What is Amazon listing optimization?

Editor’s note: Thanks to Eugene Cheng of ZonGuru for contributing to this article.

If a customer is searching for a product on Amazon — cookware, for example — they’re likely to select a pot or pan featured on the first page of their search results. They’ll never see the thousands of other products because the first page of results met their needs before they even had to click to the second page.

According to Amazon’s data, 70% of users only view the products on the first page. As an Amazon seller, you want your product to rank on that page so that people will actually see it.

Amazon listing optimization is a course of deliberate actions meant to help your product listing rank on the first page for relevant search terms. These actions may include tracking keywords, optimizing content such as photos, title, and description, and improving your seller reputation.

Because selling on Amazon is a tremendously competitive online marketplace, ranking for relevant terms can often be difficult. But with the right technique that takes into account Amazon’s A10 algorithm, you can create compelling listings, drive more sales, and build a strong brand.

In this guide, we’ll discuss why Amazon listing optimization is important and look at tools for listing optimization that will help you sell on Amazon successfully.

Table of contents

Amazon listing optimization: What to know about Amazon’s A10 algorithm

Amazon’s A10 algorithm focuses on customer behavior and product relevancy. If your product sells more and has a high number of positive reviews, your product will stand out from your competitors.

The A10 algorithm emphasizes relevancy more than sales driven by Amazon Sponsored Ads. That being said, it is still important that you run ads on Amazon to gain real estate on Amazon’s search engine results page (SERP).

7 factors that influence the A10 algorithm

1. Sales history

The more units you sell, the higher your rank. Amazon looks at the entire sales history of your product to determine how to rank your product organically. Make sure you don’t run out of inventory to maintain a strong product ranking.

2. Impressions

Impressions are the number of times your product has been viewed on Amazon and partner sites. The more views, the higher the rank. This point is also self-fulfilling: the higher you rank, the more views your listing will get.

3. Seller authority

This metric refers to your seller performance, seller feedback ratings, how long you have been selling, the number of products in your catalog, and other seller-related factors. As important as product reviews, you must maintain a healthy seller profile for your products to rank highly and gain sales.

4. Click-through rates

The higher your percentage of clicks from the SERP, the higher your listing ranks. One of the main drivers of CTR is your product’s main image, so be sure your photo is attractive and grabs the customer’s attention. Split test your product images to identify the best main image to use.

5. Conversion rate

As your conversion rate improves, so will your rank. Conversion rate refers to the percentage of product views that convert to sales. Copywriting plays an important role in convincing customers to take action.

6. Off-site sales

Amazon loves it when you drive outside traffic to your Amazon product listing. Sales generated from outside traffic outweighs sales resulting from Amazon Sponsored Ads.

7. Organic sales

Organic sales are when someone buys your product directly from search results rather than a sponsored listing. The more organic sales you make, the higher your product ranks.

Most Amazon shoppers select from the first page of results without ever visiting the second page.

Trend #1: Keyword tracking tools to monitor how you rank on Amazon

You could take a DIY approach to finding the right keywords and tracking them for your product listing, but using a keyword tracking tool can save you time and money. These Amazon-specific keyword research tools include the following:

Keyword Scout: connected to Jungle Scout and Splitly

  • Keyword Scout, Jungle Scout’s keyword research tool, uses live Amazon data to give you relevant keyword options for your product listing.
    What you get with Keyword Scout:
    • Data on how often your target keywords are searched on Amazon
    • Calculation of how much product you’ll need to sell at a large discount through a Jungle Scout Launch campaign (formerly known as Jump Send)
    • A “relevancy score” using competitors’ data to find out if your keywords are profitable
    • Price: Keyword Scout is included in a Jungle Scout plan, from $29/month. (Because Jungle Scout and Splitly are part of the same company, you can then easily transfer this data into a Splitly account to track your keyword ranking.)

