Whether you’re a new Amazon seller or an FBA guru, you’re bound to make mistakes along the way. Some mistakes are negligible, but when it comes to your listings, a low ranking can cost you dearly.
Aside from impacting your top line, the quality of your listings can dictate the type of expectations that buyers have of your brand. One of the worst things you can do is to take a “set it and forget it” approach for all of your listings and allow competitors to swoop in with higher ratings.
A high ranking on Amazon requires a more thoughtful approach. Keep reading for listing optimizations hacks that go beyond the basic steps of just getting your listings up.
What Matters Most to Amazon's A9 Algorithm Today?
The A9 algorithm is an artificial intelligence system that Amazon uses to rank products on the search results based on a user's query. Think of it as you would Google’s search engine algorithm. When you hit ‘enter’ in the search bar, you receive relevant results that match your query.
The key difference between the A9 algorithm and the Google algorithm is that Amazon's is more sales-oriented. It shows results that are most likely to lead to a conversion.
So, while one of A9’s key principles is relevancy, purchase intent is just as important. The A9 algorithm will surface results that offer the right combination of text match, price, availability and more. It will also regularly test these factors to find what influences shoppers to buy more frequently from its site.
While Google’s algorithm caters to a variety of purposes (user intent can range from seeking information to signing up for an event), A9 is specifically designed to deepen Amazon’s pockets.
What Factors Does the A9 Algorithm Look For?
- Stock availability – if your products are constantly out of stock, you will never be ranked highly.
- Pricing – pricing plays an indirect role in your rankings and has to be accompanied by great descriptions.
- Content – A9 favors products with A+ content/EBC because they offer a more accurate description of your product and are known to increase sales by three to 10 percent.
- FBA and Prime status – having your products stocked in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers allows you to become a featured merchant and reach Amazon’s 112 million prime members (notice how the first page of any Prime member’s search is overrun by Prime items).
- Reviews - a large number of positive ratings will result in higher rankings and help the algorithm identify how well customers are engaging with your products.
- Relevance to the search query – relevancy plays a vital role in your rankings and stems from having good, creative titles and descriptions.
Another factor that the A9 algorithm looks for is the velocity of your sales. This is the number of transactions made during a particular period and the dollar value of the transactions. The algorithm compares various sellers, and the one with the highest velocity is ranked highly.
Tips for Improving Your Organic Rankings and CTR
To increase your organic rankings and improve the click-through rate, you need to:
1. Check Your Compliance
Amazon has strict listing standards, and failure to comply with them could affect your rankings. Your product scores depend on how well your listings meet these set standards—which could change at any point—and only listings that comply with them have a chance at ranking highly or ranking at all.
Examples of violations include having symbols in your title, using promotional phrases, using the wrong image specs or applying the wrong format to any attributes (think: Amazon’s change to its shoe size requirements).
For Amazon sellers with a big catalog, going through listings one by one to check for compliance is difficult, which is why you should consider free Amazon listing checkers like Zentail’s. You will get tailored feedback for your listings, making it easy to rectify any basic mistakes that are easy to overlook.
For more advanced management of listing errors, a tool like Zentail’s QuickFix tool can be useful in finding errors, decrypting them and automatically applying bulk changes that are tedious to do manually.
2. Run Ads (to Activate the Flywheel Effect)
Your organic rankings and ad performance aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, ads have the power to kickstart the Flywheel Effect, whereby the increased sales from promoted placements send positive signals to Amazon’s A9 algorithm. Since A9 rewards listings with high conversion rates, the organic rankings for your items will improve.
Beyond this, you’ll want to drive traffic from external sources like social media and forums. Each of these marketing efforts that are done outside Amazon will have an effect on your sales.
3. Offer Your Products as Kits and Bundles
Amazon is full of sellers dealing with similar items. How do you make sure you stand out from the rest? Try multipacks and bundles. This is one of the most effective ways of creating product offerings that you 'own’ and increasing the perceived value of your listings.
Read Also: 9 Ground Rules of Product Bundling on Amazon
With the right inventory and listing tools, managing kits and bundles can be easy. You don’t have to invest any more money into new inventory. You can simply take the products you already own to create packs that give your customers a better per-unit rate.
Most buyers love a good deal, and aside from catching their eyes, kits and bundles can help you get rid of excess inventory.
