2021 Amazon SEO Guide Strategies to Rank on A9 and A10

20th September, 2021

Selling your products on Amazon can be a Herculean challenge. This comes as Amazon is ruthless in optimizing both price and customer experience, and Amazon is not fully transparent about the mechanisms of A9 and A10's internal system. As well, changes towards A9's algorithm (commonly called "A10") have made it harder to adapt to the needs of the customer. While this environment is more challenging for sellers, 5% of all retail sales go through Amazon, presenting enormous opportunities for smart sellers. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques can be effectively used to boost your ranking on A9's search engine and better convert sales techniques. We have SEO guides not only on Amazon but on Etsy, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace that will help you conquer all aspects of search engine optimization. In this 2021 Amazon guide, we will:

  1. Explain to you what A10, Amazon's Search engine for eCommerce, is and explain how Amazon is different from other platforms such as eBay and Etsy.
  2. Apply Keyword Research towards your Amazon Listing and which products to use.
  3. What Prices to Set and Which Product Sales to Target.
  4. How to Maximise 5 Star Reviews and Strategies for Dealing With Customer Complaints.
  5. How to Generate External Traffic Through External Links.
  6. How to Include Professionally taken photos and Videos for Your Storefront If Not Already Present.

A Starter on Amazon's A10 Search Engine

What is A9?

A9 is the name of the search engine algorithm used on Amazon.com's e-commerce website when engaging in product searches. A9's name originates from a former Amazon subsidiary, A9.com, that specialized in creating search engine algorithms, not only for products but images, cloud software, and designing ad platforms. Officially, this is still the name given to Amazon search engine products.

What is A10 and what makes it different from A9?

A10 is not an official name given to Amazon's search engine algorithm, but it's a term SEO professionals have used to describe the radical changes of the algorithm. The generalized difference between A9 and A10 is that direct customer product search criteria are more important than profitability. This means that:

  1. Sponsored Links don't generate as many clicks: Since A10 is more tailored towards the direct consumer search, sponsored PPC links don't perform as well as A9 clicks. Although sponsored links are a viable option, more strategic targeting of keywords and research needs to be conducted to pull them off.
  2. Seller Authority is More Important: Customer reviews of products matter more towards ranking higher on the platform in A10 than A9. This means a more aggressive strategy for managing review is needed.
  3. Seller Authority Has Different Metrics: Variety of Offerings of a single vendor depth and breadth of inventory. This means that larger, more established e-commerce businesses are favored when compared to smaller vendors who have a lesser established buyer line.
  4. Relevance of Consumer Search Term is More Important: A10 is stronger at recognizing the contextual background of products than A9. Making sure that your products fit into a wide variety of consumer searches is highly important.

What are the factors that both A9 and A10 algorithms use to factor in ranking on pages?

Amazon's A9 and A10 exact contributions to its search rankings are not directly known. However, there are general factors that Amazon considers for more competitive listings:

  1. Seller Authority: A generalized statistic on how trustworthy a vendor is, it includes the volume and score from consumer 5-star scores. Also, the offerings (breadth and width) of products and consumer policies (returns and warranty) contribute to higher ratings.
  2. Sales History: The sales history of both a consumer and a vendor contributes to Amazon rankings. Sales history of consumers, in particular product category and vendor, lead towards similar categorized recommendations. The history of successful sales for vendors increases the seller's authority in the eyes of Amazon.
  3. Price: Amazon has a heavy skew towards the lowest prices for consumers, even when compared to other e-commerce search engines. This is especially true for aggregated listings on Amazon, where you are competing with multiple vendors for a single price. Single price can also be segmented into whether it's a new or used product.
  4. Organic Sales: In particular, sales that are obtained from "organic" searches, when compared to PPC advertised listings, significantly boost rankings on a given website. So, sales that come from internal Amazon searches reinforce the strength of your ranking.
  5. Internal Sales: The category of "frequently bought decision" constitutes the internal sales. This also includes traffic from your Amazon page and, unique to A10, is off-site traffic. This includes metrics such as your clickthrough rate (CTR) and Off-Site sales.
  6. Impressions: The views on any linked product listings.

How is Amazon A9/A10 SEO different from other e-commerce SEO?

For those who are already familiar with other platforms such as eBay, Etsy, or Shopify, you are wondering whether techniques used on these e-commerce sites translate onto Amazon. While there are similarities towards different platforms, there are 2 key differences to other e-commerce websites:

  1. Amazon.com Itself is a Seller of Goods on its Website: When a seller is listed as Amazon.com, it's Amazon itself selling directly towards customers. This has very big implications for how Amazon wants to rank products, as a 2019 WSJ investigation found that their algorithm was set to favor its listings, despite internal protests from engineers and lawyers. For Amazon SEO, your main competition for listings is sometimes Amazon itself.  They are willing to engage in anti-competitive behavior to boost their rankings.
  2. Amazon Product Listings Aggregate Sellers Together: Amazon is unique with platforms in that, for vendors with the same product, they aggregate listings together all product listings together and list the lowest price for the consumer on the unified listing. Having the lowest price for a commonly shared listing is much more impactful on Amazon as a result. As well, consumers have less interaction and recognition of their vendor, and consistently have less engagement than other platforms.

Those two keys differences make it an environment that makes it more difficult to list sales.

Strategy 1. Conduct Keyword Research on Amazon Listings

Why Keyword Research for Amazon?

Keyword research means that, before any writing of the website, you have a complete idea of what users are searching for. This will mean that your title and tags can be more tailor-made towards those searches, will help understand what consumers intend for when they search given products and understand the price competition for your listing. Keyword research is conducted by analyzing the results of both Amazons' internal search engine and other search engines, such as Etsy or eBay.

What Should I Look For When It Comes to Keywords on Amazon?

The characteristics that make these keywords more effective to look for:

1. Regional Synonym Keywords: Certain regions of the world have different terminologies for products. For instance, a listing on Amazon for flip-flops in America is for Australia for thongs.

2. Long-Tailed Keywords: These are lower volume, lower competition words that are more linked to specified searches. The "long tail" comes from the fact that it falls on the long tail of a keyword's volume to competition distribution. This helps find more specialized searches that give your product an easier chance to rank highly.

3. Attributes-Based Keywords: Any keywords linked with the attributes of the product, are one of the most important keywords to look for. These are directly linked to unique selling points of the product listed and comprise a large share of long-tailed keywords. These include the product's size, color, material, style, and solution the product is trying to solve.

4. Demographic Keywords: These are specifications of who exactly will buy your product and what circumstances the product will be used. This includes terminologies such as "student's" or "men's" for specific listings, that help users with commercial intent around an event.

What Tools Do I Use For finding When Searching For Keywords Directly and Indirectly?

When looking for particular keywords, there are some websites and extensions that can help give comparisons both directly on Amazon and indirectly via Google Keywords:

  1. Keywords Everywhere: A free Google Extension that helps find both keywords and long-tailed keywords on Google-listed websites. To use Keyword Everywhere effectively, start searching with generalized product terminologies (e.g. Casio watch) and compare what search terms are in Bibliography. Although, the free version does not come with direct viewing of estimated search metrics.
  2. SEMRush: A more comprehensive paid version that compares everything SEO-related, this focuses on websites. There is a Keyword Magic Tool that, when entering a list of comparison words, gives keywords to compare for and breaks down estimated search statistics for Google's website.
  3. Keyword Tool: A direct keyword search tool for Amazon that requires payment for full results, this can be used to see the direct performance of key results.

Strategy 1. Have the Lowest Price or Target a Unique Niche

Lowest Price in Very Competitive Products:

When Amazon gives multiple listings of a given product, consumers always go for the lowest price of a given condition. For instance, a listing for the book 1984 paperback edition will display multiple competing listings, with the lowest price being displayed along with competing for low prices. This is necessary for selling very common products, as sellers rarely go for a higher price unless a specific niche is served.

Selling a Unique Product With Unique Conditions:

Using the knowledge of all niches gained from long-tailed keywords from keyword research, try and seek out very unique products to use for a vendor's inventory. For instance, if you are a watch store on Amazon, sell a particular Orient Sun and Moon Version 3 in New condition would be more niche and less competitive than selling an Orient Bambino model, which is more common. The idea for unique products is to find products that still make sells, but have higher margins and lower volumes of sales.

Strategy 2. Write a Good Title For a Unique Product Listing

When having a unique product listing for Amazon, it is essential that an effective target is written for the Amazon Product. In particular, the product's title should use the following elements:

  1. Capitalize Every First Letter of a Listing: Product listings are titles, so adding titles enhances the effectiveness of a given page.
  2. Add Buyer-Relevant Keywords: The important thing is to add search terms that a buyer would specify in order to narrow down a search. This includes properties of a product, such as a Seiko watch's lug width and movement type.  
  3. Writing Numbers as Numerals: Numerals are easier to read for a header and cut down on the length of a title.
  4. Avoid Prices, Promotions and Other Commentary Not Related to Product: Listings with specific non-product keywords, such as "low price" or "limited time" don't perform well with Amazon A10. It is better to add buyer-relevant keywords.

