Keyword optimization and ranking on Amazon is a lot different from other search engines. For products to be found through a search on Amazon, the product listing must contain all the keywords used in the search query. This creates an interesting set of challenges for Amazon sellers, as they aim to write product listings that are broad enough to capture a wide range of searches but detailed enough to include almost any relevant search term.


Amazon is an ecommerce giant. They accounted for 43% of all U.S. online revenue in 2016 and 53% of U.S. ecommerce sales growth in that same year. Being such a major player in the ecommerce space, improving your rank on Amazon could translate into a significant boost in sales.


But how do you rank highly on Amazon? Interestingly, it’s quite different from how you rank on Google.


We’re covering how to create product listings that rank well on Amazon, so without any further delay, let’s get started.


Understanding Amazon’s Algorithm


Before you can write for Amazon’s algorithm, you need to understand it. From there you’ll be able to craft product copy that is compelling for both searchers and the algorithm.


Amazon’s algorithm, called A9, is focused on one thing: maximizing the likelihood of a purchase. That’s it. Full stop.


A9 determines which products are most likely to result in a purchase through a two-step process:

1. It creates a list of relevant products from the keywords in a search query

2. It sorts those products by which are most relevant and most likely to convert


To do this, A9 looks at both relevance and performance factors on each product


Relevance factors focus on calculating how well a product matches the user’s search. While keywords are the main focus for relevancy, there many different factors that go into this factor. For instance, where the keyword appears in the product listing impacts how important it is.


Performance factors refer to how well a product coverts buyers. If lots of people click on your product but don’t covert, that will negatively impact your ability to rank highly in Amazon’s search page. The main metrics included in performance factors are click-through rate, conversion rates and overall sales, but like relevance, there a several metrics that combine into this single number.


What “Relevance” Means to A9


Most marketers are familiar with relevance in the context of Google, but here we are referring to a different type of relevance. Whereas Google is focused on providing the more accurate and informative answer, Amazon is focused on serving up the products that are most likely to be purchased.


While creating a list of relevant products may sound simple enough, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. A9 is a collaborative algorithm, meaning results are personalized to the individual signed in user. Everything from past purchases, to recent behavior and product trends are considered in determining the most relevant products. 


“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.” – Amazon


So it’s much, much more than just about having keywords in your listing.


It’s Not Just Which Keywords You Choose, But How You Use Them…


How you use specific keywords throughout your product listing is very important. While that may seem obvious, A9 has some unique characteristic that makes it especially important.


First, it doesn’t matter how many times you repeat a keyword. Yes, you read that correctly. If a keyword is included once, repeating it a second time doesn’t make any difference to how well you rank for that search term.


Second, don’t add exclamation points or extra punctuation. Because listings found via search have to contain all the keywords in a query, including an exclamation point limits how many people will find you. For example, if a product listing referred to a drill-bit as “Diamond tip!”, then it wouldn’t show up for searches for “Diamond tip”.


Finally, because repetition doesn’t add any value, never waste space with repetition. Sellers have a limited amount of space to work with when it comes to creating their Amazon product listing. So, it’s important to get as much out of that space as possible. One handy keyword optimization trick to avoid repetition is to hyphenate words where possible, because the algorithm considers all possible keyword combinations. For example, “noise-canceling” would include searches for “noise”, “canceling”, “noise canceling” and “noise-cancelling.”


Performance Ranking Factors


As mentioned, A9 is focused on maximizing the revenue per customers. While picking relevant products is an important part of that equation, the other half of the equation is about choosing the product listing most likely to result in a sale.


To do this, the algorithm considers a handful of different performance ranking factors.


1. Sales Rank


If you’ve ever purchased something from Amazon, then chances are you noticed that the top results for a search were often also the top sellers. That’s because A9 considers how the total sales for a listing compare to similar products – a sales rank – and factors that rank into the overall product performance.


2. Customer Reviews


If you don’t have a huge amount of sales, that’s alright, there are plenty of other ways you can help rank well. For instance, the number of verified customer reviews is also factored into the calculation. Products that have a large number of customer reviews are more likely to move up the search rankings. So, newer products can see great value in encouraging customers to leave their feedback.


3. Answered Questions


Another less obvious factor is called “Answer Questions”. While Amazon doesn’t actually say that they use this metric, it is something they track and it appears prominently at the top of the page meaning it impacts conversion. Answer Questions is a tab where people can post questions and have them answered by the seller, like a living FAQ. Be sure to keep an eye on this tab and answer questions as soon as they arise.


These factors, combined with CTR, conversion rate and other performance metrics are aggregated to determine the overall likelihood that a product will be purchased and the order of product listings.


Putting It All Together


Now that you have a better understanding of A9 and what it takes to earn the top spot on Amazon, get out there and put your new-found knowledge to work. Consider how you can optimize your product listing, and climb your way up the search ranks.




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