If you want to find out how to increase your rankings on Amazon, you’ve come to the right place! This is the ultimate step-by-step guide to Amazon SEO and ranking optimization
What is Amazon SEO?
Amazon SEO means optimizing your product listings to appear at the top of the Amazon search results (for all relevant keywords).
- Amazon SEO = Optimizing Product Listings = Better Rankings = More Visibility = More Sales
Just like on Google, buyers on Amazon enter a keyword to find what they are looking for and just like on Google, users mainly click on the first few results and rarely click on a product on the second, third or any further page.
If you’re selling on Amazon, this means that the rankings on Amazon are the most important success factors for your business: The higher you rank, the more you sell!
If you rank on page 3 or lower, you’re unlikely to sell anything. On top of that, more than 66% of shoppers now start their search for new products on Amazon. That means: If your products are not ranking well, you’re really missing out on sales potential!
The ranking of a product is determined by an algorithm called “A9” (shorthand for “algorithm”). As this algorithm basically decides the fate of your success on Amazon, it’s a good idea to understand it a little better.
Many of Amazon’s private label merchants do not realize that keywords and phrases have different dynamics within Amazon’s search engine. Where Google is a search engine for EVERYTHING on the Internet, Amazon is a search engine for PRODUCTS on its own website.
Amazon Search Engine Optimization
How Does the Amazon Ranking Algorithm (A9) Work?
With millions of products to choose from, buyers perform hundreds of millions of search queries on Amazon every month.
For every single search query, Amazon needs to decide — within a few milliseconds — which one of the hundreds of millions of products it will show on ranking position number 1, number 2, etc.
Which factors does Amazon take into account to solve this very complex challenge?
Amazon Ranks Products Based on Purchase Likelihood
Three parties come together on Amazon: A buyer, a seller, and Amazon.
Shoppers come to Amazon for only one reason: they want to buy! This searcher intent represents an important contrast to the mechanics of Google.
When a user types “iPhone” into Google, it’s unclear what this user is looking for. The user might want to buy an iPhone, but he might also just be looking for an image of an iPhone to use in a presentation.
On Amazon, there is only one intent behind every search query: buying the product.
Sellers, on the other hand, also use Amazon for one reason only: they want to sell!
Finally, Amazon wants to generate revenue, but Amazon will only make money if a sale takes place (Amazon receives a 15% commission from a seller or collects the margin from a vendor).
All three parties (buyers, sellers, and Amazon) share a common goal: they all want a transaction to take place!
Amazon’s goal, therefore, is to build an algorithm that increases the number of transactions. To achieve this, Amazon places the product that shoppers are most likely to buy on rank #1, the second most likely on rank #2, and so on — for every single search query.
In other words: Amazon has to rank all products by purchase likelihood.
Keywords and Performance Determine Amazon Rankings and Purchase Likelihood
Amazon ranks products by purchase likelihood. That leaves us with the question:
How does Amazon determine purchase likelihood?
It appears to happen within seconds for the user, but behind the scenes, the verification of purchase likelihood is a very complex challenge.
Remember: There are hundreds of millions of products and hundreds of millions of search queries. The purchase likelihood of a product varies for every search query.
As a consequence, Amazon has to determine the purchase likelihood not just for every product, but for every combination of product and search query.
To tackle this challenge and rank products, Amazon follows a two-step process.
Step 1: Keywords Determine If Your Product Ranks on Amazon AT ALL
In the first step, Amazon filters out all products that are not relevant for the customer search query — by looking at the keywords.
If a product does not contain all keywords of the search query, it cannot appear in the search results (you see why it’s critical that you add all relevant keywords to your product — but more on this later in the “keyword optimization” section).
This step is important because it drastically reduces the number of products that Amazon needs to sort by purchase likelihood.
Step 2: Performance Determines HOW HIGH Your Product Ranks on Amazon (On Which Position)
In the second step, Amazon determines the purchase likelihood for the remaining products and ranks them in a specific order (a.k.a the Amazon ranking). To do this, Amazon looks at the performance of the products.
Performance is measured by CTR (click-through-rate in search result), CR (conversion rate on the product page), and especially sales. These are significant KPIs for Amazon as they represent the steps that users need to take to buy a product.
Amazon looks at these KPIs on a keyword-specific level: an iPhone, for example, will have different CTRs, CRs, and sales for the keywords “iphone” and “smartphone”.
- For you, this means: The better your CTR, CR, and sales are for a specific keyword, the higher your product will rank for this keyword.
To actively increase your CTR, CR, and sales and improve your rankings you can use a variety of levers, such as product images, copy, review management, and Amazon PPC. More on this in the section “How to optimize your product listing”.
