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November 12, 2019

SEO Positioning and Platform Risk with Tommy Griffith

SEO Positioning can help leverage your Amazon business and is broader than any single platform. Dive into today’s episode with Tommy Griffith.

Tommy Griffith founder of Clickminded and former SEO Manager at Paypal and Airbnb

https://amazingfba.com/clickminded  – free mini-courses, free SEO strategy guide.

E-commerce focussed

Got ranked #1 on Amazon for keywords.

Was very interested in figuring out Amazon SEO. It’s been  1 ½ -2 years since done it.

What are the evergreen ranking factors on Amazon?

Tommy was interested in SEO since The Four-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss) 

Likes SEO on multiple platforms.

SEO defined

SEO is broader than any single platform.

Anything has to deal with the “document relevant query” involves SEO.

Commonest platforms include Google, Youtube or Amazon.

But also more specialist ones, like Apple App Store, Airbnb, etc.

What is a platform optimising for?

That’s what got Tommy interested in Amazon.

He co-owned a business until a couple of years ago before exiting to his co-founder [ie selling the business to his business partner]

The co-founder was American,  based in China, interested in products, 3PL freight etc.

Good partnership because Tommy was into SEO on Amazon & digital marketing generally.

How does Amazon organise and rank documents?

Google is the most complex search engine with the most ranking signals to help you with SEO Positioning.

All the other one’s distant second.

On all other platforms than Google, it seems one key metric is critical.

On Amazon, SALES trumps all!

A lot of straightforward things they did that worked for ranking on Amazon: 

  • Primary keyword in the title
  • Weave primary keywords into bullets, desc etc
  • Get a handful of reviews mentioning the primary keyword
  • Doing anything to drive reviews

“Barnacle SEO”

Latch onto bigger players which helps you in your SEO positioning.

Eg: Yahoo Answers (back in the day, don’t do it now!)

Used to rank top of Google – be the highest rated comment.

The modern equivalent might be Quora or Yelp.

Amazon is one of the most authoritative sites and best-optimised for conversion out there.

Canonical URL

Driving google traffic to your Amazon listings can be a powerful way to approach Amazon traffic.

The ability to change the canonical URL is very valuable in SEO positioning.

Have a primary URL for your page; you can change it up if it isn’t working.

How to find the Canonical URL

On a high level, if you open up the source code “View source”.

Type in Command [Control]+F (find) for “canonical” and you’ll see the canonical tag.

How canonical URLs work with Search Engines.

That helps search engines handle duplicate content in SEO positioning.

If there are 100 shoes at a store – multiple permutations of pages.

Eg: search by size 8,10,12; red, black, brown; men, women’s.

The canonical URL makes it way easier for Google to make sense of pages.

The canonical tag on Amazon  is similar to your title (truncated) – remove stopgap words like and, it’s etc etc

That will end up in Google’s index.

For a detailed blog article by Tommy on Clickminded’s blog click here:

Canonical URL

SEO Risk on Google vs. Amazon

On Google you boost your domain – if you go too aggressive, you’re at risk of being hurt.

On Amazon, you can be quite aggressive and change the Canonical tag with minimal risk of being indexed.

If you change your primary title, that changes the canonical URL – kind of like starting over.

If you’re new to internet marketing, it’s really powerful!

Even if you did shady backlinking, Google is not going to de-index Amazon, because it’s an incredibly high-authority domain. So this protects your own product listing pages on Amazon.

How should we think about Amazon vs. Google?

Broader internet marketing – who are your audiences and what is their intent?

SEO is about capturing intent.

Being at the right place right time for the type of demand.

(It’s very different for social media which is more driven by demographic similarity)

The inputs you do to get work done are different on Amazon vs. Google.

But the process is similar:

What is best for the user?

What is best for the platform? (Amazon,  Google, or Pinterest, for example)

Platform risk – You’re always playing in someone’s platform!

Amazon “Versus” everything else

There is no way to run digital marketing without being on somebody else’s digital platform!

If you leave Amazon, you’ll almost certainly need Google, and/or Facebook

For that matter, there is State risk/Country risk/platform risk.

Our lives are built on platforms of a different kind!

How do we handle platform risk?

Every business Tommy has been in has been incredibly non-diverse in its traffic!

You grow faster when you go all-in on one platform.

When the stakes get higher and higher, you’re supposed to diversity.

The risk of being too aggressive and narrow

There are famous examples of companies that built on other platforms too much and

State media – tuned and burned -1000 articles a day to soak up traffic.

Go to google finance – stock plummeted 80% in value when Google updated its algorithm.

Zynga did this with the  “invite a friend” FaceBook hack. When Facebook changed their TOS, the company’s stock value dropped like a stone. Click here to see Zynga’s historic stock price

Platform risk always exists unless you want to recreate Facebook or Google – then your risk becomes speaking in front of congress about whether you have a monopoly!

The smaller you are the lower the risk of being focused on one single platform.

It’s more about following up to date with TOS.

Again, you need to answer the questions: What best serves the user? What best serves the particular platform?

How do we deal with risk in general as small business owners?

Diversity should come when we are willing to slow growth and protect.

Before that, you probably have to accept that startups and high-growth businesses are high-risk, high-gain entities.

Tommy was in the space of not diversifying – mostly because he was good at one main thing (Google SEO).

Not convinced you can ever get rid of platform risk.

You can’t treat a 1-year old Amazon business as a hedge fund!

Set yourself up to reverse engineer every platform

There are people who do lots of things well

  • How to close clients on the phone
  • How to get a video to go viral on Youtube

You’re generally operating in other environments

If you reverse engineer and focus on making the customers and platforms better, you’ll always be in a strong position.

What do you offer at Clickminded?

Digital SEO training course.

Started off being an internal thing for Paypal and Airbnb.

7 different courses now.

https://amazingfba.com/clickminded  – free mini-courses, free SEO strategy guide.

95% of the courses are free!

SEO guide

Free mini-course – SEO


Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.


Watch my full interview with Tommy Griffith

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