How to Rank Your Products on Page One
To consumers, Amazon is a land of plenty. A place where you can find anything. From electronics to groceries to autoparts, virtually anything you want is a few keywords and some Sponsored Ads away. So it’s easy to understand why shoppers start more than half of their online product searches on Amazon — and why more than 100 million people pay for premium Prime memberships to unlock access to exclusive deals.
As the marketplace that’s set the standard for remarkable ease in browsing and buying, Amazon serves up millions of indexed search results to purchase-ready shoppers every single day. From item descriptions and price comparisons to seller reviews and recommendations for related products, there’s little a consumer can’t find on Amazon.
That’s why it’s so important to step back and see where your listings stand from your consumer’s point of view. How does the results page break down? Do your products stand out? Or are they easy to miss? Most importantly, do your products even show up?
Want a PDF version of this eBook? Download Owning the Amazon Search Results Page PDF here.
Let’s face it: With more than two million sellers competing on billions of items, it’s no longer enough to simply upload your product catalog. If you’re not putting in the work to develop your strategy in each of these key areas, your competitors will.
In this eBook, we break down the essential components you need to address to get your products ready to compete for page one search results:
- Your Product Data
- The Amazon Buy Box
- Amazon Advertising
Behind Amazon Search Results: The A9 Algorithm
For a real-world example of why it’s so important to address each component of the Amazon search results, consider the case of Ames Walker. After uploading its products to Amazon, the branded manufacturer decided to kick its keyword research into high gear and see if it could boost product visibility through search.
It didn’t take long to see results. After one month of testing new search terms through Amazon advertising, the company’s sales were up more than 10%. Within 10 months, the paid search ads had produced over $100,000 in sales.
Of course, paid ads are just one factor among many that influence which listings appear in search. And while it’s impossible to know every detail of how results are rendered by the marketplace, what we do know is this:
When consumers shop on Amazon, it’s rarely a matter of “if” or even “what” they’ll buy, but rather who they’ll buy it from.
It all comes down to which listings they see first.
If you want your products to sell, they need to dominate the search results. And that’s where a basic understanding of the A9 algorithm comes in. Anyone who’s done a product search on Amazon has used the A9 search engine. This marketplace subsidiary is powered by hundreds of behind-thescenes data scientists who continually review consumer data, analyze search patterns and index the text used to describe millions of products.
While the intricacies of the A9 algorithm are a close-kept secret, we know that search results factor in a wide range of criteria such as:
- Personalized preferences
- Past search behaviors
- Previous purchases
Bottom line: Optimizing your products for the Amazon A9 search engine is crucial to success. By focusing on three key areas, you can significantly increase your chances of showing up in search results.
Essential #1: Your Product Data
Before consumers can buy your products, they have to find them. But the fight for visibility on the first page of Amazon search results is a never-ending battle. While there isn’t a single solution for getting your products where you want them, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances.
The first aspect to focus on is your product data. It’s not just what you list but how you sell it that compels people to buy. The better the content, the more likely a listing is to rise to the top of results. Amazon wants its customers to have a smooth shopping experience, and that includes the ability to have relevant products appear with each search. This means providing enough detailed, accurate data to ensure your listings match shoppers’ keywords.
When writing your product listings, think like a consumer. What are they looking for? How will they search for it? Then optimize your product data for by focusing on:
The words in your product name, or title, are the first words a consumer will see — and the first terms Amazon will use when matching a search query to search results. Write relevant, accurate(!) titles that follow key product points in their logical order, while sticking to Amazon’s suggestion for limiting yourself to approximately 60 characters. When in doubt, use the following template. It’s fine to mix the order; just be sure to fill in as many keywords as are applicable to the listing:
Brand + Product + Key Feature + Color + Size + Quantity
Bullet points don’t just help emphasize key selling points. They’re also searchable. This is another great opportunity to think like your consumer and choose phrasing they may type into the search bar. What kinds of questions are they asking? What are they looking for in a product like yours? Answering these questions will help you identify additional keywords you can weave into your bullet points. Use short, skimmable content to provide additional information and address potential concerns.
