Amazon’s search algorithm, A10, is an elusive concept. Most sellers know that A10 determines what people see when they search on Amazon. But how does it work? Let’s go through the basics of the Amazon A10 algorithm.
In last month’s post about Amazon’s search algorithm glitch, we brought home the message that A10 glitches and other software failures can cost you dearly.
But what is this Amazon A10 algorithm and how can sellers influence what buyers see when they search on Amazon?
The Amazon A10 Algorithm in a Nutshell
The term “algorithm” refers to the ancestry of a Persian mathematician. His name was latinized as Algorithmi.
But today it stands for any set of clear instructions used by computers to process data. So, companies often use terms like “code” and “algorithm” interchangeably.
But they’re not the same thing. In simple terms, code is language that computers understand. An algorithm is like a step-by-step handbook with rules and restrictions, used for problem solving (e.g.: pricing rules, decision trees, workflows, heuristic algorithms). Think ‘if…then’.
One of the most prominent types of algorithms in use today is the search engine algorithm. It determines what people see whenever they look something up on a conventional search engine (e.g. Google, Bing) or any other online platform (e.g. Amazon, YouTube).
The type of platform determines the business goal. This then determines the algorithm, and the algorithm determines the search results. For instance, as SEJ explains, Google users are interested in researching an item, while Amazon users are interested in buying it.
So, Google and Amazon tailor their user experience to satisfy different goals (i.e conversion and sales velocity versus clicks per page and time on site). That’s why one site measures the relevance of search results based on conversion, and the other based on engagement.
The Purpose of Amazon’s Search Algorithm
When a buyer performs a search on Amazon, that query is fed into its algorithm. It’s filtered through every step of the algorithm, where it’s instantly checked for relevance. Amazon will then return a list of options, much like a search engine results page (SERP).
Why does this matter? One word: placement. Based on factors like keyword relevancy, conversion rate, and customer satisfaction and retention, Amazon’s search algorithm will rank your listing relative to similar ones. And your ranking matters. SEJ claims that:
- over a third of all clicks on Amazon go to the highest ranking item.
- the first three items combined get 64% of the clicks.
- the first page alone gets 81% of all clicks.
- 70% of buyers never even look beyond page 1.
Why A10? How the Algorithm Got Its Name
Seasoned sellers may remember a time when A9.com was Amazon’s branch in charge of search and advertisingAdvertising is a means of communication … More technologies. It came up with “Search inside the book”, Askville, Kindle ads, and Clickriver (PPC) ads. And it was credited with the A9A9.com is the branch of Amazon that deve… More search algorithm.
In early 2019, seasoned sellers like FBA Tribe claimed that Amazon was moving on from its A9 algorithm. Later in the year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the A9 team was being sidelined after 16 years of activity. Apparently, Amazon was replacing the search algorithm.
But why? The original A9 weighed keywords based on the order of appearance (title first, back-end keywords second, then bullet points, then product description, etc.). It focused solely on keyword consistency, text match, and advertising, at the expense of listing integrity.
Sellers crammed as many keywords as they could in their titles, making them sound clunky. Buyers weren’t impressed with the quality of the listings. So, Amazon kept coming up with A9 updates, focusing on sales history, price, availability, and content (A+ and EBC).
But Amazon couldn’t shake off bad listings, many of which came with aggressive advertising. So, the A9 suffered an overhaul. With the new algorithm, informally known as A10, there’s a broader and more balanced approach to ranking, so it’s good riddance to keyword stuffing.
But whatever the name of the latest version, there’s always more to Amazon’s search algorithm than keywords. So, while it’s important to understand keyword optimization – and My Amazon Guy has plenty of tips on that- there are other ways to boost ranking.
Top 10 Influencing Factors for the Amazon A10 Algorithm
Things like Account HealthAccount Health is an Amazon page which c… More rating, performance metrics, inventory size, fulfillment, and feedbackA performance rating on a scale of 1 to … More score will factor into the ‘seller authority’ criterion. This can boost rankings, as well as Buy BoxThis refers to the situation where a sel… More eligibility. Account age and size (e.g. unified) may also matter, indirectly.
Sales History & Velocity
The focus on sales makes it more likely that only worthwhile products are displayed when there’s a search on Amazon. It’s not just the type of product that counts, but also things like its history on Amazon, seasonality, stock availability, and sales volume. After all, cash is king.
Impressions (Clicked Ads)
Impressions from ads on Amazon, affiliates, and partner websites will drive up rankings. What really matters here is which search terms receive clicks. Amazon doesn’t care how many views your ad has, if those views didn’t result in a click.
This is the ratio of clicks a product has after being displayed on a search results page. The only way to boost the CTR is to optimize the main photo and the title. It’s especially important for the thumbnail to be clear and professional-looking.
Conversion Rate (CR)
To maximize the number of times buyers go through with a purchase (i.e. orders, not clicks), it’s important to use all the available photo slots, providing high-resolution (min. 1,000 x1,000 pixels), zoomable images for parent and child products, and uploading engaging videos.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Internet advertising model whereb… More Sales
Sponsored Ads are no longer the crown jewel of keyword ranking. PPC campaigns have been downgraded in this latest version of Amazon’s search algorithm. That’s because PPC ads don’t always yield product pages that are relevant and useful to the buyer.
These are the kinds of sales that come with having the best feedback score, product reviews, and price- usually achieved with a smart repricer like Sellery. The good thing about A10 is that organic sales velocity is prioritized over sales from PPC campaigns (e.g. Sponsored ads).
These sales are made when buyers browse Amazon’s website. Keywords and ads don’t matter here. Recommendations (“Amazon’s Choice”) and add-ons (“frequently bought with”) are good examples.
A10 is far more focused on sales from off-site traffic than its predecessor. As Feedback Express points out, off-site ads (on social media, blogs, etc.) are 3 times more effective than PPC campaigns. And there’s no shortage of off-site selling tutorials (e.g. Ian Smith’s seller strategies).
The Amazon A10 algorithm is all about customer satisfaction because that’s where the money is. So, items with lots of reviews rank higher than those without. Also, reviews feed into the trustworthiness of products, sellers, and ultimately Amazon. And trust boosts conversion.
So, even though reviews don’t factor into the formula, they have a massive impact on sales velocity. And without a real-time repricer like Sellery, there’s not much else sellers can do to boost organic conversions. Especially in the era of A10, when profit reigns supreme.
On that note, we sign off here, hoping that our brief incursion into Amazon’s search algorithm was worth your while. Next, we’re ready to delve into the murky waters of keyword sabotage. So, be sure to follow our blog for this and many other exciting topics.
Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed.