Amazon Increases Search Terms Character Limits (Update: Now Only Indexing 250)

In February 2016, Amazon increased their search terms character limits giving retailers more room than ever before to list keyword terms and rank organically.

UPDATE: But in August 2017, Amazon also announced they will only index the first 250 characters in a product detail page’s backend keywords.

When we first covered the search term increase announcement, our experts had a pretty optimistic reaction:
nick-sandberg

“My immediate thought is: Wow, we now have more space to enter backend search terms that help our listing rank organically, gain relevance for ads, and get matched for search terms in automatic campaigns,” Nick Sandberg, Marketplace Channel Analyst at CPC Strategy,

“This frees up the creative space available for sellers to enter search terms. Working within the small confines of 50 character fields was always challenging, forcing sellers to make hard decisions about what words should be entered; Do I repeat words and enter misspellings? Do I duplicate words from my titles, descriptions and bullet points? Should I enter my brand name? Which of my competitors brand names makes the most sense?”
 
“Now there is much more freedom to add, repeat, and list with less of a concern for making omissions based on available space.”

Below is an example of the template with the old 250 character limits:

amazon search terms
 
vs. An example of the new template limits (1,000 characters):

amazon keyword

 

According to Pat Petriello, Senior Marketplace Strategist at CPC Strategy, “While I don’t anticipate the increase to 1,000 characters in search term length to drastically impact the SERP results for broad top of the funnel searches, it does present an opportunity for Amazon sellers to target long tail keywords and niche product opportunities.”
 
“The greater the opportunity for product differentiation, the more nimble a Seller can be in finding and meeting shopper demand on Amazon.”

 

UPDATE August 2017:

Everything sounded pretty enticing, up until August 24, 2017,  when Amazon launched a new feature that limits the length of the generic keywords attribute to less than 200 bytes in India, 500 bytes in Japan and 250 bytes in every other marketplace except China.

Basically, Amazon will only index the first 250 characters in a product detail page’s backend keywords.

Of course this begs the question, what is the point of having a 5,000 character limit if you will only index 250 (5%) of the character allotment?

According to Amazon, the limits have been shown to improve the quality of search results. Keep in mind this does apply to all 5 search term fields available and applies to newly registered and existing ASINs.
 

More details from Amazon’s official release:

  • Keep content within the prescribed length limit (less than 250, 200 for India, 500 for Japan):
  • Length limit applies to total content in all generic keyword fields (a max. of 5 attributes).
  • Whole entry will be rejected upon exceeding limit.
  • Number of bytes equals number of characters for alphanumeric characters (e.g. a-z, 0-9) while other characters can be 2 bytes or more.
  • Spaces and punctuation (“;” “,”, “.”) do not contribute to the length limit, but words should be space-separated. Punctuation between words is unnecessary.

 
Optimizing keyword content for search discoverability:

  • Do not include keywords that are not descriptive of the product.
  • Do not include brand names (even your own) or other product identifiers.
  • Do not duplicate content present in other attributes, such as title and bullet points.
  • No need to repeat keywords; once is enough.
  • Use keywords that are synonyms, hypernyms or spelling variations of content in visible attributes (e.g. if product title is ‘whiskey’, use ‘whisky’ in generic keywords).

 
For more on Amazon search terms character increase, & limited 250 character indexing email tara@cpcstrategy.com

About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.