Amazon was little more than an online bookseller when the company first launched over two decades ago. But with a combination of tech savvy policies, outstanding marketing, and a vision for what ecommerce could become, Amazon went on to become the dominant force in ecommerce. As a result, Amazon SEO has become just as important to ecommerce operators as Google SEO.
If you are an ecommerce seller, know this: Amazon and Google search engines are distinctly different entities with different goals. If you want to maximize your sales on Amazon, you need to understand exactly what Amazon SEO is, how it works, and how it differs from SEO for Google and other search engines.
SEO on the Amazon Site
SEO (search engine optimization) is a pretty simple concept in its most basic form. SEO is essentially the practice of using various strategies and tools to make sure your pages rank as high as possible for organic searches. On Amazon, the same basic principle holds true. But there are some key differences.
A Google search is designed to help you discover whatever relevant information you are looking for, whether or not that journey ends in purchasing a product. An Amazon search is designed to help you to buy products. It follows that optimizing for Amazon onsite searches must be done with a slightly different mindset.
A10 and A9 Search Engines
The Amazon website is as much a search engine as it is a selling platform. The latest iteration of the Amazon search algorithm is known as A10.
A10 is viewed as a drastic upgrade from its previous algorithm, called A9. This new algorithm attempts to anticipate what customers actually want so as to ensure that the most attractive products appear in the coveted top three positions. A10 doesn’t seek to merely help you discover available products, it looks to take you directly to the one you are most likely to buy right from the start.
In order to accomplish this, Amazon tracks customer purchases and online behaviors. The collected data is fed to the search algorithm then compared against a variety of ranking factors.
Notable Differences Between A10 and A9
If you have been on Amazon for a while and have focused your SEO efforts on the A9 algorithm, it is time to refocus for A10. A10 brought some significant changes to the table:
- Relevance Over Profit – Where A9 was used to push customers toward more profitable products, A10 has shifted Amazon’s focus to product relevance. The most relevant products rank higher.
- Less Emphasis on Paid Advertising – When compared to its predecessor, A10 places less weight on if a supplier is using paid advertising on Amazon. While Amazon pay per click (PPC) advertising can still help you expand your audience reach, it may not influence organic visibility as it once did.
- Authority Matters More – There is a new emphasis on seller authority with A10. It is now more important than ever to follow Amazon SEO best practices, such as getting good reviews and ratings. It also helps to have been on Amazon longer than the competition.
- Inventory Matters More – A10 puts more emphasis on the scale and depth of a seller’s inventory. The wider and deeper your inventory, the more favorable your listings are to Amazon’s search algorithm.
In essence, Amazon has made a definitive effort with A10 to direct buyers right to the products they want without forcing them to have to look through multiple listings. As an Amazon retailer, it is crucial to work with your SEO team to create listings that appeal to Amazon’s algorithms.
Page Rank Still Matters a Lot
With the A10 update, Amazon is working to ensure their search engine focuses on product relevance. When an Amazon customer types in keywords to run and onsite search, Amazon wants their algorithms to return the most relevant results every time. In that respect, Amazon SEO is similar to Google SEO.
However, the A10 update does not change the fundamental truth of search engines: the better a seller’s page ranks in organic searches, the more likely that seller is to win a paying customer. Here are the two most important things you need to know about page rankings on the Amazon site:
- 80% of Amazon search click throughs go to products listed on the first page
- 60% of the click throughs go to the first three products listed on the first page.
Just like with page rankings on Google, it is vitally important that your products appear on the very first page of an organic onsite search. The higher your products are on that list, the higher the chances that customers will click on your listings.
Your effort to further develop an effective Amazon SEO strategy has to account for both relevance and page ranking. Ideally, you want to achieve the highest possible ranking based on offering the most relevant product. Though it seems simple enough, there is a lot to consider here.
Key Amazon Ranking Factors
Amazon, similar to Google, does not release clear details about how their algorithms work. It is up to sellers and their SEO providers to figure out ranking factors for themselves. Here at Webtek, our team of SEO specialists have determined the following are primary Amazon ranking factors in order of importance:
- Average Ratings – 1-to-5-star ratings from customers
- Conversion Rates – The number of visitors a page converts to paying customers
- Customer Feedback – The negative and positive reviews left by customers
- Inventory Management – How well a seller manages its inventory
- Order Fulfillment – The chosen fulfillment method (by the merchant or by Amazon)
- Page View Rate – The length of time customers spends viewing seller pages
- Product Price – A seller’s prices compared to competitors’
- Product Relevance – The relevance of a product based on keywords
- Sales Performance – The organic sales a product generates
- Sales Velocity – The retailer’s sales revenues during a given month
- Traffic Volume – The amount of traffic a product page generates.
