August 24, 2020

Breaking Down Amazon's SEO Algorithm for Ecommerce

SEO. It’s more than just a hot ecommerce buzzword: it’s the key to getting your brand discovered on Amazon. With a little algorithm know-how, SEO can push your products to the top of search rankings and help you crush it in sales.

Here are some things every ecommerce brand should know about Amazon SEO and what differentiates it from SEO on other platforms.

Amazon algorithms vs. other marketplace algorithms

Although it may be easy to assume they’re the same, all SEO is not created equal. What you see in Amazon search results won’t be the same as what you see on Google’s PageRank. This is because Google and Amazon users have different intentions when they’re using the search function.

When shoppers are on Amazon, they are zeroed in on making a purchase and usually know exactly what they’re looking for. For example, 80% of all Amazon clicks happen on the first page, and 35% of Amazon shoppers click on the first product that pops up in their search. To ensure sales, Amazon prioritizes listings that have characteristics like high impressions, lots of off-site traffic, and a good seller performance to increase the likelihood of conversion.

In contrast, when shoppers plug their searches into a search engine like Google, their intent is usually discovery. Google prioritizes relevant links (i.e. if someone’s looking for “plumbers in Salt Lake City,” websites that talk about plumbing in Salt Lake City will rank first) as well as the user experience and credibility of a link.

Knowing that Amazon prioritizes listings most likely to lead to a sale can give brands a sense of what they need to target to improve SEO.

What Amazon SEO looks like today

Amazon’s algorithms are always changing—for example, while keyword stuffing on the backend of your Amazon listing worked yesterday, it doesn’t work today—and frustratingly, the company doesn’t publicize which variables are most important or exactly how they’re weighted.

In fall 2019, Amazon’s A9 algorithm (named for the amount of factors the algorithm takes into account when determining keyword rankings) was changed to an A10 algorithm. While there’s little we know about A10 yet, we do know what A9 factors continue to affect keyword rankings today.

The A9 factors vary in importance, but each is worth considering for brands looking to improve their keyword rankings.

Seller Authority: Are you an active, authorized seller who has plenty of ratings and reviews? Is your feedback rating good and are your performance metrics healthy? How many products do you have in your catalogue? All of these things determine your seller authority and therefore your keyword ranking.

Impressions: Impressions are views a product has across the Amazon site, affiliate links, and partner links.

Internal Sales: These are sales initiated from the Amazon website without being searched for, like “frequently bought with” items.

PPC Sales: Paid-per-click (PPC) sales used to be a major factor affecting keyword ranking on Amazon, but it’s no longer one of the main forces in keyword searches.

Click-Through Rate: The click-through rate is how often your product is clicked on in search results. The more detailed and compelling your listing, the higher your click-through rate.

Off-Site Sales: Off-site sales is one of the most effective factors that can improve keyword rankings. Off-site traffic driven to an Amazon listing is three times more likely to improve a listing’s ranking than PPC.

Conversion Rate: This is the number of views on a listing that are then converted to sales. Like impressions, the higher your conversion rate, the better.

Sales History: How well your product historically sells and how often its in or out of stock are big factors that determine how you’ll rank organically on Amazon search pages.

Organic Sales: This is when shoppers search for and then purchase your product without any marketing or promotion driving their purchase.

The Best Seller Ranking

In addition to A9 factors, the biggest piece of SEO on the Amazon site is the Best Seller Ranking. The Best Seller Ranking is determined by the number of sales your brand makes, and that is determined by factors like your customer reviews, your seller performance, the price of your product, and how quickly you ship. Getting the coveted Best Seller badge means sitting comfortably at the top of keyword rankings for your product.

Amazon Enhanced Brand and A+ Content

Another area where SEO can be effective on Amazon is in the EBC/A+ content space lower down on the page of your listings. These exist to provide a better shopping experience for your customers on Amazon, and on average, A+ content increases sales by 6%.

EBC/A+ content provides more visuals and technical explanation to persuade shoppers to purchase your product, and reinforces your brand equity. One of the most valuable parts of EBC/A+ content is that it’s optimized for mobile. Customers can see a whole listing rather than the first 200 words.

What Amazon SEO will look like in the future

While A10, again, largely remains a mystery, there are some things we know peripherally that could hint at other ways the site will be measuring rankings in the near future. Amazon has already put patents on image search features, like using image alt text for keyword indexing. This could mean photographs that include descriptive keywords may also be used to increase keyword rankings in the near future.

How to improve your keyword rankings

With an idea of how Amazon’s algorithms scrape search results and what is most effective for improving rankings, there are a few things you can do as a seller to take advantage of Amazon’s SEO.

Use relevant and accurate keywords in your titles/descriptions. The most immediate way to improve your SEO is to make sure that your product listings include all of the relevant keywords a prospective buyer would search for, such as the size, color, and model of the item. Pattern can help you mine Amazon keywords to find thousands of relevant and even unexpected options for your product that can be used to push it to the top of search results.

Clean up the copy on your listings. Your copy should be engaging, informative, and well-written to attract potential shoppers. Bulleted lists with your product’s most important attributes listed at the top are an especially effective way to clean up your copy and incorporate relevant keywords.

Use high-quality images. High-quality photographs that show your product from multiple angles and give customers the ability to zoom in allow them to trust that what they see is what they’ll get from your brand. You’ll want at least seven images in your stack, and incorporating video can also be helpful.

Improve your seller performance. The more products you’re selling, the more likely you are to appear at the top of search results, and in order to sell more products, you need to make sure your seller performance is in good health. This includes improving customer ratings and reviews and having a pricing policy that allows you to win the Buy Box.

Reviews are particularly important for sales, as a Pattern analysis showed that the average conversion rate for products with 3.0 to 3.9 stars is 41%, and the average for products with 4.9 to 5 stars is 50%. Just having a few reviews on your listing can be immensely helpful. An item with one one-star review will pull 76% more sales than an item with zero reviews.

Pattern partners with brands across the world to help them optimize their listings for search results and increase sales. With the use of their in-house specialized software Predict, Pattern automates the selling process and gives you the data you need to succeed on Amazon. To learn more, contact us below.

More Resources
The Ultimate Guide to Amazon SEO
20 No-Brainer Tactics For Growing Amazon Sales in 2020
The Great Debate: Is Revenue More Important Than Profit?