The higher a product’s ranking, the more likely it is to be seen by customers and potentially purchased. Thus, Amazon is encouraging sellers to ensure that their product listings are optimized for ranking to increase their sales and improve their brand visibility.
However, we all know that Amazon’s algorithm is ever-changing and constantly tuning into the customers’ behavior. Thus, when it comes to the ranking algorithm, it takes into account many factors such as sales volume, customer ratings, reviews, and relevance to customer searches. This increases the challenges for sellers to climb their way up the ranking and sustain it.
There’s no cookie-cutter strategy for boosting your ranking. It takes work, knowledge, and experience to stay on top of these algorithmic changes and optimize your product with them.
And you have to be wary that there are many misconceptions surrounding Amazon ranking, which we will tackle here one by one. Here are the top 10 myths and their corresponding truths you need to know:
Myth #1: Amazon Ranking is Only Based on Sales
Amazon uses various metrics to measure the performance of a particular product listing. Having this kind of data-backed gauging system ensures that Amazon only shows product results that match a particular search query made by a customer. Matching accuracy improves the overall customer experience, attracting more customers and maintaining their loyalty.
Now, it is true that there was a time that Amazon weighed sales heavily as a major factor affecting ranking. However, as customer behavior and the marketplace evolves, it also now takes into account several other metrics, such as click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm considers multiple factors to determine the best product ranking for a given search query. These factors include:
Products that sell well are likely to rank higher in search results.
A product’s relevance to a user’s search query is also a critical factor in determining its ranking. A product that closely matches the user’s search terms and intent is more likely to rank higher in search results.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
Products with high ratings and positive reviews are likely to rank higher in search results.
Click-through Rate (CTR): The percentage of users who click on a product after seeing it in search results is also an important factor in determining its ranking. A higher CTR indicates that a product is more relevant and attractive to users.
The percentage of users who purchase a product after clicking on the listing is also an essential factor in determining its ranking. A higher conversion rate indicates that a product is more appealing and trustworthy to users.
Availability and Shipping Speed
Products that are in stock and can be delivered quickly are more likely to rank higher in search results.
A product’s price relative to its competition is also considered in its ranking. A product that is competitively priced may rank higher in search results.
These factors work together to determine the best product ranking for a given search query. Even if a product has lower sales numbers, it can still rank well if it has high relevance, good ratings, and high CTR and conversion rates.
For example, a new product that has just been launched may have lower sales numbers but can still rank well if it has high relevance, good ratings, and positive reviews.
Another example of a product that can rank well despite lower sales numbers is a niche product. Niche products may have lower sales volume due to their specialized nature, but they can still rank well in search results if they have high relevance, good ratings, and positive reviews from a loyal customer base.
Myth #2: Amazon Favors Sellers with the Lowest Prices
While a product’s pricing is important, it’s not the only factor that determines its ranking. A product that is priced lower than its competitors may have an advantage, but it still needs to excel in other areas to rank highly in search results.
For example, a product with high relevance, excellent reviews, and positive ratings may rank higher than a cheaper product with lower relevance and poorer reviews. Additionally, Amazon’s algorithm may prioritize products that are in stock and can be delivered quickly, even if they are priced higher than their competition.
In fact, Amazon encourages sellers to compete on factors beyond pricing, such as product quality, shipping speed, and customer service.
Amazon’s goal is to provide customers with the best possible experience, and that includes offering a range of products at different price points to suit different needs and budgets.
Aside from competitive pricing and affordability, here are other factors that can affect a product’s ranking:
This factor is considered crucial because it directly impacts customer satisfaction. Products with high quality, durability, and performance are more likely to receive positive reviews and ratings from customers, which can boost their ranking in search results.
A seller’s reputation is based on several factors, including customer service, shipping speed, and returns policy. Sellers who have a positive reputation and a history of providing excellent service to their customers are more likely to rank higher in search results than sellers with poor reputations.
