When selling or buying on Amazon, how listings rank is likely one of the most important and ignored facets. For buyers, how a listing is constructed and where it ranks often dictates a potential purchase. For sellers, increased ranking can mean dramatically leveraged sales and exposure. Listings on Amazon are indexed just as websites are with Google's search engine optimization (SEO). Amazon's search engine scrapes each listing and ranks them accordingly, with the best listings and keywords ranking highest. For the best results, Amazon listing optimization is the absolute best approach to enhance your listings. Here, we'll explore how to properly construct your listings and keywords for the best possible ranking.
What is Amazon Listing Optimization?
Put simply, Amazon listing optimization are steps that can be taken to improve your Amazon product listing's BSR (Best Seller Ranking) to gain visibility by ranking higher in Amazon’s catalog. The implication of this is obvious; the better your listing’s visibility, the higher the traffic, and ultimately, sales.
These metrics are measured in a number of ways. Listings with higher visibility, or the better Amazon indexes listings, will lead to higher click-through rates (CTRs), which ideally will then boost the listing’s conversion rate (CR), which will then drive actual revenue.
Understanding Amazon’s A9 Algorithm
Amazon does this with the help of its proprietary ranking algorithm, called the A9 Algorithm. The A9 Algorithm acts as Amazon’s in-house search optimization tool, which is responsible for indexing and ranking all listings on Amazon’s marketplace. While Amazon has never explicitly revealed in granular detail how A9 ranks listings, it’s a safe bet that it looks at several key factors. These factors can be categorized into two categories; relevance factors and performance factors. Let’s dive into each type, and how your listing can be crafted to best perform in each.
Relevance Ranking Factors:
The product title is an obvious one, and the element that ultimately has the most impact. According to Amazon’s own guidelines for product title creations, these should contain approximately 60 characters and should reflect what the physical packaging reads. Ideally, you should be aiming to strike a balance between being concise yet encompassing all necessary keywords.
Amazon has category-specific guidelines for how to properly construct titles. Generally speaking, titles should include the brand, model, version, size, color, quantity, and all relevant keywords. Below is a good example of a healthy listing title for an in-home security camera:
Amazon allows sellers to add up to 249 bytes of backend keywords, which are hidden from view. Here, you are able to include any relevant keywords that didn’t make the final cut for the title. Essentially, these backend keywords are where any keywords should be entered that would read unnaturally elsewhere. Despite not being visible to neither consumers nor Amazon’s A9 Algorithm, there are guidelines that should be followed for backend keywords to yield the best results. These include:
- Stay at or under the 249 byte limit. If exceeded, your keywords will not be indexed by Amazon
- Include alternate names and synonyms, keywords somebody may search for outside of the actual title
- Don’t repeat keywords, include intentionally-misspelled keywords, or product identifiers that are already included in the title
- Using all lowercase characters, separate keywords with spaces
Within the Product Description, Amazon strongly recommends crafting up to five “clear and concise” bullet points. These bullet points should ideally highlight the top five key features of the product, and may include details for:
- Product dimensions
- Appropriate-age recommendations
- Skill level
- Country of origin
- Other similar details from the title or description
Amazon also recommends maintaining a consistent order for the product description’s bullets. In addition, you should begin each bullet with a capital letter, and treat them as sentence fragments. This means the bullets should read quickly, and also do not require ending punctuation. Lastly, it’s important to not include promotional or pricing information here, as these are most appropriate elsewhere on the listing.
In addition to the bullets, Amazon allows listings to include up to 2000 characters for a dedicated listing description. This is where you as the seller should try to convey the experience of the product to the customers. The product description should be treated like a blank canvas, but should convey the description and keywords in a digestible fashion. Some things to consider adding to this section could include:
- How the product should be used
- Who the target customer for this product is
- Tell your brand’s story and mission
- Opportunity to gain credibility and trust
Performance Ranking Factors:
Just as pricing plays the strongest role in determining Buy Box eligibility for product listings on Amazon, maintaining competitive pricing is key to improving click through and conversion rates. With improved conversion rates and ultimately sales volume, Amazon is more likely to better rank these listings.
Prior to listing your products, it is important to do a thorough analysis of competitor pricing. This will ensure your pricing is appropriate while staying competitive, which will in turn boost conversion rates. To fully automate your listings’ pricing to stay competitive 100% of the time, we recommend using a repricer to further improve sales and revenue, which will help with Amazon’s A9 Algorithm’s ranking of your listing.
Amazon’s A9 Algorithm looks at more than just a listing’s title and keywords when determining its rank. Historical sales performance is also heavily taken into account. With a high sales velocity, Amazon is more likely to better rank your product, which will then in turn provide better exposure. In this self-supporting cycle, it’s immensely important to build your listings’ momentum for Amazon’s A9 Algorithm to work its magic on.
Another important element of optimizing your Amazon listings is the use of high-quality images to accompany your product title and description. Amazon allows the use of nine high-resolution images, sized 1000 x 500 pixels. It is strongly advised to utilize a plain white background for the first image, with the remaining used to show different angles and scale. In addition, images of your product in use will best convey realistic expectations to the customer.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
While you have less control over the customers’ feedback, you do maintain a say in their overall experience. It’s important to aim for a product rating of four or more stars, as worse ratings are less likely to be effectively ranked by the A9 Algorithm. With the heavy emphasis Amazon places on customer satisfaction and reviews, customers have a direct impact on your listings’ performance and ranking. For this reason, it’s important to keep a close eye on your products’ reviews, and respond to negative feedback in a timely and friendly manner.
Optimizing your Amazon listings can be one of the most beneficial things you as a seller can do for your business. When done effectively, not only will your listings gain more exposure, but sales velocities will also increase. This will in theory create a flywheel effect, with listing optimization helping increase sales volume, which in turn can help with product ranking.
Optimizing your listings is just as important as sourcing the correct products; your products ultimately won't mean much to customers without attractive listings to represent them.