Getting your products on Amazon might be the best step to take your business to the next level. With around 50% of shoppers turning to Amazon when searching for a product to buy, the world’s largest ecommerce platform is responsible for more than 40% of online sales.
This, however, makes Amazon a huge market for competition, especially for small businesses or stay-at-home moms trying to make a living. Moreover, the continuous updates to the criteria by which products are ranked make it even more complicated.
Amazon’s A9 Algorithm
At first look, it may seem that the Amazon SEO is similar to Google or Yahoo search engines. However, one must understand that Amazon is a buying platform, making it different and more diversified in some ways.
The main objective of the Amazon Algorithm is to help consumers in product search. The algorithm as such ranks different companies and their product on the site, providing the most relevant results to the consumer. Which in turn, tells us that the algorithm is the prime key to determine which sellers would be displayed to the customers on the product page.
With recent Amazon updates, there’s been a huge drop in ranking for many products that earlier ranked very highly. The number of variables to be looked in order to rank a product in Amazon have highly increased, from product reviews to the meta keyword used. All of these efforts aren’t necessarily bad however, they all aim to erase Black Hat SEO practices on its platform, all to create a market where free forces of demand operate.
Perhaps the updates have made it more difficult for sellers to get their products listed. However, if you can understand them and work on it, it shouldn’t be difficult for your business.
Think of the algorithm as a large chunk of file filled with different information about a product. Each of the data filled by the seller can affect the product’s ranking. Search terms or keywords, content, seller metrics, feedback, reviews, order defect rates, FBA, back-end search terms, everything is taken as input into the Amazon algorithm. And then, the algorithm lets you know where your product ranks (on Amazon).
The Amazon A9 is the name given to the latest “officially” announced algorithm. While the algorithmic factors are not explicitly defined, the A9 algorithm seems to rank products based on:
- Sales Performance History
- Text Match Relevancy: Starting with the product title, this extends to the description and product copy.
- Price: If your pricing is much higher compared to competitors, your competitor might take the cake.
- Availability of Stock: If you’ve run out of stock, the listing ranking may decrease or disappear. Always plan accordingly.
In addition to the above factors, there are indirect factors that impact your product’s rank on Amazon. These include fulfillment method, reviews, images, premium content (A+, EBC), advertising, and promotions.
Amazon’s A10 Algorithm
The catch is that there have been updates on the Amazon A9, being called the Amazon Algorithm A10. Amazon has yet to make a statement about whether they have indeed changed the name of the algorithm that ranks keywords and products on the Amazon.com website.
The recent update has significant changes in how the algorithm works. The new updates focus more on consumer behaviour more than anything else. If your product sells more and is liked by more people, it will stand out immediately. Your competitors will come below.
Specifically, there is much more weight given to relevancy, and less given to sales-driven from its internal ad system “Sponsored Products”, also known as “Amazon PPC”.
9 Factors Affecting Keyword Rank in A10
- Seller Authority: This refers to the seller’s authority that is in control of the Amazon listing, or the buy box. This is affected by factors such as, how long the seller has been active on Amazon, the seller’s feedback rating, the seller’s performance metrics, how many products the seller has in their catalogue, and other smaller factors.
- Impressions: How many times the product is seen anywhere on the Amazon website, affiliate and partner sites. The more views, the higher the rank.
- Sales Internal: Sales that initiate from the Amazon website, without being searched (things like “frequently bought with”).
- PPC Sales: This used to be a major factor in ranking keywords on Amazon. It’s still a factor, but no longer one of the main forces in keywords rankings.
- Click-Through Rate: How often your product is clicked when seeing a search result. This is why having a compelling main photo and title is really important.
- Off-Site Sales: This was the main force in driving keyword rank for the A9, as driving off-site traffic to your Amazon listing is now 3x more effective than using Amazon PPC.
- Conversion Rate: the ratio at which someone views and then actually buys your product. The higher the conversion rate, the higher your product ranks.
- Sales History: how well your product sells and its history is a strong factor on how you rank organically on Amazon search results pages. Keeping your products always in stock will ensure strong product rankings.
- Organic Sales: that’s when shoppers purchase your product without any marketing or promotion. If a user searches something, your product shows up and someone buys it, it’s considered an Organic Sale.
5 Ways to Optimise Your Amazon Store
The best ways to optimise your Amazon SEO rankings are:
1. Evaluate Competitors
Before getting started, visit competing product pages to understand what consumers are already looking at. Having a good understanding of what your competitors are doing at all times, as well as what works for them, will alert you to the best practices and opportunities for your brand.
