The secret to cracking Amazon’s A9 algorithm

The secret to cracking Amazon’s A9 algorithm

By at - 12 Minutes

In this post I will:

  1. Explain Amazon’s A9 Algorithm.
  2. Teach you how to appear at the top of A9 search results. 

Amazon’s A9 Algorithm explained 

No matter which marketplace you sell on, they are all ruled by a search algorithm. As far as eBay is concerned that algorithm is Cassini. On Amazon, it is called A9.

But you want to sell as much as possible on Amazon. You don’t care about algorithms. You are not a computer scientist! Right!?

Actually, you are very much mistaken!

Take a second to think about how you personally interact with Google search results. Ask yourself, How often have I gotten past the first page of search results? I can almost guarantee you that the answer in 99.9% of cases is a big fat zero

In fact, according to research by Advanced Web Rankings, 67% of searchers click on the top 5 results in Google, with 95% of traffic going to first-page search results!

Source: Brafton

I think I have made my point, and you would agree that being top in Amazon’s results is key to your success as a seller.

How Amazon A9 Works

Amazon A9 helps display the most relevant search results to a shopper’s search query. Amazon, of course, has never divulged the intricacies of its algorithm. This is a well-guarded company secret. What I can tell you is:

  • How relevant the keywords in your listing are to a search query
  • A customer’s previous activity and preferences
  • How many of a specific item previously sold 

These are the main factors which influence Amazon A9 search results. If Amazon were to give over this information, it would totally ruin the idea of having a fair trade marketplace, so at this point, we can only make an educated guess based on trends observed on Amazon.com.

What concrete factors most likely influence Amazon A9 search results?

Based on discussions with real Amazon sellers, here are the main factors which are most likely to affect your product ranking in Amazon search results:

  1. The way you price – If you severely underprice your merchandise in comparison to other sellers, this can seriously harm your rankings. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but if you think about it, you can understand Amazon’s logic. I don’t believe that Amazon wants to create pricing wars; rather, they prefer offering items at fair prices, allowing consumers to make decisions based on quality and seller feedback. Amazon will ‘punish’ you for trying to aggressively steal market share. 

  2. How you manage your inventory – Amazon aims to provide the best consumer experience possible. Why? It’s simple: Amazon makes money on every sale you make. It would follow that the more sales you generate, the more money they make. If, however, a consumer has a negative experience because they ordered your item only to find out that it was out of stock, there is a good chance they will not only never order from you again but abandon Amazon as a marketplace altogether. If you stay on top of your inventory levels, this fact alone is sure to help improve your search result ranking.  

  3. How you word your listings –  Use your eCommerce product listing page design, as I previously discussed regarding eBay listings. In that post, I not only spoke about design but also the wording of your listings. It is key for you to be concise, yet include all relevant product information. You also want to have a convincing brand narrative, such as where the product originates from or what type of experience it can provide a consumer. In terms of creating the perfect listing title, much like with eBay listing title tips I provided in a previous post, it is extremely important to include all the relevant keywords, including brand, model and make so that your listing appears in relevant searches. Start thinking like a consumer: What would you search for if you were looking for a black turtleneck? 

  4. The quantity of your sales –  Just like with eBay’s Cassini, the number of items you sell directly influences your A9 ranking. Why? Because this metric indicates to Amazon that your item is popular and is selling. The probability of a conversion (and a commission for Amazon) increases and the chances of customer satisfaction also increase since there is always power in numbers. 

How to appear at the top of Amazon A9 search results

Above, I gave you a sort of overview of the factors which can be changed or improved upon in order to improve your Amazon A9 rankings. Now I will give you a step-by-step game plan of how to tackle your listings:

Listing titles – Make sure you create titles first and foremost for people and only afterward for algorithms. Amazon urges sellers to include:

  • An item’s color ie red
  • What a product is made of ie leather
  • The number of items you are selling ie 5
  • An item’s brand ie Apple 
  • The name of the item itself ie iphone

Do aspire to not ‘exaggerate in terms of how many keywords you use.

Here is a good example to follow:

It’s simple, hits the key points and isn’t stuffed with every possible keyword (just the important ones. No wonder it appeared number one under cellphone search results on Amazon.

