Alright guys... I'm back writing again, sorry to keep you all hanging! Been uberly busy with the team:
- Launched Feedbackz version 2.0
- Launched a public Live Interactive Demo of Feedbackz (so people can test it out without creating an account, it's pretty bad ass)
- Re-designed the blog (see... don't you like?) and to position it for upcoming videos!
Side note: Had competitors directly rip off my designs, blog, and even trying to copy my writing style. Just don't copy from the app; there's intellectual property in there =) .....Plus... if you're always following, you're always a step behind and never finish first!
But enough about my spill.. you came here for the ranking factors, right? Right. Before I begin; this is a disclaimer that no one (including me) can really prove what ranks, what doesn't, and what weight carries what.. But.... Through trial, error, and results ranking my own Amazon private label products + 10 years of deep Google SEO & marketing experience + discussions and analysis amongst other successful sellers: These 35 ranking factors are very spot on and an Absolutely Must if you want to succeed in Amazon FBA.
The End Game Of Amazon's SEO Algorithm
Let's first "incept" ourselves into the mind of Amazon's search algorithm. We need to establish a very important rule first. A rule shared by all search engine algorithms, and one that we must never forget... What is the end game that Amazon wants?
The ultimate goal, the purpose behind the whole thing. Google's is to provide the absolute best and useful content, no fluff. When you strip down all 35 of these ranking factors, the fundamental core purpose of each one of these is to serve the end game. And that end game is: the MAMM Factor.
If you remember from my earlier post; MAMM stands for "Make Amazon the Most Money" THE MOST REVENUE IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME for a particular (broad and exact matches) of a keyword. Point. Blank. Period. Make Amazon the Most Money in 24 hours by letting them let your product be ranked higher than the other guys. Total Revenue = Number of Products Sold x Sales Price. Now take Total Revenue x Range of Time = Ranking Score (Example: a "give away" for a few measly bucks is not going to impact your Total Revenue or MAMM Factor by much which is why most times than not; you don't stick your rankings. More on this later in it's area.)
You'll occasionally see me loop back around and tie a particular factor to it's cause/effect and impact on the MAMM factor. It's important to understand the Why's and being able to connect the dots. I categorized all 35 factors by their 9 Impactor Categories (which is the ones you see in the pie chart). Some are in-depth, some are shallow. Let's Get Started....
Click Thru Rates
1. Click Thru Rates
Click Thru Rates From The Search Results Page To Your Product Listing's Page. Whoa.. what a shocker?! Surely, one would of thought product reviews was going to be the biggest impact category for ranking. Not really... it's all about the Click Thru Rate and Conversions.
If your product has the highest CTR (click thru rate) on a page full of products; (given you cover the other bases to a satisfactory level); you will win out in the long term, organically. It's why sellers scramble to "create" bundles, it's why we buy PPC, try to offer extras/bonuses/incentives, polish packaging, polish design, different colors, any product differentiation...
It gives your product listing an edge, it makes your product stand out from the crowd amongst the other listings,... and hopefully in return gets the most eye ball views a.k.a. CTRs from the moment a buyer searches for a product to finally landing on your listing. Amazon very closely tracks this metric, and it's definitely in their mix in determining your overall ranking score for a keyword as they should.
2. Quantity & Score Of Product Reviews
In order to increase CTRs, one must make an attractive listing. The following four ranking factors (#2, 3, 4, 5) play a direct role in impacting CTR, which in turn directly impacts MAMM. This should be the main reason why sellers try to collect as many product reviews as possible, and not for a "spike ranking".
Although product reviews do play a direct part (much smaller than you think) in the algorithm, the effect of increased CTR via social proof (both) hugely outweighs any "spike ranking". This is why many will get a rough ballpark estimate of how many product reviews they'll need in order to "appear" bigger than their competitor's products (especially when taking on the top 3 dogs).
The ballpark figures also carry a general maximum; because like with everything else, there comes a point where over-doing it:
- Causes you to look fishy. (your dog bowl product has 1,230 product reviews while everybody else has 100'ish)
- Hits a plateau where more reviews has no impact increasing sales
If product reviews were the strongest ranking factor and not the social proof benefit, then we wouldn't care about the general maximum. But we do; because our product listings compete against other product listings.. not the search algorithm. When potential buyers skim through an Amazon search results page, they usually have 4 "pre-filters" (consciously and/or subconsciously) before deciding to open or 'right click/tab' your product:
- Product title/image (is this the right kind of product?)
