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Beating the Amazon Ranking Algorithm (2020)

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The Amazon product ranking algorithm is the key to winning the Amazon organic search game. In fact, being ranked in the top 16 can take your private label business to a whole new level.

So how do you rank a product in Amazon?

Well, that’s what I’m about to cover in this post. 

Let’s do this.

The Amazon ranking algorithm determines where products rank in Amazon search. A product ranking in the top 16 means it can be found on page 1 of the Amazon results. This can create organic sales from customers who search for products, which can boost your profitability significantly, especially when compared with using Amazon sponsored ads to get your product discovered.

So, you could say being ranked on page 1 is the ultimate goal. I mean, just imagine what that could do for your sales during Q4 when the buying frenzy begins. 

With that in mind, the strategy I’m about to lay out is designed to position your product more favourably in the search results, so if you start this during the year, it could well lead to top rankings by the time Q4 arrives.

Now, let me preface this by saying that the particular product I ranked in Amazon is one that I had given up on. I actually thought it had peaked. I got busy with other projects and I actually stepped away a little bit from my Amazon FBA business.

The second thing I want to point out is that, as a result of me neglecting this product, the rankings tanked. It actually hit the bottom, the so called zero sales rank in amazon. In fact, I remember thinking the only way to get some traction on this item, if I ever chose to try to get it back in the game, was obviously to advertise (i.e. using Amazon sponsored ads).

So I left it and put my mind to other things.

Then November arrived. Q4 was almost here. This is where good money can be made, if you’re positioned well. So I began to refocus on FBA.

Quarter 4 is a great time to sell on Amazon. Everybody is in a buying frenzy, and that's always good for sellers.Click To Tweet

I remember explaining the wonders of Q4 to my buddy, when he asked:

How do you rank higher in Amazon?

My strategy to rank products in Amazon always starts with Amazon PPC. I’ve watched from afar the many services that have come and gone, offering reviews in exchange for products and all kinds of trickery to tip the algorithm in your favour, but I advice against using anything like that.

Amazon is smart, and the engine gets smarter, not dumber. If you want to build a real business, then focus on playing the game within the rules or risk losing everything you’ve built so far. The ultimate penalty is getting booted out of the western world’s largest marketplace. No thanks.

Anyway, let me lay it out for you:

The Strategy for Increasing Your Sales Rank in Amazon FBA

As I mentioned, I always start with Amazon’s PPC platform.

Now, if you sell with Amazon and you use their sponsored ads platform, you’ll know that the reporting side of things is a bit naff. Sales metrics don’t update until 24 and sometimes 48 hours have passed.

This is far from ideal, of course. To rank products in Amazon we need intelligence – and we get that from systems. This delay forces us to be guessing forward half the time, which really is pants.

When I first started out selling on Amazon, I’d lose my nerve when I saw the ad spend increase and the sales remaining at zero. It’s certainly unnerving to the beginner, and also to the veteran with a big ad spend on a test or a whim.

But this is what we have to work with.

The trick it to keep your nerve. If you have a best selling product on your hands, then your ad spend could appear to be rocketing out of control, but in reality you may be making sales and profit which are not yet being reported.

The real shame here is that a knee-jerk reaction could have you pausing the ads or lowering your budget, killing that winning streak.

I have been a private seller for a while now, and I happen to have a way around this issue. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty close. So I’m going to share that with you too. If anything, it will calm your nerves.

Okay, so back to the strategy…

I used the month of November to test my dead product with this good old strategy, and it worked very well. I actually doubled my money. Needless to say, the product is actually selling profitably.

The product I used was a great product to test because it had no sales rank in Amazon and no visibility, so I was literally starting from zero.

So here’s how I did it:

1. Start by running an ad campaign

So the first job was to set up some ads. It all starts with the ads, because they get you visibility.

Visibility in Amazon is what enables sales.Click To Tweet

2. Cap your budget to start with

Nobody wants to spend a ton of money and actually make no sales, and I’m no different. So the trick here is to cap the budget to protect our cash. Start slow and keep your eye on the numbers.

