The Seller Central backend information for your product listings has a huge impact on your overall success, even though customers never see it. This backend gives sellers the chance to provide extra information that Amazon then uses to decide where their products should rank.

As you may have heard, earlier this year, Amazon increased the character limit for their backend search terms. This gives sellers more room to list keywords and a better chance of ranking for them organically. Any boost to the character limit would help, but Amazon has significantly upped the number with this change.

In the past, you were given 5 lines of 250 characters each for a total of 1250 characters.
Now the total is 250 bytes. Where a byte in the English alphabeth is in most cases equal to a character.


As we touched on earlier, the main upshot of this change is that sellers now have way more characters for getting buyers to discover their products. Essentially, you have a new way to gain more traffic.

That being said, this isn’t a license to throw every conceivable keyword out there in the hopes that casting a wide net will mean more customers. You need to choose these keywords carefully as Amazon is constantly monitoring conversion rates – this new change doesn’t affect that.

Amazon will definitely alter the keyword ranking ability according to conversion potential and relevance.

In other words, don’t try to trick Amazon by using irrelevant keywords.

In fact this is what Amazon says in their “Optimize Listings for Search and Browse”:

Amazon provides sellers with an opportunity to include additional product related keywords in fields such as search terms, subject keywords, style keywords, etc. These keywords should only include relevant information that is not already captured by other fields such as product name, key product features, product description, brand name, etc. If a keyword provides valuable information about your product, then it belongs in product description or key product features (bullet points). For example, for an all-in-one printer, it is better to include “scanner” and “copier” terms in the bullet points rather than as search terms in keyword fields. You are not required to provide keywords for your product. Also, there is no additional benefit in providing keywords except when they contain unique information such as alternate names, abbreviations, etc. that doesn’t fit in any other non-keyword field.


If you take some time with your planning, 250 characters should be enough for the majority of you to include those vital keywords which will lead to conversions. Still, having those extra characters means you can also include plenty of long-tail keywords.

These often turn out to be the secrets to increasing your profits. In the past, you may have had to sacrifice these potential winners because there simply wasn’t enough room for them.

Again, don’t go overboard. Before you rush off to pack your backend with every long-tail keyword you can think of, let’s review the best practices for search and browse terms as an Amazon seller:

  • Don’t provide inaccurate, misleading, or irrelevant information such as competitor product, brand or author name, wrong gender, etc. Providing misleading or irrelevant information is against Amazon policy; your listing will be removed and your account will be suspended . Moreover, your product might end up in a wrong browse node and your sales might get affected.
  • Don’t provide excessively long content. Providing overly long content can violate Amazon policy. For more information, please see Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions. Respect the limits that are set for different fields.
  • Don’t provide redundant information that is already captured in other fields such as title, author, product description, bullet points, brand, etc. It won’t improve your product placement in search results.
  • When entering several words as a search term, put them in the most logical order. A customer is more likely to search for big stuffed teddy bears than for teddy stuffed bears.
  • Use a single space to separate keywords. No commas, semicolons, carets are required.
  • Don’t include statements that are only temporarily true, e.g., “new,” “on sale,” “available now”.
  • Don’t include subjective claims such as amazing, good quality. etc., as most customers don’t use subjective terms in their queries.
  • Don’t include common misspellings of the product name. Amazon’s search engine compensates for common customer misspellings and also offers corrective suggestions.
  • Don’t provide variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization (“80GB” and “80 GB”, “computer” and “computers”, etc.). Our search engine automatically includes different case forms, word forms, and spelling variants for searching.
  • Don’t include terms that are abusive or offensive in nature.
  • Abbreviations, alternate names, topic (for books etc.), and key character (for books, movies etc.) could be included as keywords.

Amazon gives you some examples of bad keywords:


The good news is that Amazon has been quite clear about what they expect from their sellers in terms of keyword use. Their Optimize Listings for Search and Browse page outlines how they want their search function to work for customers. Obviously, you’d be wise to help them with this. It’s not a long read, so we recommend you go through it. However, here are some things you definitely don’t want to do:

  • Provide any irrelevant or misleading information
  • Use content that is overly long
  • Include interim statements
  • Misspell anything (especially common terms)
  • Have content that is, in any way, offensive or abusive

Amazon gives you the opportunity to also include additional keywords related to your product in fields like:

  • Style keywords
  • Subject keywords
  • Search terms

Once again, though, the words you choose should be highly relevant. You also shouldn’t provide any that you already included elsewhere (e.g. in the key product features, brand name, product name or product description fields).


Even if you understand these best practices so far, you may get hung up on trying to figure out which keywords you should be using to attract customers and keep Amazon happy. Let’s look at some examples to help with this.

Most sellers would complete their search term fields as follows:

However, if you apply the concepts we just covered, these fields should look more like this:

Many experts believe that you should save the top two rows for your most valuable keywords as Amazon will assume you value them above the rest. No one knows for sure if this is true, but it can’t hurt to do. In any case, before you begin worrying about which keywords should go where, let’s show you how to gather that list of potential keywords in the first place.