- Score rating of stars (is it any good?)
- Price (is it within my pre-determined budget)
More important? Actual score rating of reviews vs. The quantity of reviews. The actual score rating of stars edges the pure quantity of product reviews. A product with 4.85 star rating and 55 reviews will beat out a product with 2.5 stars and 300 reviews almost every single time. Make sure that your product's score rating is no less than 4.5 stars.
But.. for CTRs, you can't neglect quantity either because it's important, just not as important as the score. Although the more, the better (and you should continually aim at this).. There's usually a general range where a buyer would feel a product is "socially proven" enough purely by just the quantity of reviews: this is generally around the 50+ product reviews mark (may move depending on how strong your niche is).
3. Main Product Image
Good Main Image = increased CTR. Many people try to hit it out the park with this one image; it's important but let's not over-do it. I've seen anything from people slapping 'tags', warranties, approval stamps, additional description, etc. etc. and have this fugly looking thing of a product image. To be honest; people usually determine just two things from an image:
- Is this the right product? (does it look generally like what I've seen before or looking for)
- Is this the right variation? (is this the right kind or color I want)
They are not looking for anything else, they are not looking for more in-depth information; that's what they got titles, descriptions, and bullet points for. It's 2015, people know where to look. So focus on a strong, clear shot, precise shot of your product. Get a good angle that highlights your strong point/differentiation without sacrificing showing the original specs.
4. Product Title
Good Product Title = increased CTR. People skim product titles for keywords. Once that is satisfactory, they will look at the title to confirm other specifications they were looking for. I call these "nice to have" specifications.
5. Brand Name
Solid, trust-worthy brand names will get more CTRs any day. That's why I always suggest creating a new account if you're selling another product that's in an entirely new niche. (yes, just ask Amazon for permission for open another account) If I'm buying a new printer; I'm much more likely to buy a printer made by Printomatic than Warehouse Outlets. If I'm buying a new headphones; I'm much more likely to buy headphones made from Soundstream than AAA Music Gear.
This is just a theory but I think Amazon will eventually follow in the foot steps of Google and start putting more weight on brand names. Google uses what is called "relativity" metric where they can weigh the association of a keywords and type of product/service with a brand name. Google ties the brand name more strength and authority.
For instance; if Amazon sees a pattern where a search for "phone protection case" is often "phone protection case lifeproof", then they track down what 'lifeproof' is and start associating more weight towards LifeProof listings.
6. Conversion Rate
Conversion rates and CTRs go together like ice cream and summer, pancakes and syrup, Yin and Yang,... I think you get it. I can write a whole other post about increasing conversions on a listing, but to keep things in terms of pure ranking factor power... Amazon (just like with CTR) keeps a very close eye on this metric. Traffic in (both new and repeat), the bounces out, and the purchases out that product listing.
7. Overall Product Listing Optimization
This is almost the same as Conversion Rate but slightly different in that: Conversion Rate includes all metrics, including things outside of your complete control like product reviews, review score ratings, customer questions, etc. Optimizing your product listing is something that you have direct control over to have a direct impact on Conversion Rate such as: your other images, bullet points, description, category, etc. No point in bringing more people to your listing if you can't convert them into a purchase. Now; IF you brought them there, then you did something right.. chances are they liked something. So they clicked on your product listing to get:
- Clarification from something they saw in the search results page
- Confirmation of certain specifications
- More details on specifications
Always keep those 3 in mind when optimizing your listing.
8. People / Benefits Focused
Again; this is an unquantifiable metric and one that Amazon can't really track as a ranking variable, but has a direct impact on Conversion which directly impacts MAMM. I think this is a factor that is often ignored; it's like an X-factor type thing. People get so wrapped up in this and that, this and that,... that they forget they are selling to humans at the end of the day.
That is why sellers who sell products they themselves use can always write way better copy for the listing. Write to people. Write professionally. Write concisely. Write short. Write benefits. More importantly; tie the specifications to the benefits.
Sales And Product Listing History
9. Sales / Product Listing History
Amazon keeps track of and adds a score weight to your past sales performances for your product listing including: total revenue, click thru rates, conversions. Amazon also tracks sales growth rate in chunks of time: Hot sellers, #1 New Release badges, etc.
