If you are familiar with SEO and search engines, then you know what best practices help rank your website higher in the SERPs. It takes a combination of on- and off-site optimizations and cohesive planning to rank on page 1 of Google. But what happens when you aren’t trying to rank a website but rather a product page on Amazon’s platform? Are the rules for ranking the same? How does Amazon’s algorithm differ from Google?

In this article I want to explore these questions and dive into how Amazon displays their search results. You might not consider it a search engine, but that’s kind of what Amazon is. Amazon displays products instead of information.


Amazon’s A9 Algorithm

Amazon has their own algorithm that they have called A9. The biggest difference between the A9 algorithm and other traditional search engines is that it exists to facilitate one thing: sales.

Originally created in 2003 as a subsidiary of Amazon with it’s own page dedicated to education at A9.com, it now targets the most profitable products for higher ranking. A9’s job is very straightforward: it looks at your content and keywords to determine relevance, the likeliness of purchasing, fulfillment capabilities and your past sales velocity to evaluate where you rank on Amazon’s platform.


How to Rank in Amazon’s Platform

While there are a wide range of best practices that go into Google’s ranking system Amazon’s is a little bit simpler but still requires consistent effort to maintain ranking. The same direct influencers like keyword selection and detailed descriptions exist in the A9 algorithm but it also takes into account the number of reviews and ratings as well as images. If these direct indicators sound familiar to some of you older SEOs it appears that A9 is a Google algorithm of yesteryear. Think PageRank.

Here are a few best practices that you should consider when ranking your product on the front page on Amazon:

  • Product title should include high-volume keywords
  • Attractive product description for higher ranking (better sales)
  • Use high quality product images
  • Number and quality of reviews on your product
  • Better Best Sellers Rank(BSR)=better ranking

BSR or Best Sellers Rank is a ranking Amazon assigns based on the sales volume and past sales data on goods that are updated multiple times daily. Essentially it shows you how your product ranks within the same category compared to other products of similar categories.

Taking all these things into account you can see the similarities of Google’s older algorithms to what A9 currently is. It’s almost certain that Amazon will not make large modifications, like Google has done, to their algorithm in the foreseeable future. It is currently working for their purposes but talk has circulated about AI technology integrations.

Does FBA(Fulfilled by Amazon) Help My Amazon Ranking?

In short, yes.

Here’s a little longer explanation:
While applying for FBA and landing a Prime Select product stamp won’t automatically guarantee higher ranking, if your product sales go up then your popularity metric, reviews and BSR will hopefully increase. These are all direct influencers on your ranking.

How Should I Optimize My Product Listings?

To actively increase your CTR, CR, and sales and improve your rankings you can use a variety of levers, such as product images, copy, review management, and Amazon PPC.

Just like SEO in Google’s environment, Amazon has its own set of quirks that you should be aware of but the main rule to remember is that Amazon wants you to sell. They make a profit off you selling products through their service. The audience that you are dealing with here is one of very high intent so your content and imagery should always take that into consideration.

Here is what Amazon themselves say about how to optimize your product listings:

Titles should be approximately 60 characters long. You only have a moment to catch the eye of a shopper and your online title on Amazon should echo what would be on the physical packaging of a product.

[Keywords or Search Terms] describe that product. These are hidden from the customers.

Amazon limits the length of the Search Terms attribute to less than 250 bytes. The Search Terms limit applies to newly-registered as well as existing [products].

Tips for optimizing your Search Terms:

  • Stay under length limit
  • Include synonyms
  • Add spelling variations, no need for misspellings
  • Include abbreviations and alternate names
  • You can use all lower case
  • You don’t need punctuation, such as: “;”, “:”, “-“
  • Separate words with spaces
  • No repeated words within the Search Terms field
  • Don’t include your brand or other brand names in Search Terms
  • Don’t include ASINs in Search Terms
  • No need for stop words such as “a,” “an,” “and,” “by,” “for,” “of,” “the,” “with,” and so on
  • Use singular or plural, no need for both
  • No temporary statements such as “new,” or “on sale now”
  • Don’t use subjective claims, such as “best,” “cheapest,” “amazing,” and so on
  • Don’t add abusive or offensive terms

If your search terms section is longer than 250 bytes then it will leave the entire section blank and not register it.

Just remember, the better the sales you have, the better the rank with Amazon.


What Can I Do?

While we here at Boostability don’t have an Amazon listing product, there are plenty of companies that provide one and we know a thing or two about SEO. This acumen translates to how A9 displays their search results. But while Amazon can be a helpful avenue for eCommerce businesses to increase their reach and revenue, so can Google.

We have two missions: to level the playing field for small businesses with the help of affordable SEO and to deliver agencies and their clients data-driven white label SEO services that will help both of their businesses grow. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or submit your website for free to get recommendations on what you can start doing now to help your SEO strategy!


Mike is a former SEO Manager at Boostability and has been in the online marketing industry since 2012. He has extensive experience with SEO, email marketing and link building campaigns for in-house and agency teams around the country.