10 Amazon Merch Ranking Factors You Should Understand

Have you been hammering out one great design after another just to see that a few days later some pixel by pixel copycat outranks you and steals most of your sales piggybacking on your creativity? Well don’t worry we have all been in the same boat. Unfortunately, when it comes to selling on a global marketplace like Amazon.com sometimes being a great designer is simply not enough. In the short guide below we are going to try and go over all the basic factors that amazon takes into account when placing your listing in its search results.
Just in case you are wondering how important good rankings are in Amazon search compared to on Google here is what Searchengineland.com reported last year:

A survey of 1,000 US consumers conducted by PowerReviews found that Amazon is the preferred starting point for product search. Google comes in a close second, followed by brand/retailer sites and e-commerce marketplaces (eBay, Etsy, etc.):
Amazon — 38 percent
Google — 35 percent
Brand or Retailer Site — 21 percent
Other eCommerce Marketplaces — 6 percent

Now with the above statistic in mind lets start with the ten biggest factors that Amazon takes into account when ranking your listing.

1. CTR or Click Through Rates

To be more specific, we are talking about the click through rate from the search results page to your product listing. This one is a no-brainer really and it makes perfect sense. Amazon’s main aim is to please its customers. If your listing is not already ranked first, but has the highest click through rate on the page (given the fact that you cover the other basic factors in the guide to a satisfactory level and your product is converting) it will launch you to the top result because it will seem the most relevant to the customers query.
Amazon tracks this metric very closely and it definitely plays a huge role in deciding your overall ranking for a specific query.
Now standing out in pixel by pixel dominated marketplace can sound like an impossible task to complete but you can always experiment with stuff like color variations, lowering prices, or if you are selling via sellers central, discounts and product bundles to get that competitive edge.

2. Conversion Rate

Conversion rates and click through rates go hand in hand. It’s quite obvious that you will not get any conversions if people don’t click on your listing.  Of course if a lot of people actually click but decide not to buy your product, that’s a HUGE red flag in the eyes of Amazon.
Obviously its almost impossible to predict the users behavior once they click on your product. However, as a seller you must do your best to keep it as relevant as possible to their interests. Make sure to include all possible product variations and sizes that you can. Take full advantage of the product features and description to cover every question or concern that a customer might have.
This is why we suggest that you use the bullet points to actually SELL the customer. We go over this in the article here: https://merchinformer.com/merch-amazon-seo-ultimate-guide/ and exactly why we built the listing optimizer into MI.

3. Reviews

Due to sellers exploiting the Amazons review system in recent years Amazon has changed their review policy and nowadays they are not as big of ranking factor as they used to be. They are still very important when it comes to increased click through rate and conversion rates.
Since the crackdown on incentivized reviews, sellers don’t have as much control over how a product performs and who leaves a review. There are still steps one can take to prevent negative reviews.

  • Offer a refund for a defective product or send a new one free of charge (even though this might eat your bottom line a bit, turning a negative into a positive review can have a great affect on your listing)
  • Always respond to negative reviews (unfortunately Merch sellers still don’t have access to such feature but for all of you who are selling via sellers central this is very important). It’s a good way to show feature buyers that you care and you aim for customers satisfaction. This is especially important since most people always skim through the negative reviews before making a decision on whether to buy a product or not.
  • Respond thoroughly to all questions that you receive in sellers central. Not only is this metric actually taken into consideration when it comes to your accounts good standing, but it shows customers that you care.

4. Keyword Optimized Product Title

A good keyword optimized title is a must. Poorly optimized titles targeting keywords that are simply not searched for can mean the difference between zero and a hundred sales a month. Thankfully the Amazon search is really customer orientated so it’s pretty easy to find the perfect keywords for your title.
Since the Amazon search is based on autocomplete it’s pretty easy to find what people are looking for. We do this by writing out some basic words in a keyword research tool like the one you already have in Merch Informer. If you are really cash strapped you can just go to amazon and start typing keywords to see what suggestions Amazon will toss up (if you are going down the manual route don’t forget to switch the amazon search to the desired category so that the suggestions will match your niche).
A good starting point for keywords can be phrases like:

  • Straight Outta
  • Keep Calm
  • I am
  • I might Be
  • Will You
  • This is

Basically the idea is to come up as many sentence starters as possible and narrow down the results till you find some good phrases that match the niche your are in. Better yet, you can start with keyword research and do the designs around that.
Lets take the word “happiness” as a starter phrase here are some examples of what users on amazon are searching for:

If we take the phrase “happiness is a warm puppy” these will be acceptable and properly optimized product titles:
Happiness Is a Warm Puppy – T-shirt
Happiness Is a Warm Puppy – {cute/funny/novelty} T-shirt
Happiness Is a Warm Puppy – (Brand Name) T-shirts
A poorly optimized title would be something along the lines of:

  • Cute Puppy Face Tshirt
  • Puppy T-shirt (although the term might be searched for, the competition is far too great and one would always want to drill down when it comes to title optimization)

5. Brand Name

If you frequent the Amazon seller Facebook groups and forums you have probably noticed that there has always been great discussion when it comes to brand name. Many people will advise you to focus on establishing your brand name while others will suggest you use the main keywords you are targeting as a brand. Here at Merchinformer.com we decided to put both to the test. For the experiment we have created three identical shirts and done exactly the same optimization for each with the only difference being that we changed the brand name. Here are the results

  • Using a simple brand name completely unrelated to the t-shirt we are selling we managed to rank on page 2 out of 800 results.
  • Using the keyword we were targeting as a brand yielded completely different results and we managed to rank on the front page almost instantly.

