Ecommerce Tips

Your Guide to the Amazon Algorithm

February 23, 2024

Beginning with ‘Archie’, in 1990, then ‘Ask Jeeves’, ‘Yahoo’, and finally ‘Google’, internet search engines have come closer and closer to perfecting the art of optimizing and understanding all that the World Wide Web holds. This allows searchers (like you) to find exactly what they need, when they need it. What a time to be alive.  

Not surprisingly, retail giants like Amazon pay very close attention to how customers navigate their marketplace. Over the years, they have gotten pretty good at optimizing for the searching customer:

  • 70% of Amazon customers never click past the first page of Amazon SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)
  • 35% of Amazon shoppers click on the first product on a search page

If you want listings that convert, showing up on the first page of search results is critical

In this article, we walk you through how to level up your attention game on Amazon. You will gain a deeper understanding of the importance of optimization beyond the simple 'more eyes equal more sales' equation.

Understanding the Importance of Optimization

Amazon’s algorithm works to accomplish one thing – to find, rank and return the most relevant product listings for a search query. The items that impact this rank include basic listing necessities like title, images, and use of keywords. It seems simple enough, until you factor in the reality of thousands of other brands and sellers just like you, all trying to win first place.  

Amazon differentiates itself from other search platforms through its obsession with ‘user intent’ and how it adjusts its algorithm to fit the audience's need. Rather than casting a large net to capture anything related to the query, Amazon focuses on products, benefits, and features to find very specific items that the customer is ready to buy.  

Let’s look at the specifics in how Amazon combs through brands and items to find the best of the best.

The Algorithm

The Amazon A9 algorithm focuses on two areas: performance and relevance. This means that a product with strong sales history will rank higher. In the same manner, a product listing incorporating appropriate keywords and expansive content will also appear higher on the SERPs.  

A great example of the role this content piece plays in the overall ranking and performance of products is Amazon’s premium A+ content. Pushing premium content can positively impact sales velocity. According to Amazon, this results in over a 5% increase in sales due to increased traffic and conversion.

Here are other, more detailed, factors that Amazon takes into consideration:

  • Sales velocity: As it stands, increasing sales velocity is the most effective way to rank higher. This is your sales and conversions in relation to your competitors who fall under the same search term.
  • Text relevancy: Like the premium content we mentioned earlier, the keywords you use within titles and descriptions carry weight in how relevant your item will appear. Gain a clear understanding of what your audience is searching for and include those phrases in your listings.
  • Price: Along with predicting what items users are going to like more, Amazon can predict your conversion rate based on your pricing. If your prices fall above most competitors it assumes your conversion rate will be lower, giving you a lower rank down the page(s). Alternatively, if your pricing is lower or comparable to your competitors then you’ll likely rank much higher.
  • Availability: In-stock history plays a huge impact on how high Amazon places your ranking. If you have frequent times of limited or OOS (out-of-stock) products then your ranking is going to suffer.  
  • Fulfillment method: Amazon offers FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) services. Meaning, Amazon itself stores, ships, and handles products on behalf of brands. Given this is their own service, it’s no wonder that Amazon has been known to favor those brands who happen to utilize FBA, increasing their chances of ranking higher.  
  • Reviews: The number of reviews a product or brand has isn’t a ranking factor itself. It all comes down to how those reviews affect conversion rates. A product that is reviewed better is more likely to convert at a higher rate than a product that has fewer reviews. This relates to the sales velocity we mentioned earlier and impacts overall ranking.  
  • Advertising: Want to increase sales? Advertising is the way to go. Not only does this influence overall sales velocity allowing for an overall ranking boost, but the ad itself lets you bypass ranking all together to get in front of a very specific audience.

Although these are the current ranking factors today, algorithms are in a constant state of flux and Amazon is constantly working to evolve its algorithm to better serve the customer. Spreetail Content Optimization Manager Debra Bettinger says:

“Amazon's A9 algorithm has evolved to improve customer shopping experiences and search result relevance. Enhancements in natural language processing have sharpened relevance matching. The algorithm now offers more personalized search outcomes by analyzing users' past behaviors, preferences, and search history, ensuring a tailored shopping experience.  
Moreover, advancements in machine learning and AI, along with mobile optimization, have made the A9 algorithm more adaptable and efficient, significantly enhancing both the user interface and seller opportunities on Amazon.
By focusing on these areas, Amazon has continuously refined the A9 algorithm, making it more efficient, user-friendly, and effective at connecting customers with the products they're looking for.”
Looking Towards the Future

New algorithm updates are continuing to happen through the next year as ecommerce surpasses $1.1 trillion in 2023, and Amazon brings in an astounding $700 billion. Amazon wants to ensure that they stay ahead of the game. The only way to do that? Figure out new technologies to help cater to buyers and improve customer service.