MerchantWords: keywords pulled from the global market

You can search a word, phrase, or ASIN right from the MerchantWords homepage. But you’ll have to sign up for a plan if you want to view the results.
  • MerchantWords claims to be the “most extensive database of searches from real Amazon shoppers.” From this data, it pulls the most valuable and relevant keywords for you to use in your product listing.
    What you get with MerchantWords:
    • ASIN-analysis and keyword search history-backed information on how to rank on that coveted first page
    • Live, global data collection to keep you fresh on what’s happening in your market
    • Special attention to back-end keywords that can sneakily boost your ranking
    • Price: $149/month or $1,490 for the year for information on the entire global Amazon market; $79/month or $790 a year for a single Amazon region (North America, Europe, Asia/Australia); or $29/month or $290 a year for one country.

Sonar: a strong FREE keyword search tool

  • Sonar, a Sellics program, also pulls its data from real customer searches on Amazon.
    Here’s what you get with Sonar:
    • A database of product and keyword combinations that is updated only once or twice a year. The data could be fresh — or it could not, depending on the last update. This limits the helpfulness of Sonar.
    • Reverse ASIN search to help you find out which keywords are working for your competitors
    • Keyword translator to different languages
    • Sonar Keyword Index Checker to see if Amazon is indexing your keywords
    • Price: FREE. That’s the big plus with Sonar. But all free software comes with a catch — when the software is free, you (and your data) are the product. Sonar is offered by Sellics, a company with a suite of paid Amazon seller tools. Sonar is essentially a lead generator for Sellicss other offerings.

While these tools can help you start your Amazon listing optimization with the right keywords, they can only take you so far. Once you’ve chosen your keywords and have woven them into your product listing, you’ll want to track them to see how they’re performing.

Trending keyword trackers include the following:

KeyworX: a cost-effective rank-tracking tool

  • KeyworX is an Amazon rank-tracking tool that
    • tracks the first 15 pages of Amazon search results for any keyword or ASIN — yours, or that of your competitor
    • daily keyword tracking data
    • the ability to share your login information with your team so that all of you can view the data
    • Price: from $27/month

Splitly: continue your Keyword Scout research with ease

Source: Splitly
  • Splitly includes Amazon rank tracking as part of its suite of services. With Splitly, you can
    • check your keyword rankings several times every day
    • compile the data into history charts
    • find out where your product features (first page of results, second page, etc.) and in what position
    • Price: from $47/month, included with a Splitly plan

Editor’s note: Splitly was discontinued in September 2021.

AMZ Tracker: a comprehensive keyword rank tracker

Source: AMZ Tracker
  • With AMZ Tracker, marketed as a “one glance Amazon keyword rank tracker,” you get comprehensive listing optimization features, including
    • keyword research tools
    • daily rank tracking updates from 19 pages deep on Amazon’s search results
    • the ability to track parent/child products
    • rank history storage for one year
    • super URL generator
    • a helpful breakdown of what is strengthening your listing and what is making it weak
    • negative review alerts
    • Price: from $50/month

Trend #2: A/B testing tools to test live listings on Amazon

Amazon A/B testing tools help e-sellers figure out what exactly about their product listing drives customers to act. In a traditional Amazon split test, sellers run variants of their product listing, collecting data over time to figure out which listing garners more conversions and sales.

Three top Amazon split testing tools are Splitly, Cashcowpro, and Listing Dojo. These A/B testing tools operate within the Amazon marketplace. They take your variant listings and automatically rotate them on Amazon. All three have different strengths and weaknesses, and different means of collecting and interpreting the data, which you can read about in this guide to Amazon A/B testing tools.

Trend #3: A/B testing tools outside of Amazon

While all the tools listed above can be helpful, especially for the algorithm side of Amazon listing optimization, none of them fully address the customer side — what will appeal to humans?

Plus, running live tests on Amazon can negatively impact a product’s sales. If your variant performs worse than your original listing, you lose potential sales only to get frustrating answers.

In addition, live tests take days and weeks to see results. That’s all time lost on potentially lessened sales.

Enter PickFu: the polling software that gives you worry-free A/B testing

Popular with Amazon sellers as an A/B testing tool, PickFu enables you to quickly test your creative ideas with audiences that match your customer profile and target demographics.

PickFu runs entirely outside of the Amazon marketplace. Your live listings are not affected. 