Amazon is banking on its customers, thus, it aims to provide them with a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience, from product search to purchase and delivery. Products that provide a positive customer experience, such as fast delivery, clear and accurate product descriptions, and easy returns, are more likely to rank higher in search results.
Historical data will show that not all products that rank offer the lowest prices. Here are several examples of products that rank well on Amazon despite not being the cheapest:
They are known for being high-quality, but they are not always the cheapest option. Despite this, Apple products often rank highly in their respective categories on Amazon due to their popularity and positive customer reviews.
Bose headphones are known for their superior sound quality and noise-cancellation features, which justify their higher price point. Despite being more expensive than many of their competitors, Bose headphones often rank highly in Amazon’s electronics category due to their positive reviews and reputation for quality.
Yeti is a popular brand of coolers known for their durability and ability to keep contents cold for extended periods. Despite being more expensive than many other cooler brands, Yeti coolers often rank highly in Amazon’s outdoor recreation category due to their quality and positive reviews.
AmazonBasics is Amazon’s own brand of affordable and high-quality products. While they may not always be the cheapest option in their respective categories, AmazonBasics products often rank highly due to their quality and positive reviews from customers.
Myth #3: The More Reviews, the Higher the Ranking
The quality of a review refers to its overall helpfulness to customers. A review that provides insightful and informative feedback, such as pros and cons, is more likely to be considered high quality than a review that simply says “good product” or “bad product.” Reviews that are verified purchases are also considered more trustworthy and valuable by Amazon’s algorithm.
One factor that A9 likely considers is review age or the age of the review in relation to the current date. Older reviews may be seen as less relevant or informative than more recent reviews, since product features, quality, and availability can change over time.
However, A9 may also give more weight to reviews that have been around for a longer period, as these may be seen as more established and trustworthy.
Another factor that A9 may take into account is the helpfulness of reviews. Amazon allows customers to rate reviews as “helpful” or “not helpful,” and A9 may use this information to determine which reviews are most valuable to customers.
Reviews that have been rated as helpful by a large number of customers may be given more weight in the algorithm, since they are likely to provide useful information that other customers may find relevant.
Myth #4: Using Keywords in Product Titles and Descriptions is the Most Important Factor
While it is true that keywords are an important factor in search ranking algorithms, simply stuffing product listings with keywords is not an effective strategy for achieving high search rankings.
In fact, even Google does not put weight on keyword stuffing anymore when it comes to relevance merit; may even penalize it.
Amazon continues to refine its algorithm; the more it becomes “natural” in reading contexts. Today, its search algorithm not only takes cues from the presence of keywords but also from how they are relevant to the product listing in general.
For example, if a product listing for a water bottle includes keywords such as “running shoes” or “yoga mats,” the listing is unlikely to be ranked highly in search results for customers searching for water bottles. Instead, the product listing should focus on keywords that are directly relevant to the product being sold, such as “insulated water bottle” or “stainless steel water bottle.”
Amazon can also understand contextual cues. Its search algorithm takes into account the context in which keywords are used in a product listing, and it can distinguish between listings that use keywords in a natural and meaningful way and those that simply “keyword stuff” their listings.
Therefore, sellers should aim to use keywords in their product listings in a natural and contextually relevant way, rather than simply repeating them multiple times in an attempt to manipulate search rankings.
Rather than narrowing yourself into repeating the same keywords and variations of them, you can instead use synonyms and long-tail keywords to stress the same thing while at the same time, providing the algorithm contextual cues about your product. This will ultimately lead to improved visibility and eventually, higher ranking.
Amazon’s search algorithm is designed to recognize synonyms and variations of keywords that customers might use when searching for products.
For example, if a customer searches for “running shoes,” the A9 algorithm may also return results for “jogging shoes” or “athletic shoes,” since these terms are similar in meaning.
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific keyword phrases that are often used by customers when searching for products online.
For example, instead of searching for “running shoes,” a customer might search for “women’s running shoes with arch support.”
There are many products on Amazon that rank well despite not having exact match keywords in their titles or descriptions. An example is the Hydro Flask Water Bottle.
The product title for the Hydro Flask Water Bottle is “Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle,” which doesn’t include any specific keywords related to water bottles or hydration. However, the product ranks well in Amazon’s search results due to its popularity and high ratings, as well as the fact that it is well-known for being a high-quality, insulated water bottle.
Myth #5: Amazon Ranking is Fixed and Never Changes
Many factors can impact search rankings on Amazon, including changes in customer search behavior, changes in the competitive landscape, and changes in Amazon’s own search algorithm.
For example, if a particular keyword or product category becomes more popular among customers, this could impact search rankings for related products, even if those products haven’t changed in any other way.
Similarly, changes in the competitive landscape, such as the entry of new sellers or changes in pricing, can also impact search rankings for products.
In addition, Amazon is constantly updating and refining its search algorithm in order to improve the relevance and quality of its search results. These updates can have a significant impact on search rankings, and can sometimes result in significant changes to the way that search results are displayed.
Overall, the A9 algorithm is designed to be dynamic and responsive to changes in the marketplace, which means that search rankings on Amazon are never fixed or static.
Sellers who want to improve their search rankings over time need to pay attention to changes in customer behavior, the competitive landscape, and Amazon’s own search algorithm, and be willing to adapt and evolve their strategies to stay competitive.
And for you to stay on top of these changes, you should have a deep understanding of machine learning and is practicing continuous A/B testing.
Amazon uses A/B testing to compare and evaluate different search ranking algorithms and determine which algorithm performs best in terms of relevance, accuracy, and customer satisfaction.
A/B testing involves dividing search traffic between two or more versions of the search algorithm, and analyzing the results to determine which version produces the best outcomes.
By continually testing and refining its search algorithm, Amazon can provide the most relevant and useful search results for customers, which can help to drive sales and customer satisfaction.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm uses machine learning to analyze and understand customer behavior and preferences and to continually improve search results over time.
Machine learning allows the algorithm to learn from patterns and trends in customer behavior, and to adjust search rankings and recommendations accordingly.
For example, if customers consistently choose a particular product over other similar products, the algorithm may adjust search rankings to prioritize that product in future search results. Machine learning also helps the algorithm to understand the nuances of natural language search queries, including synonyms and related terms, which can improve the relevance and accuracy of search results.
By staying up to date with the latest trends and best practices for Amazon search optimization, sellers can improve their chances of achieving high search rankings and driving sales on the platform.
Amazon’s A9 algorithm is constantly evolving, and updates to the algorithm can have a significant impact on the search rankings of products on the platform.
Here are a few examples of products that have seen their ranking change due to A9 algorithm updates:
The Nutribullet Blender
In 2018, Amazon made a significant change to its search algorithm that prioritized sponsored listings over organic search results. As a result, many products saw a drop in organic search rankings, including the Nutribullet Blender, which saw a significant decline in search visibility.
The Anker PowerCore Portable Charger
In 2019, Amazon updated its search algorithm to prioritize products with high ratings and reviews. This change had a significant impact on the search rankings of many products, including the Anker PowerCore Portable Charger, which saw a boost in visibility thanks to its high ratings and reviews.
The Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker
In 2020, Amazon made changes to its search algorithm to prioritize products with high sales velocity and fast shipping times. This change had a significant impact on the search rankings of many products, including the Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker, which saw a boost in visibility thanks to its popularity and fast shipping times.
The Instant Pot Duo Crisp
In 2021, Amazon updated its search algorithm to prioritize products with high conversion rates and low return rates. This change had a significant impact on the search rankings of many products, including the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, which saw a boost in visibility thanks to its high conversion rate and low return rate.
By paying attention to changes in the competitive landscape and Amazon’s search algorithm, sellers can adapt their strategies and improve their chances of achieving high search rankings and driving sales on the platform.
Myth #6: Amazon Ranking is Unpredictable and Random
While many factors can impact search rankings on Amazon, including changes in customer behavior, competitive pressures, and changes to the A9 algorithm itself, these factors are not random or arbitrary.
Instead, they are based on data-driven analyses of customer behavior and preferences and are designed to deliver the most relevant and useful search results to customers.
Understanding the many factors that affect ranking can help sellers improve their product listings which will improve their visibility and increase their ranking.
By understanding how keywords affect ranking, sellers can optimize their product titles and descriptions to include relevant, high-traffic keywords that will help their products rank higher in search results. This can involve researching popular keywords and long-tail keywords related to their product category and ensuring that these keywords are used in a natural and contextually relevant way.
As discussed above, customer reviews and ratings are a key factor in Amazon’s search algorithm, and can significantly impact search rankings for products. Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings and respond to customer feedback and address any concerns or issues.
High-quality products are more likely to receive positive reviews and ratings, which can help to boost search rankings on Amazon. Focus on product quality and ensure that their products are well-made, reliable, and of high value to customers.
Products with high sales velocity are more likely to rank well in search results. Focus on marketing and promotion strategies that help to drive sales and increase visibility.
One example of an optimized product listing according to the updates on the algorithm is the DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill. It improved its search rankings by optimizing its product listing with relevant keywords, high-quality images, and positive customer reviews.
The product title and description include keywords such as “cordless drill,” “power tool,” and “20V MAX,” which are all relevant to the product and help it rank well in search results. In addition, the product listing includes high-quality images and positive customer reviews, which also help to boost its search rankings.
Myth #7: Amazon Ranking is Influenced by External Factors
External factors such as advertising and promotion can certainly help to drive visibility and sales for products on Amazon, but sellers have to take note that they are ultimately less important than the internal factors mentioned above when it comes to search ranking.
For example, a product with a well-optimized product listing, high-quality images, and positive customer reviews is more likely to rank well in search results than a product that is heavily promoted but has poor customer reviews and ratings. Similarly, a product that is well-made, reliable, and of high value to customers is more likely to receive positive reviews and ratings, which can in turn boost its search rankings and sales on the platform.
Seller performance metrics can also have a significant impact on Amazon ranking. Here they are:
Order defect rate
Amazon tracks the number of orders that are canceled, returned, or receive negative feedback from customers. This metric is known as the order defect rate, and it can significantly impact a seller’s search ranking.
Sellers with high order defect rates are more likely to receive negative feedback and returns, which can result in lower search rankings and reduced visibility on the platform.
Late shipment rate
Amazon also tracks the number of orders that are shipped late, or that are marked as “late” by the carrier.
Sellers with high late shipment rates are more likely to receive negative feedback and returns, which can result in lower search rankings and reduced visibility on the platform.
The algorithm tracks the number of orders that are canceled by sellers or that are canceled due to inventory issues. Sellers with high cancellation rates are more likely to receive negative feedback and returns, which can result in lower search rankings and reduced visibility on the platform.
Myth #8: Amazon Favors Large Sellers Over Small Ones
Amazon places a strong emphasis on seller reputation, which is based on factors such as product quality, customer service, and customer feedback. Sellers with strong reputations are more likely to receive positive feedback and reviews from customers, which can in turn boost their search rankings and overall success on the platform.
While large sellers may have some advantages on Amazon, such as greater access to resources and a wider range of products, they are not necessarily favored over smaller sellers in terms of search ranking or overall success on the platform.
Ultimately, it takes strategy to boost your Amazon ranking. Utilize the available tools like pay-per-click advertising and DSP to improve visibility. Continue to test and optimize your product listing through keyword research and dynamic creatives like high-quality images and videos. Invest in providing excellent customer service, and keep yourself updated with the latest algorithm changes and trends.
Myth #9: Amazon Ranking is Impervious to Black Hat Techniques
Amazon has strict policies against black hat techniques, and actively monitors seller accounts for any violations. The use of techniques such as keyword stuffing and fake reviews violates Amazon’s policies and can result in severe consequences for sellers, including reduced search ranking, suspension, or termination of their Amazon accounts.