When it comes to seasonality, have your competitors’ updated product description content, messaging and photos? If the answer is yes, they already have an Amazon SEO strategy in place. Follow suit and do it better. People are using Amazon as a means for research prior to purchase.
2. Get The Pricing Right
Landing on the right Amazon price isn’t easy. Brands want to make money, but also don’t want to scare consumers away. Amazon is the realm of deals, yes, but remember not to get carried away with your discounts. Trust is a major factor in conversion, and discount prices are a big part of that.
For example, if a product was originally set at $100, but was recently knocked down to $24.99, that might look a little odd. While it certainly seems like the deal of the century, some may think it’s too good to be true. They may also think that the product lacks quality, then move onto another brand with a similar product. Even if that product has higher prices overall, their pricing structure doesn’t look as suspicious.
Related: Amazon Repricers Comparison
3. Encourage Reviews
If sales are king, product reviews are queen. Even on our own Amazon purchases, star ratings and reviews heavily affect the buying process. Reviews offer more than one benefit.
First, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends. Customers also believe that positive reviews make them trust businesses more. Amazon is very aware of the fact that customers rely on reviews to make decisions — both to allay fears about product quality and to offer social proof.
Secondly, reviews also help products rank. A competing product with reviews often ranks much higher than one with relatively few reviews.
One of the best tactics to increasing the quantity of reviews is to follow up via email to users that recently purchased the product simply ask for a review. Potentially, you can even incentivize positive reviews. There’s a fine line when it comes to emails though. Avoid the spam and aggressive email by sending no more than 1 to 2 emails and give customers an outlet to share any possible negative feedback directly with you, rather than them leaving a negative review.
However, in a bid to increase the number of reviews, some sellers resort to underhanded techniques.
For instance, many sellers try to manipulate the Super URLs — what shows up in a search for a particular keyword that is relevant to your product — in order to post fake reviews. They think that will trick Amazon into believing that they’re receiving authentic reviews and that their products are in high demand.
But here’s the kicker: Amazon logs everything. Amazon uses a checksum function to validate the ranking of the product in question in case sellers try to use fake numbers in the timestamp. So even with altered timestamps, the checksum ensures that Amazon’s algorithms aren’t fooled. This leads right back to the owner of the product and, generally, their reviews get removed.
4. Optimise Product Listings
From all the titles, ratings, number of reviews, discounts, and images they can interact with before they click a link, shoppers can decide within seconds whether they want to engage with your page or click the back button. Optimisation efforts that brands put into their own site should reflect in Amazon listings due to its search capabilities.
Here are some key-pointers to optimise your product listings:
- Optimise your Amazon listing title: Your listing’s title is the most valuable real estate on your Amazon product listing. Per Amazon suggested best practices, your title should contain elements such as: Brand, Product line, Material or key feature, Product type, Color, Size and Packaging/Quantity.
Action steps to optimise product titles
1. Use Magnet to research the most popular two or three keywords for your product.
2. Additionally, use Keyword Inspector to do an ‘Extensive Reverse ASIN’ search on your top competitor.
3. Try to pick a competitor in the top three spots with the most reviews. This is generally an indication they’ve been selling longer, which will provide more data.
4. Once you have these 3-4 sets of data, combine them and remove any search terms that are irrelevant to your product. Then, use a word and two-word phrase frequency counter and start writing out your title based on this frequency.
- Optimise product bullets: Essentially, whatever keywords weren’t used in the title, from the master list you compiled earlier, should be worked into the bullets. This is also a good time to point out products your listing may be compatible with.
- Create product descriptions that tell a story: Much like the bullet points, the product description doesn’t directly impact rank. However, it is indexed and will impact visibility. Additionally, well-written copy with a strong call to action can certainly have an effect on conversions. Make it direct and to the point (i.e. Buy Now, Order Today, etc.).
- Utilise backend search terms: Backend search terms are a great place to drop some Spanish terms, misspellings and words commonly used in your niche. For example, if I sold dog accessories, I may include the top 50 or 100 dog breeds since most owners will search “dog collar for Labrador.” As for misspellings, Amazon says they account for them but our experience shows otherwise, so it’s better to include them.
5. Drive External Traffic
Brands tend to forget about this tactic. The same tactics used to drive people to your site will also work to your Amazon listings. Drive targeted traffic from Facebook, AdWords, and even bloggers to Amazon product pages.
Amazon has become essential for many brands today, and learning how to optimize it for your products is a make-it-or-break-it deal. Try to focus on everything as if you were the consumer. By spending the time to properly support your listings with a few optimisations, you’ll be able to successfully compete for all multiple levels.