When writing your product description, don’t simply copy and paste text from your website or another channel. This is the time to think like an Amazon shopper and customize an explanation of your product for the marketplace. You could tell a story, showcase different product uses, describe how the product improves lives or provide proof by mentioning high ratings. Just be sure to place the most compelling information at the beginning of the description. And keep it succinct with clear, concise language: Amazon reserves the right to remove listings with overly long product descriptions.
Amazon offers the ability to add additional keywords to an ASIN’s catalog data. While these search terms are hidden from consumers, they can help your products show up in results. Think of keywords that aren’t in your product title but may be the ones buyers use when searching for your type of product. Use all five available search fields, but be careful not to exceed Amazon’s limit of 250 characters (total). If you go above this max, the keywords will not be indexed and your product will fail to appear for your selected keywords. Most importantly, be accurate. Proofread for any repetition, misspellings or use of commas.
Images aren’t just important. Often, they’re what land the sale. Your product photos are the first thing to catch the eyes of shoppers as they search and scroll, and the last thing they’ll likely look at before clicking “Add to Cart.” Aim for a minimum of four images per product, with varying levels of detail or angles to supplement your product description.
Amazon’s tips for optimizing backend search terms:
- Spelling variations
- Alternate names
- Spaces to separate words
- Singular or plural (no need for both)
- Your brand name
- Other brand names
- Punctuation, such as ; : , – .
- The same word more than once
- Words already in other fields, such as the product title
- Stop words, such as “a,” “an,” “and,” “by,” “for,” “of,” “the” and “with”
- Temporary statements, such as “new” or “on sale now” • Subjective claims, such as “best,” “cheapest” or “amazing”
[Source: Amazon Seller Central]
PRO TIP: Optimize Your Images
Looking for a surefire way to optimize your listings? Focus on product imagery.
Amazon’s visual search allows consumers to search for products based solely on pictures. It’s designed to recognize objects in smartphone camera views and match them to products in its database. Consumers are increasingly relying on these technologies to search for shoes, watches and more based on visual attributes of products such as color, shape or even texture.
The Anatomy of a Search Result
Optimizing product listings for Amazon is not the same thing as optimizing content for any other search engine. It takes time and effort to identify the ideal mix of keyword combinations that will lead to marketplace success.
Some shoppers will browse
They don’t know what they want yet, and are probably using the “Shop by Department” dropdown menu to drill into specific categories as they windowshop or seek inspiration.
Others will search
They have an idea of what they want and rely on the search bar to explore products — using queries ranging from general (“men’s slippers”) to highly specific (“Eddie Bauer men’s slippers tan size 11”).
Many will filter
When shopping on Amazon, your consumers have the advantage of filtering results based on everything from Prime eligibility to product details such as nutrition info and calorie count.
A majority will multitask
Often, consumers turn to Amazon to further explore products they see in person. Some 80% of shoppers use smartphones to look up product reviews and compare prices when shopping in a store.
Essential #2: The Amazon Buy Box
You know it. You love it. And you want to own it. The Buy Box is easily the most prized position on Amazon, with more than 90% of Amazon conversions happening there.
But while understanding and optimizing for the Buy Box is crucial, there’s no easy way to beat out competitors into this coveted selling spot since Amazon doesn’t release the algorithm it uses to award it. The good news, however, is that there are a few ways to increase your chances of getting there:
Build Your Seller Metrics
Your Order Defect Rate (ODR) in particular is extremely important in how Amazon rates you as a seller and how you show up in search rankings, including the Buy Box. Amazon wants to deliver the best possible experience for its customers, so building a strong history as a successful seller with reliable deliveries and excellent customer service will give you an added edge.
Eliminate Negative Feedback
Amazon pays close attention to the negative feedback you receive, so be sure to resolve issues from reviews that score a 3 out of 5 (or lower) immediately.
Maintain Competitive Prices
Beating out tens of millions of sellers and listings to win the Buy Box requires continually monitoring and adjusting prices. One highly effective way to accomplish this is through an advanced algorithmic repricer tool that ensures you’re offering competitive product prices without sacrificing profits or breaching price policies on other marketplaces where you sell. However you chose to monitor prices, keep in mind that Amazon factors in the total price — including shipping — for Buy Box wins.