Choosing your keywords will make or break your business on Amazon, so it’s important to take this step seriously.

Now, you can do all of the above and, in a moment, we’ll show you some other methods to leverage. But if you really want to start ranking on Amazon without spending a ton of time in the process, River Cleaner is the tool.

The software will handle your keyword research, optimization, indexing and everything else.

As far as keywords go, your competition has already done most of the work for you. River Cleaner will actually show you which keywords they’ve worked so hard for. Then, all you have to do is plug them into the five search term fields of your Seller Central Backend to begin ranking.

Of course, you still need to worry about those bad keywords we mentioned earlier. With River Cleaner, you’re a click away from finding out which ones would hurt your ratings – something your competitors may not even know about.

We showed you earlier how much work it takes to begin your path toward becoming a top seller on Amazon. River Cleaner is your detour to the same results without the same investment of time (it will also cost you money when you’re wrong).


Another way to decide on search terms to use is simply listening to your market. That’s right: prospective customers are actually making it very clear what terms they’re using.

Check out the customer reviews and Q&A’s for your products and those of competitors. These two sections are full of key insights that will help you better market your products. They tell you things like:

  • What your customers like
  • What they don’t like
  • Which features they talk about the most
  • The terms they use

Read these sections. Study them over and over until you’re able to think just like the buyers in your market and you’ll soon discover potential search terms to help make your products much easier to find.


There are a number of benefits that come from running Amazon Sponsored Products ads. One of the best, though, is that it will show you exactly what terms buyer searched for when they found your product. These show up in your Search Term report.

Obviously, going this route is going to cost you, but many experts agree that it’s worth the investment for the insights you gain in return.

If you do decide to pay for Sponsored Products ads, be sure you’re making the most out of this opportunity by regularly downloading the reports Amazon provides and analyzing them.

Also, be sure you always sort your reports by clicks and orders, not impressions. Just because a term receives a large number of impressions doesn’t mean that it’s actually relevant to buyers. You should only be concerned about which terms lead to purchases.

When your list is properly sorted, look through it and get rid of any search terms that hadn’t come up from the two previous methods we’ve covered.

Then, apply the Dos and Don’ts we outlined earlier too. Get rid of any plural and duplicate words, etc.

Finally, plug them into your backend search term and see what the results are. You’ll want to pay special attention to whether or not Amazon has picked them up or rejected them.


Getting your search terms updated and going through the process of finding which ones work best will definitely take a bit of trial and error, but it’s still worth the end result.

The first step you’ll want to take is testing your new string of keywords 24 hours after you made your changes to see if Amazon is indexing the five search term fields of your product(s) properly.

To do this, copy the entire search term row of characters from one of the fields and search for it. If the coinciding product appears in the results, then Amazon has indexed it.

If your product doesn’t show up or if there aren’t any results for the entire string, then Amazon didn’t index it completely. This means you made a mistake that caused none of the keywords from the string to work when you did a search.

More than likely, one of the keywords is causing the problem.

You’ll need to find which one (there could be multiple) and remove them ASAP in order for Amazon to begin indexing your product correctly.

One way to do this is by searching for one of the words or terms in conjunction with your ASIN. If the listing still doesn’t appear or if the search results show some of the words in your phrase crossed out, Amazon probably doesn’t think one or more of them are associated with your product.

If you only used one word and the above doesn’t show any results, Amazon believes that it is not relevant to your product. Your only real option to move forward is dropping it and finding a different variation.

Go through any of your search terms that didn’t result in the coinciding product until you confirm that all of your keywords are working properly.

Again, this might be a lot of work now, but when your products are showing up at the top of Amazon search results, it will definitely be worth it.

Also, this is one more reason not to simply Spam your Seller Central Backend with as many keywords as possible simply because you can. Doing so will almost certainly require a lot of checking to see which keywords weren’t accepted.

Fortunately, when you use River Cleaner, all of this heavy lifting is done for you with a click of a button.


Now that we’ve shown you what it takes to optimize your Amazon Seller Central backend list of keywords given Amazon’s new character limit, let’s review the steps you need to take right away to begin seeing more traffic:

  1. Put together a long list of relevant keywords. With River Cleaner, it couldn’t be easier because it’s integrated with Amazon’s own predictive search function.
  2. Filter your list so that it meets the Amazon Dos and Don’ts we covered above.
  3. Sort that list so that the most relevant keywords are at the top giving priority to natural phrases.
  4. Input this list of keywords into your Seller Central backend.
  5. Remember, it’s probably best to put your most valuable keywords in the beginning of the top two search term rows.
  6. Overall, put the keywords in order according to what your customers are most likely to search for.
  7. After 24h, search your keyword strings to make sure they’ve been indexed.
  8. Solve any problems you find.
  9. Adjust your list of keywords accordingly in your Seller Central backend.
  10. Use River Cleaner every week to check indexing and to watch for any TOS changes so you can stay ahead of the competition.

Thanks to Amazon’s big change, you can always add more keywords if necessary until you hit your limit, but only do this when it makes sense. Adding more keywords doesn’t always help your exposure.

That’s it! You now know how to become a top FBA seller on Amazon.