How Does Amazon Search Engine Optimization Work?

By Buy Box Experts on February 16, 2020

We spend a lot of time talking about how to optimize websites to appeal to the Google bots, but Amazon is a search engine, too. Good search engine optimization on Amazon can help sellers thrive; the absence of it can kill a business.

To succeed in the Amazon SEO game, you need to know the rules of engagement—which can be tricky and fast-changing. We asked experts in the field to share their insights into Amazon SEO. Here’s what they had to say.

Andres Aguero
Andres Aguero
Andres Aguero is an SEO Strategist at Barbeques Galore. He handles all SEO for all 20 brick and mortar locations in addition to the e-commerce Amazon stores.

Based on conversion

Google’s algorithm is based on relevance whereas Amazon’s algorithm is based on conversion. Google has done a lot of work to get the best result to the end-user. In the past, websites were able to rank by stuffing keywords into their content. Those days are long over. Fast-forward to 2020, these types of techniques will get you hit with a Google penalty.

Amazon’s algorithm is quite the opposite. Amazon wants to sell as many products to the end-user as possible. This means that people are able to stuff as many keywords into the product title and description so that it can rank when someone searches up a query. Here are some of the key items I focus on in order to rank well on Amazon:

  • Overall account health (store feedback rating, returns, etc.)
  • Reviews
  • Product price
Derrick Rehn
Derrick Rehn
Derrick Rehn is an SEO Specialist at Manufacturing Marketing Pros

Black box

Amazon SEO works in the same sense that Google SEO works. This is in the sense that both Google and Amazon treat their ranking algorithms as a closely guarded secret. As such, many Amazon SEO experts will tell you that rankings are essentially a black box. You make a change to your listing page and see what sort of results you get.

That being said there are several agreed-upon factors that have an impact on your Amazon listing’s performance. These are as follows:

  • How many reviews your product has and how favorably it is reviewed
  • Key information about your product, such as descriptions and bullet points
  • Multiple images of your product
  • Use of relevant keywords
Elias Manolopoulos
Elias Manolopoulos
Elias Manolopoulos is the founder of Aeon Ads, a digital marketing agency that helps brands amplify their online presence.

Relevance and performance

Amazon SEO is not just one thing. There are a number of ranking factors and each one has its own varying importance. It all comes down to relevance and performance. Relevance includes title, description, store name and back-end keywords. Performance includes reviews, price, images, and conversion rates. To successfully optimize your Amazon page you must make these components a big part of your overall marketing plan.

Jeremy Harrison
Jeremy Harrison
Jeremy Harrison started selling on Amazon in 2016. As a digital marketer, he founded to help other people achieve success in their side hustles.

Product reviews

One of the most critical components that influence a product’s ranking on Amazon is the reviews. Potential buyers often scroll straight to the feedback provided by the previous buyers. Getting excellent product reviews is of utmost importance in order for your product to rank higher in Amazon and increase your sales.

Providing excellent customer service is a must since this will encourage the buyers to leave a positive review of your product. You should also make sure to engage consistently with those customers who leave product reviews, whether they be positive or negative. Don’t shy away from a negative review, as this paves a way for you to shed light on the review and provide your own perspective. Engaging with your customer is an indication of excellent customer service which will help prevent negative reviews and keep your conversion rate up.

Getting your product ranked higher on Amazon is not only about the technical aspect but more importantly, it is taking care of your customers because after all, they take care of your revenue.

Sameer Somal
Sameer Somal
Sameer Somal is the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology.

Product description and associated content

When it comes to Amazon, SEO plays a foundational role in both the ranking and subsequent sales of a product. The higher you rank, the more you sell. As an Amazon seller, SEO is the critical tipping point. A small difference in where you appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) may have an amplified impact on both revenue and profitability.

Amazon ranks products based on how likely they are to be sold. The more selling appeal in the eyes of Amazon, the higher the ranking. Amazon offers sellers the opportunity to tag keywords when showcasing an item. These keywords should be chosen carefully and not overlooked. Optimized keywords attract more customers and traffic. Amazon accounts for increasing clicks, which often result in a more prominent ranking within Amazon’s algorithm. This provides more visibility and direct opportunities to reach prospective customers.

The product description and associated content also play a critical role in the ranking of your Amazon products. We often recommend that clients use bullet points and high-resolution images with captions for better SEO and placement within the A9 algorithm. Be sure to keep sales copy high quality and concise. Avoid repetitive language and grammatical errors, which adversely affect ranking.

Andrew Morgans
Andrew Morgans
Andrew Morgans has been working with brands on Amazon for 8 years. He is the founder of Marknology™ and has worked with over 220 global brands. Marknology became an Amazon Agency Advertising Partner in 2019, where they were chosen as one of only 60 agencies included in this pilot program.

