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This article deals with the topic of how to improve the Amazon ranking so that one’s own product achieves the highest possible visibility. Behind the rankings is the Amazon A9 algorithm, which calculates the relevance of a product for a search query based on many different factors. But which factors play a role and how can they be influenced? The possibilities range from classic Amazon SEO to PPC campaigns to cleverly designed promotions. You can find all measures to optimise your own Amazon ranking here.

What makes a high positioning in the Amazon search results so important?

Nowadays, more and more customers start their product search right away via Amazon, to the great advantage of sellers who list their products on the marketplace. But an active offer on Amazon alone is usually not enough to sell successfully on the platform. A prominent placement of the product in the search results is crucial for success, because only a product that is seen can generate traffic and sales.

However, the desired visibility is often limited to the first page of the search results and even here it makes a decisive difference whether one’s own offer is listed in first or last place on the first search results page. The “winner takes it all” effect known from Google can therefore also be observed on Amazon. The first results receive the most traffic, but this drops sharply with descending ranking. Very few customers search beyond the first results page. Often, the search query is adjusted if the first results are not satisfactory. Trust in a product also decreases with the ranking, because usually the number of customer reviews also decreases sharply.

For the reasons mentioned, it is important to look at how to optimise one’s Amazon ranking. To do this, your own product must be classified as particularly relevant for suitable search queries by the Amazon algorithm.

What should you consider if you want to improve your Amazon ranking?

If you want to optimise your Amazon ranking, you should be aware that a ranking improvement does not occur overnight. Neither should you rest on a highly ranked position, because the Amazon marketplace is constantly changing. It is a process that takes time and attention.

Similarly, success in improving rankings depends heavily on the competition. A well-researched niche product will make it to a high position in the search results much more easily than a product that already has numerous, successful competitors on Amazon. In the latter case, quality is particularly decisive:

A product that is inferior from the customer’s point of view will not be able to hold its own alongside the competition in the long term. Negative customer reviews will also reduce trust in the product over time and lead to a lower ranking. However, if your product has a decisive advantage over the competition, the chances are good that it will prevail in the long term with the right measures and that the Amazon ranking can be optimised. 

The Amazon A9 algorithm

Amazon’s A9 algorithm determines the ranking of search results relating to a search query. The algorithm sorts the results according to descending purchase probability. Amazon keeps to itself how exactly the A9 algorithm proceeds and which factors are weighted and how. Based on various sources and experiences, however, it can be stated that the algorithm is influenced by direct and indirect factors. The direct factors are also called relevance factors and can be influenced directly. The indirect factors, also called performance factors, result from external circumstances and cannot be influenced directly. The optimisation potential for improving an Amazon ranking therefore lies in the relevance factors.

Important relevance factors and performance factors

In the following, I would first like to present the relevance factors that can be directly influenced and whose optimisation can definitely improve the Amazon ranking.

1. The right product category

The product category should not be chosen in haste; it is worthwhile to do some research beforehand. If there are several sub-categories to choose from, you should consider the following aspects:

  • Choose a category in which your product fits in well thematically.
  • The fewer products in the category, the higher your chances of becoming a category bestseller with your product.

2. Product title

Here it is important to first carry out a thorough keyword research so that relevant search terms can then be placed in the title. You will find out which tools you can use for keyword research in the next chapter. In addition to keyword placement, it should also be noted that the title should correspond to the customer’s search query and encourage a click. A mere string of keywords is rarely appealing to the customer. In addition, the style guides of the respective product category should be observed; these specify, among other things, the maximum length of the title. Violations of the style guides can result in poorer positioning or, in the worst case, the blocking of the product.

3. Bullet Points

The (usually five) attributes of the product listing are similar to the title. It is worthwhile to place additional relevant search terms here and at the same time provide the customer with important information for the purchase decision. The texts should appear natural, because first and foremost they should be appealing to the customer, just like the title. The style guides also contain requirements for the design of the bullet points, which should be adhered to.