Keyword stuffing involves filling a product listing with irrelevant or repetitive keywords to manipulate search rankings. This technique not only violates Amazon’s policies but also harms the user experience for potential customers, as the listing may be difficult to read and understand.
Similarly, the use of fake reviews to boost a product’s rating or reputation is also prohibited by Amazon’s policies. Fake reviews can damage a seller’s reputation and result in reduced search ranking, as Amazon’s search algorithm prioritizes products with authentic and high-quality reviews.
Amazon takes several steps to detect and penalize sellers who use black hat techniques to manipulate search rankings or reputation.
Here are some of the methods that Amazon uses to detect and penalize sellers who use black hat techniques:
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Amazon uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to detect patterns and anomalies in seller behavior, including the use of black hat techniques such as keyword stuffing or fake reviews.
Human moderation and review
Amazon also employs human moderators and reviewers to manually review seller accounts and product listings for any violations of its policies. These moderators use a combination of automated tools and manual reviews to detect and penalize sellers who use black hat techniques.
Seller performance metrics
The algorithm tracks a wide range of seller performance metrics, including order defect rate, late shipment rate, and cancellation rate. Sellers who violate Amazon’s policies or use black hat techniques are more likely to have poor seller performance metrics, which can result in reduced search ranking or account suspension.
Customer feedback and reviews
Amazon also relies on customer feedback and reviews to detect and penalize sellers who use black hat techniques. Customers can report suspected violations of Amazon’s policies, including the use of fake reviews or other black hat techniques.
Here are some examples of sellers who have been penalized for using unethical techniques to improve their Amazon ranking:
- VIP Deals: In 2018, VIP Deals, a third-party seller on Amazon, was banned from the platform for offering customers full refunds in exchange for positive reviews. This practice violated Amazon’s policies against incentivized reviews and resulted in the seller’s account being suspended.
- Cure Encapsulations: In 2019, Cure Encapsulations, a third-party seller on Amazon, was fined $12.8 million by the Federal Trade Commission for using fake reviews to promote its weight-loss supplements on Amazon. The seller had hired a third-party website to post fake reviews, which violated Amazon’s policies and resulted in reduced search ranking and customer trust.
- Mobile Star: In 2016, Mobile Star LLC, a third-party seller on Amazon, was sued by Apple for selling counterfeit Apple products, including charging cables and power adapters. The seller had used fake reviews and high search rankings to promote its counterfeit products on the platform, resulting in legal action and a damaged reputation.
Myth #10: Amazon Ranking is the Only Metric That Matters
Profit margins and ROI are also important for Amazon sellers, not just the ranking. Sellers who focus solely on search ranking without considering profitability may find that their business is not sustainable in the long term.
In addition, profit margins and ROI can help sellers make informed decisions about which products to sell and how to price them. By analyzing profit margins and ROI for different products, sellers can determine which products are most profitable and which are not worth the investment.
By solely focusing on Amazon ranking, businesses may miss out on opportunities to improve customer experience, diversify their product offerings, or expand into other marketplaces. For example, investing in improving customer service or offering a wider variety of products can increase customer loyalty and help drive sales, even if Amazon ranking may not immediately improve.
Additionally, over-reliance on Amazon as a sales channel can leave businesses vulnerable to sudden changes in Amazon’s policies or algorithm updates that can have negative effects on their sales. By diversifying their sales channels and building a strong brand outside of Amazon, businesses can reduce this risk and create more sustainable long-term growth.
Amazon ranking is what drives a lot of your success in the platform, but, it’s not everything. Just like running other businesses, sellers need to continuously learn, test, and optimize to find and apply the right strategies and maximize their business potential and profitability.
Having knowledge and experience in Amazon selling and ranking can help you make informed decisions. With these top 10 myths finally debunked and replaced with truths, you can now harness your new-found knowledge to grow and scale your Amazon business.