This is a huge difference from traditional A/B testing, in which customers only see one variant. Since they don’t know that their behavior is being monitored, they aren’t active participants in the test and cannot compare versions to choose a favorite. Rather than rotating your variants on Amazon, you create a poll that includes your variants. PickFu then shows them to a group of respondents for feedback.

With PickFu, you can

  • create a poll that includes your product listing variants. PickFu then shows them to a group of respondents for feedback.
  • easily test product names, main images, and product descriptions
  • get your poll results back that same day
  • choose from a wide range of audiences, including the popular Amazon Prime members audience.
  • receive written comments explaining why a respondent chose the variant they did. How cool is that? You can use the feedback to optimize your listing for your flesh-and-blood customers, not just the Amazon A10 algorithm.

After you discover which variants of your product PickFu respondents like best — and why — you can optimize your Amazon listing accordingly, with the confidence that the changes will work.

Is PickFu the only Amazon listing optimization tool you need?

PickFu is essential to figuring out how to optimize your product listing for your potential customers. But because PickFu operates entirely outside the Amazon marketplace, you won’t compare click-through rates, impressions, or revenue. 

You cannot test price or keyword variants or track rankings using PickFu. In order to affect your performance with the Amazon algorithm, you might need to run a live test in addition to a PickFu poll. The two testing styles can work together to give you comprehensive results that include both data- and human-driven feedback.

The pieces that make up Amazon listing optimization

Now that you know which tools you need in order to optimize your Amazon listing, you might be asking: what exactly goes into a well-optimized Amazon listing?

There are three distinct pieces that make up Amazon listing optimization.

1. Product title optimization

Your product title might just be the hardest element of your product listing to optimize for both humans and the A10 algorithm. Why? Because algorithms love straightforward product titles with clear keywords. Humans, on the other hand, want evocative product titles.

Take the Instant Pot, for example. What if the product creators had called it the 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker (which is, in fact, a keyword listed as part of the Instant Pot’s product description on its Amazon listing)?

Would it rank #1 in Electric Pressure Cookers on Amazon, and #3 for cookware in Kitchen & Dining?

The Instant Pot is an Amazon Best Seller. That’s big!

Probably not. There’s something about the Instant Pot name that immediately makes customers think of quickly made food. In a fast-paced world, so many of us want to make nutritious dishes in a short amount of time. The Instant Pot suggests that we can do just that.

What should you take into consideration when you’re naming your product?

  • Name length: In most cases, shorter names are better. They’re easier to remember and to integrate into everyday speech. Plus, you’re bound to run into character limits almost everywhere, including on Amazon’s product listing page, email subject lines, social media promotions, and more.
  • Longevity: Is this a name that will endure? Or does it follow current trends that might not be popular several years from now?
  • Messaging: Does the product convey a particular message? Does say something about what the product is, how it will make a customer feel, what value it will add, or who it’s for? Are there any negative associations to the name?
  • Misspelling: Product names are often intentionally misspelled, especially in an effort to claim trademarks or domain names. Flickr, for example, is a misspelling of “flicker.” The founders wanted to name the company Flicker, but flicker.com belonged to Flicker Beer, whose owner didn’t want to sell the domain name. Flickr lost 3.6 million visitors a year to Flicker Beer’s website until Yahoo! bought the domain name for a hefty price. Brand strategist Jeremy Miller says an intentional misspelling can be a tricky choice because “people will naturally use the proper spelling first.”
  • Pronounceability: Sometimes a hard-to-pronounce name helps you stand out. Other times, it may alienate part of your customer base. One example is Fage yogurt. It is the #1 Greek yogurt in Greece but falls far behind Chobani in the United States — which came onto the American market nine years after Fage! Fage, pronounced fa-yeh, is harder to figure out how to pronounce. Chobani, on the other hand, is easy. It’s pronounced exactly as it’s spelled.
  • Keywords: You’re allowed up to 200 characters in an Amazon product title. Lead with the human-friendly product name, and then incorporate keywords into the remaining space. Make sure to follow Amazon’s product detail guidelines.