Important: The total length of the bullet points should not exceed 1000 characters (i.e. about 200 characters per attribute), as there are indications that exceeding this limit leads to incomplete indexing of the placed keywords.

4. Backend keywords

In the backend, the field “general keywords” (also “general search terms”) provides 249 bytes of space for further relevant search terms. This is a good place to enter keywords that cannot be included in the listing itself or that should not be visible to the public. In order to use the space optimally, only search terms should be entered that have not already been placed in the listing.

Tip: Avoid filler words and use a hyphenated spelling (“dog-leash”) for compound terms such as “dog-leash”. This way, several spellings and keywords are covered, such as “dog leash”, “dog/dogs”, “leash”, “dog leash”, “leash dogs”, “leash for dogs”. In this way, the limited space can be used optimally. 

5. Product description

Whether and to what extent keywords placed in the product description are indexed is controversial. It is therefore recommended to use title, bullet points and backend keywords for relevant search terms. Placing additional keywords in the product description certainly can’t hurt, but to be on the safe side, it should not be assumed that these will be indexed. Due to its limited relevance in terms of keywords, the product description is often neglected.

You can use this to your advantage, because it still has a high value when it comes to wanting to improve the Amazon ranking. While the title and bullet points should not be too long, the product description offers another 2000 characters to provide the customer with information and powerful arguments for buying. If your product generates a lot of sales in connection with a search query, this will be rewarded with higher relevance and an increasing ranking in the search results.

6. Product images

High-resolution product images from as many different positions as possible create trust in the product and already answer many open questions. In addition, the first impression counts here: the image and title are seen first by the customer and decide whether the product is clicked on in the first place. Select the image size so that the customer can use the zoom function and thus also see details clearly.

7. Sales history and return rate

Sales history is the reason why a product will not move from a back position to number 1 overnight and why patience is needed if you want to optimise an Amazon ranking. When assessing relevance, Amazon looks at the entire history of the product. This is why it is so important not to rest on a high positioning, but to always check the CTR and conversion rate. Only a product that fulfils these factors in the long term will be able to rise in the ranking and maintain its position.

The return rate also plays a major role, because customer satisfaction is a high priority for Amazon. For this reason, the algorithm determines not only how high the probability is that the product will be purchased, but also how high the probability is that the customer is satisfied with the product. The return rate provides valuable information on this. With the following tips, you can keep this as low as possible:

  • Make sure the product is securely packaged so that damage during transport can be ruled out as far as possible.
  • Use realistic product images. Deviations, e.g. in colour, often lead to returns.
  • Provide as much honest information about the product as possible. The more the customer knows about the product, the lower the probability of a return.
  • Analyse bad reviews and try to improve the product/packaging/service.

The performance factors influence the ranking indirectly. The following factors play a role:

1. Click-through rate (CTR)

The CTR is another indicator for the algorithm of whether a product is relevant to a search query. If a product is clicked on more often for a search query than competing products, it is also assumed to be more relevant. The CTR can also be increased through PPC campaigns in addition to organic clicks.

2. Product reviews

Another factor that can only be influenced to a limited extent is the reviews of a product. To get positive reviews, the same tips are suitable as to keep returns as low as possible: Sufficiently honest information in the text as well as realistic product images so that the customer knows what they are getting. In order to generate as many reviews as possible, a few methods are circulating, but not all of them are compliant with Amazon guidelines. A legal method for selected products is, for example, the use of Amazon Vine.

3. Conversion rate

The conversion rate is also an important factor that is taken into account by the A9 algorithm. It is an important supplement to the CTR, because a product that is clicked on often for a search query but never leads to a conversion cannot be particularly relevant despite the high CTR. The conversion rate is significantly influenced by the relevance factors, because what ultimately leads to the purchase decision is the information on the product detail page, i.e. appealing product images, title, bullet points, product description and additionally a competitive price.

Which tools are useful for keyword research?

After clarifying which algorithm factors can be optimised to improve the Amazon ranking, here are some tools that can support you in the initial keyword research. 

All the tools listed here can be used free of charge in their basic functions.