Make sure you have enough of each product to satisfy demand by constantly monitoring your inventory levels and forecasting demand. When you’re out of stock, you can’t win the Buy Box.
Ship Well, Ship Quickly
Part of a great Amazon experience for customers is speedy and reliable shipping. Ensure that your fulfillment infrastructure can handle all the orders you receive and that you set the correct expectations for shipping times on your Amazon listing.
Reduce Your A-to-Z Guarantee Claims
The number of product returns you have gives Amazon another good indication of your customers’ negative experiences.
Consider Leveraging Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)
Because it gets perfect scores for shipping times and on-time delivery rates, there’s a chance that using FBA can positively impact both Buy Box wins and search rankings.
In short: All of the characteristics of successful sellers are the same factors used to determine Buy Box wins. List accurately, price competitively, ship quickly, communicate with customers and provide great customer service.
Essential #3: Amazon Advertising
If you really want to boost your visibility and increase sales, Amazon Advertising is a must. But with such an expansive selection of advertising tools, the process can be overwhelming. The following three key areas are a great place to start.
Amazon Sponsored Products
Amazon Sponsored Products is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program that can be used to promote individual listings. Your sponsored products appear alongside organic search results and are driven by search keywords you choose. Targeting with this type of accuracy gives you higher-quality clicks on your listings — since these shoppers actually searched for terms associated with your product — and will potentially yield a much higher ROI than many other pay-per-click programs.
Keyword-targeted Sponsored Brands are banner ads that promote products right on top of search results to make more people aware of the items you sell. This can be an effective way to reach consumers who are browsing but don’t yet know what they want to buy, and thus may be using broad keywords such as “sunscreen” or “sundresses.” Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands operate on a pay-per-click pricing model.
By using a mix of keywords — ranging from branded product keywords to competitor-branded keywords, and even keywords that don’t match your exact category but may help drive buyers from related searches — you can reach Amazon shoppers at various stages of the buying cycle. For an additional boost, try pulling successful search queries from your Sponsored Product campaigns and apply them to your Sponsored Brands.
Amazon Coupons is a self-service tool that lets you create compelling promotions in the form of digital coupons. Unlike many other types of promotions such as giveaways, discounts and buy-one-get-one deals that appear only on product result pages, your coupons will show up in Amazon search results. Coupons allow you to offer discounts as either a percentage or set dollar amount, and can be targeted to select customer segments. Though this advertising option won’t be a saving grace for products that aren’t performing well, it can give an even bigger boost to top sellers that are already ranking on the first or second page of search results. As we’ve mentioned, a strong sales history is key to good search rankings on Amazon. Using Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands and Amazon Coupons can be an effective way to give certain products more visibility as you build up a sales history for them.
Quick Tips for Amazon Advertising
Start with a winning account structure: Build campaigns that align with your product categories instead of grouping unrelated products together. This will help ensure you are always advertising the most relevant product to each shopper’s search.
Know when to factor in the buy box: The products you advertise with Sponsored Products must be eligible for the Buy Box. Headline Search Ads will be shown to shoppers regardless of who is winning the Buy Box.
Review regularly: To ensure your budget is being used effectively, plan to regularly review every campaign, keyword and product. A good rule of thumb is to review bi-weekly for programs under $10,000 per month and weekly for campaigns between $10,000 and $30,000 per month.
Tap into Amazon’s vast knowledge of customer search and shopping behavior: With Amazon’s automatic targeting option, Amazon uses your own product information to target your ads to relevant customer search results. This can be an effective tool when you’re short on time or unsure which keywords to select.
Start small and build: If you’re new to advertising on Amazon, start with some of your more popular products and use them to test the waters. Once you have a comfortable gauge on ad spend and ROI, expand your strategy.
Get specific: To keep campaign management from becoming overwhelming, create strategies that revolve around highly specific goals — whether that involves a seasonal push, getting rid of clearance items, promoting a new line of products or focusing on another area you’ve identified as central to success.
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Competition for real estate on Amazon has never been tougher. Unfortunately, there’s no easy, magic formula for beating out competitors in search results, and it can be difficult to keep track of the various moving pieces to the Amazon puzzle. That’s why we’ve developed a host of features to assist sellers on Amazon.
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