For years now, Amazon has been revered as the top destination for product searches. It makes sense, given that there are more than 12 million products all conveniently sold in one place.
Part of the allure is that Amazon has also engineered its search engine algorithm to rival that of Google’s. Buyers can bank on receiving relevant product recommendations within seconds of searching for a dog toy or a temperature-controlled tea kettle.
For sellers, this means that you need to be acutely aware of how Amazon SEO works. Just like on Google, where 75% users stick to the first page of results—on Amazon, 70% of users never click past the first page.
Here’s what you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm and how to get your products ranking on page one.
Amazon SEO vs. Google SEO
Google and Amazon may both be search engines, but it’s critical to note that Amazon is in the business of selling. Its A9 algorithm (also referred to as A10 following December 2020 changes) looks for products that not only meet a buyer’s search criteria, but are also positioned to make Amazon the most amount of sales or revenue.
In other words, if there are two ASINs that are equally relevant to a user’s query, but one offers Prime shipping—the Prime listing will likely appear higher up on search results. There are multiple reasons for this:
- Since the product is fulfilled by FBA or an SFP merchant, Amazon can guarantee fast, reliable shipping. This, in turn, ensures that sellers are satisfied with their orders and will return to Amazon.com for future purchases.
- Most Prime listings offer free returns, which is a big selling point for buyers. So, if Amazon suggests a Prime product, it's more likely that a click will convert into a sale.
- Prime listings tend to have a longer sales history and more reviews, which validate that a product is worth a buyer’s investment.
In the same vein, Amazon will consider multiple factors outside of keyword-match when ranking ASINs. It weighs things like seller performance, conversion rate, reviews and more. Ultimately, Amazon’s goals are the same as yours: to make money by recommending the best value and the highest quality products possible.
On-Page and Off-Page Amazon SEO Factors
Amazon’s ranking factors can be grouped into two main buckets. On-page factors are those that you can directly impact when creating your listing on Amazon. Off-page ones are factors that entail off-Amazon strategies and/or other external elements that impact your rankings.
Note: Amazon looks at dozens of other variables than the ones listed below. Some are also implied variables, as reported by various sellers and sources.
On-Page Amazon Ranking Factors
- Product category and attributes
- Relevance / keyword match
Off-Page Amazon Ranking Factors
- Stock availability
- Fulfillment method
4 Actionable Tips for Ranking Higher on Amazon
1. Check that Your Item is Easy to Discover
Before you concern yourself with keywords, pricing and other well-known factors of ranking, you’ll want to check that there’s nothing amiss “under the hood” of your listing. Sellers too often throttle their visibility by incorrectly mapping their product data or ignoring other technical issues with their Amazon listings.
To avoid this, pay attention to the following details.
Amazon’s catalog is incredibly expansive. There are dozens upon dozens of categories and subcategories to weed through—and it’s entirely possible for your ASIN to wind up in the wrong spot.
Make sure that you’ve studied Amazon’s full overview of categories and pick the category that is the most relevant to your product. Avoid “category stretching” or picking a category that’s only somewhat related to your product in hopes of reaching a wider audience; Amazon will likely suppress your listing, extinguishing any chance of gaming the system.
If you have a large catalog or need help identifying the right category, consider a tool like Zentail’s SMART Types. SMART Types automatically maps your ASIN to the right category and simultaneously translates your product attributes for Amazon. While many cheap automation tools often confuse words like “pump” (by assuming that listings with the word “pump” in their titles belong to the women’s shoe category, versus checking if “pump” is actually referring to an air pump or liquid bottle pump), Zentail infers the correct product type by analyzing your full product details.
1.2 Advanced Attributes
Some sellers will only provide the basic or required details about their product, putting their listing at a major disadvantage. Not only does this hurt the seller’s chances of being included on filtered results pages (see below) or long-tail searches—but it also lowers their chances of a conversion, and increases the risk of a preventable return.
Be sure to go beyond basic product details and include attributes that your buyers are likely to care about. For example, if you sell body lotion, mention if your lotion is good for sensitive skin, is hypoallergenic and/or has a botanical fragrance. All of these give your buyer a better visual of your product and can help reduce returns for reasons like “item not as described.”
1.3 Variations, Kits and/or Bundles
By now you probably know that there are a variety of ways to configure your listings. One common way is to group related ASINs into a variation listing, i.e., list all colors of the same t-shirt under one listing. This keeps all of your product reviews, images and copy together so that buyers don’t have to go searching elsewhere for the color/variation that they want. However, you’ll need to follow Amazon’s guidelines for proper child-parent relationships and provide images for every available variation of your product.
Similarly, if you offer your products as multipacks (aka, kits) or bundles, make sure you know Amazon’s ground rules for these. Kits and bundles can give you a leg up over competitors—especially in highly saturated categories—but you don’t want to be caught using them incorrectly.
2. Slay Your Copy
Great copy is a central trait of any Amazon listing. And while most platforms discourage overtly promotional language, Amazon is one where you’ll want to be bold about the distinct qualities and benefits of your product.
That said, copy guidelines vary from marketplace to marketplace. Amazon has various expectations, restrictions and recommendations regarding copy. This means that in order to optimize copy for Amazon SEO you need to pay attention to the following.
2.1 Product Title
Keep your title direct and to the point. Though Amazon allows up to 200 characters for your title, you’ll want to focus on highlighting the most important keywords and details about your product. For instance, Amazon recommends that for small kitchen appliances, you should include the brand name + model number + model name + product type and color. But for bath towels, you should include brand + line/pattern + material + product type + quantity.
If you’re unsure of what to include, check out how your competitors title their products. Avoid jazzing up your titles with subjective copy like “dreamy” or “amazing”—and instead, jazz it up with unique product details.