1. Amazon Auto-Suggest

Amazon Auto-Suggest is probably the simplest “tool” for determining relevant keyword combinations. To do this, you enter the main keyword in the Amazon search box and it takes over the suggestions of the auto-complete. For even more results, the main keyword can be entered followed by each letter of the alphabet.

2. Sonar

The SEO tool from Sellics is specially tailored to Amazon and offers two useful functions for keyword research. On the one hand, the tool also offers a function for researching popular keyword combinations, but in addition, Sonar can also be used to discover related terms and synonyms in order to find further main keywords.

3. Keyword Tool

Keywordtool.io also makes use of auto-completion. In this way, the most popular keyword combinations can be clearly generated. The list can also be exported as a CSV or Excel file.

Important: Amazon must be selected as the marketplace and the corresponding language beforehand.

4. Amalyze Keyword Plugin

The keyword plugin from Amalyze can be used with the Google Chrome browser. It offers the possibility to monitor your own listing and to check whether it is ranking for certain search terms. In addition, ASINs of successful competitor products can be analysed and the keywords can be adopted for your own listing.

5. Amazon Brand Analytics

This internal Amazon tool can be used by merchants with their own registered brand. Brand Analytics provides a database with numerous search terms, sorted by search frequency rank. The database can also be actively searched for a search term to determine the corresponding search frequency rank. In addition, the tool offers the possibility to enter an ASIN. The top 5 competitor products are then displayed.

How can advertising campaigns improve the Amazon ranking?

Amazon PPC campaigns also only have an indirect effect on the organic ranking, but this should not be underestimated. First, the most important search queries for the product should be determined and booked as keywords in the campaign. In this way, your product will appear at the top of the results page (depending on the bid) for these search queries. In this way, especially new products and products that do not rank on the first pages receive a visibility that is not achievable organically (at this point).

If the relevance factors, i.e. images, title, bullet points and product description, were designed in an appealing way, the increased visibility will also lead to an increased CTR and conversion rate. If your product performs well in all relevance and performance factors in the long term with the help of PPC campaigns, the organic Amazon ranking will also improve significantly over time. In this way, PPC campaigns can “jump-start” new products in particular.

What other ways are there to optimise the Amazon ranking?

To improve the organic ranking, there are a few more measures that can be considered: 

1. Use Amazon FBA

Anyone who decides to use shipping through Amazon receives Prime qualification for the corresponding products. Products that are shipped by Amazon benefit on the one hand from increased trust on the part of customers, and on the other hand Prime members in particular like to take advantage of their benefits. This often results in a higher CTR and conversion rate compared to products with FBM, which are therefore shipped by the retailer. In addition, they are often given preferential treatment by the Amazon algorithm.

2. Free shipping

If only own shipping is possible, it can be worthwhile to remove the shipping costs for the product. This is especially true if there are competing products with Prime qualification. Prime customers in particular, who pay an annual fee for the benefit of free shipping for Prime products, are reluctant to pay additional shipping costs for a product. Often, they are even willing to pay more for a product just to enjoy the Prime benefit. Premium shipping can be activated or Prime can be used by sellers as an additional incentive to buy.

3. Promotions & Coupons

Promotions and coupons can draw more attention to one’s offer and increase the likelihood of purchase. Thus, an increase in both the CTR and the conversion rate can be achieved. Depending on how the promotion is designed, it can also lead to more sales (example: pay 1, get 2) or offer an incentive to buy several products of a brand (example: buy 2 products of brand XY and get a 10% discount).

Conclusion on the topic of improving Amazon ranking

It becomes clear that there are numerous factors that determine the ranking of a product in the Amazon search results. Some of them, such as titles, bullet points and product images, can be actively influenced and optimised. Extensive keyword research helps to determine all relevant search terms and then to include them in the listing. The performance factors result indirectly from these optimisations and can lead to a significant improvement in the Amazon ranking in the long term. In addition to Amazon SEO measures, the performance factors can be influenced by other measures. PPC campaigns, Prime qualification and attractive promotions, among others, can also have an influence.