Amazon SEO Strategy and the Amazon Marketing Flywheel
Once people find your product and consider it relevant, they’ll probably click and buy it. The more people click and buy your product, the more generous the A9 algorithm will rank it. The higher your product ranks, the more people will buy it.
This momentum will, in turn, increase your rankings and even enable you to put more resources into marketing initiatives to drive your sales.
This process and strategy can form a self-perpetuating flywheel between rankings, sales, and marketing initiatives that improves your sales.
— You can feed this flywheel by channeling your profits into more marketing initiatives.
PART 2: Step-By-Step Guide to Optimize Your Amazon Product Listings for Higher Ranking
Now that you’ve seen how the Amazon ranking algorithm (A9) works let’s get our hands dirty and take a look at what you can do to optimize your listing.
We’ll cover every step you need to take from creating your listing to making sure it climbs to the top after it’s live — and stays there:
- Content: Creating and enhancing your listing content
- Keywords: Adding and optimizing the keywords of your listing
- Maintenance: Ongoing optimization after the listing is live (e.g. managing reviews and leveraging Amazon PPC to improve your rankings)
Create Optimal Content for Your Amazon Listing
Let’s get started with the first step: creating and enhancing your content. That means optimizing your product copy and images.
Amazon functions as a regular search engine, so optimizing your content will improve the click-rate (CTR) in search results and the conversion rate (CR) on the product page. Both CTR and CR boost sales and, therefore, improve your ranking.
Also, any PPC campaigns or other marketing measures that generate traffic to a product page will be more successful if they have optimized product content at their core.
Optimizing your product listings should, therefore, always be the first step to improve your ranking on Amazon.
Amazon SEO Keyword Rules — How Amazon Treats Keywords
Finally, to add your keywords efficiently, you should adhere to some general keyword rules. Stick to the following guidelines to optimize the formatting of your keywords:
- You don’t have to repeat keywords (e.g. in your backend keywords, use ‘wallet men leather’ instead of ‘wallet men wallet leather’). Repetition shows no positive impact on ranking. Instead, use the valuable space to add more relevant keywords.
- Use either singular or plural. Adding both is not necessary. The exception: Long compound words in German (e.g. Mehrzweckregal, Fitnessarmbänder)
- Capitalizing letters (or not) is irrelevant.
- Umlaute (ü, ä, ö) are matched to ue, ae, oe. Adding both versions is not necessary.
- Accents (entrecôte, roségold, mèches) are matched to the non-accent spelling (entrecote, rosegold, meches). Adding both versions is not necessary.
- Minor misspellings (carreirbag, runnign shoe, laether wallet) are matched to the same as the correct spelling. Adding both versions is not necessary.
- Different spellings of compound words (fitnessball vs. fitness ball, flipchart vs. flip chart) are not indexed automatically. You have to include both versions or use hyphens (see next bullet point).
- You can cover different variations by joining or separating words through hyphens, e.g., A-B ranks for A, B, A B, AB, A-B (use for max. 2 words, e.g. flip-chart)
How do I optimize Keywords on Amazon?
To optimize your listing, we recommend the following workflow:
- Step 1 — Optimize backend keywords
Place as many keywords as possible in the backend keyword field (also called ‘search terms’, or ‘generic keywords’) before adding keywords to your content. This practice will keep your content highly readable.For vendors and sellers, as mentioned before, to get all of your keywords indexed, don’t use more than 249 bytes (including spaces and punctuation).Use spaces (sellers) or comma/semicolon (vendors) to separate your backend keywords and remember the general keyword rules.
- Step 2 — Place remaining keywords in the product content (i.e., title, bullet points, product description)
Always keep readability and the user experience in mind when adding your keywords.You do not have to add the keywords you already covered in the backend to your product content.In terms of Amazon SEO strategy, repeating the keywords in different locations has neither a negative nor a positive effect on ranking.
- Step 3 — Fill in additional product and keyword fields
We already mentioned that additional product and keyword fields can improve the searchability and visibility of products through Amazon search filters (page navigation). You should, therefore, try to fill in these fields completely.
Amazon SEO: The Bottom Line About How to Rank on Amazon
You just read the most comprehensive guide to Amazon SEO strategy out there. We made sure to include everything there is to know — so that you never feel overrun with ambiguous information ever again.
So what’s next?
First: Download our Amazon SEO checklist! In our checklist, we boiled down all the vast information to the essentials you need for optimizing your listing step-by-step.
Then, check your best-selling listings (and then your poor performers). Identify the elements we discussed in this guide. Can you give them a boost?
If you continue to maximize your success, you will grow and add more products. You will encounter new challenges — from effective advertising to making smart business decisions based on your sales performance and revenue growth.
It’s a good idea to be prepared — The easiest way to stay in control of your entire journey as a seller on Amazon is by using Sellics.