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How to do Keyword Research for Amazon Japan

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

When looking to diversify your markets on Amazon, you may consider looking into Amazon Japan. It is the third-largest market for Amazon and is a fairly stable market established about 10+ years ago. However, there are a few things that you’ll encounter along the way, especially when you are working on your listings. Creating your listing in the Japanese language may seem to be a straightforward process with the help of a translator. But, if you want your brand to excel in this market, there are a few elements that you must consider.

We recently held a webinar and have a new blogpost outlining our discussion with Amazon Japan Sellers. Here, we introduce you to the Japanese language and explore keyword research fundamentals for Amazon Japan. Enjoy!

To start, there are four language scripts in Japan. Namely,

  1. Hiragana - the basic Japanese phonetic script that spells out Japanese words.

  2. Kanji - it is a set of Chinese characters that represent whole words.

  3. Katakana - a Japanese phonetic script that spells out foreign words.

  4. Romaji - the representation of Japanese sounds using “Roman” characters or more commonly known as the 26-letter western alphabet.

Although there are four separate scripts, the Japanese actually love to mix-and-match them. For instance, below, you will see an example of a foreign product listing using a mix of the language scripts.

Having to work with these four language scripts may feel intimidating. That’s why, here, we will share the Keyword Research Fundamentals when working with listings for Amazon Japan.

Let’s begin with these few steps.

#1 Start with seed keywords in English

This is a very straightforward step where you simply list down all the seed keywords you will need for your product listing in English. Just like how you choose your seed keywords for your non-Japanese market.

#2 Use Google Translate to translate them into Japanese

#2 Use Google Translate to translate them into Japanese

Here, we introduce the Google Translate + Thesaurus Tool. (Note: You can scan the QR included in the image to easily redirect to this online tool.)

In this tool, you can translate English words into their Japanese equivalent. Below its most frequent translation, you will also see some possible translations for the term. This makes it easier for you to determine whether you are using the one fit for your product.

#3 Find the most popular usage and save to spreadsheet

Other than checking whether the translation is the correct one for your listing, you can also see in the tool the frequency of the word usage; level three with the highest frequency and level one with the lowest. It is also a good practice to save everything to the spreadsheet.

#4 Double check with Japanese to English

The stored terms in the spreadsheet can be double-checked in the software itself. Just use the formula: =GoogleTranslate(text, source_language, target_language). For example, =GoogleTranslate(A1 , "ja", "en").

#5 Search them on to confirm you see your kind of products

Example: Searching the word (spoon) in Amazon Japan.

Another way to confirm if you are on the right track is by visiting Amazon Japan and typing the term in the search bar. If you see results that are the same as your products, then you are doing great so far.

#6 Open up Brand Analytics and find the SFR (Search Frequency Rank)

Search term: “Kids Mask”

You may also visit Brand Analytics and check out the Search Frequency Rank of your term. Remember, the smaller the SFR, the more popular the word is.

#7 Check ASIN images of top matches

Also, make an effort to check the ASIN images of the top matches to make sure that the term is indeed for products like yours.

#8 Sequence in priority of Lowest to Highest SFR

As mentioned, the lower the SFR, the more popular the term is. And the more popular the keyword you use in your listing, the more traffic you will get. Therefore, sequence your terms according to lowest to highest SFR, so you will see which will be a more appropriate and effective part of your listing.

THINGS TO REMEMBER: Good and Bad Keywords.

1. Each character in Japanese Scripts is considered a “word.”

Consider the example above. If you search the term “たな” (tana), meaning shelf, you may notice that the results show the two characters far from each other.

To avoid this from happening during your research, here are a few best practices you can follow:

  • People mix and match alphabets in searches, so make sure to research all four alphabet words where applicable (be prepared for 4x the number of keywords).

  • Avoid Broad Match for 2 Character Hiragana Words. Instead, use Phrase Match for this case.

  • Pass your keywords through Brand Analytics and actual check before you pass on to the translator.

  • Use software for ongoing keyword discovery.

  • Add newly discovered keywords with substantial conversions (e.g., 5 over 30 days) as Exact Match.

  • Keep campaigns small (no more than 10 keywords).

2. Each character in Japanese Scripts is considered a “word.”

Here are some steps to follow when using software to discover keywords for languages that you don’t know:

  • Start an auto campaign to discover long tail keywords.

  • Start a manual campaign with the smallest number of keywords for best results (1-2 is ideal).

  • SEED keyword buckets, one for each alphabet:

    • Hiragana

    • Kanji

    • Katakana

    • Romaji

    • English

When using the PPC Ninja software, for instance, you can go straight to the Discover Keywords section. Here, we publish your newly discovered keywords from your search terms every week. All you need to do is add these keywords to your campaign or reject them instead.

Check out our video about this too:

Ready to deep dive into creating the best product listing that will excel in Amazon Japan? Just remember to follow the steps on how to do Keyword Research for Amazon Japan above, make sure to remember the tips, and you are good to go. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to comment down below or email us at!

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