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How Does Amazon Listing Optimization Work?

February 25, 2021
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When users search for a product on Amazon, a significant percentage (35%) will click on the first result that shows up, and 70% of Amazon shoppers will never go past the first page of search results.1

So Amazon users are naive and overly trusting? Well, that’s one way of looking at it…

In reality, customers trust Amazon to pair them with the top available product. Why look any further when they always seem to give you what you want? As a seller, it’s imperative that your products are the ones being seen—and seen first, hopefully. You might have the perfect product for a specific customer, but if they never scroll past it, it’s as though it doesn’t exist.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want eyes on your products, focus on Amazon Marketing with Amazon listing optimization.

Amazon and Google’s Search Engines Are Different 

Before we dive into listing optimization details, it’s crucial that you first understand how Amazon’s search engine works. That knowledge can help you better tweak your product pages according to Amazon’s algorithm. 

Gaming the system requires an understanding of the rules.

As a business owner, you may be familiar with Google’s search engine functions; it was the first major site that required web page optimization. But Amazon’s ranking algorithm is a whole other beast, with a different fundamental drive than Google.

People searching on Google may be looking to buy a product, but they could just be conducting research instead. The underlying purpose of the algorithm is to answer the user’s question (whatever that may be). As a result, there’s a broader scope of information that the algorithm takes into consideration when ranking results. Google determines the relevance of the search and the result based on engagement behavior, such as:

  • Dwell time – The more time users spend on a site, the more likely it is that they’ve found the answer to their question.
  • Page clicks – The number of times people visited a site also suggests that it appeared to have the appropriate information. 
  • Bounce rate – If users click on then immediately exit out of a web page, it suggests that this result did not have the desired information. 

With Amazon, most users intend to purchase or at least browse for products. The intent of the Amazon A9 algorithm is intrinsically tied to making sales rather than providing information. Therefore, it determines relevance based on which products users purchase after a search, using conversions and sales velocity. According to Amazon:2

“Customers must be able to find your products before they can buy them. One way customers find your products is to search by entering the keywords, which are matched against information such as title and description that you provide for a product. By providing relevant and complete information for your product, you can increase your product’s visibility and sales.” 

What Are the Elements of Amazon Listing Optimization? 

It’s safe to assume that you want your products to be the first search result to appear, right? That’s exactly what every Amazon vendor is after. 

But there’s only room for one in the top spot. So how do you ensure it’s you?

Amazon laid it out pretty clearly for us—it’s about matching your customers’ search results with your product title and product description. To do this, there are four product listing elements to focus on. By making small tweaks to each page, you can improve your product’s search result, visibility, click-through rate, and conversion rate, all of which lead to more sales.

#1 A Clear Product Title

For a product to show up on Amazon’s search engine, the listing will need to have the searched keyword somewhere on the page. It’s even better for keywords to be in the title, but here’s where you have to walk a fine line between including the right terms and overloading the listing. 

Amazon titles can contain up to 250 characters, but there’s a suppression rule that downgrades listings with titles of more than 200 characters. This is partly because the Amazon algorithm assumes you’re spamming as many keywords into the title as possible (which, in most cases, people are).

But optimized Amazon product titles will contain a relevant keyword—emphasis on the word relevant. Because if a user clicks on a top result only to discover that the search terms they entered are completely unrelated to the actual product, they’ll immediately click away to find something else. This will increase your bounce rate and negatively impact your listing ranking. 

The title should include all the information a buyer needs to know immediately. There shouldn’t be any mention of pricing, the number of items available, or discounts. Although it depends on the product, consider adding the following to your title: 

  • The brand name
  • A clear description of its intended use
  • Materials the product is made of (if relevant)
  • The color of the product
  • The size of the product 

#2 A Captivating Product Picture 

Amazon gives you the option to add nine images of your product, including your main photo. 

Ideally, these images will be shot in high-quality resolution with good lighting. As they say, “a picture says a thousand words,” so your photos should accurately represent the product’s actual look and size from various angles.    