2. Product image optimization

Why is product image optimization important for your Amazon product listing?

Your Amazon product photography is one of the most crucial factors in your store’s conversion rates. Remember, online shoppers can’t feel your product in their own hands, so photos are the closest they’ll come to experience the product before buying it. Your photos must convey not only the physical aspects of your product (color, fabric, size, etc) but also the emotional appeal you hope to impart to customers.

Read these tips to creating beautiful product photos and ideas to improve your product imagery.

Once you have gorgeous product photos to choose from, test them. You could run a live split test on your website, or, for even faster results, run a PickFu poll on your featured photo.

An example of how PickFu helped an e-commerce entrepreneur increase sales

Steve Chou, owner of e-commerce store Bumblebee Linens, tested two product photos using PickFu. In less than 20 minutes, he saw that 50 female respondents preferred the new featured image over the old one by a 3-to-1 margin. When he updated his listing with the new photo, sales of the item jumped 209%.

The old (left) and new photo for Bumblebee Linens.

Want to be like Steve? Read these 3 top tips for testing product photos, look at completed PickFu polls testing product photos, then try it out for yourself.

Optimizing images specifically for Amazon

The ideas discussed above are effective in seeing how people react to your photos. But there are ways to optimize your product photos for the Amazon algorithm, too.

First, follow all the technical image requirements for Amazon — this includes image size, color mode, format, and file name. Then:

  • Hire a professional photographer to take the product photos for you. A terrible product photo will equal terrible sales. Investing in a photographer can save you a lot of money!
  • Use all the image slots Amazon gives you. Fill them each with quality photos of your product at different angles and with one to-scale photo or another relevant informational photo such as a sizing chart. If you’re selling earrings, for example, an image of the earring on an ear will help potential buyers know if they like the earring’s size. They won’t be surprised by a bigger or smaller earring, and will be less likely to leave a negative review.
  • Only photograph products included in the purchase. Take the example below of an Amazon product image for a dog toy. Even though the fine print in the upper right-hand corner says that the two toys are sold separately, many buyers thought that they’d receive both.

3. Product description optimization

Just like your product’s title, your product descriptions should combine carefully considered keywords for the A10 algorithm and well-written copy to appeal to your customers. Answer your customers’ most frequently asked questions. Provide enough detail to make shoppers feel confident that they’re making the right choice.

Here’s what to keep in mind for product description optimization

  • Incorporate keywords into bullet points. Bullet points are easy to read, which helps your customer, while keywords make the Amazon search engine happy.
  • Describe what the product will do for the customer. Instead of telling your potential customers all about your product’s bells and whistles, tell them how it will change their lives. Take this product description for a toddler snack cup by Skip Hop:

See how the product description tells moms what the snack cup will do, including encourage independent snacking (less work for Mom!) and a crumb-free purse?

  • Include all relevant product information. Think like a customer. What would you want to know about a plastic snack cup? The Skip Hop description provides important information about the food staying fresh with a snap-top lid (which many other snack cups don’t have), two lids, a flexible yet spill-proof opening, and BPA-, PVC-, and Phthalate-free plastic.

As you write your product description, try different approaches, experimenting with length and tones of voice. Then test your descriptions by split testing them on your website or creating a poll on PickFu.

One PickFu user tested product descriptions for a spherical ice tray with 50 Amazon Prime members. The two descriptions were similar in length, but one used all capital letters to introduce each bullet point. Respondents found this description easier to scan and more attention-grabbing. You can now see the winning description live on Amazon.

How to optimize your Amazon listing

Now that you understand what the A10 algorithm is looking for and the trends affecting listing optimization, implement the following strategy to create a well-optimized listing.

When customers search for products, they type keywords or use an Amazon-suggested keyword term. Long-tail keywords tend to be more specific while short-tail keywords broadly describe a product or its category. Focus on both long-tail and short-tail keywords. Compile a list of relevant keywords into a spreadsheet, and proactively update it.

To learn more about finding relevant keywords for optimization, download this SOP for building your list of long- and short-tail keywords.

