If you’ve followed our annual holiday season ecommerce forecast over the past several years, you know Amazon is well on its way to world domination… or at least domination of the online retail space. Some have dubbed it the “shopper’s search engine,” and rather than becoming merely a tired cliché, this moniker really does ring true.
Many consumers are bypassing Google and turning directly to Amazon when looking for information about a product. Think about your own online search habits when performing product research. There’s a good chance you navigate to Amazon to see what’s available, or at least very early in your process.
With Amazon staking an ever-growing claim on the ecommerce landscape, selling on the Amazon Marketplace has become a vital component of retailers’ overall digital marketing strategies. But as the competition intensifies, how do you ensure the right shoppers can find your products among the millions available for purchase on Amazon?
An Introduction to Amazon SEO
Following a proper Amazon SEO strategy is your ticket to getting your products in front of more customers on the ecommerce giant’s website. You likely already follow SEO best practices to improve your page rankings on search engines like Google and Bing. The good news is that several of these tactics are still relevant when optimizing for Amazon. However, retailers must be aware of Amazon’s own unique search algorithm and the specific factors that affect rankings on their site.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the Amazon A9 algorithm, important ranking factors, how to optimize your product listings, and recent developments in Amazon SEO.
What Is the Amazon A9 Algorithm?
The A9 algorithm is the system that determines how products are ranked in search results on Amazon. Just like Google, Amazon wants to show you the items in its database that are most relevant to your search query. If you have SEO experience, you’re probably already quite familiar with Google’s search algorithm and the many oddly-named updates that have adjusted the way it evaluates and ranks web pages.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm works in a similar fashion, albeit with a key twist. Yes, Amazon attempts to provide you with products closely related to your search. But it also wants to make sure these products are ones you’re more likely to buy. That’s where the A9 algorithm works its magic.
How Does the Amazon A9 Algorithm Work?
The A9 algorithm ranks Amazon search results based on relevancy and purchase likelihood. This involves a two-step process to present users with products likely to satisfy their needs:
- First, Amazon uses keywords to eliminate products not related to the search query. Product listings that don’t include all the keywords in the search won’t show up in the results.
- The A9 algorithm then ranks the products that are left according to how likely they are to be purchased.
Once the results have been narrowed down, users should see a selection of products closely related to their initial search, with the items that Amazon determines the user is most likely to purchase ranked at the top.
That sounds easy enough, but what can Amazon sellers do to ensure their products have a better chance of ranking highly in search results?
Amazon SEO Ranking Factors
As with any algorithm, there are a variety of factors or “ingredients” which work together to determine how individual products on Amazon are valued and ranked according to a search query. Some of these are direct factors, which have the greatest impact, while others are indirect and may or may not have a strong effect on ranking.
Direct Amazon Ranking Factors
- Text Match Relevancy: The copy in your product title and description should match the keywords in the user’s search. This includes Amazon back-end keywords, which are invisible terms that function like HTML tags and provide additional info about a product listing.
- Availability of Stock: Your product isn’t very helpful to users if it’s sold out. Out-of-stock products will see their rankings diminish on Amazon.
- Price: Most shoppers are looking for a good deal, so if your price is significantly higher than that of competitors selling the same product, you’ll likely rank below them.
Indirect Amazon Ranking Factors
- Sales Velocity and Relative Sales Velocity (Sales History): This includes how many units have been sold compared to your competitors, additional contextual information, the quality of the images on your product page, effective use of bullet points, product reviews, and more. While these may not affect your rankings as much as the direct factors, optimizing them can still have a positive impact on your visibility.
How to Optimize Your Amazon Product Listing
Now that you know which factors play the largest role in determining your search ranking on Amazon, how can you improve your product listings to ensure your items show as prominently as possible?
An Amazon product listing includes a variety of elements including a title, descriptions, images, videos, user reviews, and more. Each of these components can be optimized in a specific way to potentially boost your Amazon search ranking.
Below you’ll find an overview of the main parts of an Amazon product listing and how to optimize them.
SEO Checklist for Amazon Product Listings
- Product Title: Highlight the primary benefits of your product. Keep in mind that you have less space to work with on mobile screens, so limit your title to around 70 characters and put your most important information at the beginning.
