Amazon’s 35 Ranking Factors: A Complete Breakdown List
Let’s first “incept” ourselves into the mind of Amazon’s search algorithm. We need to establish a very important rule first. A rule shared by all search engine algorithms, and one that we must never forget…
What is the end game that Amazon wants? What is the ultimate goal? What is the purpose behind the whole thing? For Google, it is to provide the absolute best and useful content, no fluff.
When you strip down all 35 of these ranking factors, the fundamental core purpose of each one of these is to serve the end game. And that end game is: the MAMM Factor.
MAMM stands for “Make Amazon the Most Money”
THE MOST REVENUE IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME for a particular (broad and exact matches) keyword wins point blank.
Make Amazon the Most Money in 24 hours by letting them let your product be ranked higher than the other guys.
Total Revenue = Number of Products Sold x Sales Price.
Now take Total Revenue x Range of Time = Ranking Score
Example: a “give away” for a few measly bucks is not going to impact your Total Revenue or MAMM Factor by much which is why most times than not; you don’t stick your rankings. We’ll get into this more later.
You’ll occasionally see me loop back around and tie a particular factor to its cause/effect and impact on the MAMM factor. It’s important to understand the Why’s and being able to connect the dots.
I categorized all 35 factors by their 9 Impactor Categories (which is the ones you see in the pie chart). Some are in-depth, some are shallow.
Let’s Get Started…
1. Click Thru Rates
Click Thru Rates From The Search Results Page To Your Product Listing’s Page. Whoa… what a shocker?! Surely, one would of thought product reviews was going to be the biggest impact category for ranking. Not really… it’s all about the Click Thru Rate and Conversions.
If your product has the highest CTR (click thru rate) on a page full of products; (given you cover the other bases to a satisfactory level); you will win out in the long term, organically. It’s why sellers scramble to “create” bundles, it’s why we buy PPC, try to offer extras/bonuses/incentives, polish packaging, polish design, different colors, any product differentiation… It gives your product listing an edge, it makes your product stand out from the crowd amongst the other listings… and hopefully in return gets the most eye ball views a.k.a. CTRs from the moment a buyer searches for a product to finally landing on your listing.
Amazon very closely tracks this metric, and it’s definitely in their mix in determining your overall ranking score for a keyword as they should.
2. Quantity & Score Of Product Reviews
In order to increase CTRs, one must make an attractive listing. The following four ranking factors (#2, 3, 4, 5) play a direct role in impacting CTR, which in turn directly impacts MAMM.
This should be the main reason why sellers try to collect as many product reviews as possible, and not for a “spike ranking”. Although product reviews do play a direct part (much smaller than you think) in the algorithm, the effect of increased CTR via social proof (both) hugely outweighs any “spike ranking”.
This is why many will get a rough ballpark estimate of how many product reviews they’ll need in order to “appear” bigger than their competitor’s products (especially when taking on the top 3 dogs). The ballpark figures also carry a general maximum; because like with everything else, there comes a point where over-doing it:
• Causes you to look fishy. (your dog bowl product has 1,230 product reviews while everybody else has 100’ish)
• Hits a plateau where more reviews has no impact increasing sales
If product reviews were the strongest ranking factor and not the social proof benefit, then we wouldn’t care about the general maximum. But we do; because our product listings compete against other product listings… not the search algorithm.
When potential buyers skim through an Amazon search results page, they usually have 4 “pre-filters” (consciously and/or subconsciously) before deciding to open or ‘right click/tab’ your product:
1. Product title/image (is this the right kind of product?)
2. Score rating of stars (is it any good?)
3. Price (is it within my pre-determined budget)
What is more important? The actual score rating of reviews vs. the quantity of reviews?
The actual score rating of stars edges the pure quantity of product reviews. A product with 4.85 star rating and 55 reviews will beat out a product with 2.5 stars and 300 reviews almost every single time.
Make sure that your product’s score rating is no less than 4.5 stars.
But… for CTRs, you can’t neglect quantity either because it’s important, just not as important as the score.
Although the more, the better (and you should continually aim at this)… There’s usually a general range where a buyer would feel a product is “socially proven” enough purely by just the quantity of reviews: this is generally around the 50+ product reviews mark (may move depending on how strong your niche is).
3. Main Product Image
Good Main Image = increased CTR. Many people try to hit it out the park with this one image; it’s important but let’s not over-do it. I’ve seen anything from people slapping ‘tags’, warranties, approval stamps, additional description, etc. etc. and have this fugly looking thing of a product image.
To be honest; people usually determine just two things from an image:
1. Is this the right product? (does it look generally like what I’ve seen before or looking for)
2. Is this the right variation? (is this the right kind or color I want)
They are not looking for anything else; they are not looking for more in-depth information; that’s what they got titles, descriptions, and bullet points for. It’s 2015, people know where to look.
So focus on a strong, clear shot, precise shot of your product. Get a good angle that highlights your strong point/differentiation without sacrificing showing the original specs.
4. Product Title
Good Product Title = increased CTR. People skim product titles for keywords. Once that is satisfactory, they will look at the title to confirm other specifications they were looking for. I call these “nice to have” specifications.
5. Brand Name
Solid, trust-worthy brand names will get more CTRs any day. That’s why I always suggest creating a new account if you’re selling another product that’s in an entirely new niche. (Yes, just ask Amazon for permission for open another account)
If I’m buying a new printer; I’m much more likely to buy a printer made by Printomatic than Warehouse Outlets. If I’m buying new headphones; I’m much more likely to buy headphones made from Soundstream than AAA Music Gear.
This is just a theory but I think Amazon will eventually follow in the footsteps of Google and start putting more weight on brand names. Google uses what is called “relativity” metric where they can weigh the association of a keywords and type of product/service with a brand name. Google ties the brand name more strength and authority.
For instance; if Amazon sees a pattern where a search for “phone protection case” is often “phone protection case lifeproof”, then they track down what ‘lifeproof’ is and start associating more weight towards LifeProof listings.
6. Conversion Rate
Conversion rates and CTRs go together like ice cream and summer, pancakes and syrup, Yin and Yang… I think you get it.
I can write a whole other post about increasing conversions on a listing, but to keep things in terms of pure ranking factor power… Amazon (just like with CTR) keeps a very close eye on this metric: Traffic in (both new and repeat), the bounces out, and the purchases out that product listing.
7. Overall Product Listing Optimization
This is almost the same as Conversion Rate but slightly different in that: Conversion Rate includes all metrics, including things outside of your complete control like product reviews, review score ratings, customer questions, etc.
Optimizing your product listing is something that you have direct control over to have a direct impact on Conversion Rate such as: your other images, bullet points, description, category, etc.
There is no point in bringing more people to your listing if you can’t convert them into a purchase. Now; IF you brought them there, then you did something right… chances are they liked something. So they clicked on your product listing to get:
• Clarification from something they saw in the search results page
• Confirmation of certain specifications
• More details on specifications
Always keep those 3 in mind when optimizing your listing.
8. People / Benefits Focused
Again; this is an unquantifiable metric and one that Amazon can’t really track as a ranking variable, but has a direct impact on Conversion which directly impacts MAMM.
I think this is a factor that is often ignored; it’s like an X-factor type thing. People get so wrapped up in this and that, this and that… that they forget they are selling to humans at the end of the day. That is why sellers who sell products they themselves use can always write way better copy for the listing.
Write to people. Write professionally. Write concisely. Write short. Write benefits. More importantly; tie the specifications to the benefits.
9. Sales / Product Listing History
Amazon keeps track of and adds a score weight to your past sales performances for your product listing including: total revenue, click thru rates, conversions. Amazon also tracks sales growth rate in chunks of time: Hot sellers, #1 New Release badges, etc.
10. Past 7, 14, 30 Days Revenue, Conversions & Units Sold
No brainer here. We know Amazon keeps a track of your product’s metrics by date range. Furthermore, from my experiences; it appears they will even use some sort of forecasting algorithm.
The age old question of: Should I increase my price so I won’t run out of inventory? Doing so may actually hurt things when you finally restock, such as a longer delay before your rankings (and as a result sales) bounce back to where they were before. But… this is for a later post.
11. Refund Rate
You know what the opposite of Total Revenue is? Refunds. Yep, Amazon will track and add it into their formula equation to determine your ranking score.
The following is all in theory (and not tested by me yet) but… this metric may be one of those that go against the MAMM factor.
For example; if product A sells $50K with a high 10% refund rate; that’s $45K total revenue. While product B sells $45K with a 5% refund rate; that’s $42K total revenue. Normally product A should out-rank product B but…. I think Amazon weighs in more negative scoring towards refunds because of the backend – wage/shipping/processing costs it takes to do refunds.. So Amazon would come out ahead more if they ranked product B higher.
12. Age Of Product Listing
This is one that I personally can’t vouch for but have had other seller friends that have been in the game for awhile mention. To me; the age of a product listing just gives it more opportunity time to accumulate product reviews, sales history, etc..
Everything else being exactly equal: I believe this does carry some weight, just how much I am not sure. I say this because I’ve came across products where it didn’t have a tremendous amount of reviews (in some cases less than 50) but out-ranked other products with similar “publically observable” metrics and looking at the oldest reviews, they are dated 3-5 years ago. This tells me that age (outside of just more time to accumulate reviews, etc.) may have played a factor when things are close.
13. Total Revenue Ever
Just like Amazon keeping a timeline record of the previously mentioned metrics; they also keep a total sum of revenue ever produced by a product listing. I believe this is tied closely to the Age factor as well. Again, this is not something I can fully vouch for, but from a programmer’s standpoint; it’s a super easy metric to get and I don’t see any reasons why not to throw it in the algorithm formula.
Just how much authority weight to add to it, not sure…
14. Internal Referral Path
Yes sir! This actually should be a much bigger slice of the pie. But there’s only so much of the pie to go around. This is how Amazon determines what keywords to even give your listing rank authority in the first place.
All the CTRs and Conversion Rates wouldn’t mean much if Amazon didn’t know what keywords to tie it to.
Unfortunately; there isn’t much you can do about this. At the end of the day; you are not the market. And the market always wins. You cannot sway the patterns (or trends) of the market organically searching for keywords. (Unless you’re a $Billion brand). This is why CTR is so important because any opportunity you have to appear for those keywords, you take it and you kill it and show Amazon your listing should be there and can MAMM.
Hence this is why Internal Referral Path is weighted less than the other 3 Impactor categories.
15. “Super URLs”
Stuffing keywords to mimic a keyword search… meh. I’m not the best coder in the world, but I’m pretty sure I could disable that to have any weight in an algorithm fairly quickly and easily. We can call this ‘The Amazon Panda update‘. (psst… the stronger version of Panda… the Penguin update is coming soon)
Product Reviews, Product Reviews, Product Reviews
Shocker: Product Reviews are so low? That’s because in reality; product reviews don’t have much impact on the actual ranking; it’s the other benefits that product reviews bring (directly impacting CTR and Conversions) that impact rankings the most. There’s a huge mis-conception amongst the community that reviews alone are the secret sauce to get you to the top and give aways will spike your ranking so high, you’ll stick if you optimize your listing. WRONG. Even if you optimized your listing, can you replicate your competitor’s CTR, Conversion Rate, Sales History, Outside Traffic Sources, etc.??
Unless you match pound for pound….. organically, you will drop… guaranteed.
Example: 50 giveaway units x $2 = $100 Total Revenue. You may “spike” because your Total Revenue is edging others for a given time period (a few hours to a few days, maybe a few weeks if your competition is low). But eventually your competitor can make up that gap in Total Revenue organically. Repeat: organically.)
16. Reviews Minimum Threshold – Part 1
It’s like Amazon keeps you inside during recess and not let you out in the playground… at least until you hit a minimum of product reviews. Anywhere from 2 to 15 product reviews (depending on the niche competition) and you will notice that your listings start showing up on search results (or that you moved from page 123 to page 8, same thing).
You’ll see a noticeable bump increase in “sessions” (unique visits) and “page views” all across the board when you hit this threshold.
17. Reviews Minimum Threshold – Part 2
Even more, there’s another threshold. Amazon lets you out to the playground, but they didn’t actually let you get on the play castle.
When you get over 15-25 (depending on niche); time and time again, I see some imaginary gate lifted by Amazon and now your product can appear with the best of them. It’s like Amazon saying “okay, you’re smart and old enough to go play outside responsibly by yourself now” and lets you join your friends in the playground.
You’ll again notice a more noticeable bump of increase all across the board.
After that; the uphill grind gets much, much harder.
18. Length Of Reviews
These next 4 factors (#18, 19, 20, 21, 21) all relate to Quality of Reviews and what factors Amazon uses to distinguish and determine what is more “quality”.
Does Amazon take into account the number of words and characters of your product reviews? More than likely. The longer the review, the better they generally help people.
Example: Product A has 10 reviews each with 1,000 words in each review. Product B (everything else exactly the same) has 20 reviews with 10 words in each review. Which one do you think will rank higher?
19. Rank Of Reviewers
Another way Amazon determines the quality of your reviews is by the quality of the actual reviewers. You don’t think they keep the Reviewer’s Rank metric for just show purposes, do you?
Again; everything else being equal… if both Product A and B had 10 reviews and you take get the sum of the entire reviewer’s rank, do you know which one wins? It is probably the one with the lower sum.
Tip: Target the top 1,000 ranked reviewers. I guarantee you it will make a huge difference. That’s for another post.
20. Overall Total Votes On Reviews
Not much explaining here, just like with the other Quality of Reviews metrics, the more overall votes you have throughout all your reviews, the better.
How much does this weigh in? Well, since this part can be “gamed” fairly easily, I am hoping (and observing) not much.
21. Customer Videos
Everything else being equal; if Product A and B had 10 reviews and one had a customer to leave a review video. You guessed it. The more, the better. And don’t let one get voted to the top; huge impact: both from a rankings standpoint and CTR/Conversions.
But that doesn’t mean go out and try to beat the crap out of and abuse this, be smart. It’s actually quite hard to “game” customer videos… they go through a human filter for approval. They take into account the reviewer’s past, rank, content of the video, etc. before determining approval.
And it should stay this way; only let the people who put in true hard work and value let their videos show.
22. Customer Images
Like videos, images uploaded by customers will give you a bump as well in CTR, Conversions, and Rank Authority.
Again; you can’t abuse this… It is human filtered.
23. Customer Questions
Like the previous ranking factors; everything else equal, a product listing with customer questions will out rank. So it does hold some weight. How much in terms of ranking authority? Not much…
But, most importantly; it helps increase CTR and Conversion Rates.
24. Customer Answers
See ranking factor #23. It is the same thing. But you can actually go in yourself and help answer. Let your soul shine here. In a world and time where customer service is expected to suck balls, People take notice of these small things.
25. Inventory Availability
This is something much over-looked in the land of shiny objects posted everywhere in the Amazon selling community.
Amazon keeps a metric of you being able to stay in stock. They can weigh in your ability to meet market demand. The higher quantity of product units you move versus the smaller the window you stay out of stock = higher weight on this factor.
What is the opposite of MAMM and Total Revenue? Not bringing in any revenue at all.
26. Over 150+ Units Available
This is one that I haven’t shared with anyone. (Okay, maybe one or two…) but I have observed that when I do a re-stock (of at least 150 or more), my rankings take a BIG boost.
Now; this isn’t “running out of stock on the listing for a few days and then re-stocking” this is “you have 100 units available already and you just put in another 300 more”.
Trust me; if you’re able, you’ll love this gold nugget ranking factor. =)
27. On Page Keywords / Density / Weight By Order Position
Ah… yes, this is more of the traditional “ranking factors” people are used to. Even though Amazon is not a content search engine like Google, it is still a search engine none the less that operates off an index. And no data is easier to scrape from an index than static data/columns, meaning it’s not running off some algebraic (a + b/c + d – e * f = g) formula calculation. It is simply just pulling from scanned keywords inside it’s database.
Does Amazon look for the keyword to appear in your product listing? Why… Yes.
Keyword density tracked? Sure. Why not? This is how many times certain keywords appear in proportion to the entire body of text.
More weight for keywords placed in more “prime” areas, particular near the front of different things? Sure.
Will any of this and the following on-page factors be weighted a lot? Probably not that much, but you better have them in there because guaranteed your competition does. And if you don’t have these basic bases covered; you’re probably not even going to appear for the keywords.
28. Product Title Keywords
Yes, yes, and yes. This is a strong ranking factor, and the more your primary keywords are near the front, the better. Can you keyword stuff the title and make it 200+ words? Errr… no; it’s not going to work. And if it does, it won’t be for long. I would give the search engine team over at Amazon much more credit than that.
Another rule; make your Product Title concise, sharp, polished… beautiful. Google ‘how to write good copy’… it’s very important to know how to write good copy.
29. Search Term Box
The tab ‘Keywords’ when you go to edit a product. Fill every square inch of that you are allowed. Don’t waste space duplicating words you already used in your title, description, bullets, etc. Don’t use commas, waste of space. Put in common miss-spellings? Sure why not.
How much weight does anything in this area carry? On a scale of 1 to 100, it is more than 1, less than 15. It’s better than nothing. Do it, it’s a basic requirement.
30. Product Descriptions
Yes. Don’t keyword stuff; keep it about 2-3% density. But most importantly write it for a human.
Not weighed as strong as a product title, but I suspect stronger than the Search Term Box. Doesn’t matter though; it’s not like you can’t not do it. (Don’t you love that word?)
31. Product Bullets Points
Yes, throw some in there but more importantly write for a human being. If that happens to be where keywords don’t appear here, then so be it. Writing to a human takes importance here.
Use every character you need, but don’t ramble about nothing either. You can be concise without being long winded. No stupid stars, no stupid characters, it just makes your private label brand look tacky and amateurish… Nobody reads long stuff anyways… they are skimming for keywords.
32. Keywords In Customer Reviews
Something you can’t really control… something I’ve observed to help out just a little bit. And I do mean little bit, so don’t go out of your way wasting a week’s time trying to convince or re-convince reviewers to leave keywords in there. Much better and higher-value use of your time elsewhere IMO.
33. Impressions / Sessions / Page Views
Oh yeah… Definitely a factor Amazon tracks and compares your product to others, but not much weight put on them for ranking. Much of it is outside your control, which is why it is so important to work on: CTR, Conversions, and Product Listing Optimization. Things you can control.
34. Outside Traffic Sources
Pretty sure Amazon keeps a track of what product listings are self-generating traffic. Meaning (because of its brand or in the form of outside marketing or even in the form of social media shares), more impressions and page views are coming from another source other than internally through those already on Amazon.com.
I have personally done some outside marketing to generate and funnel traffic into my Amazon listings. With that said; I think Amazon keeps a track of the normal metrics like CTR, conversions, etc. for outside & self-generated traffic but holds them to a much lower standard because Amazon cannot control or compare the quality of these “leads” versus their own internal potential buyers.
Pretty much, don’t be scared to do this. Sellers are scared of “hurting their conversion rate”. But more traffic/eye balls = more sales = higher MAMM.
But… this is the last thing you need to focus on if you haven’t covered everything else in this article first.
35. Seller Account Authority / Rating / Health
Not something I’ve tested personally… and I know it has an effect within the RA world to win the buy box. But if you’re the only account on your brand’s listing (as you should be) then I haven’t personally experienced any jump in rankings due to my seller feedback ratings, quantity, etc. being higher than another competitor’s brand new seller account.
This has also been my personal experience on other side as well: ranking new products with brand new accounts. I didn’t see my new seller account having a “harder” time against established guys.
This is a metric I personally wouldn’t even worry about… there are much higher-value activity and areas to focus your time/energy on.
That’s it. Well, at least for now… any search engine is constantly changing and new strategies and tactics are discovered while others discarded as useless. So I’ll probably end up updating this periodically.
How to Rank Your Products on Amazon – The Ultimate Guide
If you want success on Amazon, you need to understand how Amazon’s Search Algorithm works – right?
Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised…
Most sellers have no idea how Amazon ranks and delivers search results; let alone how (easily) exploitable it can be!
Are you ready for a shocking fact?
THREE TIMES as many buyers search for products to buy on Amazon, rather than Google.
Think about it…
Where do you go when you need to know if a product is worth buying?
What about when you want the best deal on anything from a book to a refrigerator?
Yet, you probably don’t pay attention to it’s search engine – much less consider it as a marketing channel worth optimizing for. Even most ‘Amazon Marketers’ are still spending their days trying to optimize their Amazon Listings for Google…
But, what if you knew how to rank in Amazon instead?
You’d have THREE TIMES more ready-to-buy customers than you’d EVER get in Google – and you’d do it in a fraction of the time!
You’re about to read The Ultimate Guide to Ranking Your Products on Amazon…
But before we get into the meat of the matter, here are some basics you should know…
Introducing A9: Amazon’s Product Search Algorithm
A9 is the name of Amazon’s product search algorithm. Since this is a guide about ranking products in Amazon, it makes sense to start at the source. So, this is A9’s official statement for how they calculate search results.
Our work starts long before a customer types a query. We’ve been analyzing data, observing past traffic patterns, and indexing the text describing every product in our catalog before the customer has even decided to search.
As we can see here, much of the work is done before the customer even touches the keyboard. Once the customer actually hits “Enter” to perform a search, the A9 algorithm delivers results through a two-step process:
Once we determine which items are good matches to the customer’s query, our ranking algorithms score them to present the most relevant results to the user.
It’s a pretty simple process at its core:
1. First, they pull the relevant results from their massive “catalog” of product listings.
2. Then, they sort those results into an order that is “most relevant” to the user.
Now, some of you SEOs out there might be thinking, “Wait a second… Isn’t relevancy Google’s turf? I thought Amazon only cared about conversions! What’s all this focus on relevance doing here?”
The answer is simple: Relevance doesn’t mean the same thing to Amazon that it does to Google. Read this statement from A9 carefully to see if you can catch the difference:
One of A9’s tenets is that relevance is in the eye of the customer and we strive to get the best results for our users. […] We continuously evaluate [our algorithms] using human judgments, programmatic analysis, key business metrics and performance metrics
Google says, “What results most accurately answer the searcher’s query?”
Amazon says, “What products is the searcher most likely to buy?”
The difference between those two questions is the difference between how Amazon measures relevancy compared to Google.
On the whole, ranking in Amazon is more straightforward than Google because you’re essentially cutting the work in half. This is because there’s no such thing as off-page SEO for Amazon; they only use internal factors to determine how a product ranks. Backlinks, social media, domain authority… These are all things you don’t need to worry about on Amazon.
That being said, there are a few simple rules you must always remember about Amazon. These 3 rules are critically important to making the most of this guide, so make sure you read them twice:
1. Amazon’s top goal in everything they do is always maximize Revenue Per Customer (RPC)
2. Amazon tracks every action that a customer takes on Amazon, right down to where their mouse hovers on the page
3. The A9 algorithm exists to connect the data tracked in #2 to the goal stated in #1
So far, so good?
Core Pillars of the A9 Algorithm
From A9’s website and from the information that Amazon makes available to us through their Seller Central (login required), we can group Amazon’s ranking factors into three equally important categories:
Conversion Rate* – These are factors that Amazon has found have a statistically relevant effect on conversion rates. Examples of conversion rate factors include customer reviews, quality of images and pricing.
Relevancy – Remember the first step in the A9 algorithm? They gather the results, and then they decide how to list them. Relevancy factors tell A9 when to consider your product page for a given search term. Relevancy factors include your title and product description.
Customer Satisfaction & Retention – How do you make the most money from a single customer? Make them so happy that they keep coming back. Amazon knows that the secret to max RPC lies in customer retention. It’s a lot harder to get someone to spend $100 once than $10 ten times. Customer Retention factors include seller feedback and Order Defect Rate.
*Note that Amazon uses both predicted and real conversion rates for product rankings. For example, if your product is priced higher than other similar products, Amazon will predict a lower conversion rate for your listing and use that rate until real data corrects it.
Okay! We’re finally ready to start talking about how to rank product listings in Amazon. What you’ll find below are 25 Amazon ranking factors that either Amazon themselves or independent marketers have confirmed the A9 algorithm to use.
Top 25 Amazon Ranking Factors
Amazon isn’t like Google where they go to great lengths to hide the factors that they use in their algorithm. Inside Amazon’s Seller Central, they’ll blatantly tell you several of their top ranking factors. You can also visit the official Amazon Seller Support Blog for some great insights. And here’s the UK Seller Support Blog if you’re interested.
Conversion Rate Factors
After just a couple searches on Amazon, it should be pretty obvious that number of sales compared to other similar products – otherwise known as Sales Rank – is one of the most important rankings factors.
Even now Amazon is testing a new feature in their search results where they automatically append a #1 Best-Seller banner (see below) to the best-selling product in category-specific searches, like the search for “Strollers”:
It’s simple really…
More sales mean higher rankings – and higher rankings mean more sales!
It sounds like a vicious cycle, but luckily there are still many ways for new sellers to compete.
It probably doesn’t need to be said that the number and positive-ness of your customer reviews is one of the most important ranking factors in Amazon’s A9 algorithm.
This example product search for the keyword “vacuum” illustrates some interesting points about how Amazon weights review volume vs. review quality:
Let’s dissect the search results page:
1. The BISSEL vacuum (green) has the most reviews AND the highest review rating. It’s also the best-seller in its category, so it ranks at the top.
2. The second-ranked Dirt Devil (red) has more customer reviews, but a lower review rating. It’s also a best-seller, so it ranks second.
3. The third-ranked Shark Navigator (blue) has less customer reviews, but a higher rating than #2, and it’s also a best-seller, so it ranks #3.
4. The Hoover WindTunnel at #4 has substantially more customer reviews than any of the top three listings, but it’s not as highly rated as #1 and #3, and it’s not a best-seller, so it ranks #4.
This is one of those metrics that Amazon doesn’t specifically state they track. But, it’s data they have access to and Q&A’s are listed close to the top of the product page, which typically means it’s important for conversions.
Furthermore, there products like this (me-approved) Philips Sonicare electric toothbrush, which ranks #1 for the keyword “electric toothbrush” over other equally rated best-sellers because it has almost twice as many customer Q&As than any other listing in the category:
Image Size & Quality
Amazon continues to tighten their image size and quality policies for product listings. Right now, some categories won’t even display results that don’t have at least one image that is 1000×1000 pixels or larger. These are called “suppressed listings”.
The 1000×1000 pixel image size allows Amazon to offer customers their Hover-to-Zoom feature, shown below, which they’ve found has a dramatic effect on conversion rates.
Awful artistry aside, you can see that as my cursor hovers over the image, Amazon automatically displays a zoomed-in version in the product information pane.
Notice that image quantity is not what’s important here. This Tippmann paintball gunis the #1 product for the keyword “paintball guns”, but it only has one image. Since the image is big enough and informative enough to give the customer all the info they need, that’s all it takes to make Amazon happy.
That means it’s better to have one large, high quality image than to have multiple normal-sized images. Not to say that multiple images won’t convert better than one image, just that the benefits quickly taper off after the first.
Remember earlier when we talked about how Amazon’s A9 product search algorithm uses both predicted and real conversion rates to determine which products to show in their search results?
One of the biggest factors Amazon uses to determine predicted conversion rate is pricing – they know that customers tend to seek the best deals. More importantly, Amazon uses pricing as a major factor in picking which product to show in the buy box, which is the part of the page containing the Add to Cart button (we’ll talk more about that later).
Notice here that the top-ranking product for the search term “juicer” has less customer reviews, lower customer reviews and lower Sales Rank than every other listing in the top 4. It still shows #1 because it’s got decent ratings and is priced waaaaay below the category average.
Note that customer reviews are still vital here. And pricing isn’t the only reason that the Black & Decker Juicer ranks #1…
Many sellers create multiple listings for variations of the same product. This is suboptimal. It’s much better to use Amazon’s built-in parent-child product functionality to direct all customers to a single product page.
This has several benefits:
It maximizes your customer reviews, since Amazon will combine your similar products into a single primary product page
It makes the most sense from a UX standpoint; keeping customers on the same page makes it more likely they’ll buy your product
Amazon has shown a preference for ranking products with multiple options in their listing
If you scroll back up the page, you’ll see that this juicer is the only one in the top 4 results to utilize parent-child product connections. When you enable the parent-child relationship, it shows as an extra option in Amazon’s search results…
This not only increases click-through rates, we can see here that it also helps you rank above the competition!
Time on Page & Bounce Rate
Remember, Amazon can measure every way a customer interacts with their website, so it’s easy for them to track detailed time on page and bounce rate stats.
Here’s exactly what these similar-but-different metrics mean on Amazon:
Time on Page: Amazon believes that the amount of time a customer spends on your listing page is a good measure of how interested they are in your product. A customer who reads your full product description, looks through reviews and investigates the Q&A’s is much more likely to buy than the one that spends a couple seconds skimming the features.
Bounce Rate: A “bounce” is when a customer performs a search, visits your page, and then either goes back to the search results or clicks on a Related Product offer. Keep in mind that Amazon has a much more exact measurement of bounce rate than Google, again, because all user activity happens within their platform.
Product Listing Completeness
Finally, the last conversion metric to optimize for is listing completeness. The individual sections of the product listing mostly have to do with relevancy, as you’ll learn below, but the actual completeness of the listing has an effect on conversion rate.
As a general rule, the more complete you make your listing, the better. Do your best to fill in every single field in the listing setup page to maximize your chances of appearing at the top of product search results.
Optimizing your product title for Amazon is an excellent example of the way that optimizing for Amazon differs from optimizing for Google.
In Google, you want a concise, engaging title with your keyword close to the beginning.
In Amazon, all you care about is keywords. You want to cram as many keywords into about 80 characters as you possibly can.
In fact, you can actually go beyond 80 characters if you want, and it’s better to have too many keywords than too few. I’ve seen top-listed products with titles that make no sense and have over 200 characters.
It should be noted that Amazon is starting to crack down and standardize Product Titles – keep an eye out for this moving forward…
Features / Bullet Points
The other big reason that particular Nexus charger ranks so highly is because it has lots of keyword rich, informative features. Features, which are displayed as bullet points right below the pricing and product options, are an absolute must.
Just like with images, Features are so important that Amazon no longer allows products without bullet points to be featured in the buy box, and not having them is a serious road-block to good Amazon rankings.
Notice how the bullet-points are both extremely detailed and include a ton of keywords? At the same time, they’re easily readable, which means they won’t confuse customers and risk hurting conversions.
Your product description is basically where you expand on your Features. It’s also the part of the page you have the most control over. If there’s anywhere to really put a lot of effort into engagement, it’s in the product description.
That being said, keep in mind that unlike with Google there is no benefit to having a keyword appear multiple times on the product page; if it’s anywhere in your product listing at least once, you will be relevant to rank for it.
If you want to see a truly appetizing product description, check out the one for this DeLhongi Espresso Maker – the #1 ranked listing for the term “espresso maker”.
There’s nothing advanced about this product listing – they just covered all the bases. It’s thorough, inviting, easy to skim, includes plenty of images, captions, and they even included extra tech. specs that aren’t listed in the normal Specifications section (which we’ll talk more about below).
Brand & Manufacturer Part #
Remember earlier when we looked at the top results for the keyword “Juicer”?
Something that every single one of the top listings do right in that category is list the brand and manufacturer number first in the product title. In fact, if you do the search yourself it’s not until the 15th result that Amazon shows us a product listing without the brand and manufacturer number included in the title.
You always, always, always want to include a brand in your title because it enables your product for search filters AND allows you to capture customers searching for a specific brand. And if you’re in a niche where customers are using the manufacturer number to search for products, you definitely want to include that keyword in your title.
These are different than Features – this is the part of the page where you actually list the technical and physical details of your product. This includes size, shipping weight, color, publication date (if you’re doing books), tech. specs and more. You can see this top-ranked product for the “home theater system” search term using their product specifications to the max:
Category & Sub-Category
You probably didn’t realize this, but once a customer has entered into a category – every other search they perform on Amazon will, by default, be limited to that category.
You can see that a simple search for “dog food” actually takes us three categories deep into Amazon’s product catalog, indicated by the red lines in the image above. The blue box shows that we’ll stay in the Dog Food category until we either return to the home page or manually tell Amazon to show us All Departments.
When setting up your product listing, make sure you put your product in the most relevant, narrow category possible.
In addition to categories, you can also specify search terms that you want associated with your product.
Even though Amazon lists five different 50-character search term fields, you’re better off thinking about it as one big 250 character text box in which you can enter every possible search term you can think of for your product.
This is somewhat complicated to explain, and I can’t do a better job than Nathan Grimm has already done over at Moz (it’s about 1/3 of the way through this article), so just head over there if you want to learn more about this specific factor.
This is one of the biggest hidden ways that Amazon determines a listing’s relevance to a given product search. This is also yet another example of how Amazon tracks every single minutia of a customer’s activity on their website. Take a look at this URL that links to a listing for a Black & Decker electric drill, and see if you can tell me what search term I used to find it:
You can see the source keyword right at the end of the URL – &keywords=electric+drill – that tells Amazon that the source keyword was “electric drill”.
Therefore, if I were to buy this drill, Amazon would know that this listing is highly relevant for the term “electric drill”. The next time a customer searches for that term, this listing would be more likely to show at the top.
Here’s a neat little Amazon ranking hack you can do to take advantage of this factor:
1. Construct a URL for your product listing using the [&keyword=your+keyword] query (append the code inside the brackets to your product URL).
2. Use a link shortening service like bit.ly to create a shareable link to that URL.
3. Drive traffic to the shortened link.
Now anytime you make a sale from one of these shortened keyword links, you’re basically tricking Amazon into thinking that these visitors performed a product search for your target keyword.
Customer Satisfaction & Retention Factors
Negative Seller Feedback
Why do I list negative seller feedback specifically, as opposed to just seller feedback in general?
Interestingly, Amazon actually claims not to track positive seller feedback; at least, not for the sake of their product search algorithm.
Instead they track negative seller feedback rates, or frequency. It doesn’t matter how bad the feedback is – all negative feedback is the same, and it all counts against you equally in terms of search result rankings.
To be clear – as a third-party seller attempting to win the buy box (shown below) you want your seller feedback as high as possible. However, negative feedback rate is the only metric with a known effect on product search results.
Order Processing Speed
Amazon knows that one of the best ways to make customers happy is with fast and accurate shipping. Therefore, a vendor or seller who has shown consistent and efficient order processing is more likely to rank higher than a vendor who’s had complaints of inaccurate or slow shipping.
Customers hate it when they want a product but can’t have it. One of the most common ways this problem occurs is when an item is out of stock, or when a seller doesn’t keep proper track of their inventory.
Whether you’re a first-party vendor or a third-party seller, keeping up your inventory is vital to maintain top rankings, both in A9’s product search results and in your product’s buy box.
Two of the big customer satisfaction metrics are Percentage of Orders Refunded and Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation. In both cases, Amazon has found that vendors/sellers with low in-stock rates tend have higher refunds and cancellations, which of course is bad for customer retention.
Perfect Order Percentage (POP)
POP is a measurement of how many orders go perfectly smoothly from the time that a customer clicks “Add to Cart” to the product arriving at their home.
If you have a high Perfect Order Percentage, that means you have a high in-stock rate, accurate product listings and prompt shipping. That’s exactly what Amazon wants for each and every one of their customers, so they’ll naturally rank high-POP sellers above lower-POP ones.
Order Defect Rate (ODR)
ODR is basically the opposite metric of POP.
Every time a customer makes a claim with an order, that’s considered an order defect. Here are some of the most ways an order can defect:
Negative buyer feedback
A-to-Z Guarantee claim
Any kind of shipment problem
Credit card chargeback
Each of those examples by itself would count towards your Order Defect Rate, which is the number of order defects compared to the total number of orders fulfilled over a given period of time. Amazon says that all sellers should aim for an ODR under 1%.
Important! Buyer-removed negative feedback does not count towards your ODR. So, it really pays to address each and every one of your customers’ issues.
How often does a customer view your listing and then exit Amazon.com? That’s your exit rate.
If your page has an above average exit rate, Amazon takes that as a sign that you have a low-quality listing. Usually a high exit rate is because your product has a low in-stock rate, or because your listing isn’t fully complete.
Clearly packaging options are something that Amazon has found their customers care about. But, even if it weren’t, it’s a great way to separate your listing from other similar products (and rank higher through an increased conversion rate).
An easy way to do this – seen in the example above – is to use Fulfillment by Amazon to offer Frustration Free Packaging. This is where Amazon uses less packaging and fully recyclable materials without sacrificing product protection.
Key takeaways from The Ultimate Guide to Ranking Products on Amazon:
Maximum RPC (Revenue Per Customer) is Amazon’s top goal.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm uses conversion rate, relevance and customer satisfaction to rank products.
Fill out as much of your product listing page as possible, using as many keywords as possible.
Use FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) to automate customer satisfaction.
Find ways to encourage customer reviews, and do everything you can to keep your customers happy.
Above all: More sales = higher rankings = more sales
There you have it! You now know exactly what metrics Amazon is looking at to rank listings in their industry-leading product search engine. All that’s left is for you to go out there and capitalize on your superior knowledge!
How to Rank Well in Amazon, the US’s Largest Product Search Engine
The eCommerce SEO community is ignoring a huge opportunity by focusing almost exclusively on Google. But Google is the biggest search engine, right? Actually, if you are in eCommerce, Amazon should be far more important to you than Google, because it has roughly three times more search volume for products.
In 2012, The New York Times reported:
“In 2009, nearly a quarter of shoppers started research for an online purchase on a search engine like Google and 18 percent started on Amazon, according to a Forrester Research study. By last year, almost a third started on Amazon and just 13 percent on a search engine. Product searches on Amazon have grown 73 percent over the last year while searches on Google Shopping have been flat, according to comScore.”
When researching this post, I searched Moz.com for already-published material about ranking in Amazon. All I found was a single Q&A with five responses and little information. Conversely, there are many, many questions on Moz about how to rank your Amazon product pages in Google. It’s all very Google-focused.
I joined DNA Response and the eCommerce vertical from the world of education lead-gen where most of our traffic came from Google. I empathize with the Google myopia from which most SEOs suffer. My goal with this post is twofold:
1. First, I want to convince all of the eCommerce search marketers to spend a lot more energy optimizing Amazon.
2. Second, I want to provide marketers with a basic understanding of Amazon’s organic ranking algorithm.
Due to the lack of existing content on this topic, I felt the need to be somewhat comprehensive. I will address several conceptual problems I encountered when switching from a Google-focused niche to Amazon then share everything I have learned about Amazon’s ranking algorithms.
This section is mostly theoretical. Amazon is a fundamentally different search engine than Google so my thinking necessarily evolved when I made the switch from optimizing websites in Google to optimizing products in Amazon.
Conversion vs. user satisfaction
Google built a search engine so they could sell ads. Amazon built a search engine so they can sell products. That creates a basic difference in how each measures success. Google is successful when you find your answer quickly because you will return, perform more searches, and click on ads. Amazon is successful when you to find a great product at a great price and buy it because you will return and buy more products. Google’s search success metrics will revolve around dwell time, click-through-rate, search refinement rate, etc. Amazon can measure success by revenue or gross margin per search. If Amazon can sell more products by rearranging their search results, they will do that.
Because the two search engines measure success differently, the metrics you analyze to predict rankings success change. When optimizing for Google you focus on improving user engagement metrics and building external trust factors, because those factors tell Google that the users it sends to your website will be happy. Happy users equals more money for Google. When optimizing for Amazon, focus on improving conversion rates. More conversions equals more money for Amazon.
Structured vs. unstructured data
While Google has been encouraging site owners to add more structured data to their websites, the data in Amazon’s index is already completely structured. Here’s a screenshot of the page where a seller enters data about a product. Every field has a name, a definition, and sometimes a defined list of valid values:
Now compare that to the basic way to build a web page.
Site owners have a blank slate where they can express… anything. In Amazon, you need to give Amazon exactly what they want in the format they specify. Because Amazon has already determined the type of information you can give them about your product, spend time providing accurate and complete product data.
On-page vs. on-page + off-page
With Google you spend a lot of your time optimizing your off-page signals. You build links, manage a social media presence, and encourage brand mentions because Google is measuring those signals to calculate the popularity and trust of your website. While these activities may have secondary effects on a products ranking in Amazon (greater brand awareness creates more branded search leading to a higher sales rank and conversion rate leading Amazon to rank you higher), building a link to your blue widget page on Amazon will not directly improve its ranking for the search term “blue widget.”
On Amazon, that leaves you with optimizing for conversions, which can be frustrating due to the sparse user behavior data. Here’s all the data you get about user behavior on your listings.
Compared to an analytics package like Google Analytics, it’s nothing. You can’t even view a product’s page views or conversion rate over time without downloading one report per day, week, or month and combining it in Excel.
Compelling vs. unique content
When I first started working with online marketplaces I thought, “We need to write a unique description and bullet points for every marketplace we sell on or else Google won’t rank us well.” I didn’t realize that the bulk of our search traffic in Amazon comes from internal site search and Amazon doesn’t care if your listing has the exact same title, bullets, description, and images as another website. They just care if it converts their searchers into purchasers.
(By the way, I’m not saying that compelling and unique content are mutually exclusive.)
To properly interpret what a ranking means, you should understand the anatomy of a search results page. Like Google, Amazon’s search results pages can have several different looks depending on what type of search you entered.
Anatomy of the results page
Amazon has two formats for their results: a list view for searches in all departments and a gallery view when you search within a specific department or category. The list view contains 15 results per page (sometimes there are 16 results on the first page). The gallery results have 24 results per page.
Some other important elements of the results page are the filter fields in the left sidebar. When a user clicks on a filter, they will see a subset of the original search results. This is one reason why it is so important to complete as many fields as possible when you create a product in Amazon. For instance, Amazon will not know that a blue widget is blue if you don’t fill out the color map field, which means it will be excluded when a user filters to only show blue products.
Finally, there are sponsored products. These are pay-per-click results that show up on the bottom of a search results page. In my experience, if I would like my ad to appear for a specific query, I must include all of the words in the query somewhere in my title or bullet points.
Query string parameters
Amazon builds the URL of a search results page with query parameters much like Google. There are many parameters that might be used but I will review the three most useful. To learn more about the parameters Amazon uses, play around with the filter fields available in the left sidebar and watch how the URL of the search page changes.
field-keywords: Your query in the search bar
node: A numeric string identifying a node in Amazon’s taxonomy (category tree). To determine which number corresponds to which category, navigate to the category on Amazon and find the number Amazon uses in the node parameter in the URL. For instance, the node ID for the Electronics category is 172282. The node IDs are also available in Amazon’s Browse Tree Guides (Seller Central login required).
field-brandtextbin: This represents the brand field. This field is very useful if you want to track how well your product ranks among other products from the same brand. It will not return results if it is the only parameter you include in the search URL. To ensure that you see all products from that brand, include the brand name in the field-keywords parameter.
Here’s how it looks when you use each of these three parameters in one search:
That URL will search for blue widgets in the electronics category where the brand is pioneer.
First, let’s see what Amazon themselves say about how they rank products. This is an excerpt from a help file in Seller Central titled, Using Search and Browse (Seller Central login required).
“Search is the primary way that customers use to locate products on Amazon.com. Customers search by entering keywords, which are matched against the search terms you enter for a product. Well-chosen search terms increase a product’s visibility and sales. The number of views for a product detail page can increase significantly by adding just one additional search term – if it’s a relevant and compelling term.
“Factors such as price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results. In general, better-selling products tend to be towards the beginning of the results list. As your sales of a product increase, so does your placement.”
Several statements in those paragraphs are very illuminating. First, search is the “primary” way customers find products. I interpret this to mean that most of the time, Amazon users will perform a search before purchasing. If you want your products to be found on Amazon you must think about search. Second, Amazon mentions some of the data they use to rank products. Specifically they mention the search terms, price, availability (meaning inventory levels), selection (not sure what that means), and sales history.
I will expand on each of these factors and include several more where I have observed an effect on rankings. To further clarify the type of effect each factor has on rankings I separated the factors into two categories: performance factors and relevance factors. A performance factor improves rankings by showing Amazon they will make more money by ranking the product, a relevance factor shows Amazon that a product is relevant to the search of a user.
Performance factors are pretty simple. Amazon wants to rank the product that will generate the most profit for them at the top of each search result. Each of these factors will indicate to Amazon that a product will sell well when ranked well.
This is a pretty obvious factor to mention, albeit a difficult factor to improve with confidence. Amazon does share units and sessions but does not provide enough data to run A/B tests or even control for specific traffic sources. To find conversion data in Seller Central, navigate to Reports >> Business Reports >> Detail Page Sales and Traffic. Make sure the Unit Session Percentage column is visible. This is simply the number of units ordered divided by the number of sessions your listing received.
Amazon’s Definition of a session is: Sessions are visits to your Amazon.com pages by a user. All activity within a 24-hour period is considered a session.
If your offer is competing with other offers for the same product, be sure to weight your units ordered by your buy box percentage. Otherwise, you product will look like it converts more poorly than it actually does. Amazon will show you all of the sessions a listing received regardless of who was in the buy box but they only show you the number of units ordered from your seller account. If you had 50% of the buy box for a time period you probably received half of the total orders for the listing. Therefore the unit session percentage reported should be half of the unit session percentage observed across all sellers.
Amazon strongly encourages sellers to follow their image guidelines. On their image requirements page they encourage sellers to upload images larger than 1000×1000 pixels (the size required to activate their zoom feature) by saying, “Zoom has proven to enhance sales.”
By including images that meet Amazon’s guidelines, you will ensure that your listings are not suppressed (which kills all sales) and possibly increase conversion rates. As Amazon stated on their Search and Browse page, more sales equals better rankings.
Price often strongly influences conversion rates and units sales. If the price on Amazon compares well to the same product offered on other websites and retail stores, comparison shoppers will be more likely to buy from Amazon and vice versa.
Also consider how your product’s price compares to other products in the same category. My company used to sell a battery-operated vacuum pooper scooper that cost $150. It never ranked very well for searches like “pooper scooper.” I believe this was partly because every other pooper scooper costs between $10 and $20. If customers are used to paying $10 for a pooper scooper it takes a lot of convincing for them to shell out $150. Amazon either observed a low conversion rate and did not rank the product or predicted a low conversion rate and did not rank the product. Either way, the price probably kept our $150 pooper scooper from ranking well.
Amazon will analyze the following fields to determine if a product is relevant to a search.
The title of a product is one of the most important places to include keywords. Amazon suggests incorporating the following attributes in product titles.
• Brand and description
• Product line
• Material or key ingredient
What they do not mention, probably because they want to discourage keyword stuffing, is that you should include an important keyword in the product title. A title is also critical for earning a high click-through-rate and conversion rate by clearly stating what the product is. Since sales factor prominently in ranking, keyword-stuffed titles that discourage users from clicking will ultimately harm your rankings.
As an example of an optimized title, we sell a mineral sunscreen called Brush on Block. In addition to the brand/product name we want to make sure to include the keyword “mineral sunscreen” in the title. It helps users understand what the product is and it’s a valuable keyword. Our title is Brush On Block Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Powder Sunscreen.
The brand field in Amazon appears here on the product page. It will always link to a search result of more products from the same brand. When you list products, always include the proper brand name. It is very common for consumers to search for products based on their brand name, so be sure to include the correct one. If a product has multiple brand names you could use, use Google’s Keyword Planner to see which brand is searched most frequently.
Bullets and description
Anecdotally, the bullet points seem to be more influential on search rankings than the description. One of our clients has a line of products with a celebrity’s name attached to the product. After doing some keyword research in Google, we found that there were several popular ways to search for the celebrity’s name. There were many books written by the celebrity already ranking for these versions of their name. The day after including the celebrity’s name in the bullet points, our products began to appear on the second and third pages of results.
If you are used to keywords for SEO and PPC, it’s easy to use the “search terms” fields on Amazon incorrectly. I’ve even seen articles written by industry experts that provide sub-optimal advice for using these fields. If you have a Seller Central account, the Search and Browse help page is worth reading. I’ll summarize what they say as well as give some examples share a few main points here. First, I’ll spell out the guidelines:
• There are five fields that accept 50 characters each.
• You do not need to repeat any words
• Commas will be ignored
• Quotation marks will unnecessarily limit your keyword
• Including multiple variations of the same word is unnecessary
• Including common misspellings is unnecessary
• Order of the search terms may matter
• Do include synonyms or spelling variations (e.g. include sun screen and sunscreen)
When I first started filling out search terms fields in Amazon, I would have done something like this:
Search Term 1 Sunblock
Search Term 2 Sunscreen
Search Term 3 Sun block
Search Term 4 Sun screen
Search Term 5 Mineral Sunscreen
Applying all the rules above, you actually want your fields to look like this.
Search Term 1 brush on block mineral powder sunscreen sunblock
Search Term 2 sun screen protection spf 30 suntan lotion tan kid
Search Term 3 baby spray face child family natural skin sport
Search Term 4 cream boat women men infant spf30 travel small
Search Term 5 solar defense uv facial sensitive babies
No word is repeated, there are no variations of the same word and I’ve used as many characters as possible for maximum exposure.
The search terms fields do influence ranking on Amazon. As an easy-to-prove example, one of our clients identified a common spelling of their brand name with only a single, outdated result. After adding the term to the Search Terms fields in all of their products, all of their products began to appear for that spelling of their brand name within an hour.
I have not seen anything published about Amazon using seller names to build their search results, but I have seen a few situations that lead me to believe your seller name is used in Amazon’s organic search algorithm:
Situation 1: We sell a line of cell phone cases. There are over 17 million cell phone cases listed on Amazon. I have no idea where ours rank, but it’s nowhere near the top. However, if I search for “cell phone case” + our seller name, I can see all of our cell phone cases close to the top of the results.
Situation 2: We sell some workout DVDs. These do not rank very well amongst the 242,000 results for “workout,” but when you add part of our seller name (it’s made up of two words), you can see our workout DVDs on the first page of results.
Both situations demonstrate that Amazon is using your seller name as part of the content they index for search results. It may not be a good idea to change your seller name to optimize for your top keyword, but it will be used in search.
Here are a few other factors that may help increase your sales or ranking. I do not have any explicit statements, studies, or experience proving a relationship but they are worth trying out. I would encourage you to study the effect of these fields on rankings and sales.
Next to every search result is a list of attributes that allow users to filter their results. For your top keywords, make sure your product has a value filled out for each category of fields to ensure your product is still visible when users filter by color, size, or any other attribute. The Category, Eligible for Free Shipping, Brand, Avg. Customer Review, and Condition fields are visible on most search results.
More reviews and better ratings might lead to better sales. Most products that rank well for broad searches have many reviews but it is difficult to tell if the good reviews lead to more sales or if high sales volume leads to more reviews. You can encourage more reviews by emailing your purchasers and asking them to leave a review.
Amazon maintains best sellers lists and reports a listings best sellers ranking for relevant categories on the listing page. This can be a quick way to see how your products’ sales histories compare to similar products.
What if you could combine the sales histories of several similar products into one? Well, maybe you can. If you sell a product with several size or color options you can list them as a variation and combine them into one listing. While Amazon will combine the reviews from all listings onto the new listing, it’s unclear whether this leads to better rankings by combining the sales histories of the different options.
For instructions on configuring your products as parent/child listings, see the Creating Parent/Child Variation Relationships page in Seller Central (login required).
We have observed several products with significant search volume for the manufacturer part number (MPN). Check with the manufacturer to make sure you have the correct MPN on your listing.
There are so many topics related to selling on Amazon that I cannot possibly cover them in one blog post. I would like to mention that even with the best organic optimization you can still have poor sales for a product if you don’t understand how to win the Amazon buy box, maintain a good seller rating, or keep inventory in stock. There are a lot of good resources that already exist on these topics.
I hope that, as a community, we can continue to study and educate ourselves on Amazon’s algorithm. It’s a more important search engine than Google in the world of eCommerce, and it continues to gain market share in the US. Ignore it at your own risk.
AMAZON SEO RANKING FACTORS – HOW TO INCREASE SALES
There are three major search engines that really matter: YouTube, Google, and Amazon. Of course, you can find any video on the planet on YouTube. You can find practically anything and everything on Google. But if you’re looking to make a purchase of a particular product, Amazon is where many buyers now go. Just like Google, Amazon has its own algorithm that determines who should rank and for what keywords those products should rank for. There is a certain selling process sellers must go through to sell on Amazon. It is truly an art and a science very similar to being an SEO in the world of Google.
Thousands of sellers on Amazon have no clue how to rank their products on Amazon. Many of them list it and forget it with a few asking friends and family for reviews of their products. But as a seller if you know the factors that can cause your listing to rank higher than others, you will likely take action and make the necessary adjustments improve your rankings. There are also some bits of information that list an additional 20 factors that are less important than the main factors and truly the ones buyers should care about. Based on our experience of selling on Amazon, there are 9 core methods to rank products so you show up for the keywords that drives impressions, traffic, and ultimately sales.
CONSISTENCY IN SALES ON AMAZON
This remains by far the most critical ranking factor in Amazon SEO. And it should be for both Amazon’s selfish reasons as well as practical reasons. If you’re getting sales on a regular basis for specific keywords, why should you rank lower than those products that are not generating the same level of consistent sales? You shouldn’t rank lower and as a result Amazon will reward those with higher rankings when they do generate more sales.
But this is really a chicken or egg problem. How can you get more sales if you don’t rank and how can you rank if you don’t get more sales? Well….promotions and reviews. When you launch a product, you have to have a number ready for you to give away. There are many product review services and even top reviewers on Amazon that will review your product at a discount in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
The beauty is those same discounted purchases account for sales and the consistency in sales you are looking for. But you need to be careful because if you do a big launch and cannot sustain the proper conversion rate or consistency in sales, your rankings will slowly drop for those keywords.
KEYWORD PURCHASES (SUPER URL’S)
You must generate sales on a consistent basis on those main terms you want to rank for. That means ranking for your money terms and getting sales when individuals search for product via those keywords and they go to your listing and make a purchase.
In the world of Amazon, us sellers use what’s called a SUPER URL. Super URLs are essentially URLs that include both your ASIN and the keyword you ultimately want to rank for. For example if you want to start private labeling wooden cutting boards, your URL would look like this: http://www.amazon.com/Bamboo-Cutting-Board-Set-3-piece/dp/B00CP8R3BO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439496527&sr=8-1&keywords=wooden+cutting+boards.
Notice the ASIN and unique URL as well as the keywords in the URL. If someone went to that URL and made a purchase, that will count positively towards your ranking for “wooden cutting boards.” Many sellers use these super URLs in their promotion efforts and will simply send out the super URLs to buyers. Not sure how long this method will work, but for now, it works beautifully.
Reviews are not official ranking factors but they are an indirect ranking factor worth considering. If you have more reviews than your competitive set, your conversions will be higher (ranking factor), you will get more sales (ranking factor), and you may even get more seller feedback (ranking factor). Product reviews are the life blood to any product on Amazon. It’s the social proof products need to make buyers comfortable with making the purchase. The more reviews you get, the greater chances you have of improving your conversions which will thus help increase rankings and sales.
CONVERSION RATE OF PRODUCT LISTINGS
An often overlooked component but nonetheless incredibly important is how you convert visitors when they land on your listing. If your conversion rate remains at 5% when you have other sellers averaging 10 – 15% conversion rates, those other sellers should be ranked higher because buyers are essentially telling Amazon those 10 – 15% converting products are more relevant to what I was searching for than the 5% converting product. But how do you improve conversions on your listing? With better pictures, strong title, great bullets with the money keywords used, great description, and relevant copy in general.
KEYWORD IN TITLE OF LISTING
Having at least one of your main keywords in the title will allow you to rank better for that keyword in Amazon. The closer the main keyword is to the front of the listing, the more relevant it will be in impacting your rankings for those keywords. We do not recommend stuffing your title with multiple keywords, but at least the main keyword that is likely to generate the most relevant traffic is what you want.
KEYWORD IN DESCRIPTION & BULLETS
Having the keywords or some variations interspersed throughout the description and 5 bullet areas can and should add more relevancy and allow you to rank a little higher and at least psychologically help with conversions as buyer read through your listing. Again there is no need to go crazy and throwing every single keyword phrase in there. Amazon does match up similar keywords to each other so if you rank for one you may also show up higher for some other keywords. But using them properly can add the properly relevancy thus allowing you to rank higher for those keywords.
KEYWORD IN BACKEND SYSTEM
Amazon has a backend system for sellers that allows you to add in 5 places to make mention of the keywords your listing is most relevant to. This is another critical place to add in your main keywords. In the words of Nike…Just Do It. It may not be the biggest factor, but nonetheless it’s one in which you are just checking off the box.
In the world of Google in SEO, we have this thing called domain authority. This is a metric where the more relevant and authority links you have pointing to your domain, the greater chance you have to rank for the multitude of keywords your website and its deeper pages are relevant to. Well, the same concepts holds true for an account on Amazon. Many buyers will choose not to get focus on seller feedback (which is different from product feedback otherwise known as reviews), but this is an important factor and if you don’t focus on it early on, it will become difficult to rank future and new products overtime. Seller feedback tells Amazon you’re a good seller and that you are worthy of ranking for more keywords.
AMAZON PRODUCT LISTING AD’S
Product Listing Ad’s can be very powerful because it serves as Amazon’s internal advertising tool to allow sellers to show up on the first page for the keywords they believe will generate sales for their business. You can create a manual campaign so you can choose the keywords yourself, or you can create an auto campaign thus allowing Amazon to determine what keywords your product are closely related to and allow you to show up for those keywords instead.
This is just like the concept around using a super URL to send to buyers except these buyers are actually performing the real search using the desired keyword, click on one of your Ads, and then making a purchase. Some people will choose to turn this off, but we recommend leaving it on even if the campaign is breaking even. Remember, we want consistency in sales and even more powerful are consistency on sales under those particular money terms.
The longer you have an account with Amazon, the more credence and authority you build up with Amazon over the months or years you sell on their platform. So for sellers who have multiple products, and are constantly launching new products, those newer launched products are likely to be easier to rank than the older products (depending on the level of competition in that market of course). Some sellers may have more seller feedback while others will simply have a longer history with Amazon selling on it’s platform. Again, Amazon is looking for trust established and nothing bring more trust than a good standing account that’s been around for a while.
SELLING ON FBA (FULFILLMENT BY AMAZON)
There are many reasons to want to sell in Amazon have them fulfill your orders instead of it being merchant fulfilled. The answer is in the graphic above…Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime users will 80% of the time purchase items only prime eligible. The prime badge will be visible under your product and draw the eyes thus improving click through rates. There are many other reasons but this is a big one that cannot be overlooked even if it is obvious.