4. Be Strategic with Your Product Titles
On average, Amazon allows up to 200 characters, and it's advisable that you make use of them. The sweet spot, though, is between 80 to 120 words—somewhere between being descriptive but not too exhaustive.
Ensure the first five words are relevant to your product as they form the canonical URL, or the main URL your customers use to get to your product page. Experts have seen that A9 also associates higher relevance with the keywords at the beginning of your title, possibly because only the first 55 to 63 characters show on mobile devices.
Remember to include adjectives that buyers are likely to search along with your product type. For example, if your customers are shopping for clothes, they’ll probably type in “women’s”, “long sleeve” or other relevant details into the search bar.
Anticipate the most important phrases your buyers might be searching. Take some time to see how your competitors are framing their titles and test different strategies, like using a title with or without your brand name, to find what works.
5. Fill Out as Many Product Attributes as Possible
The general rule of thumb is to make your listings as complete as possible. Some categories, like electronics, warrant additional product details like 'optical zoom' for cameras or 'hair type' for hair products.
You'll want to fill these details out so that your product doesn't get filtered out from results pages. As shown in the screenshot below, Amazon already offers plenty of ways for buyers to sift through their options—and these filters will only get more granular over time.
Tips for Improving Conversions (After the First Click)
Ranking highly is only one half of the pie; the other half is making sure that people who click your listings actually buy your products. Here are tips that will help to increase your conversion rate. Note that several of these factors don’t directly impact your rank but are critical in influencing the sale.
6. Write Product Descriptions that Your Mother Will Love
You’ve probably heard plenty of people harp on about the importance of well-written, keyword-rich product descriptions. They’re not necessarily wrong.
But here’s some food for thought: stop trying so hard to sell. Avoid impersonal, hyperbolic or jargony copy. Use conversational language that makes it easy for everyone, from your mom to Uncle Ted, to understand what you’re selling and what makes it worth their money.
Convince your customers without simply insisting that your product is the best; share what makes your product good, write honestly—and at all costs, avoid over-promising what your product can do. (Let’s not forget the conundrum caused by sellers trying to game the system in Spring 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation, many Amazon listings were removed for attempting to draw a connection between their products and antivirus protections.)
You’ll also want to get ahead of questions that your customers will have when looking for a product like yours. If you’re selling products that need to be assembled, add assembling instructions. If you’re selling clothes, include sizing guidelines. Give enough detail to keep your customers engaged, plus confident about your product.
Of course, jazzing up your listing with EBC can help. No one, not even grumpy Grandpa Mike, hates a pop of color or illustration here or there.
7. Don’t Waste Your Product Bullets, Especially Bullet #1
The key product features bullet points on your listing are prime real estate. They’re above-the-fold content, or one of the things that your customer sees immediately after clicking your listing.
(Before this in the list of priorities comes pictures. But you don’t need to be reminded again of the importance of product images—you get it already.)
Bullet points are like your elevator pitch. It’s where you’ll want to state the most important aspects of your item and address the number one, two and/or three question that buyers may have about your product before being able to hit “buy.” The first bullet point is arguably the most important, since it's guaranteed to show on mobile.
Pro tip: lead with the benefit. Most people want to hear what your product can do for them before seeing a list of features. Also, just because you can stuff 500 characters into one bullet point doesn’t mean you should. Craft strong, punchy statements that don’t rely on ALL CAPS or exclamation points to be exciting. Put your best foot forward, use keywords only as needed and demonstrate real value.
8. Get More Product Reviews Without Violating Any Rules
Products that rank (and perform) the best tend to have 300 or more reviews. Yes, that’s a tall order, but it’s possible to get the momentum going a number of different ways:
- Ads - temporarily run a campaign to get more sales and reviews rolling in.
- Organic promotion - similar to the above, by influencing more sales through your social networks, you can activate more reviews.
- Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program - enroll in this program to tap Amazon for help gathering reviews on newly listed products.
- Convert feedback into reviews - recall the difference between seller feedback and product reviews, then email customers who’ve left feedback asking to leave a review.
- Ask - Amazon expressly prohibits incentives (free money, products or favors) or pleas for a positive product review, but you can still ask for a review via product inserts.
Getting the most out of your listings requires a plan of attack for ranking higher and persuading the sale. Don’t grow complacent about your listings, as an ill-optimized one could translate to thousands upon thousands of dollars in missed opportunities.