To optimize your images, Amazon wants the following:

  • A pure white background, so it looks like the products are floating
  • For the product to take up 85% of the image
  • At least 1,000 x 500 pixels so that users can zoom in
  • Other images that align with your product bullets 
  • No text included in the photo
  • Adherence to the specific image rules for each product category 

#3 A Rich Product Description, Features, and Bullets

Amazon gives you 2,000 characters to captivate shoppers with what your product is and does. This is your chance to sell the product and elaborate on features. It might be tempting to upsell your product with outlandish claims and enticing promises, but buyers will be more dissatisfied if they receive an item that’s nothing like the one you described.

Next, you can use the product feature to go into more detail about your item. In essence, this text block isn’t all that different from the product description, but Amazon provides an additional 1,000 characters to explain its uses, features, and benefits to users. 

Both of these sections are your opportunity to make a brief sales pitch. You can help the shopper envision what their life would be like with this product in it and provide compelling evidence or statistics to support your claims. 

Just remember to keep it short, sweet, and to the point—and accurate

Finally, you can delve deeper into the benefits, using the five allotted bullet points (up to 15 words and 500 characters each) to highlight the most important features and describe the product specs. 

Done right, the product description, features, and bullets give you a chance to get the shopper’s attention, provide a holistic picture of the product, and then dive into the benefits and features.  

#4 Relevant Keywords 

When you boil it down, ranking highly on Amazon’s search engine is like playing a matching game. To win, you need to include the most relevant keywords in both your listing title and product features, based on the search terms customers use.

In a game of chess, you have to think like your opponent—in this case, your customer. 

What are the important features they would want the product to have? What would they search for to find it? Unfortunately, the average consumer doesn’t always think about your products with the same level of sophistication or elegance that you might. 

That item you call an “upright two-wheeled motorized transportation device”? Yeah, that’s what most people call an electric scooter. 

When it comes to keywords, it’s about including the terms people actually use for your products, not the ones you wish they did. 

Additionally, Amazon allows you to use backend keywords to increase a product’s discoverability. These “hidden” keywords inform the algorithm that a specific product listing is targeting a specific keyword. 

The website provides five fields you can fill out with backend keywords—each with a 50-character limit. When you build backend keywords, consider the following tips:

  • Avoid repeating words
  • Don’t use too many variations of the same word or phrase 
  • Include spelling variations or synonyms
  • Quotations marks count against character count, whereas commas do not  

Performance Related Optimization 

It’s important to note that Amazon’s algorithm accounts for a product’s performance, too—a better product will land higher. 

Although you have less control over this than you do with keywords, it’s still essential that you understand how these three key factors impact overall optimization: 

  1. Your Product’s Price – The price you set for your product will naturally impact your conversion rates and total sales. If your product is competitively priced to similar products in the same category, that should benefit both metrics. 

    When there’s little difference between two products, customers will likely flock to the lower-cost item, which impacts your sales and conversion rates and harms your listing optimization. Put simply, it’s important that your items are priced competitively. Or, if they are set at a higher price, it has to be for a good reason.

  2. Your Conversion Rate – If your rate is low, you may need to revisit your relevance and optimization factors, making tweaks where necessary. 
  3. Amazon Reviews – When shopping online, users prefer that others take a risk before they do. As a result, they rely on other customers’ reviews to inform their purchasing decision. A quick search shows a direct correlation between Amazon search results and product reviews—those that rank higher have more and better reviews.

Want to get more reviews? There are several steps you could take, including signing up for Amazon’s Vine Program or Amazon Brand Registry, sending follow-up emails, adding package inserts, or joining Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program. 

Optimizing Your Amazon Listing Page 

Amazon’s A9 algorithm was built to connect shoppers to the products they’re searching for. The goal is to provide buyers with a direct route to the seller. To that end, you and Amazon are perfectly aligned in your objectives. An optimized listing can help ensure that your products are the ones being seen and purchased. 

That helps you, your business, and Amazon’s algorithm—everybody wins when you optimize your listings.  


  1. Search Engine Journal. Amazon’s Search Engine Rankings Algorithm. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/amazon-search-engine-ranking-algorithm-explained/265173/#close
  2. Amazon Seller Central. Optimize Your Product Discoverability. https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/external/10471


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