External links, or "Backlinks", is a term for any links to other websites. These are essential in increasing traffic to a specific website. For a fuller guide to establishing backlinks, we have a full guide linked here. But, here is a summarization of backlink techniques most important:

  1. Guest Blogging: Contributing to guest blogs is a method of increasing traffic to your website and your Amazon listings. This can include writing about general topics about your products, such as "How to Maintain a Pair of Leather Shoes" for a boot enthusiast blog.  For a more complete guide, click here.
  2. Affiliate Marketing Links: Affiliate Marketing is when reviewers, such as those on YouTube or blogs, get a share of income based upon clicking a link onto a link. One of the most effective measures of generating traffic to a specific item, reaching out to content creators for reviews is an effective strategy to both build reputation of your product and generate direct traffic to your website.  
  3. Personal Website Links: Having an e-commerce website that links your Amazon seller's page is a good start to more traffic. If you need to know which website builders are best, the link to it is here.
  4. Have a Comprehensive Social Media Presence: Having Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube pages that you can link your products create a social media profile that can increase overall engagement and drive traffic to an Amazon seller's page. If you want to see a Facebook Marketplace SEO guide, click here.

Strategy 4. Make Sure to Maximise 5 Star Reviews and Dealing With Customer Complaints

What's different about Ratings when Compared to Other E-Commerce Sites

With combined product listing pages, reviews for a specific broader apply more so to the quality of the product listing and a rating given to products sold by a specific vendor. Product ratings are the reviews given to a shared product listing. That means for any shared listings, you share vendor's positive and negative reviews. There are also Vendor Ratings, which give reviews made about the quality of the vendor. Both aspects of vendors are

Maximizing 5-star Reviews That You Can Control:

5-Star reviews are much more difficult to obtain for a successful sale, as customers are much more distant from the original vendor and the negativity bias. A good customer service strategy includes:

  1. Communicate Clear Product Expectations: For aggregated product vendor listings, the unifying feature will be the quality of the product. Making sure that information is accurate on the product and targeting accurate features of the product to sell will mean a general increase in 5 stars reviews.
  2. Clear and Consistent Dispatch and Shipping Times: Following your set estimated arrival time is essential, as a large share of customers file complaints with late delivered items. Always make sure that any estimations of shipping your storefront give are reasonable. It is better, to be honest about the actual shipping time and take a ranking hit than deceiving the customer on the wait time.    
  3. Quick and Direct Customer Responses: Answering direct questions about products quickly means customers have more confidence in the products they are thinking of buying. Although, this aspect of selling is seen less due to Amazon's relative impersonal setup for sellers.
  4. Accurate Descriptions and Photos of Products: Customers will penalize and file complaints about products that do not match the listing or are defective in any manner. This isn't a significant issue for shared product listings, but mainly for unique product listings not shared by Amazon.
  5. Try to Make Yourself Visible As Possible With the Product: You need to make a highly sustained push to make your vendor visible to the consumer. For instance with product sales, include a card linking towards your non-Amazon storefront will make consumers to your product. It is always an uphill battle for customers to recognize a seller outside of a single-price listing.

Dealing with Customer Complaints

When trying to develop customer relations on your Amazon storefront, you must conduct the following activities to prevent and mitigate customer complaints:

  1. Remember to Conduct Quality Assurance Before Sending Out Products: Since the main aspect of negative reviews is feedback about the product, making sure that a product isn't sent defective is crucial. This prevents both bad product reviews and bad storefront reviews.    
  2. Offer Returns and Warranty When Applicable: If a product experiences a defect, a warranty or reasonable defect policy will usually make sure customers close negative cases.
  3. Respond Professionally: When either a product review or a customer review appears up on a specific page, a clear response and attempt to address the pain points can turn a negative review into a positive review.

Strategy 5. Include Professional Taken Photos and Videos for Your Storefront If Not Already Present:

Professionally taken photos of a photo are always important in any product listing. This is needed for product listings that are long-tail products. Otherwise, there is usually a default product photo already set up for the profile. For uploads, Amazon's direct advice is:

“Images should be 1,000 pixels or larger in either height or width. This minimum size requirement enables the zoom function on the website. Zoom has been proven to enhance sales. The smallest your file can be is 500 pixels on its longest side.”"

For those photos that need to be added, to be effective you must:

  1. Include Product Photos From Multiple Angles: To increase trust in the quality of the product, having photos from multiple angles will help give clarity to the surrounding product.
  2. Have Contrasting Backgrounds: Make the product the focal point of the photo with the background being a contrasting colour, so the product is easily seen.
  3. Go for High-Resolution Photos: Pixelated Photos make the listing look less professional, so going for high-resolution product shots is ideal. Make sure that customers are able to zoom in on product features.
  4. Include A Short Video Moving Around Product: Video's where all products angles are moved are highly effective, as product designers have a greater idea of the shape and clarity of the product.

A Final Word on Amazon SEO

Amazon is one of the most competitive and challenging environments to have a successful e-commerce site. With unique pressures of a large number of vendors and market structures intent on the lowest prices, aggressive SEO techniques must be applied in order to truly be effective in Amazon's competitive marketplace.

Written by

Alistair Schillert