Usually when someone says "SEO," most people immediately think of Google. However, there are many other large-scale websites that have their own search engines inside of them.
One of the largest that most people don’t think about is Amazon. Home to over 200 million products, Amazon is an online retail monster. Furthermore, it is becoming easier every year to start your own Amazon-related business, such as Amazon Associate or Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA), or to become a Kindle Direct Publisher (KDP) through the Kindle platform.
However, what makes Amazon even juicier than Google is that, unlike Google, the majority of people who go to Amazon are buyers. They aren’t there to do research or lookup some fact. They have a product in mind and are ready to purchase.
So, it probably goes without saying that whoever has their product rank #1 for a critical keyword in Amazon gets the sale … not just the click, but the actual sale.
While it's obvious how powerful Amazon SEO can be in increasing one’s business, Amazon and its algorithm are relatively unknown.
So, to help you get your products or your client’s products to the top of the Amazon’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), let me introduce you to A9 and Amazon’s algorithm variables.
The Amazon Algorithm
Amazon’s search engine algorithm has a name, and it's called A9. Started in 2003 as a subsidiary of Amazon, A9 was tasked with the sole responsibility of creating a better user experience by placing the right products in front of the right customers.
Like Google, A9 works to find the right pages using specific on-page and off-page data in order to build their own SERPs.
However, there are major differences between Google’s algorithm and Amazon’s A9. Unlike Google, Amazon’s definition of success isn’t to send traffic to other sites, but to find the product that will provide the best sales conversion. It is for this fundamental difference between the two search engines that you cannot just apply the same tactics we’re used to in optimizing for Google, Yahoo or even Bing.
So, to help you understand a little more about A9 and optimization for amazon sales pages, we’ll discuss the 5 major variables that A9 uses when creating their rankings.
1. Immediate Sales (Darn it!)
This may seem obvious, but A9 doesn’t care about the overall number of sales for a particular product over a long period of time; only how many sales occurred recently.
Because of this, a product can usurp another product by having a large amount of sales in a short period of time. However, to maintain that position, that product needs to consistently and continuously make sales.
This algorithm rule is extremely useful during holidays when people are more likely to buy Halloween-themed candy in October, but will want Valentine-themed candy in February.
Now, that may seem like a tall order and something we optimizers can’t affect too much; however, there are other factors that can help our products get to the top that we can optimize for.
2. Verified Reviews
The number of verified reviews and their overall rating is one of the most powerful variables in Amazon page rankings. A verified review is a review in which someone not only bought the product through Amazon, but also used the same amazon account to leave a review. An unverified review is where Amazon doesn’t have a record of that person buying it, but they left a review anyway. I’m sure you know which one is more powerful with Amazon.
In Amazon’s eyes, a verified review is an honest and independent review, and a good indication of whether or not customers like a particular product.
If the Amazon search engine continues to place a particular product high in the SERPs based on just sales numbers, but customers aren’t leaving reviews or are leaving negative comments, Amazon will respond by lowering that product’s rankings and bring something else up further. While sales are important, Amazon cares about the customer experience as well.
3. CTR Versus CTS
Just like Google, having a high Click Through Rate (CTR) is an indication that someone found what they were looking for. If a product ranks #1 in Amazon but the product under it has a higher CTR for a specific search term, then it is numerically obvious that people believe they are looking for #2 instead of #1.
However, A9 takes it a step further; it doesn’t just rely on the click through rate, but also calculates the overall click to sales (CTS). Using the example above, even if product #1 has a lower CTR, if it has a higher CTS, then it will continue to trump the #2 product in the rankings.
4. Sales Page Content
To this day, every search engine needs words in order to figure out what a page’s content is about. Amazon is no different and so most of these same SEO tactics apply for Amazon, to include headers, text ratio, keyword density, etc.
However, we product placers do not have as much control on a product page as we do on our blogs. Therefore, where you can place content and how you structure it for Amazon is even more important than for Google.
For an Amazon page, he have seven areas in which we can place our keywords to include:
- Page title
- Product description
- Editorial review
- Product picture file name
- Name of author, editor, etc (Publishing only…Also, don’t recommend keyword stuffing here)
- Last but not least, Amazon’s own ‘special’ keywords
5. Amazon ‘Special’ Keywords
When you go to upload your product, Amazon will ask you for seven keywords. These aren’t exactly what you think they are.
These keywords are only internal to Amazon. They are not meta tags, nor will they show up in a page’s HTML — meaning Google/Yahoo/Bing can’t see them. However, they can become important in helping you to select a particular category in order to have your product placed.
For some strange reason, when you go to upload your product on Amazon, they only offer a certain amount of categories to include your product. Therefore, if you find a category that you want your product to be a part of, but it isn’t initially offered when you upload it, you’ll need to do the following:
1. Find two relevant categories initially offered and select those for the time being 2. Then take the name of the category that you want to be listed under and use that as one of your Amazon Keywords 3. If after a week or two, or you just want to speed up the process, contact Amazon and inform them that you want to be included in that category
Pretty simple right? But don’t neglect this step. Choosing the right category can open your product to a whole new market and get you the coveted “Best Seller” tag.
As you can see, Amazon is one of the more important search engines to rank for. Simply put, ranking higher in a keyword SERP on Amazon equates to more sales, not just clicks.
Luckily, many in the Amazon business don’t know about A9 and fail to truly grasp the concepts that help to perpetuate products to the top. Sometimes I liken Amazon SEO to what Google SEO was like over seven years ago without any of the Animal updates … meaning, it’s a lot simpler than what we are used to right now. So, check it out.
If you have any products listed on Amazon, try some of these simple tweaks. Remember: Amazon is a search engine too!