Until now, the majority of our blog posts have been actionable marketing information about Amazon. How to start an Amazon business, how to set up a PPC campaign, the full on-page optimisation guide and our Amazon SEO guide that went live last month. However, we have never gone into extreme depth on the Amazon A9 Algorithm and how to optimise perfectly.
Today we are going to dive into this topic in a little more depth for the more advanced Amazon sellers. As well as anyone looking to understand more about what Amazon’s search engine actually is, how it works and what we can do about it. Remember to email us if you have any questions & share!
If this seems like a lot to track & manage, we have an affordable Amazon management solution. Get in touch if you’d like anymore information about these packages.
What Is The Amazon A9 Algorithm?
Amazon A9 is the name for Amazon’s search engine. The division that builds, does maintenance and makes improvements to the search engine is called the A9 division. Officially, according to wiki, they are a different company that provides “search engine and search advertising technology”. It is called A9 as a play on words of “algorithms” as there are 9 letters after the letter A.
Whatever you make of the name, the software development behind the company is sharp. With a highly experienced team, A9 is definitely where Amazon are going to stay with their algo needs for the near future.
Deciding what Amazon A9 is and determining how sellers and vendors can benefit from it are two very different things. In this post, we are going to outline where Amazon A9 is in relation to Google. Including where it is likely to go and most importantly, exactly what you need to do to help you sell more on Amazon.
Amazon A9 Vs Google
Amazon is a long way from where Google is today. Looking at the relevancy of each product search, we can clearly see the disparity. The issue is Amazon do not really care that much. Their search engine is based on products. This means that the products that are shown are done so based on a relevancy and popularity metrics, very similar to what Google USED to run on. Anyone remember PageRank?
Earlier this month, we did a guest post on how Amazon looks exactly like Google did in 2010 (pre Panda & Penguin updates). In this, we went into detail on why Amazon’s A9 algorithm looks exactly like Google did a few years ago. So what does this have to do with selling more stuff on Amazon?
Where is the A9 Algorithm Going in 2018?
In my opinion, there are 2 core options Amazon can take. We honestly do not yet know which one they will decide, only they do. The Amazon ranking algorithm is obviously extremely complex, but in my opinion these are the two key routes they can take.
With Google, it is usually very clear what they are going to do, usually the opposite of what they say. With Amazon’s A9, it is a bit more complicated, but for a number of reasons it is only going to be 1 of 2 clear paths.
1.) “It is Good Enough For Now”
The investment into A9 drys up. Although the investment into improving the search engine will never officially “stop”, the first core option of Amazon is that they look into investing into other methods. With Amazon purchasing whole foods last year, their primary goal might be on tackling the local market. Meaning a search engine is not all that important. They are also looking to AI solutions which even Google have officially stated will not be in their algorithm forat least another decade.
How long will “now” be?
Why they would say this? Why would they leave it with “good enough for now” and how long would that be?
All super important questions from Amazon’s point of view. However, unlike Google, Amazon does not make 95% of its profit through ads which are a result of the relevancy of the search engine. Amazon needs to focus on a number of technical business elements, even how to light warehouses is something they are looking to improve to why people buy one product with another. Those investments are going to take priority as they are generally seen to have a better ROI and hence get priority.
What we can personally see happening, if Amazon were to go down the “good enough for now” route, is they wait for better tech solutions around search and simply buy the company that created it. This is very similar to what they did when A9 purchased Snaptell back in 2009. It makes sense and it seems to be the Amazon way nowadays too!
2.) “Massive Improvements & Investment Into A9”
Of course the other core option is to massively invest into the technology and A9. This would solve a number of Amazon’s issues related to low quality listings. Including low quality sellers from abroad using dropshipping techniques, leading to a number of VAT & Tax issues that Amazon are currently dealing with. This is actually one of the reasons UK sellers are starting to become frustrated with the Amazon platform. But of course, Amazon is too big to fail now.
Obviously the investment would be high. But the results could be incredibly valuable to Amazon. Leading to a higher average customer sale. This is a common goal to Amazon, increase the amount of money people spend at our website.. That is all it boils down to.