While we know each of these factors affect Amazon rankings, we don’t know how much weight Amazon assigns to each factor. We also do not know if this list is complete. There could be many other ranking factors we don’t know about.
What we do know is that Amazon’s A10 algorithm emphasizes relevance and customer experience. This means that Amazon SEO optimization needs to start with creating effective product pages that drive traffic.
Always start by asking if your product listing encourages customers to stick around long enough to read descriptions, read customer reviews, look at pictures, etc. However, the best product pages on Amazon will not be of much help if a seller doesn’t provide quality products, fair prices, and excellent customer service.
Optimizing Your Amazon Listings
Understanding the change to ranking factors and Amazon’s search engine from A10 is important, but only so far as you use the information in optimizing your listings. Just as Amazon looks at several factors to determine ranking, there are several elements you need to consider in order to ensure your listing is optimized.
You cannot magically increase the amount of time you have been on Amazon. But you can increase your seller authority by doing the following:
- Encouraging customers to leave positive feedback and high star ratings
- Minimizing returns through detailed product descriptions
- Expanding your inventory to feature a larger range of products
- Directly responding to seller questions about your products
- Doing whatever you can to resolve customer complaints.
Page content is critical to establishing relevance. Content is more than just a simple product description; It includes information buyers may want to know, information that could be critical to determining whether they should buy your product.
- Content should be informative
- Content should be 100% truthful
- Content should be free of spelling and grammatical errors
- Content should include quality photographs (more on that later)
Just as with Google SEO, effective Amazon SEO always begins with keyword research. You need to know what keywords your customers will use when searching for your products. Some of those keywords will be generic – like ‘sneakers’, for example. Others will be more specific. They will relate to popular brands, features, colors, and even styles.
If your marketing team already does extensive keyword research to support SEO efforts outside of Amazon, get them involved in your Amazon keyword research as well. They may already have a remarkably effective list of targeted keywords that could perform very well on Amazon.
However, if you need a well-equipped digital marketing team that has proven experience with keyword research, reach out to us at Webtek to see how we can build your rankings.
Maximizing Conversion Rates
Conversion rates play a crucial role in boosting a seller’s authority. Remember that Amazon tracks your sales volume and compares it against other sellers offering similar products. You will have greater authority than your competitors if you sell more and simultaneously limit product returns. Here are some tips for optimizing your conversion rate:
- Product Descriptions – You don’t have to write a novel, but customers shouldn’t be left wondering what they will get in the box if they order from you. Give them an accurate description with enough detail to answer common questions. Make sure to be clear about what’s included with your product.
- Product Photographs – There is no disputing that quality photographs sell. Use only high-quality photographs that accurately depict the product in a good light. Publish enough photographs to give customers an accurate representation of the product. You could also consider getting a videographer to film footage of your product in use.
- Structured Copy – Structure of your product listing is important as well, don’t simply add an unedited bunch of copy that overwhelms your customers. A good product listing includes a brief description, a bulleted list highlighting the most important points/features, and a separate section listing product specs and anything else customers need to know in order to make an informed decision.
- Product Titles – On Amazon, product titles are extremely important because they give customers an idea of what they will be looking at before they ever click a listing. Make sure your titles are SEO friendly but relevant to the product at hand.
In relation to titles, Amazon listings technically allow up to 250 characters. However, it is best to keep titles below 200 characters to avoid automatic suppression. That said, use the full 200 to your advantage. More words and characters represent more opportunities for SEO.
If You Sell Elsewhere
Since A10 is focused so heavily on seller authority and customer satisfaction, Amazon algorithms now account for off site sales. You can use this to your advantage by publishing links to your Amazon listings on other sites. If you have your own website or blog, post your listings on it. If you know of family members and friends with their own websites, ask them to post your listings. Driving external traffic to Amazon will increase your seller authority and make search algorithms more friendly.
A New Ballgame
Amazon search is no longer what it was under A9. Amazon has made a concerted effort to transition away from revenue as the main search priority to relevance and seller authority.
For you, that means taking a new approach to Amazon SEO. You now have every opportunity to compete with bigger and more well-known sellers by employing the strategies we explained in this post. Above all, don’t forget that Amazon’s priority is to match the best sellers to the customers who want their products.
Absolutely continue to research keywords and write accurate product descriptions. But work just as hard on improving your seller reputation, your on- and off site sales, and your inventory. Focus on becoming the best option for your customers rather than just appearing first in search engine results. It will pay off in the long run.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by optimizing your Amazon listing, our SEO specialists at Webtek are here to help you polish your listing for an ideal customer experience.