Over a million products are sold on Amazon daily. If you do the math, that’s more than one sale every tenth of a second. Huge!
But what’s even more fascinating is the accuracy with which Amazon serves its customers, returning them the exact items they search for from a catalog that is even larger than the size of the US population. That’s some wicked Amazon SEO at work behind the scenes.
And, if you want to succeed on Amazon as a seller, it’s important you must understand the ins and outs of this optimization game. Without good Amazon SEO, you simply won’t make it on the smiling A. Period.
The problem is Amazon search engine optimization can be daunting to understand (and even more daunting to do) for many sellers. What are the known and unknown ranking signals that drive the Amazon endorsements? How do they influence the search results? How do product recommendations work on different devices? It can be too much to wrap your head around. We feel you.
That’s why we decided to compile this ultimate Amazon SEO guide where we’ll deconstruct Amazon search, its core ranking algorithm—aka A9, and the factors that influence this algorithm in an easy-to-understand way.
By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll have a pretty solid understanding of:
And much more.
So without any further ado, let’s get started.
A Guide for 2021 and Beyond: Amazon keeps making changes to its core algorithm and recommendation system. Information and practices that may apply today may become outdated tomorrow. But you don’t have to worry; we’ll keep updating this guide to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest insights and tips from the Amazon Optimization world.
Amazon Search Engine Optimization (Amazon SEO) is a process of optimizing your product listings to improve their chances of appearing at the top of the Amazon search results pages for the relevant keywords.
It involves a holistic approach to analyzing things, where sellers must evaluate multiple ranking factors and develop a comprehensive strategy that covers all the fronts in the best possible way.
Amazon is a huge marketplace. It has thousands of items listed in every category and sub-category. While this is a good thing for customers, it only increases the competition for sellers.
If you are selling on Amazon, you’d want your product to be found ahead of those of your competitors. And that’s where Amazon SEO comes in.
When done right, Amazon SEO helps increase the visibility of your listing in the search results pages (SERPs), driving more traffic to it and ultimately boosting your conversions.
Consider the following example.
Let’s say you’re looking to gift a coffee mug to your teacher friend on their birthday. We’ll head over to Amazon.com and try to find something nice within your budget.
Did You Know? 6 out of 10 product searches now start on Amazon. Not Google, not eBay – it is Amazon that is the new shoppers’ search engine.
You can see that Amazon is auto suggesting us “coffee mug for teacher” when we haven’t finished typing our search query yet. That’s Amazon’s recommendation system at its finest.
If we enter the complete search term, Amazon shows us even more tailored suggestions, including coffee mug for teacher male, coffee mug for teacher male history, coffee mug for teacher funny, coffee mug for teacher men, and coffee mug for teacher assistant.
Let’s go with “coffee mug for teacher funny”. After all, everybody loves a good laugh in the classroom. In truth, though, we want to test how sharp Amazon can be with its product suggestions. Can it really customize the search results according to our requirements?
Not bad at all for a start.
And if you scroll further down the page, you would find some more coffee cups listed for sale. Amazon’s search engine has done a really good job of curating the best products that match our search query.
Now here is a question:
If you were actually shopping for a coffee mug for your friend, what are the chances that you would buy a cup from a seller ranked on page 1 of Amazon?
They are likely to be quite high, right?
Most people click on the first few results when they are shopping on Amazon. Very few go on the second or third page ever.
As a result, product detail pages that appear higher in the search tend to get more sales compared to the listings that rank lower. These pages take their Amazon SEO seriously, and the ranking algorithm rewards them by giving them the top positions in the SERPs.
What search algorithm does Amazon use to rank and curate products?
The A9 algorithm powers the entire Amazon recommendation system, including its search component. It is the core ranking algorithm that decides which product should rank where on Amazon.
Named after the company that developed it, A9 was initially launched as a public-facing search engine in the fall of 2004. It was meant to compete with Google and other big search engines of that time.
However, four years later, following the unprecedented growth of Google.com, Jeff and his team decided to shut down A9.