There is a lot of debate at the moment around artificial intelligence and how that is going to be adapted into Amazon. Although, Google has officially stated they use no AI in the algorithm and they seem to do fine. Amazon have made claims they would like to integrate more AI into the platform to improve the overall efficiency of the website. Of course, this makes heaps of sense until you see the astronomical cost this has. But Amazon is Amazon for a reason.
There are a few core areas that optimisation experts know Amazon could improve with algorithm changes and updates.
Updates That Could Be Added To A9
The first update that comes to mind is the first massive Google update called Panda back in 2010-11. This affected websites that had thin, or “poor” content according to Google. This was a massive update that ended up hitting close to 12% of total webpages. Can you imagine the sheer size of that?
The winners from this update were sites that wrote content specifically for users. Longer form posts, such as this one, created to try to educate or advice users. The losers were the content farms that pulled duplicate content from other websites, re-wrote it using spin-tax and essentially “did not add anything useful to the internet”. We made that quote up but we are sure it was stated by some Google spokesperson.
AMAZON NEEDS THIS UPDATE!
There are so many listings that are thrown together, zero regard for conversions, zero regard for semantic search and essentially will just lower the price and get as many sales through discounting a product to make a quick buck. Essentially – A thin or low quality product listing. Amazon could learn a lot from the Google panda update as, as much as this did kill a lot of people’s earnings, it did indeed clean up the web as we know it.
The second most obvious update would be another one from the ranks of Google. Although the target metric would be changed.
Penguin was another update that Google implemented in April 2012. The date is stuck in some SEO’s heads as D Day, as this single day wiped out people’s earnings entirely. We knew SEO’s earning 5 figures a day from the search engines, every cent of which was gone the day after. Probably the single biggest culling of spam of all time!
Google targeted a very single metric: BACKLINKS. A backlink is a link that points from one website to another. Google implemented backlinks as a huge part of their original pagerank algorithm. This is in fact what differentiated Google against their competitors. Back when they had some. Whilst we are over-simplifying this, essentially, websites that had very spammy link profiles, that had obviously been used to “game the system”, were penalised and their organic rankings decreased rapidly. Of course, this led to a massive reduction in traffic and earnings.
Amazon Could Do With This Too.
Although, not as essential as the Google panda style update, this should be implemented as soon as possible. A penguin style update wouldn’t target LINKS, instead Amazon would target SALES. How did these sales come in? Were they artificially created? Did they use massive discounts? AKA: Are they trying to game the system?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then their should be a flagging metric that they use to penalise product listings.
We have started to see a very small shift towards this lately. Although nothing is official from Amazon yet, things like using discounted product sales to spike best seller rank, therefore organic rankings, is starting to become a lot less effective than it used to be. This could be a move towards this style of rankings.
Although this is not based on any Google update of the past, reviews are a huge issue inside of Amazon. They are used for social proof, meaning if reviews are “faked”, then people will buy products that are not that good. Consequently, this leads to increasing refund rates, all bad for Amazon’s top and bottom line.
Amazon did recently purge a number of reviews. Sellers lost 10-30% of their reviews that were considered low quality, or faked. If this trend continues, instead of doing this on a monthly or yearly one time basis, they may start to integrate smarter AI to draw the lines for them. It is only a matter of time in my opinion.
Get in touch to see how we’ve used our Amazon marketing & SEO strategies to help over 100 sellers earn more through Amazon.
Having worked with algorithms for over a decade now, it is pretty clear to me that Amazon does not only look like the Google of yesteryear, but it really IS IT. We truly do not think the Amazon product ranking algorithm is going to change all that much in the coming months and years. This is mainly due to the core reason that it is not their primary goal. Google of course makes the majority of their money from their algorithm, Amazon on the other hand does not.
The relevance metrics, the best seller rank metric, qualitative sales, instead of based on quality and a number of other metrics and points that just align so perfectly to what Google used to look like. This excites us, as based on the updates that could be implemented into the Amazon A9 algorithm and what that would result in, more complexity in ranking, it would benefit our clients and our personal Amazon businesses drastically. If you have any questions or would like to view our process, please get in touch.