your bid depending on how the competition plays out.


Step 4: Choose a duration and set a daily budget.


Decide how long your ads will run. I suggest you don't put an end date since you're paying per click and not per time. Set a budget that you can afford. However, putting a low daily budget could work against you. 


Remember that Amazon wants you to spend more money on your ads, and since they can't charge you unless someone clicks your ads, their decision to put your ads out there depends on how much you are willing to spend. If you put in $100 a day, Amazon's algorithms will do their best to show you to as many potential buyers as possible to make you use that budget.


Step 5: Create new campaigns. 


You can create up to five campaigns to maximize Amazon's PPC advertising feature. The second one is the same as the first one you've just made, except you'll use the relevant keywords instead of the main keywords. 


The third one should be a broad match and use the keyword master list or the list of all the keywords you've researched. This also means you should uncheck the 'exact' and 'phrase' match options under the keyword targeting tab.


As for the fourth one, you'll use the keywords Amazon suggests. Under 'keyword targeting,' choose 'suggested' and uncheck 'exact' and 'phrase.' Set the daily budget to an amount lower than the first three campaigns. 


The fifth one should be an automatic campaign. Here, you don't need to provide keywords. Just select the automatic campaign strategy. Then, click 'Launch campaign.'


Important: Avoid frequent alterations. Check each one thoroughly before launch. Any changes should be after several days when the system has gathered enough data to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns.


Start your Amazon PPC campaign today!


For new Amazon sellers, PPC advertising is the surest way to launch a product successfully. Allocate a separate budget for this in your business plan to make it work best. Research thoroughly to avoid expensive mistakes when investing in this strategy. Knowing its limits will help you decide when to use it and when to switch back to organic optimization.

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