If someone asked you what the internet’s largest search engine was, your answer would naturally be Google. However, most people don’t realize that Amazon is quickly closing in on Google as one of the internet’s most powerful search engines, and many Amazon sellers are still optimizing their listings for Google. However, three times as many buyers search for products on Amazon rather than Google. Amazon is the search engine you should be most concerned about optimizing if you are in the eCommerce industry.
While the key to unlocking Amazon’s mysterious ranking algorithms is not exactly clear, we’ve learned quite a bit through years of selling on Amazon as well as our daily interactions with sellers. In a nutshell, ranking depends on a combination of successful sales (which means it will make Amazon more money by ranking the product highly) and keyword relevance to search terms.
Here is what we know to be true about optimizing search for Amazon:
Forget (Almost) Everything You Know About SEO With Google
Unlike Google, Amazon does not take certain factors into account like link-building, blogging, social media, or brand mentions.
Of course, these things will indirectly help due to the increase in brand awareness, which hopefully will in turn increase your sales and boost conversion rates. Since this results in more money for Amazon, you’ll get ranked higher. This is why we recommend focusing on improving conversion first.
Another factor that separates the optimization process of Google from Amazon is the lack of user behavior data that Amazon provides sellers. With Google Analytics you can find out particular user engagement metrics that will help inform future decisions, whereas Amazon’s user data is extremely limited. You are not allowed to view a product’s page views or conversion rate over time without downloading multiple reports and combining them in Excel.
Amazon’s Results Page
When a customer performs a search on Amazon they will see one of two different formats for the results page.
The list view contains 16 results, and is shown when a customer performs a search within all departments.
The gallery view provides 24 listings per results page, and happens when a customer performs a search within a specific department.
Take note of the side bar filters on both types of results pages. These allow customers to filter their search by multiple factors. It’s crucial for sellers to fill out all filter fields when adding a new listing for this reason (we will delve a bit more into this later in this post).
Ranking Factors Listed by Amazon
Here’s what Amazon tells us about how they rank products:
“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.”
The better your conversion rate, the higher your search ranking. In order to find your conversion rate data in Seller Central, click on Reports>> Business Reports >> Detail Page Sales and Traffic.
From here you want to take a look at the Unit Percentage Column. This is the number of units ordered divided by the number of sessions (user activity within a 24-hour period) your listing received.
If you are not the only seller on the listing for that particular product, take into account the fraction of the time you had control of the Buy Box. For example, if you only had the Buy Box 75% of the time, you probably only received 75% of the orders you would’ve received had you had the Buy Box the entire time.
Amazon has some specific image guidelines you must adhere to in order to avoid a suppressed listing. If your listing becomes suppressed it will ruin any chance of sales of that particular SKU for the foreseeable future.
In addition, Amazon claims that images larger than 1000 x 1000 increase sales due to it being the minimum size necessary in order to utilize the zoom feature.
How does your price compare to other products within the same category? If you are selling bug spray for $20 and everyone else is selling it for $5, your conversion rate (and sales) will be low, so a low conversion rate will lead to Amazon ranking the product lower.
With the title, it’s all about keywords! However, be careful not to practice “keyword stuffing,” as Amazon strongly discourages it. If your title comes off spam-like you can count on less clicks from customers which Amazon will ultimately penalize you for in the rankings.
You should incorporate some of these keywords into your title:
- Brand and description
- Product line
- Material or key ingredient
Bullet Points and Description
Bullet points are just as important for search rankings as the descriptions. These sections give you a chance to add more keywords to further improve rankings.
Avoid restating the same phrases in these two sections of your listing. This is not only a great opportunity to improve SEO, but also your chance to market to your customers and let them know why they should buy your product.
You’d be surprised how often customers search for products by brand, so be sure to include this when you list products.
In addition, brands are listed on the product page and will always link to all products listed under that brand, which is another way customers can be led to your product.
One thing that we’ve found through talking to Amazon sellers is that these fields are often filled out incorrectly. To ensure you are optimizing the use of these fields, try reading the Search and Browse help page within your Seller Central account.
With each listing you are given five fields that limit 50 characters each. It’s not necessary to repeat any words throughout these fields.
In addition, punctuation like commas or quotations marks will unnecessarily limit your keyword and your character usage limit. Also, there is no need to include any common misspellings of keywords.
However, it is a good idea to include synonyms or spelling variations (“bugspray” versus “bug spray”).
Let’s say you are selling makeup. Your brand name is Flawless Face, and you are looking to optimize your search results for your liquid foundation in the color mocha.
Here are some examples of search term combinations you can use to optimize the use of these fields:
- Flawless Face Long-wear Liquid Foundation Mocha
- Moisturizing Oil-Free Medium Skintone SPF15
- All Natural Matte Finish Oil Absorbing Foundation
- Buildable Coverage SPF 15 HD Makeup
- Non-comedogenic Sensitive Skin Professional Make Up
Other Factors Worth Testing
- Filter Fields – When you list a product make sure you fill out each field to ensure your product is visible when filters are used. For example, if you are selling blue headphones but failed to fill out the “color” field anyone filtering their search by color wouldn’t be able to find them.
- Reviews – The more reviews you receive the more your sales will increase, resulting in higher rankings. One way to encourage customers to leave reviews is to email them and request their honest and unbiased opinion.
- Sales rank – Amazon has best sellers lists for relevant categories on the bottom of the listing page. If a potential customer sees you are #4 hair products they will be more likely to purchase from you. This high ranking establishes credibility and trustworthiness.
- Parent-child products – If you sell a product with multiple size or color options you can list them as a variation and combine them into one listing. The advantage here is not only consolidating listings, but also to improve your conversion rate – and therefore, your search rankings.
Track Your Results
Now that you are aware of all of the different factors that can improve your search ranking it’s imperative that you track all of your results. In order to accurately track any changes that you make, try making your adjustments one at a time so you can pinpoint which factors are helping optimize your search rankings.
You can start by creating an Excel spreadsheet of all ASINs you would like to track. In your spreadsheet, make sure to include the ASIN, list of keywords, rank, and date. Make sure to make note of changes you’ve made in your spreadsheet. After a while you should see some positive changes in your rankings.
As you can see, there are many different factors that can play into search rankings on Amazon. However, even if your listings are the most optimized listings for search ever created, you won’t be able to maintain a high level of sales without remembering the basics.
In order to be a successful seller you must maintain flawless seller metrics, gain control of the Buy Box whenever feasible, ensure that you never lose out on sales by running out of stock, and keep a close eye on any stale inventory you may have in Amazon’s warehouses.