Customer’s query

The Amazon marketplace is a complex selling system. Nothing that accounts for half of all online sales presently is going to be easy to understand without getting into the details of what makes it dominant. What I have to share with you next is my personal opinion about how this robust shopping engine works behind the scenes.

How Amazon SEO or Amazon Search Engine Optimization Works:

Amazon’s algorithm matches up a customer on Amazon’s search query with the listing that they think matches up the best with that query. That is simple enough, right? If that was all there was to it, we would all be selling way more product on Amazon! The complex part of it is really the question of: “How does Amazon decide what listing matches best with that customer’s query?”

Is it whoever is paying the most with ads and pay per click?

Does Amazon give preference to bigger brands?

Does Amazon give preference to their internal brands first?

Is it given to the listings that have the query in their search terms the most?

Is it using giveaway sites and super urls?

All of these questions have been asked, and the results are in. Some of them are yes, and some of them are no, but what’s important is that you test everything, or at least find someone to help you that has already tested those things for you.

There used to be a black hat method that brands were using to launch products on Amazon. They would give away product for free, at a cost to themselves, to get a review from a buyer. When Amazon banned this practice and punished sellers for it, they had to turn back to Amazon SEO to get their listings found. I couldn’t have been happier when that happened because the strategy that I used to improve Amazon listings was focused around Amazon SEO.

What happens is Amazon matches a customer’s query with a listing that they think matches up best with that query. The listing has a “keyword ranking” for that particular search query that is higher than any other listing on Amazon’s “keyword ranking.”

To rank higher than other listings for a keyword, you have to have more sales on your listing tied to that keyword query than other listings. To get those sales you have to have those keywords in your title, bullet points, alt image tags, back end search terms, A+, or Enhanced Brand Content pages. Great, informative sales copy matched with intentional keyword placement is pivotal for getting picked up by Amazon’s search algorithm and getting a rank.

Amazon Pay Per Click plays a big part in Amazon SEO. It allows us to get real feedback (think Google Analytics) about what searches convert well for our listings and directs our strategy around which keywords we might want to add, subtract, or move from our listing.

Another reason it plays a big part in Amazon SEO is that if a “paid ad” gets a click for a particular search query, and then that customer buys the item, Amazon scores our listing and ranks us higher in their algorithm for scoring as a conversion. Validating that, Amazon should rank us slightly higher than before the purchase.

Everyone that has an opinion around selling on Amazon talks about the flywheel. The reason that is important here is because true experts believe that every part of the Amazon ecosystem is related. Let’s play this out and help you understand: The advertisement of the search query is what finds the customer and gets our click in this example. The image (the main image for the listing) is tied to the advertisement by default and played a part in getting that click. So the ad and the image, as well as our price and reviews (shown on the ad), get our click. The images then play a part again in converting the customer if they buy so we need to include it again. Our sales copy and keywords sprinkled throughout the listing play a part in Amazon matching our advertisement, and to stretch it, maybe we have A+ page copy as well as a video in our listing to assist in converting the click to a sale as well.

Why this needs to be explained is to understand that there are a ton of factors that all play a part in whether your listings get found. It takes patience and intentionality behind gathering those keywords, to include thinking about where to place them, researching their relevance, comparing with competitors’ keywords, testing within the advertising environment, and working on making Amazon an awesome experience for your customers by focusing on what Amazon thinks is important.

Anything that has a score attached to it in your seller account is important as a good rule of thumb as are the things that you would care about if you were asked to judge your competitors’ product and encouraged to criticize it.

The end goal is simple, how to get there is still up for debate.

Jack Choros

Choros is a Content Marketing Expert at

Optimize for keywords

Just like SEO for Google or any other platform, ranking a product on Amazon is all about optimizing for keywords. Many areas within an Amazon listing give users the opportunity to optimize for keywords.

The product title is the most obvious spot. Putting the most relevant keywords here impacts the chances of showing up first for a given search term more than anywhere else on an Amazon product listing. One thing sellers definitely want to do is be sure to use branded keywords in the title and description where appropriate. When people search for a specific brand name, it signals a strong intent to buy your specific brand of product. This is especially important on Amazon because more than any other platform (eBay, Craigslist, etc.) people don’t typically log on to Amazon just to browse. They come on Amazon to actually buy.

Other places to include keywords would be:

  • Your seller username.
  • The back-end of your Amazon Seller Account.
  • The product description.
  • Within the names for your product images.

For other helpful info check out our blog.

Buy Box Experts
If you’re one of the estimated 20%–40% of brands who fire their agency annually, you can’t focus on that vision if you have to keep searching for the right support. BBE proudly retained >95% of our clients last year while applying focused dedication to our brand partners. If you’re ready to start over for the last time, contact us and find out why leading brands have partnered with us for so long.