Product title

Your product title is 90 cents on the dollar, as it counts for 90% of success when trying to sell in the Amazon marketplace. The product title tells A10 exactly what your product is and whether the item is what customers are looking to purchase.

A few basic dos and don’ts when crafting your product title:

  • DO capitalize the first letter of each word except for prepositions
  • DO use abbreviated measurements (caps, lbs, oz)
  • DO use numerals for quantities (20, 250, etc)
  • DO include important details (size, weight, color, flavor, etc)
  • DO keep your title concise and accurate, nothing more
  • DON’T use all caps
  • DON’T use promotional phrases (sale, bestseller, discount, etc)
  • DON’T use characters for decoration ($, &, #, etc)
  • DON’T exceed 200 characters, including spaces
  • DON’T include your seller’s name

Follow the formula below to craft a compelling product title:

[Brand] + [Keyword/Product Type] + [Feature #1] + [Feature #2] + [Feature #3] + [Benefit] + [Color, Size etc]

Include up to three features depending on the character limit.

Product images

The product title puts your product in front of potential customers, while your main image gets them to click to your listing.

Amazon is particularly strict when it comes to your main image. Always follow Amazon’s image requirements to avoid your account being suspended. Be sure your image is at least 1,000 pixels wide or tall so that it is zoomable for customers.

Bullet points

Bullet points are key features of your product. Keep each point concise for better readability. Remember to incorporate keywords that weren’t used in your product title for better SEO.

Main description

Use your description to include detailed information about your product and overcome any buying resistance customers might have.

Brand registered sellers have the privilege to use A+ Content to describe product features by including a unique brand story, enhanced images, and videos.

Example of A+ Content

If you are not approved to use A+ content, make sure to use HTML so your description is formatted correctly and doesn’t look unreadable like the example below:

Strong copywriting will remove customer doubts, trigger their emotions, and convince them to make a purchase. When writing your copy, include universal motivation words such as happy, popular, security, and freedom.

10 components of Amazon copywriting

  1. Headline: What will grab a customer’s attention?
  2. Describe the problem: What are your customers’ pain points?
  3. Provide your solution: How can your product solve the pain points?
  4. Credibility: What sets you apart from your competitors?
  5. Benefits THEN features: What can your product do for customers?
  6. Social proof: What do happy customers say?
  7. Your offer: What product bundles or promotions are you offering?
  8. Guarantee: How can you remove the risk of purchasing?
  9. Scarcity: What is the end date of your promotion? Is there a limited quantity available?
  10. Call to action: What should customers do now?

Back-end keywords

Provide A10 a list of relevant long-tail and short-tail keywords to enhance product discoverability. Utilize it to the fullest by filling in all the necessary details. Your list of hot keywords will help with this effort.

Amazon listing optimization vs. e-commerce optimization

How are they the same?

Both individual e-commerce websites and Amazon product listings have the same goal in mind: to convert browsers into clickers, and clickers into buyers. For both, product title, images, and descriptions are equally important.

How are they different?

In order to provide a uniform shopping experience for its customers, Amazon limits what you can do to your product listing. With your own e-commerce website, on the other hand, you’re able to do more with the site layout, call-to-action buttons, user interface, and more.

Another difference is that for your e-commerce store, you’ll be optimizing for all search engines. Amazon product listings only need to be optimized for Amazon’s A10 algorithm.

Five final tips for optimized Amazon listings

  1. Use proper grammar and punctuation across all your copy.
  2. List company-specific information and details about other products you sell.
  3. Focus on a maximum of 25 keywords. Don’t keyword-stuff your listing.
  4. Write a unique description. Do not use a cookie-cutter template.
  5. Split test your Amazon listing.

A well-optimized Amazon listing separates the winners from the losers. Invest resources into optimizing your listings to beat your competitors on page 1 and increase your sales.

In case you missed it, download the SOP on how to build your list of long-tail and short-tail keywords for optimization.

Learn more: Optimize your product listings by testing design concepts, photos, and descriptions with a target audience of likely buyers.

Laura Ojeda Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle-grade novel, Missing Okalee, was published in the fall of 2021 by Shadow Mountain Publishing.