But they didn’t shelve it completely, and instead, they re-engineered it as the brain behind the modern-day Amazon recommendation engine.
Today, A9 decides the fate of products (and sellers) on Amazon. Besides organizing the search, it is also responsible for powering Amazon ads, Best Sellers Rank, Also Bought suggestions, and other parts of the Amazon ecommerce system.
What is Amazon A10 algorithm? Back in 2019, Amazon made updates to A9 to further improve its search engine. These updates were widely branded as A10 by sellers and experts alike. It’s an industry-adopted term, one that many people use even today to refer to Amazon’s core algorithm.
At its center, the A9 ranking algorithm serves to maximize the number of sales on Amazon. And so, it recommends products that customers are most likely to buy. Items having the highest purchase likelihood are ranked first, while those with lower purchase likelihood are ranked second, third, and so on.
This begs an important question:
How does Amazon determine what product a customer is most likely to buy?
Relevance and performance form the crux of rankings on Amazon. Products that are most relevant to what customers are searching for and have the best performance history get the nod for the top spots.
Both relevance and performance are driven by ranking factors. A9 evaluates these factors for individual products against individual queries to come up with the best recommendations possible. This process is repeated every time a new search is performed, ensuring buyers are served with up-to-date and highest-quality results only.
Next, let’s take a look at the relevance and performance-related ranking factors to understand further how the Amazon search works.
Relevance for Amazon listings is established based on keywords. Amazon uses keywords to understand the context of your listing and find relevant products in response to users’ search queries. If you want to rank on Amazon, you must include all the keywords in your listing related to your product.
It’s no wonder why experts stress so much on the importance of keyword research when doing Amazon search engine optimization.
Pro Tip: Use ZonGuru’s keywords research tools to find unique low competition, high search volume keywords for your listing. You can even extract your competitors’ keywords that drive them the most traffic and use them in your product detail pages.
You can add keywords to the following parts (keyword fields) of your Amazon listing:
Product title is one of the very first things customers see when they search for your product. A keyword-optimized title always helps drive clicks.
Bullet points describe the features and benefits of your product. It’s recommended to have multiple keywords in your bullet points.
Product description gives an overview of your product’s specifications. You can also use it to tell your brand story. Make sure to add relevant keywords when writing a product description.
These are present in the backend section of your Amazon listing and help the search engine understand what your product is about. Think of them as meta tags for Google. Fill your backend fields with supporting keywords.
Adding keywords to the brand name is a rare practice, but it has been found to produce positive results. More on this later.
Up until 2018, Amazon used to follow a weighted scheme where it would prioritize certain keyword fields over others. For example, listings that had the main keyword in their title would get a bump in the rankings over listings that had that same keyword mentioned elsewhere. However, this is no longer apparent, and Amazon now treats all keyword fields equally.
To use keywords the right way for your Amazon product detail pages, it’s first vital to understand how Amazon treats keywords and their different variations. Does it consider the singular and plural forms of a keyword the same? What about upper and lower case letters? And accent and non-accent spellings?
We’ll tackle all these questions and more in this section.
Amazon can understand the link between singular and plural words. Ranking for one will automatically help you rank for the other. You don’t need to use both. Doing so would only waste your word bank.
Similarly, both lower and upper case letters are indexed as one. Whether you use “backpacks for preschool” or “BACKPACKS FOR PRESCHOOL”, it really doesn’t matter to Amazon.
Letters with umlauts (ä, ö, ü) are matched to non-umlauted characters (ae, oe, ue) with the same rule applying to accented (résumé, crème, façade) and non-accented spellings (resume, crème, façade) too.
Amazon automatically corrects all minor misspellings and returns amended results that best match the search query.
Hyphenated words are automatically indexed for all possible combinations. For example, bell-bottoms may include “bell”, “bottoms”, “bellbottom”, and “bell bottom”.
Pro Tip: You can use hyphenated variations of your keywords wherever bytes count limitations apply.
Just like there are relevance-related ranking factors, we also have performance-related ranking factors. These essentially decide how high your product gets ranked in the search.
