On August 2nd, 2018, Amazon announced an update to the search term fields in Amazon Seller Central.
The most important changes are:
- The total length of search terms is now limited to 249 bytes (compared to 250 bytes before)
- This limit now also includes spaces, hyphens, commas etc.
- You can only edit or create product listings when your search terms are within the prescribed length limit
Amazon announced these news via Seller Central, displaying the following message:
What are Backend Keywords?
The backend search fields in Amazon Seller Central are an important part of Amazon SEO efforts. Here you can include all the keywords that you want your product to rank for in Amazon’s search results.
How does the new Backend Keyword Rule affect my Product Listings?
The restriction in the length of backend keywords and the newly enforced inclusion of extra characters such as spaces, hyphens, commas etc. applies to all Amazon Sellers in both the EU and US.
When populating keywords for a new product listing within your Amazon Seller Central account, a warning message will appear if your search terms exceed the character limit. And contradictory to the Amazon announcement, you cannot save your edits until you adhere to the limit.
Indexation for existing product listings has not currently changed. Your products will still show up in search results for keywords that exceed the character limit as long as they are within the previous 250 byte limit (where spaces etc. were not counted). You also, however, receive a warning message in the editing interface (not in the inventory). If you want to update an existing listing you are also not able to save changes until you have adjusted the length of your backend keywords.
What should I do now?
For starters, we recommend to wait and observe. It is best to refrain from trying to change every single product listing before being sure what this change exactly means.
It is not yet clear what will happen with existing product listings, and whether spaces, hyphens, commas etc. will continue to be included in the byte limit. For now, we recommend only adjusting keyword length in new listings, and to keep a close eye on your existing listings.
What does this mean for my Product Listings in the Future?
If the new backend keyword update sticks, it means that you will have to tighten your keywords in the future. Keyword research and Amazon SEO then become even more important to ensure your product listing appears in all relevant search results. You will have to be more selective, and ensure that the most relevant keywords are included in the 249 byte limit.
At Sellics we will keep an eye on the developments in this matter, to make sure that you can react as soon as these changes take effect on existing product listings, such as the case where they might stop being indexed for no keywords at all if the limit is ignored.
Get more sales with our Amazon SEO tool
The changes in byte limit are also reflected in our Amazon SEO tool. It shows you exactly how many characters you have left out of the 249 bytes, and uploads your backend keywords straight into your Amazon Seller Central account.