Six-Step Guide to Ranking on Amazon: It’s All About Sales Velocity

By Marcel Deer
TOPICSAmazon, Featured, Insights

Now that the chaos of Prime Day has ended, let’s take stock: What lessons did you learn? If you ran deals, which were successes and which weren’t? If so, were you profitable enough to justify the extra effort? What can you carry into the rest of the year? What’s immediately next and what’s longer-term next for your brand and products on Amazon?

For starters, keep in mind that if there’s one thing Amazon dominates, it’s making money. And now that most brands have flocked to the eCommerce giant, which sells over 350 million products, competition is fierce.

While Prime Day, along with its hotly contested promotional deals and sales, is over, there are still great opportunities to make even more money moving into the fourth quarter. As Amazon and its sellers approach Cyber5 (the huge sales period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday), you need to stay on top of these foundational topics to make sure you continue selling strong.

You can pursue many strategies to increase your profitability on the Amazon Marketplace platform, but ranking high (using paid and organic efforts) on Amazon’s search helps drive sales sustainably and effectively. But Amazon, like many other search platforms, has a particular way of guiding potential buyers through its website. 

After all, Amazon is in the business of making money, so it wants to direct users to products that sell. But what does that mean? How can you rank higher on Amazon? Take a look through our six-step guide below to learn how.

1. Amazon sales velocity is the name of the selling game.

Brand awareness (like impressions and clicks) will only get you so far. Transactions (like conversions) are what matters. And Amazon fully agrees; its ranking system almost requires you to engage in what’s called “full-chain sales velocity.”

In basic terms, sales velocity is how many units you sell of a certain product over how many searches there are for a specific phrase. So, what does that have to do with ranking? For Amazon, a combination of performance and relevance acts as the foundation for high-ranking products.

In fact, whenever an Amazon user searches by typing in a specific search term, the top result simply has the most units sold. It has nothing to do with how much revenue you generate per sale. While Amazon might seem like a complicated and highly intricate organization, you can easily understand the core of its ranking through sales velocity. The top slot goes to the product that is most likely to be purchased by the shopper.

When you went through Prime Day, how many units were you able to sell? Were your targeted keywords searched at a high rate relative to your sales? Answering these questions will help you improve your performance for the upcoming holiday season.

2. Get on the Amazon map through active listings.

Before optimizing your product’s ranking, you need to first add it to Amazon’s active listings. From there, you can only go up!

First, you need to optimize for the keyword for which you want your product to appear. For example, if you sell quirky laptop cases, think of the journey your user takes from the top of the sales funnel. What will they type to find what they want? Moreover, have you selected a saturated keyword or one with little traffic? 

You want to pay particular attention here as you need to find a certain phrase that has enough traffic to generate sales without too much competition. It can be a delicate balance, but the more data you amass about a keyword, the better. If the keyword you selected for Prime Day became unexpectedly saturated, think about new ones to pursue. Consider reading guides on how to pick the perfect keyword.

Now that you have optimized your listing using keywords, you need to get sales through paid traffic by sponsoring your selected keywords. And get this: paid listings count as much as organic ones, so it helps boost you almost immediately to the front page. Amazon loves Sponsored Products Ads because the ads drive sales, which Amazon gets a cut of, and Amazon also gets the PPC winning bid amount.

3. Add more products to continue dominating on Amazon.

Keep in mind that ranking requires continual attention. You need to defend this newly acquired position by adding new products into the mix so you can keep dominating your category and building your brand. The minute you take your foot off the gas on Amazon is the minute another seller wins the Buy Box or another product appears first in search results.

Consider the following method: one product per ad group (OPPA). What does that mean? Basically, you want to set up your ad campaigns, so you have one product in each. That way, you have additional control over keywords and useful insights and no overlap. OPPA is just one part of EXCLUSIVE’s marketplace strategy for ad campaigns.

Moreover, adding more products into the mix also brings up additional factors to consider within Amazon’s algorithm. While the above, including sales velocity and relevance factors, are still important, you now have to consider some “all else being equal” factors. 

These factors are more detailed elements you need to pay attention to, including fulfillment, product reviews, click-thru rate (CTR), conversion rate, and your seller reputation. When throwing new products into the fold, you need to optimize these elements to continue ranking.

When looking at Prime Day reviews, which products were hot-ticket items? Think about similar products you can add into the mix as these will likely help you rank higher in the long run.

4. If your product sells, Amazon will help you sell more of it.

As always, Amazon wants to make money. If your product helps it achieve that goal through high sales, then it will promote that product to shoppers. If Amazon sees users purchasing your product, it will automatically assume other people want to buy it as well. 

What does this mean for you? First, you absolutely need to focus on all of the factors mentioned above. Suppose you optimize your Amazon sales velocity and relevance factors but forget to answer questions or respond to reviews? In that case, you could potentially lose your ranking status — and Amazon’s algorithm will stop putting your products in front of buyers.

5. Make use of platforms outside of Amazon.

While it might sound counterintuitive, Amazon favors sellers who promote their products on other platforms. In its latest algorithm update, Amazon now puts more priority on traffic from outside of Amazon. For example, if your website has a “Buy Now” Amazon button, the algorithm factors that on top of your sales velocity and keywords.

When you bring people to Amazon, it essentially rewards you for driving traffic to its marketplace. The logic being that not only will Amazon capture the sale of your product, but the shopper will also stay on the sticky site and add even more items to the cart. Drive traffic to Amazon using Facebook ads, email campaigns, website links, and more.

What does this mean for you as a seller on Amazon? Diversify your marketing and advertising by diving into other platforms. Not only will this make your brand more resilient, but it will solidify your ranking on Amazon.

Take lessons from how you marketed yourself during Prime Day. Which external sources generated the most traffic? Consider honing in on these more-effective platforms when marketing your products during Cyber5.

6. Let’s check in: Which element of Amazon sales velocity are you weakest in?

While this six-step guide to ranking on Amazon will help you drive sales and increase profits, you should check in with yourself every so often and see what needs improving. Take a look at the following list of trouble spots for many Amazon merchants:

  • Determining specific keyword targets
  • Optimizing front-end and back-end listing elements
  • Coordinating ads and keeping campaigns organized
  • Balancing branding, conquesting, and discovery
  • Reporting and tracking rankings

There’s no shortage of details and pitfalls when it comes to selling on Amazon. Given the complexity of Amazon’s ranking system, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution to issues you face as a seller. These check-ins are needed to improve your ranking and remain resilient on the platform.

And if Prime Day didn’t turn out the way you wanted, don’t worry: you still have plenty of time to reconfigure your strategy and rank higher, enabling you to dominate during the holiday season sales rush.

Now that you have a solid idea of how to rank higher on Amazon, why stop there? Check out EXCLUSIVE and eComEngine’s webinar, Amazon Playbook for Brands, which dives into the complete formula for profitable growth. After all, ranking is just one piece of the puzzle. And if you want to become a top seller on the platform, you need to help Amazon — and yourself — make money.

Need digital marketing help? We’ve got you for Amazon, SEO, PPC, social, and more. Contact us today for your free eCommerce growth analysis.