Here is an example I would try to avoid emulating:

This one appeared on page 5. The first thing which caught my attention is that the listing title is two lines long. You should always aim to keep the title to one line. You will also notice that there is too much information packed into one little title. 

Try using AMZDataStudio’s free tool. Again I have no affiliation with them.  

Properly stocking – Above I stressed the importance of this – here are some concrete ways of actually staying on top of this:

Pricing – This is fairly simple just look up your top 5 competitors and do a quick comparative market analysis. Try to offer competitive pricing – maybe 5% under your lowest competitor or above your highest priced competitor. Alternatively, consider using Amazon’s feature which allows you to automate item price fluctuations. 

Listing images – Consider using high-quality images which incorporate people and not just items. Good quality images with people have been proven to increase clickthrough rates which in turn improves search results, it’s a never-ending chicken and egg scenario but it has been proven to work!

The image above is both high quality and incorporates a person in the item placement which is one of the factors which has allowed this seller to attain ‘best seller’ status and appear on the first page of results. 

Listing text – Keep your listing text clear, and avoid writing too much. Consider using bullet points or numbers which are infinitely more approachable. The easier your text is to digest the more sales you will have, the higher you will rank on Amazon – it is that simple.

The above example is fantastic. They keep it short and to the point, using bullets for the most important factors. This makes it a breeze for shoppers to decide ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.

Item reviews – Positive item reviews are key to getting more sales but these are also used as a key indicator by Amazon as to customer satisfaction. Do whatever you can to try and get these reviews. One great way to do this is by using a free follow-up template, making sure your customer is happy and asking him or her to leave an honest review.

Backend search words – these are hidden keywords which you could not fit into your title or listing text. Use a tool like Helium (again, no affiliation) in order to add in these terms which can be keywords your competition uses or even words in a foreign language such as French or Italian if you have good reason to suspect customer interest from those markets. Check out my previous post which offers 6 must-know eCommerce customer support growth hacks when expanding overseas.  

Advertising – Not all sellers are keen on spending extra money but advertising campaigns can really boost your Amazon A9 search results rankings. Here are some of your top options:

  • AMS or Amazon Marketing Services via a PPC or Pay Per Click campaign
  • Social Media Ads.

  Source: CPCStrategy

  • Google Ads.

Fulfillment By Amazon or FBA – Ok, I already mentioned this but beyond being able to set inventory level alerts, sellers who use FBA actually get preferential treatment and ranking on Amazon. The reason is that:

  1. Amazon can ensure the quality of service a customer will get. 
  2. FBA is a huge business for Amazon and they use A9 rankings as an unspoken incentive to get sellers to sign up.

Upgrade to a pro seller account and gain ‘buy box’ eligibility – Upgrading to a pro account on Amazon will run you $39.99 but will also make you eligible for the much-coveted ‘buy box’ placement. 82% of sales on Amazon in any given category are generated from the ‘buy box’ so this placement is extremely crucial to sales, A9 reconfigures seller placement in the ‘buy box’ every 15 minutes so this is a very dynamic placement and you may not even notice your listing has appeared there but in my opinion the fact that you are in the running is already worth playing the game. As the old adage goes ‘how can you win the lottery if you never buy a ticket!?’

Over to you 

Whenever I hear the word ‘algorithm’, it makes me cringe – I am sure there are plenty of sellers out there right now who are either nodding or grinning or both. Amazon sellers are not techies and guess what!? You don’t have to be! Using these simple guidelines, I guarantee you that you will be able to improve your item rankings in search results in no time.  

Please try out one or all of these tips and let me know how it goes in the comments!

If I missed anything which you want to share with your fellow sellers, please also write this in the comments

As always, 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Looking forward to your comments and suggestions. 

 

Nadav Roiter

Nadav Roiter is a published writer and a Jerusalem Post freelance journalist. Formerly part of the CrazyLister content team, he is now the Marketing Manager for Subivi eCommerce CRM which has developed a customer support tool uniquely built to help eCommerce sellers offer stellar customer support while simultaneously maximizing profits.

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