Advertising

6 min

How to Win Your Flagship Category Keywords

By Danai Mushayandebvu on January 20, 2020

Advertising on Amazon in 2020 is more ruthless and competitive than ever. The tricks that once worked to create overnight millionaires are largely ineffective today, and luck is not a replicable strategy.

It is no longer sufficient to simply be "present" on Amazon, and businesses who win in the marketplace have established a clear set of growth objectives with sophisticated strategies to achieve them. This means having a deep understanding of the interplay between your spend on advertising, and climbing organic rank.

Amazon is the largest online store in the world, and it's sometimes easy to forget that it's also a search engine. While it may have fewer ranking signals than search engines like Google, its algorithms are still designed to deliver the best experience possible for searchers (shoppers). Which means Amazon will always prioritize the products it deems "most likely to sell" with the top spots in organic search.

Understanding the ranking signals within relevance and performance, as they apply to your keyword strategy, is the key to climbing organic rank and driving incremental growth on Amazon.

In this article, we'll cover:

  • What constitutes a comprehensive keyword strategy

  • What flagship category keywords are

  • Why winning flagship category keywords is paramount to incremental growth


Building an Effective Keyword Strategy

At Perpetua, we think about keywords in three distinct buckets: Brand, Category and Competitor.

Brand Keywords: low ACOS + high Conversion Rate

Competitor Keywords: high ACOS + low Conversion Rate

Category Keywords:

  • Flagship category keywords: high ACOS + high search volume

  • Long-tail keywords: low ACOS + low search volume

The best performing Amazon advertising strategies incorporate distinct tactics across these three buckets that are tied to specific business objectives. Objectives like - growing share of voice, defending your brand or increasing profitability.

Unlike Google, Amazon doesn't have an explicit Quality Score metric. Instead, conversion rate is the key indicator of relevance.

Too often, advertisers prioritize moving the needle on metrics that aren't driving incremental growth to their business. For example, an advertiser could be observing decreasing ACOS and increasing attributed sales, which looks positive. However, a deeper look might reveal that the advertiser has allocated more budget to branded keyword campaigns and the result is flatlined sales, or worse, cannibalized growth.

Conversely, bidding on your competitor's keywords can be an expensive endeavor. Because you'll always have lower conversion rates on your competitor's keywords and ASINs, ACOS targets can typically run in the range of 100% - 300%, which are simply unsustainable at scale and should only be viewed as an aggressive, ancillary advertising tactic if one has an additional budget.


Driving more conversions on Flagship Category Keywords

Category keywords are long-tail keywords and flagship category keywords (sometimes referred to as generic keywords).

Long-tail keywords include descriptive phrases instead of short, common words. For example, a long-tail keyword might be: "light roast coffee whole beans 5lb".

Long-tail keywords are highly valuable as they attract searchers with a high intent to purchase and are typically very relevant to your product offering. They have the highest probability for conversion, but are hard to find and have low search volume. Also, without a tool that has a keyword harvesting feature like Perpetua, finding long-tail keywords is an arduous and painstaking process.

Incremental Growth from Flagship Category Keywords

It's widely known that 60% of product searches begin on Amazon and are typically generic by nature. For businesses on Amazon, there are a handful of these high-volume, generic search terms in each category. For example, "coffee" or "coffee beans". These keywords are highly competitive with higher CPCs than long-tail or branded keywords.

Flagship category keywords often capture searchers who haven't necessarily made up their mind about which product to buy. Making it an ideal moment for advertisers to capture new shoppers as they're browsing products in a relevant category. Your best chance at winning the trust of shoppers and driving conversions is to appear in Top of Search (prime real estate on the digital shelf) and have a competitively priced product with great reviews.

Like shoppers, Amazon also places a high value on competitively priced products and conversions from the top placements on the search results page as signals for organic rank. The top two spots are sponsored ads that drive the highest amount of impressions and clicks. The third is the highest organic placement you can achieve and is also likely to drive the greatest volume of engagement.

Driving clicks and conversions on search terms with significant volume and impressions builds momentum for your product and sets Amazon's proverbial flywheel in motion. The best way to achieve this is to bid aggressively on your flagship category keywords. The long-term result of this is a boost in organic sales (profits).

Thus, climbing organic rank on flagship category keywords is key to driving incremental growth.

Here is what this looks like at the most basic level:

  1. Identify high volume keywords that are relevant to your business (ex. Coffee Beans)

  2. Bid aggressively on these keywords (higher target ACOS) and specifically, set multipliers on Top of Search

  3. Measure the impact on blended ACOS and Share of Voice

Keep in mind, the goal with this keyword type is not efficiency, but instead profitability. This should be considered an investment not just in incrementality, but in your brand as well. ACOS will be higher in the short-term on a flagship category keyword, but over time your blended ACOS will decrease as organic sales rise. At this point, if you've climbed high enough in organic rank, you may also be able to dial back your ad aggressiveness.


At Perpetua, we believe that driving results on Amazon requires a mix of human direction on strategy with software to execute the tactics of that strategy.

Perpetua has just released Keyword Boost, a feature that automates and optimizes the heavily manual process of calculating bids on your critical keywords - and each individual placement within a given keyword - to effectively allocate spend to what is driving results.

Keyword Boost reduces the risk of inefficient spend across placements and increases the likelihood of winning Top of Search on your flagship category keywords and thus, climbing organic rank.

We've made it possible for advertisers to experiment together with our ad engine to dominate Top of Search, own your flagship category keywords and climb organic rank.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about Keyword Boost, send us an email at hello@perpetua.io.