The Complete A9 Algorithm Checklist

Consider the facts: 70% of shoppers don’t click past the first page of search results, 35% of shoppers click on the first product of search results, and 64% of clicks go to the first three products in the search results. Therefore, there is a need to rank high on the Amazon’s A9 Search Algorithm and have your product ranked within the top of search results.

What influences these search results? How do you rank higher on search results, so that your product is the first thing shoppers see? What is Amazon’s search result algorithm, that influences your product rankings and brand visibility?

This blog post is all about cracking the A9 Algorithm and what you need to rank higher on search results. We’ll show you how to do SEO with A9 in mind, be relevant on search results, optimize your ranking, and ultimately convert your shoppers into buyers.  

What is the A9 Algorithm?

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Amazon’s A9 is a ranking algorithm that influences where your products appear on the Amazon site for every keyword in your product listing. It’s another word for the Amazon search engine. The key is to rank high on A9, so you will appear in more searches and at the top of page results.

Amazon does not reveal any factors that influence the search engine, nor do they dish out information that will allow us to know why one product shows up on the search engine than another.

Although the factors influencing A9 algorithm remains an official mystery, what we do know is that Amazon’s search engine is simple and easy-to-use for the consumer.

However, based on our experience in MarketplaceOps, we know that SEO, relevancy, optimization and other factors influence the A9 algorithm. We’ll shell out what we know about A9 in the rest of this post, but similar metrics for winning the Amazon Buy Box such as price and availability will also tie in with A9.  

Amazon’s search engine thrives on simplicity, with the goal of leading consumers to where they want to be--the detail page for the product they want.

What’s different about A9?

The basic difference between Amazon’s and Google’s algorithms highlight the main differences of both platforms--consumers go to Amazon marketplaces for products, therefore A9 is product-based; meanwhile, people go to Google for information and therefore their algorithm is ad-based.

In terms of search engines, Amazon rivals Google by a stretch. Amazon is the preferred online shopping tool with its buying algorithm, while Google is all about data and content. 80% of online shoppers will search on Amazon, even after finding information from external websites. Nine out of ten searches on Google won’t buy anything, while most searches on Amazon have the possibility of conversion.

What’s the real difference--Amazon is a buying platform to connect shoppers with sellers, which differentiates many other search engines, like Google.

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Be Relevant On Search Results

Relevancy is a big word in A9 research, as it should be, because the more relevant your listing and product pages are, the more you’ll show up in search results. Text match relevancy is the ultimate direct factor for the A9 algorithm.

The important thing to remember about text match relevancy is that A9 must understand what you’re selling, so it can show those results in the recommendations to those who search for the products. This means the product title, the description, the copy, and the whole listing is optimized for relevancy.

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Factors to keep in mind for relevancy:

1. TITLES

Your Title must be as clear as possible.  Because most shoppers are looking for a product, you’ll want to clearly show that you’re hitting their demand for a specific product. If shoppers are searching for a “phone case,” if you have that exact match in your title, you’ll be relevant and you’ll come up in the search results easily.

For titles, Amazon recommends that you capitalize the first letter of each word, state the number of items in the pack/bundle, and keep it under 200 characters. Things you’ll want in your title: brand, product line, product type, key feature, color, and size. Do not include the price, don’t use all caps, and don’t give promotional phrases such as “best seller” or “sale,” in your title.

There are definitely many different ways to optimize the title, but our strategy at MarketplaceOps is to input relevant keywords in the title. Strategically place your keywords in the title and place the most relevant keywords first. This is so that, starting from the title, you are set for text match relevancy in the A9 algorithm.

Note that while you’re inputting keywords in the title, you’re not overstuffing. Irrelevant keywords will throw off your strategy for A9, so make sure to pick your keywords adequately, which we’ll go into in the SEO section of this blog post.

An eye-catching and unique title will surely go far, but also having optimized keywords in the title will make it easier for A9 to match you with the right shoppers.


2. BACKEND KEYWORDS: SEARCH TERMS

The keywords that go into the backend of Seller Central are “hidden” from sight in your product listing, but never-the-less factor into A9. They tell A9 that a specific product listing is targeting the specific keywords, and thus influences customer searches.

The important thing to remember about Search Terms is that these are the valuable keywords that will most likely be indexed first, so the most important keyword phrases go into these fields.

You’ll put the keywords you didn’t use in the Product Features within the Search Terms and Subject Matter fields. The Search Terms fields are your most valuable keywords, while the Subject Matter fields that say what the product is for, the target market, and the category. Subject Matter fields only have 50 characters but still rank on A9 for relevancy.

A few tips for Search Terms themselves:

  • Make sure to include the name of the product, to be indexed.

  • Search terms will be automatically interchanged by A9, so you don’t have to repeat any keywords. Plural versions of singulars are okay since they are different words.

  • Don’t write “for” or “and” or any other conjunctions because these aren’t recognized by the algorithm.

  • Although it’s generally discouraged to use misspelled words in your listing, the commonly misspelled that still index will go into the backend search terms.

We recommend using a tool such as Seller Tools, which has a Keyword Manager, Listing Manager, and Automatic Keyword Harvesting to find the most indexed keywords (you’ll want to use other external tools in combination) and then draft a product listing that you can copy onto Amazon’s backend.

3. BRAND STORY AND PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Over-stuffed keywords are a thing of the past, while relevant keywords are in. These relevant keywords together tell a part of the brand story through the product description, especially for best-selling products. You’ll certainly want a product description that tells a story--what it’s for, who it’s for, and why consumers need it.

Although the product description and the bullets do not directly influence rank on A9, its keywords are still indexed. This is a great opportunity to tell the brand’s story and how the product adds to that story.

Remember your brand’s value proposition that we discussed in How to Stay on Top of the Competition? Stay true to that and add details to your product description that tells how the product enhances your brand.

The bullets and descriptions are important aspects that will increase product visibility and brand awareness, and the relevant keywords you use in these parts of the product listing will be indexed. A good product listing incorporating the brand story and high-ranking keywords make you stand out from the rest.

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SEO With A9 In Mind

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We’ve often gone into keyword research, keyword targeting, and keyword optimization because it’s so important, but here’s the why of it: the A9 Algorithm indexes all your keywords which, if you’re using relevant keywords, impacts your ranking on Amazon search results.

Here’s how to boost your SEO with A9 in mind:

  1. THE RIGHT CATEGORY

Why do your best, supposedly high-ranking keyword end up unindexed? Maybe because it’s not in the right category.

When you first create a listing, you will be asked what Category the product belongs in. Categories are A9’s way of classifying, and what’s more, A9 knows which keywords are in which category.

Think of it as a row in the aisle in the supermarket--A9 will direct shoppers to the right row, to the right shelf. For example, if you’re looking for “MacBook Case,” it will direct you to the MacBook accessories aisle, but all online. See, A9 is smart. But if your product is in the wrong aisle, how can A9 direct shoppers to it?

Also, sometimes shoppers browse category pages rather than using the search engine, or at times they use a combination of both, browsing first then searching, and vice versa. So making sure your product is in the right category is key.

2. INDEXATION

Let’s repeat: You must get ALL your keywords indexed by A9!

You can use various tools to check if your keywords are indexed by Amazon including:

  • Amazon Keyword Index and Ranking Checker - a free Google extension by AMZ Data Studios, this allows you to check indexing and ranking position for all keywords (even in the backend).

  • Sellics AMA Keyword Tool - an All-in-One keyword research tool that also lets you monitor your rankings.  

3. LONG-TAIL KEYWORDS

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to use long-tail keywords (keywords of three to four phrases) rather than short-tail. This is so A9 can be precise in directing shoppers to your site.

Whenever a shopper uses a long-tail keyword, such as “pink MacBook case,” they’re specific about exactly what they want to buy. Thus, if your brand is featuring that specific product, A9 can send shoppers to you!

Long story short -- long-tail keywords are easier to rank for, drive combined traffic, and convert more.

Optimize With These Tactics

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1. TESTING—

As we know, optimized product listings lead to higher rankings.

Experimentation combined with rapid-testing your product listing is key to higher everything. If you’re launching a new product, source a test batch first. See if your product listing drives traffic. AmazeOwl is a free product research tool that allows you to find market data and do competitive analysis.

The key with keywords is trial and error. Test your keywords using some of the tools we’ve mentioned in this article, and find the indexation meter for each keyword.

Market analysis and data will always help you out during the testing of your product and keywords. The right analytics will show you the best group to test, the best keywords for indexation, and the best images or EBC content to show to your consumers.

2. IMAGES

“Image is everything,” you’ve heard it said. That’s pretty much correct because new market trends are showing that images are of huge importance in the consumer journey. If you’re interested in the Future of E-Commerce: 2019 Biggest Trends, we’ve compiled a playbook for you that shows all the upcoming trends in eCommerce.

Every image also has to be indexed by A9. Remember, high-quality images have a higher conversion rate. Images on Seller Central, according to Amazon, must be 1,000 pixels or more in height and width. Your images both on the product listing and the Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) page should compliment each other.

A study shows that EBC content can up conversion rates because it’s a way to feature your product in an aesthetically pleasing way. (Make sure your EBC content is optimized for mobile). EBC will influence your ranking and brand visibility by telling a story with high-quality images and catchy content.

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Consider Other Factors for A9

SALES PERFORMANCE HISTORY

Nothing is better at moving A9 search ranks than actual sales. This can help you take out the competition, boost external traffic, and lead present sales to future sales. Higher conversions in sales ups your ranking which in turn ups your conversion and the cycle is never-ending!


REVIEWS

Potential consumers always, always, always rely on product reviews. 84% of consumers trust online reviews. The more positive reviews, the better. Reviews boost rankings and sales, it’s been proven.


AVAILABILITY

If you’re using FBA by Amazon, you just have to make sure you’re always in stock. Check out a blog post we wrote on how to prevent a stockout.


PRICE

You must have a competitive price, in comparison to your competitors for the same product. You don’t necessarily have to have the lowest price, but as always, make sure you’re offering the best deal for your product. A good price leads to conversions, as the price is an important metric for consumers.

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Ultimate Conversion

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Yes, A9 directs shoppers to the right products, but it also directs shoppers to the most popular products. The higher your conversion rate, the higher your SEO value, and the better you rank.

Amazon, through A9, gages your profitability (based on sales), your popularity (based on reviews), and your SEO content (based on indexed keywords and images), which all influence A9. As you can probably guess, the higher your conversion rate, the higher you’ll rank, but as you’ve seen in this article, there are many factors to boost conversion and optimize SEO for A9.

We at MarketplaceOps hope to make your A9 search rankings as high as possible. If you have a question on the A9 Algorithm, MarketplaceOps can help. We are a team of online marketplaces and e-Commerce experts who have been in the industry for many years.

We’ve compiled a Playbook for you, and we have Webinars to guide you every step of the way. If you have more questions about our articles or if you simply need help in starting or handling your Amazon business, just reach out to us by sending an email or contacting us.