Your Guide to Understanding the Amazon Algorithm

Getting to Know the Amazon Algorithm

Amazon’s search engine operates on an algorithm that rewards certain things and penalizes others. With that being said, understanding the Amazon algorithm, known as A9, is your ticket to success on Amazon.

You might be an established seller or just getting started in eCommerce. Whichever the case, there’s always something you can learn about the Amazon algorithm to make your business work better.

This post will walk you through what A9 is and how it works so you can optimize your listings to make it work for you.

How the Amazon Algorithm Works

Basically, when you understand the Amazon algorithm, your products can rank high on Amazon’s Search Engine Page Results (SERP) and you have better chances of winning the Amazon Buy Box.

High rankings on Amazon for the right keywords is the best way to drive purchase-ready customers to your listings so they can click the Buy button. If you can follow A9 and optimize accordingly, you can experience a lasting boost in conversions.

The A9 algorithm is a system that Amazon developed to determine which products should be shown to customers when they search the marketplace using keywords. Below are the major ranking factors that come into play for Amazon searches.

  • Relevance

This works similarly to the way Google chooses what search results to display when keywords are entered into that engine. In other words, A9 will rank you if your keywords match what customers are typing. But that is only the beginning.

  • Conversions

Amazon is focused on selling more. It’s a business that makes money when third-party sellers sell more. Unlike the Google algorithm, then, A9 will look at whether or not your listing is converting. If your keywords aren’t relevant, you will get a lot of traffic but not a lot of sales.

The Amazon algorithm will then drop you from the rankings. This is so that they can feature listings that are generating sales and are more likely to result in bigger profits for the marketplace.

Relevance and conversions work together as well to achieve higher rankings on Amazon searches. If your listing uses relevant keywords that take customers to the products they are looking to buy, you will get more sales, which will result in higher rankings. If your listing is highly ranked, you will get even more converting traffic, sales, and so on.

That being said, the goal is to optimize listings with keywords that drive more relevant traffic from purchase-ready customers.

  • High-Volume Keywords

You want to optimize your listings with keywords that are used by more customers when they search for products to buy on Amazon. The best way to find them is to use a keyword research tool that’s specifically designed for Amazon. A quick search on Google for “Amazon keyword research tool” will yield tons of results to choose from, depending on your budget and how deep you want to go.

You do need to have what are called “seed keywords,” though. These are the keywords that you start with to generate more ideas. To get these, the best thing to do is to look at similar products to yours on Amazon that are high-ranking and look at the keywords that they are using on their listings.

Jot those down and plug them into the tool of your choice. You can, of course, also use your own ideas for terms that you know are relevant for your product and that customers have used to find your listings.

The last step is to take the most searched keywords from the tool and use them to optimize your listings. Make sure you take only the relevant ones!

  • Competition

Note that the most highly-searched terms will also likely have a ton of competition. You can combine these with lower-volume keywords with less competition to balance it out. This way, you can get some traffic to help boost your rankings as the Amazon algorithm works your listing up the rankings for the competitive search terms.

Optimizing for the Amazon Algorithm

Put simply, Amazon A9 had a point system for ranking listings based on keywords. To get the highest possible score, you need to place your keywords into your listings in a strategic manner. As you distribute them according to the tips below, remember that each element of your listing must, above all, read well – don’t just stuff them with keywords!

  • Title

This is where the best of the best keywords go. Include as many as you can without affecting readability. You can use connector words because Amazon does not count those as part of the keywords and phrases. You can also use pipes (|) and dashes (–) to separate the benefits and features you are highlighting.

  • Bullets

This is where the next best keywords go. Use synonyms, too, where it makes sense. Add at least one keyword per bullet point that’s relevant to the benefit and feature. You can use longer variations (key phrases) of the main keywords here to support the title.

  • Description

This is where you can expand on your product’s benefits and features, and where all the rest of your keywords and synonyms and long-tail variations can go. But don’t write senseless or repetitive information just to get more keywords into the listing! Customers will get annoyed and be less likely to buy. This means that you will lose ranking even if your listing ranked well initially because of the keyword content.

How to Improve Sales Conversions

You need a high conversion rate to get and keep high Amazon rankings. This means creating your listing copy in such a way that attracts and persuades. Customers need to want to buy from you instead of just using your listing to do a comparison.

  • Clearly State The Benefit(s) Of Your Product(s)

Most sellers focus on talking about product features. You need to focus on product benefits – what customers get and how their lives will change when they use your product. Create for them a clear picture in their minds with your copy so they can see the wonderful improvements they will experience when they click Buy Now.

  • Have a Unique Selling Point

You need to communicate your product’s unique selling point. See to it that customer knows how your product is different from – and better than! – all the other similar products out there. Tell them about secondary uses, too, so that they can see how much more useful the product is than the competition.

  • Provide Social Proof

If you have recommendations or endorsements (other than Amazon reviews), add them to your listings. This supports your reviews with stories from other people whose lives have been made easier, more convenient, etc., by the addition of your product.

  • Include Images

Make sure you follow Amazon’s image guidelines when you choose listing photos. Within those guidelines, choose product pictures that give customers as full a view as possible of the product and its benefits. Custom graphics and in-use shots are great for discussing further benefits. Then don’t neglect to add titles and alt text optimized with your keywords.

Final Thoughts

Your listing needs to pass the Amazon algorithm’s standards to gain and maintain rankings on the platform. One good way to check if you’re doing well with your optimization is to take a glance at it and see if you can capture the vital information about the product in 3 seconds. If not, rework the elements that are lacking until it does.

Once you have your optimized listing, prepare for a flood of new visitors and sales! You need to be able to cope with the increase in volume and make sure that you are satisfying customers or risk losing your rankings due to poor seller performance feedback and bad reviews.


About the Author:

Matt Harrison is the VP of Strategy of FreeUp, the preeminent freelance marketplace for hiring high quality, vetted talent. He has hired freelancers from around the world and built teams to service multinational brands resulting from over $100 million in web hosting company acquisitions. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, FL.

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