10. Past 7, 14, 30 Days Revenue, Conversions & Units Sold
No brainer here. We know Amazon keeps a track of your product's metrics by date range. Further more, from my experiences; it appears they will even use some sort of forecasting algorithm. The age old question of: Should I increase my price so I won't run out of inventory? Doing so may actually hurt things when you finally restock, such as a longer delay before your rankings (and as a result sales) bounce back to where they were before. But... this is for a later post.
11. Refund Rate
You know what the opposite of Total Revenue is? Refunds. Yep, Amazon will track and add it into their formula equation to determine your ranking score. The following is all in theory (and not tested by me yet) but... this metric may be one of those that go against the MAMM factor.
For example; if product A sells $50K with a high 10% refund rate; that's $45K total revenue. While product B sells $45K with a 5% refund rate; that's $42K total revenue. Normally product A should out-rank product B but.... I think Amazon weighs in more negative scoring towards refunds because of the backend - wage/shipping/processing costs it takes to do refunds.. So Amazon would come out ahead more if they ranked product B higher.
12. Age Of Product Listing
This is one that I personally can't vouch for but have had other seller friends that's been in the game for awhile mention. To me; the age of a product listing just gives it more opportunity time to accumulate product reviews, sales history, etc..
Everything else being exactly equal: I believe this does carry some weight, just how much I am not sure. I say this because I've came across products where it didn't have a tremendous amount of reviews (in some cases less than 50) but out-ranked other products with similar "publically observable" metrics and looking at the oldest reviews, they are dated 3-5 years ago. This tells me that age (outside of just more time to accumulate reviews, etc.) may have played a factor when things are close.
13. Total Revenue Ever
Just like Amazon keeping a timeline record of the previously mentioned metrics; they also keep a total sum of revenue ever produced by a product listing. I believe this is tied closely to the Age factor as well. Again, this is not something I can fully vouch for, but from a programmer's standpoint; it's a super easy metric to get and I don't see any reasons why not to throw it in the algorithm formula. Just how much authority weight to add to it, not sure..
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Internal Referral Paths
14. Internal Referral Path
Yessir! This actually should be.... MUCH much bigger slice of the pie. But there's only so much of the pie to go around. This is how Amazon determines what keywords to even give your listing rank authority in the first place. All the CTRs and Conversion Rates wouldn't mean much if Amazon didn't know what keywords to tie it to. Unfortunately; there isn't much you can do about this.
At the end of the day; you are not the market. And the market always wins. You cannot sway the patterns (or trends) of the market organically searching for keywords. (unless you're a $Billion brand). This is why CTR is so important because any opportunity you have to appear for those keywords, you take it and you kill it and show Amazon your listing should be there and can MAMM. Hence this is why Internal Referral Path is weighted less than the other 3 Impactor categories.
15. "Super URLs"
Product Reviews, Product Reviews, Product Reviews
Shocker: Product Reviews are so low? That's because in reality; product reviews don't have much impact on the actual ranking; it's the other benefits that product reviews bring (directly impacting CTR and Conversions) that impact rankings the most. There's a huge mis-conception amongst the community that reviews alone are the secret sauce to get you to the top and give aways will spike your ranking so high, you'll stick if you optimize your listing. WRONG.
Even if you optimized your listing, can you replicate your competitor's CTR, Conversion Rate, Sales History, Outside Traffic Sources, etc.?? Unless you match pound for pound..... organically, you will drop... guaranteed. Example: 50 giveaway units x $2 = $100 Total Revenue. You may "spike" because your Total Revenue is edging others for a given time period (a few hours to a few days, maybe a few weeks if your competition is low). But eventually your competitor can make up that gap in Total Revenue organically. Repeat: organically.)
16. Reviews Minimum Threshold - Part 1
It's like Amazon keeps you inside during recess and not let you out in the playground... at least until you hit a minimum of product reviews. Anywhere from 2 to 15 product reviews (depending on the niche competition) and you will notice that your listings start showing up on search results (or that you moved from page 123 to page 8, same thing). You'll see a noticeable bump increase in "sessions" (unique visits) and "page views" all across the board when you hit this threshold.