Amazon has done just that by implementing a soft update of the Amazon A9 algorithm that many are (unofficially) calling A10. Here’s what’s different:

  • Organic sales: Sales generated on Amazon from the organic results is one of the strongest factors now influencing the algorithm. This occurs when a user searches for a product and they purchase your product from the search page results. This is where understanding keywords and utilizing content comes into play.
  • Seller authority: Seller Authority deals with seller metrics like listings and the Buy Box. Factors such as seller’s feedback rating, Amazon tenure, product returns, and others influence seller authority resulting in either a positive or negative ranking.  
  • Impressions: Impressions deal with how often your product is seen on the results page, including Amazon affiliate sites. This makes things like keywords and having a large variety catalog more important. The more people see of your product (where it’s relevant of course), the more impact it has on your ranking.  
  • Click-through-rate: The click-through rate is the ratio of customers visiting your product listing compared to the total number of impressions generated. Using compelling images and optimized titles are important aspects to focus on to increase your CTR (click-through-rate).

These new adjustments to their ranking factors aren’t all Amazon is doing to take customer experience to the next level. They’re a company built from innovation, and they continue to seek out ways to both connect and enhance. Our internal team has some predictions on what we can expect.

“Going into 2024, Amazon is likely to continue refining its algorithm with a focus on several key trends:
Enhanced Personalization and AI: Amazon may deepen its use of artificial intelligence to provide even more personalized shopping experiences.  
Voice Search Optimization: As smart speakers and voice assistants become more prevalent, Amazon may adjust its algorithm to understand and process natural language searches, as well as the more conversational tone that characterizes voice searches.
Improved Mobile Experience: Amazon will likely make further changes for mobile users. This could involve refining the algorithm better to suit mobile users' browsing habits and preferences, ensuring a seamless shopping experience across all devices.” - Debra Bettinger, Content Optimization Manager
Optimizing Product Listings

Understanding optimization and doing optimization don’t always go hand in hand. It can be difficult to know where to find buyer trends and to know what content your buyers need while packaging it in a way Amazon can use.

“To effectively optimize for Amazon, begin by researching and incorporating relevant keywords in your listing copy and titles, enhancing discoverability. Don't overlook the power of backend search terms; although invisible to customers, they are crucial for boosting your product's visibility.  
Ensure your listings feature informative and compelling product titles, high-quality images, and detailed, persuasive descriptions and bullet points to attract and inform potential buyers.  
Additionally, leverage optimizable and visually engaging content options like A+, Premium A+, Brand Stories, and Amazon Stores to significantly improve conversion rates by offering a more immersive shopping experience.” - Debra Bettinger, Content Optimization Manager

Rather than navigating all this information on your own, Spreetail has it's own set of listing guidelines we follow to ensure our brand partners are constantly increasing in ranking. Take the case of Clam Outdoors who rose 270% in rank thanks to our efforts around catalog expansion and more.  

Spreetail listing optimization and content experts incorporate these standards to achieve a 90% Imagery Scoring Priority and a 90% Creative Scoring by focusing on:

  • Copy: Titles, mobile optimization, descriptions, keyword research, Amazon grammatical guidelines, content display rules, informational bullets, character count, formatting, variations, restricted copy
  • Media: Images, lifestyle, infographics, angles, amount and dimensions, video, A+ content, brand story, brand storefront

The reality is technology is ever expanding. As 2023 was the year of AI, machines are doing more and more to connect with and understand the humans around them. As brands, you need to do the work to allow these machines to represent you and get in front of potential buyers. As an ecommerce omnichannel accelerator it’s our job to do the hard stuff – create optimized listings that machines can translate, and buyers can resonate with.

Stevie Howard

Digital Marketer

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