Amazon measures your listing’s performance using three main metrics:
i) CTR or click-through rate,
ii) CR or conversion rate, and
iii) the actual sales it generates.
The higher you score on these metrics for your target keyword, the higher Amazon will rank you for it.
All the three pillar metrics are a function of various variables that include product price, product images, customer reviews, inventory, ad performance, fulfillment method (FBA or FBM), listing badges, and more.
Let’s try to quickly understand how some of these variables impact the performance of your listing.
If your product is priced higher than your competitors, fewer people will click on it and purchase it. This can negatively impact your listing’s ranking. Conversely, if you price your product lower or at market-competitive rates, you’re likely to have healthier CTR, CR, and sales.
Product images allow shoppers to get a visual sense of your product. They are extremely important for driving those clicks from the SERPs and converting your store visitors to customers. Luckily, Amazon provides you up to nine slots for uploading product photos to your listing.
Many customers look up reviews on Amazon before making a purchase decision. If the reviews are good, they buy the product more often than not. But if a listing has bad reviews, they usually avoid it.
Inventory is another important performance-related ranking factor. A listing left to sit out-of-stock for too long can bring down your conversions, which can hurt your rankings in the search. We’ll cover how to deal with a depleting inventory when we discuss how to do Amazon SEO.
Running targeted ad campaigns can help generate more sales for your business. It is one of the most effective ways to fast track your selling journey to the top of the results pages for any keyword you wish to rank for.
The fulfillment method can also impact your CR and sales. Amazon users generally prefer to buy from FBA sellers because of the fast delivery, easier returns, and trustworthy customer service. FBM sellers are at a slight disadvantage in this regard. In fact, they can sometimes even struggle to win the buy box from Amazon when competing against their counterparts.
Badges like Best Seller, Amazon’s Choice, New Release, and Editorial Recommendations help your listing generate more clicks by making it stand out from other product detail pages in the search results.
You might have noticed that Amazon search engine optimization is a bit similar to Google SEO in some parts. Especially if you do Google SEO or are at least familiar with its concepts, you would appreciate these similarities even more.
For example, they both rely on keywords for establishing relevance. Both are user-focused. Both must answer to their mighty core algorithms. And both are driven by CTR or click-through rate.
Still, there are some major differences between Amazon and Google SEO. And we believe it’s important to explore them if you want to truly master your understanding of the Amazon search. However, if you aren’t interested, you can skip this next section and meet us on the other side.☺
Amazon SEO targets users who are in the shopping mode. Their search intent is very much clear and known. In contrast, Google SEO deals with queries that can be about a hundred different things on the same topic. It can be a question, a navigational search, a commercial investigation, or a transactional query, just like on Amazon.
Furthermore, Amazon uses fewer ranking factors compared to Google. The latter is believed to run over 200 ranking factors to vet and rank websites, which sounds simply astonishing.
Similarly, Amazon values external links only to the extent where they bring referral traffic to your store. At the same time, Google’s obsession with backlinks goes beyond referral traffic and has more to do with passing the authority.
Also, unlike Amazon, Google doesn’t use conversions or sales metrics to decide the quality of a site and instead looks at loading speed, topical authority, user experience, etc., to make the call on rankings.
Nevertheless, both Amazon and Google SEO are important facets of digital marketing, and they each hold equal importance in their respective domains.
Taking everything into consideration, we can safely conclude that an ideal Amazon SEO strategy should look something like this:
You invest your time and money in marketing to rank your product. Once your product gets ranked, it slowly starts generating sales. These sales push up your rankings in the search, and you start to rank higher, which helps you generate even more sales. You then reinvest some of the profits of those sales into your marketing efforts. For example, you start an ad campaign or launch a discount deal. This drives more sales for your Amazon store, and the cycle continues like a flywheel.
Congratulations for making up this far! You have just completed the theoretical part of our Amazon search engine optimization guide. Thanks for trusting us with your time.
Next, we are going to discuss the actionable stuff, i.e. how to do SEO on Amazon in 2021. So get ready for some Amazon SEO tips and best practices in this second and final round of Amazon search optimization.
