Topping Amazon Search Takes Sales And Smarts

Sure, being at the top of a Google search is great. But when it comes to buying, atop an Amazon search is the place to be. Understanding how to get there, however, has been a bit of a mystery.

In an attempt to clear things up a bit, Ripen eCommerce analyzed more than 746,500 Amazon search results across 344,900 products and 16,900 keywords to determine what factors influence Amazon searches. The results: sales (mostly), a strong relationship with Amazon and some keyword smarts.

Without a doubt the biggest correlating factor to being at the top of Amazon search results is sales. While noting that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, David Rekuc, director of marketing for Ripen eCommerce, found a strong link between the bestselling products and their rank in search queries. What’s more, as sales rankings increase, so does the incidence of returns across a broader range of keywords.



“For a typical search term, not only do you rank for that term, you also rank for a wide variety of other terms, if you’re a top seller,” Rekuc says. Because sales and search are so closely correlated, you can essentially have “organic search for a price,” he notes. Simply put, the more sales you have, the more likely it is to you’ll get seen.

The second biggest factor looks to be the seller’s relationship with Amazon itself. Rekuc’s study found products whose orders were fulfilled by Amazon (either by being sold directly by Amazon or on a consignment basis) also correlated highly to strong search results. It’s not surprising (of course Amazon will favor sellers closely aligned with it), but it is worth noting.

Beyond sales, it’s important to categorize yourself correctly. Rekuc’s research found that poor categorization can have a devastating effect on search results. Unlike general searches, Amazon searches also align via product category index, and nearly all products sold on the site are limited to one index. “This is a level of complexity that is unique to Amazon,” Rekuc notes. Products that are wrongly or mis-categorized can result in being left out of search results altogether, he says.

Also important: having a decent — but not stuffed — description of your product using precise keywords. The study found a correlation between having the exact keyword matches in a title and search results. However, only about 45% of searches had an exact keyword match in a single keyword search, meaning more than half did not. In multiple keyword searches, the number of exact matches dropped below 15%.

However, having long keyword-stuffed product titles didn’t necessarily lead to higher search rankings. The study found titles that products in the 99th percentile of sales rank (which correlates to search results), 89% of them had descriptions that were 110 characters or less (which seems to be the truncating point for descriptions on a desktop).

“What this tells us is that the best-selling products on Amazon use titles to clearly communicate the product to the consumer, rather than using their titles to gain advantage in Amazon search,” according to the study. 

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