- Product Description: This is your chance to tell the world a compelling story about your product. Inform the user about the product and pique their interest while keeping your content simple and easy to read. Paragraphs should not extend beyond three sentences each.
- Bullet Points: Use bullet points to highlight the key features and unique benefits of the product, making them easier to read and understand. Include one benefit per bullet point, and keep each bullet point at around 200 characters.
- Additional Information: Offer as much information as possible about your product, making note of variations in color, size, material, and other characteristics.
- Images: Illustrate your product effectively with images that adhere to Amazon’s standards for size, format, and quality.
- Main Image: Product must be fully visible and fill 85% to 100% of the image.
- Persuasive Images: Add as many high-quality images as you can, ensuring they’re at least 1,000 pixels on the long side to enable the zoom function.
- Additional Images: Showcase your product in action to demonstrate how it can help your customer. Make use of different views and angles.
- Enhanced Brand Content: Include supplementary content about the product brand and manufacturer.
- Keywords: Include keywords in your product title, description, bullet points, and additional information. Don’t forget to add back-end keywords, as well.
- Product Videos: You can further bolster your listing with short videos demonstrating the use and benefits of your product.
- Reviews: Engage with customers who provide feedback, answering questions and addressing any concerns.
- Variations: Be sure to mention available sizes, colors, and other differences.
- Shipping Information: Provide accurate shipping details to let customers know when they can expect their purchase to arrive.
In general, making these changes will improve the overall user experience on your Amazon product listing, allowing shoppers to easily navigate and find what they’re looking for.
We also recommend consulting Amazon’s product page style guides for more information on best practices for images, descriptions, and more. You can browse by product category to find specific guidelines relevant to your industry.
Recent Updates in Amazon SEO
Just like traditional SEO, changes occur frequently in the world of Amazon search. Sellers need to be aware of these developments and respond quickly to ensure their products continue to rank highly on Amazon.
Let’s take a look at a couple major changes that have recently affected Amazon SEO.
Amazon A10 Algorithm
The follow-up to Amazon’s A9 algorithm is aptly called A10. This algorithm gives more weight to relevancy and less to sales driven from Amazon’s internal ad system known as Sponsored Products or “Amazon PPC.”
Seller authority is one of the key factors valued by the A10 algorithm. This includes how long a seller has been active on Amazon, their feedback rating, size of their catalog, and more. It’s now become more advantageous for you to establish your brand and become a trusted seller on Amazon Marketplace.
Other important factors include impressions, click-through rate, conversion rate, and organic sales. These reinforce the need to make your product listings as relevant as possible for your desired search terms. Thorough keyword research and the aforementioned tips for optimizing your product pages will continue to serve you well.
Amazon Editorial/Expert Recommendations
We’ve already mentioned that customer reviews play a significant role in affecting product rankings on Amazon. The introduction of a feature called Editorial (or Expert) Recommendations further highlights the impact of having a well-reviewed product.
Editorial Recommendations are boxes that may appear in Amazon search results featuring short product reviews by a third-party entity. These boxes have carousel functionality and allow the user to cycle through and compare the third-party’s opinion on a variety of options within a particular product category.
If your product belongs to a category for which Amazon provides Editorial Recommendations, you should see which third-party reviewers are being consulted for their feedback. It may be worthwhile to contact these outlets to see if they’ll review your own product. Users tend to place significant weight on the opinions of independent experts, and having your product reviewed favorably by them can set you apart from the competition.
The Formula for Amazon SEO Success
Most small to mid-sized retailers view Amazon as an enemy, which is understandable. However, establishing your brand and selling your products on Amazon Marketplace can give you access to a vast audience of potential customers you likely wouldn’t engage with otherwise.
On a crowded platform like Amazon, businesses must look for every advantage to rank above their competitors. Making your product listings as detailed and helpful as possible is the best way to ensure Amazon’s algorithm recognizes your product as a likely purchase for someone searching for a relevant term.
In general, keep the following Amazon SEO formula in mind to boost the prominence and performance of your products:
Amazon SEO = Optimizing Product Listings = Better Rankings = More Visibility = More Sales
If you’d like more assistance, we recommend checking out our Amazon and marketplace management services. Our experts will work with you to develop a strategy to build your brand presence on Amazon, extract vital insights, and increase your sales.