Amazon’s Latest Algorithm Change And How You Can Get Ahead
Originally Posted 5/12/2016
“War is 90% information” – Napoleon Bonaparte
As the secrets of the A9 ranking algorithm remain locked deep within the Amazon vault, we rely on data to reveal its inner workings and logical constructs. Without documentation and notification of algorithmic updates, staying ahead can be difficult. Even for sellers launching ten or so products, being sure of an algorithm update and its new principles can be extremely difficult. There is simply not enough data.
In today’s era of hyper competition and rapid technological change, data, and our ability to harness it, is our greatest ally. We pride ourselves on understanding the in’s and out’s of ranking products within Amazon’s organic search and we leverage data to develop that understanding. Over the past two years we have run nearly 8,000 product launches for 3,500+ products, and worked with sellers doing $100m+ /year on Amazon. This is not to boast, but rather to help illustrate the incredible volume of data we have been able to aggregate. We programmatically track the keyword ranking of each launch that runs through our platform, allowing us to know what parameters make for a successful product launch.
Approximately 60 days ago, we noticed a change in the results being produced from our promotional giveaways all else equal. We’ve seen plenty of times over the span of a week or so, odd behavior in terms of launches. This odd behavior typically lasts for around 7-10 days but then all returns to normal. Initially we believed the odd behavior was just another one of those weeks, but ~60 days later and this seemingly “odd behavior” seems to have stuck. We have been anticipating a ranking algorithm update for promotional giveaways for some time, but we had never anticipated that the update would have such positive effects.
Change Is Good (At Least This Time)
In order to explain the change in Amazon’s ranking algorithm properly, I feel it’s important to provide a brief backstory on how the algorithm allotted keyword ranking prior to the change. This will provide the context with which to understand the contrast.
The largest contributing factor to keyword ranking was sales (there are about 1,000,000 other things that contribute to a product’s ranking, but this is the largest and the one we will focus on here). Prior to the algorithmic change, what drove ranking for a particular word was largely the keyword which that sale was driven through. For example, if a customer searches “garcinia cambogia”, selects the product, and completes a purchase, Amazon would attribute keyword ranking boost for the product for the keyword “garcinia cambogia”. There would be little attribution for any other keyword associated with the product (ex. Fat burner, weight loss, etc.). Logically, it makes sense right? The more customers who purchase your product after searching a given set of keywords, the higher it will appear in organic search for that particular key term.
Fast forward to present day and we are seeing somewhat different results. Initially it may not sound like anything worth noting, but hear us out. Making adjustments according to the algorithm’s new rules can be a game changer, and we’ve seen it hundreds of times already.
We’ve always been told and known that the keywords in your product’s title is the most important and controllable field to place your product’s keywords. This is Amazon Private Label 101. Post algorithm change and that basic fundamental has become 100X more important. In the past Amazon boosted the keyword ranking for almost exclusively the keyword which drove the sale (Example, buying after searching the keyword “garcinia cambogia” provides a boost in ranking for only “garcinia cambogia”).
With the latest algorithm update, EVERY keyword in your product’s title AT THE TIME OF SALE is fair game to receive a MAJOR boost in keyword ranking! This means that when running a promotional launch, granted you have a product title that is optimized for keyword maximization, you could find yourself ranking page one for 10+ high to mid-competition keywords relative to your product. That means the ROI on promotional giveaways has skyrocketed! In the past, a targeted launch would allow a product to rank for a single keyword (up to 4 targeted keywords), whereas now we’ve run launches in mid-volume markets that walk away ranking page 1 for over 30 keywords!
Data To Prove Our Hypothesis
The team has been working hard to compile a massive amount of data to understand precisely how the new algorithm update is attributing keyword ranking. Running 200+ launches a day allows us to see exactly what is and is not working. We are breaking titles and bullet points down word by word to understand how Amazon is parsing the content and adjusting keyword ranking post-sale accordingly. I want to provide as much information as possible to help illustrate exactly how you can take advantage of the update, but one of our greatest assets is our massive aggregated data, so we don’t want to give away the farm. 🙂
Illustration 1: Product Title: “Fish Oil Pills, 180 Capsules by Healthy Brand”
This is not a particularly good title as I’m sure you can tell. In case you are unaware, the word “omega 3” is a very relevant keyword to the product. Let’s say we ran a healthy promotion to this product with a focus on the keyword “omega 3”. Prior to the algorithm shift, the product would have landed on page 1 for the search term “omega 3” just a few days after the promotion kicked off. Post-update, approximately 80% of the time, we see NO movement at all for the keyword because it was not in the product’s title or top few bullet points. We’ve tried using every URL on the market the Heatseeker, Dynamic, Organic, etc., but no movement. We saw this many times. Their launch was not all for naught as the launch did produce page 1 rankings for other keyword variations found in their product’s title, such as “fish oil pills” and “fish oil capsules”.
