Ranking on Amazon: A10 Algorithm, A9 Algorithm, and What You Need to Know

March 29, 2024

The Amazon search engine system is complex. The better you understand that system, the better prepared you can be to come out on top.

Every sale depends on the right customer finding the right product. Amazon wants to help make that happen. However, Amazon's focus is the customer, and it doesn't care if the seller it helps is you or one of your more than two million potential competitors.

As with any other aspect of your Amazon FBA business, you must be proactive with Amazon search and product recommendation rankings. To do that, you need to understand how products get ranked. Terms such as "Amazon A9 algorithm" and "Amazon A10 algorithm" are more handles for grasping a concept than actual computer programs. However, these unofficial terms persist because they are a useful way of understanding the constantly changing system.

The better you understand that system, the better prepared you can be to come out on top. Read on to learn what you need to do to set your product listings up to rank higher.

Peeking Behind the Curtain: The Amazon Search Engine

Amazon has never discussed an A10 or A9 algorithm. That's not because they're a secret. It's because they don't exist as singular algorithms. Those terms are just shorthand for Amazon's various algorithms and automated systems that rank product listings.

"A9" comes from the name of Amazon's attempt at a general search engine similar to Google or Yahoo, and even that venture employed more than one algorithm. When Amazon changed how it weighs customer intent, many industry members began using the "A10" designation to communicate this change.

Moving Past Semantics

There is no single Amazon ranking algorithm. However, the Amazon search engine system employs algorithms, machine learning, and automation to give consumers relevant suggestions. All the pieces of that system serve one core purpose: to provide search results and product recommendations that satisfy customers and encourage them to check the Amazon marketplace first. While having more customers in the ecosystem helps all sellers, you also need to understand what helps products rank if you are going to get a slice of the pie.

Core Ranking Factors for the Amazon Algorithm

  • Relevance
    • Everyone wants search results and product recommendations to actually meet the buyer's needs. Ranking on Amazon is not like ranking a travel blog. You need purchases, not just clicks. Keywords should be narrowly targeted at people interested in a specific product, not just a category or brand. Your title, description, and backend keywords need to align with the specific product. There is no "filler" text when listing a product. You can use Amazon's tools on Seller Central to help find keywords customers are using that fit your products.
  • Reviews and Customer Satisfactions
    • All of these core factors intertwine. The more people who click to look at your product and make a purchase, the better you will rank. Positive reviews and a strong sales history can also help you rank in search results and product recommendations.
  • Seller Performances
    • This may be the most frustrating ranking factor. After all, how are you going to improve your performance until you rank higher? However, you can work on factors such as defect rate, returns, late shipments (for merchant-fulfilled products), and customer service. All of these individual elements add up to significantly impact your reliability ranking as a seller.

The Mystery Factor

No one actually knows how Amazon ranks products. The inclusion of machine learning algorithms also means the system is constantly self-updating. However, once you consider the algorithm's goal is to ensure customers find products they want to buy, buy those products without problems, and receive or use those products without issues, it is not difficult to reverse engineer things and identify the steps you need to take. 

Now, let's dig a bit more into the nitty-gritty of how you can optimize your product listings on Amazon.

Optimizing to Rank

Listings that Stand Out

All aspects of a product listing are important. If you are working through a significant refresh or adding many new products at once, relying too heavily on templates or formulas may be tempting while changing as little as possible. You have to ask, how much is each sale worth to you? If five more minutes spent refining and polishing a listing results in more sales, then skipping extra work isn't paying off.

Titles: Like a headline on a story or post, good product listing titles are hard work. Every word counts much more, and placement and word order can make a huge difference. Even if you aren't a title master, you can still ensure that the product title accurately reflects the product, speaks to the search intent of the target audience, is easy to read, and is reasonably compelling rather than just a string of keywords. Seller Central is, once again, a good resource to help you keep your titles popping.

Product Images: Images add visual appeal and should be used to catch a customer's eye, but should also have substance. Size charts, measurements, and actual pictures of the product in use (not just a bad photoshop of a smiling person with a product image pasted over their hand) will help customers feel more confident about clicking "Buy Now." Have multiple angles, pictures that show any accessories, ports, or plugs, and any other visual relevant to your specific product that will help customers understand what the product is, how much space it takes up, and whether it will fit their needs. Finally, just as the first word in your title is important, so is the first image, as it is the one that will show up alongside your product in search and recommendation results. Learn how to A/B test your product images so that you can use research to help you determine what product listings are more appealing to your audience.

Description: Answer your customers' biggest questions in bullet points. If a past issue shows up in multiple reviews and has been corrected, note that near the top of the product description. Format your descriptions to appear professional and make them look slightly different from what every other generic seller does. Include relevant keywords, but keep the description focused on the customer who reads it, not the search algorithm.

Backend Keywords: This is where you should most effectively list terms that apply to your product. Use Amazon's seller tools to help narrow your list to the terms consumers are searching for, and check your keywords against Amazon's guidelines to avoid any negative hits to your rankability. Check out our guide on how to master keywords on Amazon. 

Managing Reviews and Customer Service

Don't Stuff the Ballot Box: Not only does Amazon actively combat fake or manipulative reviews, but many consumers have caught on to the fake review game, and increasingly even "free sample" reviews are losing what weight they had. A handful of authentic reviews from customers who put your product through its paces carry a lot more weight than a thousand with unboxing pictures.

Be Proactive with Customer Satisfaction: Good customer experiences result in the best reviews. While Amazon has strict guidelines about soliciting reviews, any time you have a satisfied customer, that is who you need to encourage to write a review. If you ask people to review your product, try to get an experienced and credible reviewer who will do more than an unboxing video. Finally, how you handle negative reviews can make a big difference. Turning a bad review into a positive one that praises how you resolved the issue will build confidence for potential customers.

Successful Partners Are Essential to Your Success

One of the biggest misconceptions about Amazon's FBA program is its practically passive income. Any successful seller will tell you it is a business like any other, and the work never seems to stop. The more you can delegate or automate, the more time you have for the things you can't simply automate, such as crafting quality product descriptions rather than just posting whatever a chatbot spat out at you.

Grow Your Amazon Business With Mayan

If you’re interested in seeing what Mayan can do for your Amazon FBA business, sign up today. We’re excited to show you our platform and run an audit to show you the opportunities our platform can provide. Once we’re aligned on your goals, we can get started bringing your business to the next level. Ready to see how Mayan can help?
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