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Aug 24, 2009 | 5 minute read

Holiday SEO: Using Amazon Bestsellers for Keyword Research

written by Linda Bustos

Wanna do some extremely cheap (free) and fast market research? As lovely as Google Trends, Google Insights and Google's Keyword Tool are - they are not as valuable as Amazon for commercial keyword research. They can't tell you which products are most wished for and most gifted.

Though it's hidden amongst a jungle of other links, products and calls to action - Amazon has a Bestsellers department. On the home page, scroll down to Features & Services / Amazon Exclusives / Amazon Bestsellers (or just click our link).

You'll find every category that Amazon offers (which is pretty much everything) and even sub-categories.

And you'll notice you can select the Most Gifted and Most Wished For items, based on Amazon's tsunami of customer tracking and purchase data.

For example, if you're in the beauty category, you can see the top 3 wished for fragrances are Vera Wang Princess, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and Marc Jacobs Daisy.

Comparing to Sephora's best seller list, this is pretty good data.

So What?

When you understand what customers' most desired and most gifted items are, you know where to focus your SEO efforts at the product page level as we approach the holiday season. And by SEO efforts, I mean link building.

If I were Sephora, I would head over to the search engine and scope out the ranking situation (making sure I'm signed out of my Gmail account so my rankings aren't skewed by my frequent visits to the Sephora site). Now it doesn't really matter what position you are in the results - results may vary based on a searcher's location, browsing history (personalized search) and exact keyword term (rankings may differ for "vera wang princess" vs "princess vera wang"). And there's always room for improvement when it comes to link building.

But you want to get an idea of which pages you are competing against. Is it Amazon? The manufacturer's site? A popular blog review or shopping engine? Also, you want to know if you have a hope in the North Pole to actually rank for the product. If you're not on page one or two, you may want to think realistically about your chances. Or, aim for a less competitive search like "buy vera wang princess" or "princess by vera wang."

Okay, keeping with our hypothetical Sephora case:

Sephora is doing really well, and it's tough to outrank the manufacturer site but we've seen it happen. Also, assuming Sephora's competition reads Get Elastic and is embarking on link building campaignage as we speak, Sephora must protect its position. The key will be to build links (and start soon), and here are some ideas to accomplish this.

Leverage the Blog

Sephora has, in my opinion, one of the better retailer blogs out there. It actually has several posts linking to its Marc Jacobs Daisy page. But linking from a new blog post that includes "Marc Jacobs Daisy" in the title tag and URL will give extra topical relevance to the link. I'd go ahead and write a post on how it's one of the top sellers, what customers have to say about it or which celebrities wear it.

Blogger Outreach

Why not make a list of influential beauty bloggers and send them a free Vera Wang Princess bottle or sample to review? As long as the review is appreciated but not required, I don't see how this would violate the "don't buy links" rule. Of course, I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments.

It works for quirky lounge chair maker Sumo. Top Internet marketing and advertising blogger B.L. Ochman calls Sumo's blogger outreach smart marketing:

Sumo has used blogger outreach to get their furniture reviewed, and it's smart marketing. Sending chairs to bloggers is cheap; effective because you feel like you need to review something that costs more than $100; and, unlike a book, way too big to ignore once it gets to your house. They didn't send some stupid press release, or cutesy pitch. They just sent an email asking if I'd like to try the chair and review it, with a link to the site.

Sumo ranks quite nicely for terms like "lounge chair" and "bean bag chair," thank you very much.

Search for Conversations

Who's been blogging about Vera Wang Princess? Two tools I like to use to find out are blog search engine Technorati and reputation monitoring tool Trackur. These both have advantages over Google Blogs search.

Technorati shows you an authority score (higher is better), so you don't waste time checking out low-quality blogs:

And Trackur lets you bookmark items with "Add to Favorites."

You may discover some interesting things, like this blog that actually did link to Sephora:

But as you can see in the status bar, the blogger buggered up the link with a cut-and-paste so it reads http://http// which sends people and search engines to a dead page.

Sephora should send this blogger a heads up, and some form of thank you for linking (coupon or free gift). And to build a relationship, ask if she'd like to be an official reviewer for Sephora products on her own blog.

Help a Reporter Out

Get on Peter Shankman's HARO (Help A Reporter Out), a thrice-daily mailing list of press opportunities. I've seen requests for sources from reporters from major news papers, magazines and even network TV morning shows. Several calls for products for gift ideas have come through. Getting on the list to receive the notices is easy, sign up here. You could get a link or great word-of-print marketing.

Don't Forget Value Propositions

Sephora not only ships for free over $50, but also has free return shipping.

This should be in the title tag / meta description. Especially for searches like this:

This will also improve click through for searches without "free shipping" as we discussed yesterday.

So try out Amazon Bestsellers for the category/ies you sell - and remember, you can apply this insight to email marketing campaigns and merchandising strategies too. If you have additional link building tricks, you may want to keep them close to your chest. If you're brave and already in the holiday spirit, you may want to share them in the comments here *wink.*