December saw a change made to the character limit for search terms on Amazon. This also impacts companies that sell on Amazon Japan. The hidden keywords that can be entered for product listings in Seller Central was increased from a previous maximum of 250 up to a new level of 1,000 on all Amazon marketplaces.
For those who are familiar with Amazon search terms, read on. Otherwise, here’s a great article with a specific example on the topic.
Three factors make this fourfold increase particularly beneficial for companies selling on Amazon Japan, when compared with other Amazon marketplaces. And a great way to significantly boost your product discoverability.
#1) Firstly its important to know that Asian characters, including those used in Japanese, are not counted in the same way as alphabetic characters. This is because they are "double bit coded". This means that they take up twice the memory. As a result, the effective limit that Amazon has been applying up until now is in fact only 125 characters, when it comes to Asian writing scripts.
#2) Secondly, written Japanese is a much more complex language than English. This is because the Japanese mix four different writing scripts: Hiragana (ひらがな), Katakana (カタカナ), Kanji (漢字) and Romaji (alphabet).
This results in much greater number of potential combinations that shoppers can use to search for products.
This is because, depending on the word used, these scripts can be used interchangeably to some degree. For example, its quite possible that consumers searching for a red case for iPhone 6 Plus could enter several alternate combinations:
Iphone 6 plus ケース かわいい赤
Iphone 6 プラス ケースかわいい赤
アイフォンプラス ケース かわいいレッド
All the strings above are valid ways of writing “iPhone 6 Plus red case”. As such, it becomes important to cover the alternatives that Japanese shoppers will commonly use.
#3) Finally, the Japanese do have a tendency to sometimes run words into each other by omitting spaces. i.e. spaces are used much less in written Japanese anyway.
Search reports from PPC advertising thus show consumers using both spaced words AND continuous character strings. Therefore, from an Amazon search algorithm point of view, both separate and combined words are often valid entries in terms of the long-tail of keywords terms that can be used.
Together these 3 factors mean that online merchants need more keyword characters just to cover the main search terms used by shoppers.
The four-fold increase in search characters provided by Amazon is thus is a great one-off chance to boost traffic. This is something that we've already observed at eBiz Japan in practice on the listings we’re managing on Amazon.co.jp.
So if you sell on Amazon Japan, we’d definitely recommend that you to revisit your search term entries to take advantage of this big change.
And if the Japanese language and search optimisation are not your forte, this is something that we'd be happy to support you on.