Walmart is teeming with opportunity, but its digital shelves are packed with 80 million products (and counting). Being successful on Walmart requires mastering its search algorithm, which determines when and if your products are shown to customers.
This blog breaks down the science behind listing on Walmart and getting your branded products to the top of the search results. Learn practical tips for improving your rankings, as well as things to avoid doing while selling on Walmart Marketplace.
How Does Walmart’s Algorithm Work?
Walmart’s algorithm is what’s working in the background when someone searches for “cat food” or “men’s jacket” in the Walmart search box. The algorithm looks at a series of factors, including the 11 core components of a listing, to identify the most relevant products to show.
Among the many factors considered, brand and product name carry the most weight. The algorithm also scans product images and customer reviews to ensure that buyers will receive the best possible experience, alongside product attributes and descriptions for terms that match a buyer’s query.
There are a number of search-engine optimization (SEO) tactics you can use to climb the rankings on the Walmart Marketplace. Heed these tips for getting more eyes on your products and boosting your chances of a sale.
Walmart SEO: 4 Tips for Boosting Your Organic Rankings
1. Map Your Products to the Right Category and Attributes
This step is vital. You’ll need to find the right category and subcategory for your products so that they display under the right searches—granted, it’s not always obvious which ones you should choose. If you’re struggling to find the right category, avoid the temptation to click “other” and instead harness a tool like SMART Types to automatically map your products for you.
While the category provides high-level organization, your product attributes may be the deciding factor when customers search for specific features of your product. While Walmart may not require a ton of attributes per subcategy, you’ll want to look at at the left-hand filter on relevant search result pages to see what people look for. Offer up as many relevant details about your item to ensure that your products make it onto pages that get filtered by color, size, material, and/or other traits.
Note: If you sell hardware devices, you’ll want to include the model number of your product. Model numbers are often found on the bottom, back or side of a product. Providing this information heavily influences product matching and makes it easier for customers to search for your item online.
2. Create a Succinct Product Name
Fight the urge to wax poetic in your headlines. Walmart has strict standards for products names. The most successful listings follow this formula provided by Walmart:
Your Brand + Size Specifications (if applicable) + Defining Quality + Item Name + Style (if applicable) + Item Pack Count
Your product names should be somewhere between 31 to 100 characters long and provide the most important details about your product at a glance. The best place to start is by thinking about how your customers are likely to search for your product. For example, if your customers are likely to search for color or size, include those details in the product name. If your listings includes multiple colors and variations, exclude mentioning these descriptors in the name and instead add them to your product attributes and/or descriptions.
3. Provide at Least Four Images
For most product types, Walmart expects you to have four or more images. Having any less could negatively impact your ranking, since it’s not clear to Walmart if customers have enough information to make a confident purchase.
Provide images that show your product at multiple angles. Show your products in action and/or highlight key features while abiding to Walmart’s image requirements.
4. Naturally Use Keywords in Your Product Page
Whether in the short description (the bulleted feature list, which Walmart says should include three or more items) or longer description, keywords are useful in increasing your product’s visibility. Keywords are the terms associated with your product that buyers are likely to type into the search box.
You can use free keyword tools like Keyword.io and/or look at the words that your competitors use on their product pages. While you probably have a “root” keyword in mind, you’ll want to think of alternative ways to describe your product. Avoid “keyword stuffing”—or needlessly adding or repeating words just to game the system. Search engines may suppress listings that appear spammy, and an unnatural use of keywords could hurt the readability (read: conversion rate) of your listing.
Bonus: Activate Walmart’s Free 2-Day Shipping Program
The race to offer fast shipping is in full swing, with Walmart going toe to toe with Amazon. Most recently, Walmart began offering free next-day delivery for orders $35 or more, flexing its massive distribution network (the sum of its distribution center and retail real estate in the U.S. is nearly 1.36 times larger than the entire city of Manhattan).