That’s where I started. I put down a little bit of money to start with and I gauged my next move based on whether sales happened (or not).

3. Start increasing your ad budget

Once you see that the product has some traction and you’re actually profitable, you increase your daily budget on the ads and you keep your eye on the numbers.

You must be getting sales for this to work because if everyone’s clicking on your ads but no one’s actually buying your product, then this strategy isn’t going to work.

So, to recap so far:

  1. you put money down on ads
  2. cap your daily budget
  3. keep your eye on the numbers
  4. when you start to see sales, start to increase your budget

4. What if nobody buys my product?

If you’re in a situation where your ads are getting clicks but sales aren’t resulting, then that tells you that you probably need to revise your offer.

Here are some things you can do:

  • check your competitors to see what they’re doing
  • check your listing and make sure the title and description are as good as they can be, or optimize them as best you can
  • reposition your pricing point if you have to (a cheaper product that sells beats a more expensive one that doesn’t).

5. Keep tweaking your ads for a good ACoS

Ideally, you want more than a single ad running at all times. I have several ads running and this enables me to reallocate ad budget toward the winners.

This is important, as it helps you keep your ACoS fine tuned and performing well.

I keep my eye on my ads several times a day and if one ad starts to perform poorly, I  lower the daily budget for that ad and I reallocate that budget to an ad that is performing better.

Now, day-to-day is a very short window when you consider the reporting delay, but nonetheless when budget is a concern and when you’re playing with a product that you’re really not sure about, then it pays to actually keep your eye on things at least once a day and tweak as you go.

Just keep adjusting your bids and reallocating those pennies towards the ads that are actually performing well. If the next day yesterday’s winners are not performing so well, you slow down the budget on those ads and you reallocate the rest to another ad that’s performing better.

6. Rinse and repeat

Keep using this budget reallocation technique to keep everything fine-tuned and keep increasing the budget slowly.

Do this daily.

That’s basically the strategy.

Now let’s talk about why this works.

Achieving sales velocity in Amazon to rank products in Amazon is they key to beating the Amazon algorithm

When you deploy this technique, what starts to happen is that you start to pick up sales velocity. And sales velocity is a key component when it comes to ranking products in Amazon.

Sales velocity helps rank your product organically. It starts to bump your product up in the search engine results within Amazon.

Within one month of doing this – of tweaking the ads daily and then increasing the budget slowly to make sure I was getting the best performance – I started to increase my sales velocity so that by the end of the month my product was almost in the top 16.

At that point I started seeing organic sales, because people will click through to page 2 if they don’t like what they see on page 1, and also because my product was probably ranking on page 1 for some terms at this point (thanks to the sales velocity). 

Also, by mid December my ad spend was a lot lower than it was in November because I was actually beginning to sell organically.

That's the real trick in Amazon: sales velocity = your product on page 1 = organic sales and no ad cost = more profit.Click To Tweet

Even if your product is ranking on page 2 you have a good chance of catching some organic sales. Every organic sale counts because it means you’re not paying for exposure, which in turn means you’re more profitable.

Conclusion

Ranking products in Amazon is mostly science. You need to have a good product of course, a well optimized listing (well crafted title and enticing description) and there needs to be a demand for what you’re selling.

Assuming that those things are in place, then it’s a case of feeding the Amazon algorithm what it wants: sales.

Since your product has no visibility out of the gate, you must pay for that visibility in the marketplace. That means running ads.

Set your daily budget to whatever you’re comfortable with and run several ads. Once you start to see sales, tweak the budgets and reallocate ad budget away from the poor performers and towards the winners.

Rinse and repeat.

Once you start to achieve sales velocity, your product will start to naturally rank higher in the Amazon eco system. This is simply because you’re increasing your Amazon sales rank on that product.

Once you hit the top 16, you’ll start to see an increase in organic sales, and this is where you achieve maximum profitability.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FOR YOU:
-> Check out my Amazon FBA Tools and Guides.
-> Check out my recommended FBA training courses.

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