Google may be the biggest name in all things search, but it doesn’t necessarily dominate online retail. In fact, the obvious award winner in that space goes to Amazon. In recent years, the site has opened its doors, making it easier than ever for everyday small businesses and individuals to use the powerful platform to sell their own products – whether through programs like Amazon Associates, Fulfillment by Amazon, or even Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon’s e-book-focused offering for self-published authors.
But with great opportunity comes even larger competition. Every day, thousands of sellers go head-to-head in order to push related products to online consumers – begging the question, “If I sell on Amazon, how do I get a leg up?” Much like trying to get your site to rank higher than competitors in Google, getting your products to rank higher in Amazon lies in understanding the retail giant’s ranking algorithm and optimizing your product listings to meet a number of criteria. Amazon’s algorithm boils down to this simple premise: Make it easier for shoppers to find the products they’re looking for by making the most relevant results show up after entering search queries.
Amazon VS. Google
While both Amazon and Google serve distinctively different roles, they sometimes compete when it comes to attracting online buyers. Recently, Google has worked to make it easier for online retailers to place their product listings directly within its search results – even testing a “buy” button in 2015. This move comes as no surprise, however. In 2012, The New York Times reported that Forrester Research showed that 1/3rd of shoppers started product searches directly through Amazon, while only 13% started with the likes of a search engine. Simply said, optimizing for Amazon is becoming increasingly important. So here’s what sellers on Amazon should focus on…
- Content – Be descriptive by integrating keywords into the product page’s content. Don’t stuff similar keywords everywhere but find keywords that make the product page thoroughly descriptive. This includes adding keywords in the product title, bullet points, and the product description. Meanwhile, Amazon will also ask you to provide 7 keywords for more internal means as a step before you publish your product. As always, make sure the content is to the point and directly answers buyers’ questions.
- Images – While it doesn’t necessarily directly affect Amazon algorithm considerations, having multiple images that cover your product from all angles can lead to better customer satisfaction – something that may help you get better feedback in the long run (and yes, feedback does play a major part in Amazon rankings, something we’ll discuss later on). Also, product images should be high quality, 1000×1000 pixels or more – enabling a zoom feature Amazon loves for improving the customer experience.
- Branding – One quality that products ranking high in Amazon’s search results usually share is that they feature manufacturer brand names and ID numbers – something you’ll want to add when optimizing your listing.
- Perfect Order Percentage – Another factor the algorithm takes into account is what’s called the seller’s “Perfect Order Percentage Score,” otherwise known as POP. This represents how smoothly your transactions run. Things that hurt your POP score can include: Out-of-stock order cancellations, negative feedback, late shipments, and more. Note: For other important customer metrics, view this page from Amazon.
- Feedback – One of Amazon’s largest ranking factors is based on quality reviews. In other words, the more positive ratings your products get, the more likely Amazon is to display them in the most prominent areas of its search results. And while many Amazon sellers find that feedback accounts for just a small percentage of their actual sales, the answer to getting more lies in providing better customer service. Rules of thumb to follow may include: Being accessible to your customers, making sure you’re not selling products your inventory is out of, shipping promptly, and most importantly, providing accurate product descriptions – all tips highlighted by the company’s own Selling on Amazon guide.
By following the above guidelines, you should be able to help yourself succeed with other key factors that Amazon’s algorithm may take into account, things like click to sales ratios, bounce rates, time spent on pages, and more.
Amazon is a powerful tool and should not be taken for granted – even if your product’s website ranks extremely well through Google’s search results.