Illustration 2: Product Title: “Best Gym Jump Rope with Bag For Men by Fitness Brand”
This is a great example of the degree to which rankings are being affected by the algorithm change. If we were to run a small promotion to a product with the above title targeting the keyword “jump rope”, we would expect to find the product ranking for the search term “Gym Bag for Men” (among 10+ other keywords). Yes, even though we targeted the “jump rope” keyword, because the title contains the keywords “Gym”, “Bag”, and “For Men” Amazon would push it to top of the ranks for that keyword phrase. Granted “gym bag for men” is not a high volume keyword. Finding your product page one for 10+ similar keywords, is great for collectively increasing your per day sales.
(The examples are both hypothetical but based on real data)
Crafting The Perfect Title
Now more than ever your product’s title, bullet points, and backend keyword submission need to be perfect; down to the character. Literally. Not including a single word in your title could cause you to miss out on rankings for a variety of keywords, which means missed sales. And those sales add up. Amazon has begun cracking down on listing character count limits, making things all the more difficult.
Analyzing hundreds of titles and thousands of keywords over the last two months, we have compiled a vast array of data which has allowed us to break down the perfect title composition to a science. Determining word placement and priority is crucial to maximizing your product’s keyword spread.
Let us put together the perfect title to maximize the keywords and keyword variations your product can rank for in Amazon search. We have the data, experience and creatives to craft a product title that will allow you to rank for the optimum number of keywords allowing you to dramatically increase sales!
And for the first 50 signups we have a $50 off coupon for you.
Use the coupon: MAXKEYWORDS to take $50 off.
This Is Only Temporary | Get It While It’s Hot
I am quite surprised that the algorithm has been updated as so. Logically, it does not seem to make much sense to weight the characters of a product’s title so heavily in determining ranking attribution. This has led to some odd search results post-promotion. In my opinion there is nothing better in determining a product’s relevance than the keywords that drive a sale. Organically, a customer is not going to buy a jump rope if it shows up in their search for “gym bag for men”. They will buy when they search “jump rope” or “jump rope for men”, because they are relevant search terms for the product. Simple as that.
Because this seems like such an odd move and a miss of the mark, I imagine this algorithm shift will not last for very long. I don’t see how it can. As always, we will be meticulously tracking and analyzing every launch that passes through our system. If/when we see an algorithm shift, we will be sure to report our findings. We are successful when you are successful, and knowledge is more than half the battle.
With that said, the ability to rank for a large volume of keywords in a single promotion is here now, so take advantage of it! With the increased ROI due to increased volume of keywords being ranked from a single promotion, why would you allow this opportunity pass you by? Launches are more effective now than ever!
To help with the cost of running promotions using Viral Launch during this opportune time we removed our monthly subscription minimums and are offering a $50 coupon off for your next month of launches whether it be your first product or not! In addition to the coupon, we are providing free access to our account managers. In order to get the optimal results from a Viral launch, we highly recommend working with one of our account managers normally reserved for our largest sellers. They will work with you personally to develop the ideal launch strategy for your brand or product and help you execute with authority.
Take $50 off your next month of launches.
Use the coupon: UPDATE2016.
To work with one of our account managers for free, simply shoot an email to email@example.com to get started!
Warning Against Misuse
Although we have found products for less than relevant search terms inadvertently, make sure the keywords you place in your title abide by Amazon’s standards.
Take care not to violate Amazon’s Search and Browse Policy:
Misuse of Search and Browse: When customers use Amazon’s search engine and browse structure, they expect to find relevant and accurate results. To protect the customer experience, all product-related information, including keywords and search terms, must comply with the guidelines provided under Optimize Listings for Search and Browse. Any attempt to manipulate the search and browse experience is prohibited.
As we diligently track algorithm updates we will be sure to keep you updated, so you can continue to make intelligent and informed decisions!
We are constantly working to provide our clients and the community the best tools and opportunities to be successful in their Amazon businesses. We have a ton of fantastic tools and services in the pipeline that will allow us to help you grow and optimize your business in new ways. As Amazon becomes more competitive, sophistication and a focus to be the best is the only way to walk away on top and with profits in hand. We want to help you to do just that!
Wishing you the best!
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