Ranking on Amazon in 2021 is hard. The numbers of sellers have only increased in recent years, and the quick algorithm updates have made it difficult for vendors and merchants to keep track of the systematic changes.
That said, the Amazon ranking engine has become much smarter too, opening an opportunity for smaller and whitehat sellers to get their products noticed using the right tactics and strategy.
To rank your product on page one of Amazon in 2021, focus on:
Let’s take a look at each of these tactics in detail.
The Amazon marketplace has become more crowded than ever. Everyone is selling on Amazon, and as a result, the easy keyword opportunities that once existed on the platform are no longer available.
You’ll find almost every other seller targeting the same set of keywords, which makes it hard to cut through the noise, especially if you are someone new who is just starting their journey. However, there are still low-hanging fruits out there, mainly in the form of long-tail keywords.
Targeting long-tail keywords is the new approach to Amazon SEO keyword research. These are strings of search terms, typically three or more words long. They have lower search volume than short-tail keywords but convert like crazy and offer little to no competition.
How can you find them?
There are different strategies you can use. For example, you can tap into Amazon’s autocomplete feature and find long-tail keywords relevant to your product.
The drill is simple: You type your root keyword into the Amazon search box with different combinations of letters and filler words. The Amazon algorithm then returns you suggestions based on the real searches that happen on Amazon.
The best thing about Amazon autocomplete is that it’s completely free to use, and it gives you keyword suggestions based on what the users are actually searching for. However, it can be tricky to use since it doesn’t tell you anything about the search volume of the suggested keywords.
If you have the money to spend, you can sign up for paid keyword tools and use them to find long-tail keywords for your product.
All three tools work in Amazon USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, and other major marketplaces.
Available to sellers enrolled in the Brand Registry program, the Amazon Search Terms report shows you the most popular search queries performed on Amazon during a given time period. Using this report, you can find unique long-tail keyword ideas, along with their search frequency rank and the top three sellers who received the highest number of clicks against them.
Once you have finalized the list of keywords you want to target, the next step is to incorporate those keywords into your listing. This will help Amazon understand what your product is about and what it does.
We have already discussed how you can use keywords in your listing. You can add them to your title, bullet points, product description, backend fields, and brand name. Just make sure not to repeat them. Below are some more optimization tips for additional consideration.
Amazon SEO Content Best Practices
To add backend keywords on Amazon, follow these steps:
Putting keywords in your brand name helps establish relevance for your listing on Amazon. Think of it as using exact or partial match domains to rank websites on Google. Keywords-optimized brand names also work the same way.
Do you need to optimize your Amazon listing for mobile too?
Absolutely! Check out our complete listing optimization guide to learn how to optimize your product detail pages for mobile.
You need to price your product competitively if you want to have any chance of ranking on Amazon in the long run. Products listed at a higher price than market rates do not do well in terms of driving clicks and conversions – unless they are really providing value to the customers.
Check what price your competitors are selling at and try to set your offer accordingly. Also, install a price tracker for Amazon. It will alert you if any of your competitors revise their prices. That way, you can make the changes to your listing too.
Positive reviews help drive trust and authority on Amazon. If you have a healthy number of positive reviews on your listing, customers trust you more and choose your product over a competitor. Meanwhile, Amazon views you as an authority seller in your niche. The compound effect is you rank higher in the SERPs for your target keywords and generate more sales.
Review generation has always been a controversial topic for sellers. There are many people who use blackhat techniques to boost their review count. Make no mistake; Amazon absolutely hates fake reviews and may take your listing down if it finds you involved in any foul practice.
Therefore, the only way to earn positive reviews on Amazon is to build a great product. You can then supplement your review strategy by enrolling in the Vine program and requesting reviews from your customers through the Amazon platform.
Pro Tip: Use Review Automator tool to automatically send bulk review requests to your customers while staying in Amazon’s good books. The tool uses Amazon’s default review request template to send messages to buyers. All messages are sent through Amazon’s own system, which prevents any and all violations of the company’s TOS.☺
Bear in mind that reviews from customers can both be positive and negative. As a seller, you cannot reply to a negative review. However, if you think you have been hard done by a customer and shouldn’t have received a negative review, you can contact Amazon Seller Central support to get it removed.
Inventory management is another crucial aspect of Amazon SEO. You cannot afford to remain out of stock for too long. Doing so can hurt your rankings in the search.
We recommend monitoring your inventory closely and replenishing it as needed. The Amazon Seller Central dashboard has an in-built free tool, Amazon Selling Coach, which helps you better manage your inventory in this regard. It basically makes inventory re-ordering recommendations based on your current stock levels and recent sales history.
Not always. In fact, it can sometimes overestimate your inventory needs, and you can end up with a surplus inventory if you are not careful.
As an alternative, you can use inventory tracking software. These are quite reliable and automatically sync with your Amazon account.
Pro Tip: If you suspect you are about to go out of stock and your next shipment will not arrive in time, let your inventory exhaust and then close your listing. Never raise the prices to slow down the sales to try to buy more time.Your sales velocity will take a hit, and so will your organic rankings.
Amplifying sales volume is a tried and tested strategy to boost your organic rankings on Amazon. You can run sponsored ads or use external channels like social media, affiliate marketing websites, email lists, etc., to bring more sales to your Amazon store.
Following the last core update, Amazon has started to give special significance to external traffic. It recently introduced the Amazon Attribution program to help sellers track and optimize their off-platform marketing efforts. The feature is currently available in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, France, and Italy and can be used by sellers enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry.
That said, cross-channel marketing is an advanced Amazon SEO tactic, and you should only move to it once you are comfortable selling on Amazon. As such, sponsored ads are a much better bet in that regard and can definitely give you the bump, both as a new and experienced seller.
Amazon absolutely loves FBA. It favors FBA sellers over FBM sellers in the search and even prioritizes them for the buy box. Likewise, Amazon’s customers can’t hide their love for FBA and prefer to shop for FBA products mostly.
The key to this popularity of FBA services is the superior shopping experience they offer. Fast shipping, easier returns, and prompt customer communication make them a huge hit among customers.
If you want to increase your organic rank on Amazon, make sure you’re selling via FBA.
To change your listing to Fulfilled by Amazon, sign in to Seller Central and navigate to the Manage Inventory page. Select the SKU you want to sell using FBA. Scroll to the far right and click on the arrow next to the Edit button. This will open a pull-down menu. Select “Change to Fulfilled by Amazon” to enable the service.
Winning special badges on Amazon like Best Seller, Amazon’s Choice, New Release, and Editorial Recommendations can add to your visibility in the search.
Here are some tips you can follow to earn these badges:
The Amazon A+ Enhanced Brand Content, or simply A+ Content, is an exclusive listing feature available to brand-registered sellers only. It allows you to modify your product detail pages using attractive design templates. These templates are pre-uploaded on Amazon, but you have the option to customize them as well according to your preferences.
When done right, A+ Content can significantly improve the conversion rate for your listing. It can hook your audience from the get-go and describe your product and brand in a personalized, fun, and unique way.
Pro Tip: Insert keywords in the alt text of your EBC images to enhance your product’s visibility in the search.
Product images can make or break your listing. Always hire a professional for your product photography project to drive maximum results from your Amazon SEO efforts.
You can add videos to your Amazon listing to further boost your SEO. However, you must be enrolled in the Brand Registry program to do that.
Videos get clicks. They have high retention rates. They communicate your message to the audience effectively and efficiently. Using them on your product detail pages can be a great way to drive more conversions.
Want to get some taste of the real search engine optimization action?
Join us in our four-part video series, where our CEO, Jon Tilley, and CTO (and seven-figure seller) Stefan Ratchev take a listing from the dead and give it some Amazon SEO love, reviving it back to life. The duo walks you step-by-step on how to rank your product using Amazon search engine optimization best practices.
Check it out here!
Discover opportunities. Maximize your sales. Grow your Amazon business!