Fulfillment and Sales Rank play a major role in Amazon search rankings

A study called Amazon SEO Research Study from Ripen eCommerce looked at more than 344,936 unique products and 746,500 search results to find what high-ranking products have in common. It is a fascinating insight into search ranking opportunities.

It was found that as long as products are selling well, they will continue to be at the top of search results. However for anything else, there are a lot of things that could be done to increase their rank. Increasing quality of data like categorization, title, description and features bullet points is a first step. Otherwise Amazon will always rank products they sell themselves better than anyone else, so trying to compete with them is likely going to be a tough battle.

The top 5 factors that correlated with a better ranking were for Amazon USA:

Amazon SEO correlation

  1. Sales (Sales Rank)
  2. Categorization
  3. Fulfillment
  4. Keywords
  5. Advertising

Sales rank was found to be the most important factor. Since the inception Amazon used sales rank for the relevance sorting, and it is still true today. Nothing is as important as having more sales, those products will always rank better even if they are not as strong in say keywords. Once at the top they will have a higher chance to sell even more, so as long as supply lasts and reviews are not degrading sales will continue to expand.

For most searches Amazon will automatically pick a most relevant category, usually the one where most search results fell. So having a product in the wrong category will hide it from search results. The research found that having the right categorization is key. Since Amazon also calculates sales ranks for each sub-category, having a TOP #1 product in a niche category will make it rank really well.

No surprise that Amazon prefers products they sell themselves. What surprised us is that whether a retailer uses Fulfilled by Amazon or not has almost no impact to ranking. Other factors like sales rank and keywords are much more important, while offering FBA shipping did not have much effect at all. So when it comes to competing with other sellers, trying to out-rank Amazon is probably a bad idea - chances are, they will rank better no matter what. And even if your competition are merchant-fulfilled sellers, you will not have a head start.

They also found that keywords had a bigger impact when found in the product title compared to being in the product description. Keywords in the description still mattered though and should not be ignored. For both though it doesn’t matter to have an exact match as Amazon search is clever enough to find similar sounding words.

In the end, it was found that Amazon Advertising options can be used to boost any product and go above any of the factors we discussed. Ads on Amazon are not highly used yet and present a great opportunity to kick-start private-label products or any new brands.

* SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization

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Juozas "Joe" Kaziuk─Śnas

Founder of Marketplace Pulse, Joe wears multiple hats in the management of Marketplace Pulse, including writing most of the articles. Based in New York City. Advisor to other startups and entrepreneurs. Occasional speaker at conferences.

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