2.2 Bullet Points
Your bullet points highlight the most unique and/or important details of your product. When you’re thinking about what to include, imagine that you only have 30 seconds to pitch your product. What would you blurt out first? What information about your product does your target consumer care about?
You should additionally consider what questions people tend to ask before or after a purchase (e.g., in a product review or the Q&A section). Address these questions in your bullet points and remember to touch on benefits, not simply features of your product.
As you craft your bullet points, pay attention to format. Avoid long blocks of text that make readers’ eyes glaze over and prioritize short, punchy, well-formatted points.
2.3 Product Description
Your product description beefs up your listing with more product details and information about your company. It’s often where buyers look when they’re on the brink of making a sale and need to validate their purchase with additional information.
For this reason, you’ll want to be very intentional about what you include. Focus on informing customers, not just selling to them. Don’t stuff your description unnaturally with keywords—rather, if you’re focused on connecting with your audience, you should naturally hit your primary keyword (plus related terms).
3. Bulk Up on Images and Other Media
The best Amazon listings don’t skimp out on images or other media that help to illustrate the intended use, true size, etc. of the product. Amazon shoppers, after all, don’t have the luxury of seeing your item in person. They need a way to visualize your product despite this, so that they’re not surprised by any aspect of your product.
Similar to ecommerce copy, image guidelines vary by channel. For Amazon specifically, here’s what you need to know.
3.1 Main Image
Your main image should ideally be 2000 x 2000 to allow for customers to zoom into your picture. It must be against a pure white background and only show the products and accessories included with a purchase.
Your main image is the most visible portrayal of your product, so you’ll want to ensure that it’s professionally shot. Check that your product occupies at least 85% of the image area—unless you sell a video/dvd, music or book, for which the cover art must fill 100% of the image area.
It goes without saying that the best images are not only compliant with Amazon’s requirements but also entice more buyers to click onto your listing, driving up your clickthrough rate (CTR).
3.2 Alternate Images
Alternate images are critical for converting clicks into sales. You can use demonstrative text and graphics here—unlike on your main image—and better help buyers visualize themselves using your product. To that end, there are various ways to leverage alternate images:
- Illustrate the true dimensions/scale of your product
- Show the target user(s) of your product
- Demonstrate the right use of your product
- Highlight special features and benefits
- Include a size chart
- Show how your core product works with other accessories or items that they can buy separately from you
3.3 A+ Content
A+ Content (previously known as Enhanced Brand Content) is available to brand registered merchants on Amazon. If it’s available to you, use A+ Content to jazz up your listing and increase the amount of time a buyer spends on your product pages.
With A+ Content, you can add comparison charts, bullet points, special graphics and other visuals that reinforce your branding. Show off your differentiators, both as a company and a product, and answer the most commonly asked questions about your item.
While A+ Content doesn’t directly impact your Amazon rankings, it does impact your conversation rates. Statistics show that A+ Content can increase product sales by up to 10%.
4. Pitch the Best Offer
As mentioned previously, Amazon is in the business of selling—and a sale can only be made if the customer receives the right price, delivery speed and customer service. Amazon SEO therefore takes into consideration your offer as a whole.
This means that the highest ranking products on Amazon need to exhibit the below traits.
Finding the balance between a competitive price and a profitable price is an art. Aside from comparing your price with competitors’, you’ll have to consider the money you invest in advertising or marketing your product. There are also manufacturing costs, shipping costs and costs associated with programs like Amazon FBA to bear in mind.
As a general rule of thumb, your price shouldn’t be greater than 20% of the highest priced product on the first page of search results. If your product is available for purchase on ecommerce channels outside of Amazon, enforce price parity—otherwise, Amazon may flag you for selling your product at a lower price elsewhere on the internet.
In some situations, you may choose to take a price cut, just to get products off the ground. You may, for instance, run a limited-time promotion for a product launch or during the holidays. While there’s no magic formula for pricing, you can determine the right price by testing different prices incrementally and keeping a close watch over your profitability.
4.2 Shipping Speed
Amazon takes pride in being able to ship items quickly. This is why FBA sellers (aka, those who offer Prime shipping) have a leg up above sellers who don’t on Amazon.
Amazon shoppers have nearly come to expect two-day or one-day shipping, making it essential for your brand to offer similar service levels, especially in hyper-competitive product categories.
If you’re not able to offer fast shipping today, consider using FBA for your top-performing ASINs and/or tap a third-party logistics partner (3PL). It’s best to diversify your fulfillment network so that you’re not left without a plan B if Amazon can’t service your team (which we saw happen during the COVID-19 pandemic). Ultimately, reliable shipping is more important than fast shipping, so if you’re not able to fulfill orders fast enough at any point, consider putting your listings on vacation mode.
4.3 Badges (Prime, Best Seller, Etc.)
Badges are honorary titles presented to Amazon sellers for a variety of reasons. They help to boost your visibility in search results by not only placing you on filtered pages (e.g., pages filtered by environmentally conscious brands) but by signaling to buyers that you’re a trustworthy seller.
There are several main types of Amazon badges you can earn as a third-party merchant:
- Best Seller
- Amazon’s Choice
- New Release
- Climate Pledge Friendly
- Limited-Time Deal, Lightning Deal or Deal of the Day
- Extra Savings, Coupon and Discount
The latter two types can be triggered in Seller Central, where you can set up a limited-time discount or promotion. Pay attention to how these badges work and what you can do to earn them on your listings.
Set Your Eyes on Page One
The reality is: your product might be great, but without high-quality listings, it may never see the day of light on Amazon. Take the time to understand the ins and outs of Amazon SEO. Ignite the listing quality flywheel and regularly optimize your ASINs to appeal to both buyers and Amazon’s unique algorithm.