17. Reviews Minimum Threshold - Part 2
Even more, there's another threshold. Amazon lets you out to the playground, but they didn't actually let you get on the play castle. When you get over 15-25 (depending on niche); time and time again, I see some imaginary gate lifted by Amazon and now your product can appear with the best of them. It's like Amazon saying "okay, you're smart and old enough to go play outside responsibly by yourself now" and let's you join your friends in the playground. You'll again notice an more noticeable bump of increase all across the board. After that; the uphill grind gets much, much harder.
18. Length Of Reviews
These next 4 factors (#18, 19, 20, 21, 21) all relate to Quality of Reviews and what factors Amazon uses to distinguish and determine what is more "quality". Does Amazon take into account the number of words and characters of your product reviews? More than likely. The longer the review, the better they generally help people. Example: Product A has 10 reviews each with 1,000 words in each review. Product B (everything else exactly the same) has 20 reviews with 10 words in each review. Which one do you think will rank higher?
19. Rank Of Reviewers
Another way Amazon determines the quality of your reviews is by the quality of the actual reviewers. You don't think they keep the Reviewer's Rank metric for just show purposes, do you? Again; everything else being equal... if both Product A and B had 10 reviews and you take get the sum of all the reviewer's rank, do you know which one wins? Probably the one with the lower sum. Tip: Target the top 1,000 ranked reviewers. I guarantee you it will make a huge difference. That's for another post.
20. Overall Total Votes On Reviews
Not much explaining here, just like with the other Quality of Reviews metrics, the more overall votes you have throughout all your reviews, the better. How much does this weigh? Well, since this part can be "gamed" fairly easily, I am hoping (and observing) not much.
21. Customer Videos
Everything else being equal; if Product A and B had 10 reviews and one had a customer to leave a review video. You guessed it. The more, the better. And don't let one get voted to the top; huge impact: both from a rankings standpoint and CTR/Conversions. But that doesn't mean go out and try to beat the crap out of and abuse this, be smart. It's actually quite hard to "game" customer videos.. they go through a human filter for approval. They take into account the reviewer's past, rank, content of the video, etc. before determining approval. And it should stay this way; only let the people who put in true hard work and value let their videos show.
22. Customer Images
Like videos, images uploaded by customers will give you a bump as well in CTR, Conversions, and Rank Authority. Again; you can't abuse this.. It's human filtered.
23. Customer Questions
Like the previous ranking factors; everything else equal, a product listing with customer questions will out rank. So it does hold some weight. How much in terms of ranking authority? Not much... But, most importantly; it helps increase CTR and Conversion Rates.
24. Customer Answers
See ranking factor #23. Same thing. But you can actually go in yourself and help answer. Let your soul shine here. In a world and time where customer service is expected to suck balls, People take notice of these small things.
25. Inventory Availability
Made it this far? You may as well subscribe! This is something much over-looked in the land of shiny objects posted every where in the Amazon selling community. Amazon keeps a metric of you being able to stay in stock. They can weigh in your ability to meet market demand. The higher quantity of product units you move versus the smaller the window you stay out of stock = higher weight on this factor. What is the opposite of MAMM and Total Revenue? Not bringing in any revenue at all.
26. Over 150+ Units Available
This is one that I haven't shared with anyone. (Okay, maybe one or two..) but I have observed that when I do a re-stock (of at least 150 or more), my rankings take a BIG boost. Now; this isn't "running out of stock on the listing for a few days and then re-stocking" this is "you have 100 units available already and you just put in another 300 more". Trust me; if you're able, you'll love this gold nugget ranking factor. =)
On Page Keywords
27. On Page Keywords / Density / Weight By Order Position
Ah... yes, this is more of the traditional "ranking factors" people are used to. Even though Amazon is not a content search engine like Google, it is still a search engine none the less that operates off an index. And no data is easier to scrape from an index than static data/columns, meaning it's not running off some algebraic (a + b/c + d - e * f = g) formula calculation.
It is simply just pulling from scanned keywords inside it's database. Does Amazon look for the keyword to appear in your product listing? Why,.. Yes. Keyword density tracked? Sure. Why not. This is how many times certain keywords appear in proportion to the entire body of text. More weight for keywords placed in more "prime" areas, particular near the front of different things?
Sure. Will any of this and the following on-page factors be weighted a lot? Probably not that much, but you better have them in there because guaranteed your competition does. and if you don't have these basic bases covered; you're probably not even going to appear for the keywords.
28. Product Title Keywords
Yes, yes, and yes. This is a strong ranking factor. The more near the front, the better. Can you keyword stuff the title and make it 200+ words? Errr... no; it's not going to work. And if it does, it won't be for long. I would give the search engine team over at Amazon much more credit than that. Another rule; make your Product Title concise, sharp, polished... beautiful. Google 'how to write good copy'.. it's very important to know how to write good copy. Actually, here ya go! http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+to+write+good+copy
29. Search Term Box
The tab 'Keywords' when you go to edit a product. Fill every square inch of that you are allowed. Don't waste space duplicating words you already used in your title, description, bullets, etc. Don't use commas, waste of space. Put in common mis-spellings? Sure why not. Put in other trademarked brands? Errr... No. How much weight does anything in this area carry? On a scale of 1 to 100. More than 1, less than 15. It's better than nothing. Do it, it's a basic requirement.
30. Product Descriptions
Yes. Don't keyword stuff, keep it about 2-3% density. But most importantly write it for a human. Not weighed as strong as a product title, but I suspect stronger than the Search Term Box. Doesn't matter though; it's not like you can't not do it. (don't you love that word?)
31. Product Bullets Points
Yes, throw some in there but more importantly write for a human being. If that happens to be where keywords don't appear here, then so be it. Writing to a human takes importance here. Use every character you need, but don't ramble about nothing either. You can be concise without being long winded. No stupid stars, no stupid characters, it just makes your private label brand look tacky and amateurish.. Nobody reads long stuff anyways.. they are skimming for keywords.
32. Keywords In Customer Reviews
Something you can't really control... something I've observed to help out just a little bit. And I do mean little bit, so don't go out of your way wasting a week's time trying to convince or re-convince reviewers to leave keywords in there. Much better and higher-value use of your time elsewhere IMO.
Impressions / Sessions / Page Views
33. Impressions / Sessions / Page Views
Oh yeah.. Definitely a factor Amazon tracks and compares your product to others, but not much weight put on them for ranking. Much of it is outside your control, which is why it is so important to work on: CTR, Conversions, and Product Listing Optimization. Things you can control.
34. Outside Traffic Sources
Pretty sure Amazon keeps a track of what product listings are self-generating traffic. Meaning (because of it's brand or in the form of outside marketing or even in the form of social media shares), more impressions and page views are coming from another source other than internally through those already on Amazon.com.
I have personally done some outside marketing to generate and funnel traffic into my Amazon listings. With that said; I think Amazon keeps a track of the normal metrics like CTR, conversions, etc. for outside & self-generated traffic but holds them to a much lower standard because Amazon cannot control or compare the quality of these "leads" versus their own internal potential buyers.
Pretty much, don't be scared to do this. Sellers are scared of "hurting their conversion rate". But more traffic/eye balls = more sales = higher MAMM. But... this is the last thing you need to focus on if you haven't covered everything else in this article first.
Seller Account Authority
35. Seller Account Authority / Rating / Health
Not something I've tested personally... and I know it has an effect with in the RA world to win the buy box. But if you're the only account on your brand's listing (as you should be) then I haven't personally experienced any jump in rankings due to my seller feedback ratings, quantity, etc. being higher than another competitor's brand new seller account.
This has also been my personal experience on other side as well: ranking new products with brand new accounts. I didn't see my new seller account having a "harder" time against established guys. This is a metric I personally wouldn't even worry about.. there are much higher-value activity and areas to focus your time/energy on.
That's it. Well, at least for now.. any search engine is constantly changing and new strategies and tactics be discovered while others discarded useless. So I'll probably end up updating this periodically. I thank you very much for reading, this is actually one of my personal favorite and best written articles I've ever put out. If you enjoyed the passion in my writing and found value; imagine the level of value my Amazon feedback software, Feedbackz, can bring to your FBA business where I've put in much more work in.. take a peep at the free live demo =) (https://demo.feedbackz.com); I think you'll be pleasantly surprised..
Even if you currently use Amazon feedback software, you'll want to make the change. Feedbackz is better (a separate post and video coming soon) and will absolutely out-perform the others even more as Feedbackz only gets better. Subscribe if you haven't already; you don't want to miss out.