Update 15.08.2018: Amazon regularly adjusts rules for backend keywords. This post provides an overview of the newest updates for Amazon Backend Keywords.
On 18th August 2017, Amazon officially announced Seller Central backend keywords are now limited to 250 characters for the Amazon US and Amazon EU marketplaces. Characters that exceed the limit prescribed by Amazon will not be indexed.
These changes have already taken effect for most sellers, however with Amazon’s official announcement, we recommend sellers who are still being indexed for the previous character limitations (1000 characters) to make the necessary adjustments before the new changes affect their products.
We received many questions in regards to Amazon’s announcement, and we’ve written a FAQ below to help sellers make the necessary changes to their Seller Central backend keywords.
- The announcement has not appeared on my Seller Central home page, does it apply to me?
This announcement was first displayed on the Amazon EU Seller Central Dashboard. We have not seen it announced on the US Seller Central Dashboard yet, however the announcement states the new changes apply to both the US and EU Amazon marketplaces.
Furthermore these changes have already been in place for many US sellers for several month now. This is only a public announcement of new changes that have already been in place for quite some time.
- What does the new 250 character limit mean for my products?
If your backend keywords exceed the 250 character limit they will not be indexed by Amazon, and your product will no longer be displayed for those keywords in Amazon’s search results.
- Which Amazon marketplaces do the new changes apply to?
The message states the new 250 character limitation applies to all Amazon marketplaces with the exception of Amazon India (200 characters), Amazon Japan (500 characters), and Amazon China (no limit).
- Does it mean 250 characters in total, or 250 characters per search field line?
It refers to 250 characters in total for the available 5 search fields.
- Amazon refers to 250 bytes, not 250 characters. What does that mean?
To be exact the limit is 250 bytes, not 250 characters. In general, characters count as 1 byte. However, there are some special characters such as ‘é’, ‘ä’ or ‘&’, that count as 2 or more bytes. They are not used very often, but please be aware of this distinction. In contrast, punctuation (‘,’ or ‘;’) and spaces do not count as bytes. I.e. when separating your keywords by spaces (as we recommend) you will not need to count the spaces.
- I can still enter 1000 characters per field, does this update apply to my product?
Currently sellers are still able to enter more than 250 characters per field, i.e. 1000 characters per field. However, if you exceed a total count of 250 characters in all keyword fields the keywords will not be indexed.
- I’m still being indexed for more than 250 characters, what should I do?
The new changes will be rolled out to all sellers and for all products. However, with Amazon there is always the likelihood that there are inconsistencies and different roll out times, so there may be sellers and products where the new character limit has not been applied to yet.
However we recommend sellers to be proactive and make the necessary adjustments to their backend search fields to prevent their keywords from being deindexed once the new changes have been applied to their products.
- With the new character limit, should I use keyword phrases or individual keywords?
Currently we do not see any indication that keyword phrases would be more effective than individual keywords. With individual keywords you have the benefit of being able to utilize the limited character space more efficiently, i.e. by avoiding keyword repetition.
- How do I test if I’m still being indexed for all my keywords?
To test if your keywords are still being indexed you can perform a search in Amazon using a combination of keywords from your backend search fields, and observe whether your product shows up or not.
If you’re not clear on how to best optimize your Seller Central backend search fields to improve product visibility, you can also read our guide here.
See the below image for Amazon’s statement in full: