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The Amazon Algorithm Teardown: 12 Things We Know About How Amazon Ranks Products in Search

June 13, 2019 / by Tina Eaton

 

According to the product and pricing data analysts at 360pi, Amazon is responsible for one in every three sales made in the United States. Selling items on Amazon represents a massive opportunity for ecommerce stores—but it also means you have thousands of competitors vying for customers’ attention. 

In a world of two-day shipping where customers have literally millions of products at their fingertips, standing out can be a challenge.

Just like Google, Amazon uses massive amounts of data to predict what factors will encourage a shopper to click that "Add to Cart" button. How do you, as an ecommerce store owner or manager, ensure your products show up at the top of the pack?

It all starts with A9, the nifty algorithm Amazon uses to rank products. The problem? Amazon doesn't actually tell marketers what, exactly, impacts ranking. 

An Introduction to Amazon’s Ranking Algorithm

At its core, A9 is an organic product ranking algorithm (think Google) that uses a broad range of direct and indirect factors to match users’ searches with products they are most likely to purchase.

In simpler terms, A9 is what powers Amazon’s little search box, deciding which product recommendations to make using data from hundreds of thousands of queries and purchases people have already made.

What Influences the A9 Amazon Ranking Algorithm in 2019?

As with most search engines, we don't know every single factor that influences A9. But, we do have a pretty darn good idea based on historical data and information from experts. A few factors that impact Amazon ranking include: 

  • Sales Rank (this is the main one!)
  • Availability of Stock
  • Product Title Match
  • Conversion Rate
  • Relevancy
  • Reviews
  • Number of Past Sales
  • Quality of Images
  • Category Usage
  • Answered Questions 

There are possibly dozens of other factors that can impact your rank in Amazon. It’s enough to drive even the most even-keeled seller crazy, right!? That’s why we decided to list the top factors you should be looking at—all backed by data and real-life experiences.

Top Amazon Ranking Factors to Help Your Products Rank Higher

Here’s the thing—marketers have a bad habit of running marketing strategies into the ground. Remember keyword stuffing? Hey, Google said keywords matter so ALL THE KEYWORDS must be better.

Top Amazon Ranking Factors to Help Your Products Rank Higher

This is why we can't have nice things.

It is also one reason why brands like Google and Amazon do not say exactly what impacts search rankings. Amazon is focused on creating the best possible shopping experience, which means that it should always be sellers' focus as well

However, there are clear indications of a few specific factors that impact sales ranking on Amazon in 2019. Let’s explore. 

Sales Velocity

The more people who have purchased an item, the more likely other people are to buy the same item. Makes sense, right? Consider using PPC or Amazon's own promotional options to increase sales to take advantage of Amazon's Best Seller feature, which highlights most-purchased items—such as the stroller below.

Sales Velocity

Customer Reviews

According to the CEO of Power Reviews, a product on Amazon with at least one review is 65 percent more likely to be purchased over a product with no reviews. Consider sending a slip along with products asking customers to leave feedback to increase reviews. Just be sure to follow Amazon's policies for soliciting reviews.

Answered Questions

Answered questions are an Amazon feature that allows customers to ask questions and get answers about a product. While Amazon doesn't explicitly state that answered questions impacts search results, most of the top ranking products have answered questions, which suggests they matter for conversions—which is a ranking factor.

Answered Questions

Amazon Product Title

You have around 80 characters in your title. Make the most of it by including key terms users may search for; such as brand names, serial numbers (if applicable), color, and so forth. Make sure to include information about what the item does as well as what it is.

For example, this stroller ranks high for "travel stroller."

Amazon Product Title 

The title includes several key terms such as lightweight, foldable, and travel in the title. This helps customers understand the features of the products before they even click to read more.

While Amazon states 80 characters is the optimal title length, keep in mind your title may be cut shorter, so front load important key terms when possible—just don't sacrifice usability for Amazon SEO. Use Amazon's Merchant Words Keyword Tool to look for terms users are searching for.

Additional Contextual Information

When people search on Amazon, they don't always search for brand names. They often search for the results they want or the type of product they are looking for. This is why including contextual information about the product in the title and the description matters.

As an example, Maple Holistics includes terms such as "100% Pure" and "undiluted" in their product title, which are features that matter to searchers. 

Additional Contextual Information

High-Quality Images

In the world of online shopping, images can make or break a sale. When customers cannot physically touch an item, they rely on images to make decisions about the quality of an item and whether it will fit their needs. While Amazon does not specifically state that images matter, it is evident by looking at top search results that image and image quality do matter.

Keep in mind, many shoppers are on mobile, so ensure your images look good everywhere. Also, make sure you meet Amazon's image requirements, which can be found here.

Bullet Points in Product Descriptions

People on the internet don't read; they scan. This is also true on Amazon. Mobile sales are up for Amazon, which means you need to optimize your content for those tiny screens. Bulleting content allows customers to quickly understand the features of your product in an easy to read format. Easier to understand = more sales.

Compare this block of text describing a travel stroller...:

Bullet Points in Product Descriptions 

...to this short, bulleted list about a dress: 

to this short, bulleted list about a dress: 

The bulleted format quickly give essential information in an easy-to-read format. Consider mining FAQs for the information your customers find most important.

Amazon Enhanced Brand Content

Amazon's Enhanced Brand Content allows sellers to add more information about their products and tell a story, versus just listing features. This is a newer feature that is only available to professional sellers, but it has the potential to have a significant impact on ranking, as it is a feature Amazon still appears to be testing. 

Brand Name and Manufacturer ID (When Appropriate)

Keep in mind that Amazon's primary focus is conversions, so aim to give customers the details they need to make a purchase.

Consider whether searchers will type in the product name and manufacturer ID. For example, when searching for the right replacement burner knob, customers are likely going to search for the exact model number. 

Brand Name and Manufacturer ID (When Appropriate)

In an industry such as fashion, this might not be necessary.

Categories and Subcategories

When users search for a broad key term, it takes them deep into the categories and subcategories of items. 

For example, if a user searches for a halter top dress, Amazon dives deep into Clothing>Women>Dresses. Make sure to give Amazon as much information as possible about your product so it can help searchers find your product. 

Create Product Descriptions That Tell a Story

On one hand, you have shoppers using mobile phones to make impulse purchases. On the other hand, you have customers who are able to spend time looking for the perfect item, comparing features, and considering prices. How do you balance the needs of both shoppers? With a full, information-rich product description that tells a story instead of a bland list of features. 

Amazon gives you plenty of space to describe your item; use that space wisely to tell a story about the person who might purchase it. While descriptions are not a direct ranking factor, they do get indexed and can impact sales which, again, is Amazon's primary goal. 

Optimization for Google

This might sound counter-intuitive, right? You are looking to rank on Amazon, so why should you be concerned about ranking on Google? Well, the two work together. 

Here's the thing: Amazon ranks well on Google, so leverage the power of Amazon to help your products rank well on Google, too. Plus, better ranking on Google could improve sales, which leads to a higher ranking on Amazon.

Get Ahead on Amazon with PIM

Many sellers use Excel to manage Amazon product listings. The problem is, that approach can quickly become complicated, time consuming, and costly. What if instead you could organize all that data in one location and directly push your listings to Amazon?

Sound good? Then consider using a designated Product Information Management (PIM) application created specifically for managing your Amazon data. With a PIM like Plytix, you can upload, edit, and then push your product listings directly to marketplaces like Amazon all from one place. It is Amazon selling made easier.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how PIM makes selling on Amazon, and every other channel, easier and more successful—download our free ebook and learn the benefits of PIM, the top questions to ask when shopping for the best PIM, and today’s top platforms to choose from.

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Tina Eaton

Written by Tina Eaton