Needless to say, fast shipping earns you top priority on Walmart. In fact, we’ve seen sellers who offer two-day shipping win the buy box, even above sellers with lower prices or with better seller scores.
Listings that are eligible for two-day shipping also feature prominent “fast shipping” tags. This lets you compete on more than just price alone. By offering fast shipping, you offer a higher level of service and near-instant gratification. So, how do you take advantage of this on Walmart?
Self-Fulfilled: Walmart’s Free 2-Day Shipping program is open to marketplace sellers with positive reviews and account health. You'll need your own fulfillment capabilities that can keep up with fluctuating demand. Moreover, if you sell on multiple channels outside of Walmart, you'll want a commerce operations system for automatically routing your orders to the right warehouses and updating inventory. Once you have this in place, you can apply for two-day shipping from your Seller Center account. After you get approved (you should receive notice within 48 hours), you can select which states or regions you can support two-day shipping.
Third-Party Fulfilled: Sellers who don’t have their own delivery system in place must join through Walmart’s fulfillment partner, Deliverr (which integrates seamlessly into Zentail). All Deliverr merchants are pre-approved for Walmart’s fast shipping tags and Deliverr will handle the entire fulfillment process for you, from order to delivery.
Why Products Get Unpublished from the Walmart Marketplace: 4 Things to Avoid
As you’re optimizing your listings, you’ll also want to be aware of why products get automatically unpublished. When this happens, Walmart will change the status of your product from “published” to “unpublished,” which you can track from your Seller Center Dashboard or Zentail’s Catalog Overview.
The following reasons are often the culprit for getting unpublished—make sure you avoid falling into these common traps.
1. Special Characters or Offers in Your Product Name
Walmart Marketplace forbids the use of special characters in your product name ($, &, “, #) or offers (“fast-shipping”). Similarly, avoid referencing other brands or marketplaces (“as sold on Amazon”) on your listing.
2. “Reasonable Price Not Satisfied”
Walmart doesn’t play around when it comes to price. After all, Walmart’s claim-to-fame is everyday low pricing (EDLP for short) and its ability to offer competitive prices all the time.
If your product can be found on a different marketplace at a cheaper price (including shipping), then your listing may be removed. If Walmart itself offers your product at a cheaper price, then your listing may be removed.
To combat this, practice price parity across all of your sales channels. Ensure that the total cost of your goods, including shipping, is on par with prices on your website and other sales channels. Meanwhile, know your threshold. Don’t simply compete on price alone; find ways to amplify your branding and differentiate your products through positive reviews and customer service.
3. Fulfillment Through Amazon (FBA)
While Walmart once allowed FBA, they’ve cracked down hard on this practice. Walmart no longer acknowledges Amazon logistics codes as valid tracking numbers. The company also expressly forbids the use of a competitor's packaging, as it may confuse the customer. Do not lean on multi-channel fulfillment through Amazon FBA. Instead, find a third-party logistics partner that will use your branded packaging.
4. Underperforming Item
Whether it’s because of a low seller score, slow shipping or poor pricing—if your listing is performing below expectations, Walmart may remove to keep it’s marketplace clean and/or protect the customer experience. (If you have a slow-selling item, consider selling it as a kit or bundle, or increasing its visibility via Walmart Sponsored Products.)
In Conclusion, Don’t Fall for the “Set It and Forget It” Mentality
A high-ranking product has the power to convert. While many sellers may list their products and wait for the sales to come in, you have the opportunity to optimize your listings.
Simple things, such as an adjustment to your product data or your description, can make all the difference. But if you’re hung up on time or aren’t sure where to start, tap a software like Zentail for stress-free management of your Walmart listings.
With features like QuickEdit, channel overrides and scheduled bulk actions, you can keep your listings organized and swiftly make changes on a per-SKU or bulk basis. Zentail’s Success Dashboard additionally helps to track seller performance and listing status of your catalog. For more information, schedule a no-strings-attached call with us and explore the power of a commerce operations management (COM) platform.