The good news is that for our third and final test we decided to combine both “keyword and brand name” and the shirt still managed to rank on the front page even though it was a bit lower than the one that only contained the keyword as a brand. This is a really good compromise if you want to take advantage of both listing optimization and brand recognition.
The tests demonstrated that Amazon is using your brand name as part of the content indexed in the search results and adding relevant keywords to your brand will increase the ranking of your listing.

6. Bullet Points (Features)

As with the brand name, the product features are also taken into consideration and indexed in the search results so we would highly recommend using the keywords you are targeting at least once. Even though it might seem tempting to keyword stuff your features, Amazon frowns upon that and its a great way to lose your account. Keep the features short and to the point. Try to be descriptive and add synonyms (in case you are not already using the synonym finder in MI you can use a service like thesaurus.com).
Make sure that while you are being descriptive and adding synonyms, that you are combining those will selling your product. This is marketing and something you will need to get used to in order to be a successful seller on Amazon.

7. Description

From our personal experience the description doesn’t play a huge role when it comes to the actual product ranking. However it does help to increase your conversion rate and it will show up when someone is looking at Amazon from a mobile device. Make sure to include detailed information about your products and try to answer all the possible questions that might arise from future buyers. If we take t-shirts as an example, always cover information like the quality of t-shirt available, sizes, and if they are a true fit and even shipping times. Most experts suggest that a perfectly balanced description is around 1000 symbols.

8. Discounts and Pricing

Discounts and pricing might not be directly related to the Amazon search algorithm but they play a major role when it comes to click through rate and can often help with initial sales. We usually price our t-shirts at around $18 or $19.99 depending on the complexity of the design. When we initially launch a product we always lower the price by at least $2. Starting with a lower price, especially in a niche dominated by a copycats, is a great way to bring that initial attention to your listing and get some quick sales flowing in. Of course you can increase the price with time once your have stable rankings for the desired keywords.
If you are using sellers central and listing directly on Amazon instead of using MBA you can take advantage of “discounts”. This is a great feature which will make your listing stand out even more. Amazon has a search filter with discounts which means that offering even a small discount may put you on the top of the search results if the customer has it on. Not only that but a recent study has concluded that 40% of shoppers prefer Amazon for this exact reason (discounts and general lower prices).

9. Keywords

Unfortunately, Merch by Amazon sellers don’t have access to this feature (something we all hope will happen in the future), but for everyone who uses sellers central it’s highly advisable to take advantage of the keyword fields for your listings. Now, if you have previously done SEO or PPC there is a high possibility that you might not be utilizing these fields properly. There is often a lot of misinformation around so first let me quickly summarize how the keyword fields work:

  • There are five fields
  • Each field accepts up to 50 characters
  • Commas are ignored
  • You do not have to repeat words
  • You do not have to include variations of the same word for example: tshirt t-shirt
  • Order of the search terms matter so always start with your main phrases.

 
I would play around with these keywords and see what works best. Remember, testing is the best way to find out how to make sales!

10. BSR and Sales

Last but definitely not least are your BSR rank and actual sales. The two are probably the most important factor by which amazon determines your ranking position in search. Unfortunately those two are the only factors we can’t directly optimize for. However, if you have followed the guide carefully and have managed to optimize your listings to Amazon’s satisfaction, you will start to see sales. Once those come in your sales rank will increase and so will your rankings in Amazons search.
This pretty much sums up the main ranking factors that Amazon takes into account. In the future we may go into even greater detail for each ranking factor but the guide above should be enough to get you started on the road of successful sales. Good luck!

Comments
  • You’re very kind Neil. You’ll never lack for feeding us with such great great information on what to know and do to pave our way to success on this evergreen platform.🕺👏👏

  • Excellent article as always, Neil…thanks for that.
    I have a quick question for you – I got approved on Merch last month. I have followed your articles and got all my 10 designs up a few days ago, and am now waiting.
    My question is – how do I find my design on Amazon without having to go through the 25 pages of listings? Interestingly enough, I have gone through the 25 pages for my exact keyword, and yet the design is not there…and it isn’t for any of my 10 designs! What am I doing wrong, please?

    • Give it a few days for Amazon to index the results properly. If you still cannot find the design, then maybe alter your keywords a bit in your bullet points and resubmit it.

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