July 15, 2021

Surprising Amazon SEO Strategies to Improve Rankings

Struggling with cracking the code for how to get your products noticed on Amazon?

You're not alone.

Amazon.com sells more than 75 million products as of March 2021, according to ScrapeHero. That's a LOT of products, product categories and keywords to navigate and compete with.

So how are successful sellers doing it?

We recently invited Amazon experts Cynthia Stine, Dan Saunders, Will Haire, and Robyn Johnson to address this very issue and share their experience, learnings and insider secrets.

To hear the full depth and breadth of their insights, definitely check out the recording of their discussion.

In the meantime, this blog post summarizes some of the smart and savvy strategies they shared.

What Is Amazon’s A9 Algorithm?
What Influences Your Amazon SEO Strategy?
Why Amazon Suspends Sellers’ Listing or Account
How to Avoid Restricted Category Keywords on Amazon

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What Is Amazon’s A9 Algorithm?

Amazon’s A9 algorithm is similar to traditional search engine algorithms like Google’s. However, as there are a number of differences that will affect your listing’s visibility, understanding how it works is critical to your selling success on Amazon.

In his portion of the presentation, Will Haire, CEO of BellaVix, brought some clarity to A9’s impact on SEO, how it supports Amazon’s mission, and what sellers need to know and do to best position their products and grow on Amazon.

What Influences Your Amazon SEO Strategy?

Here are four factors Will shared that can influence your Amazon SEO strategy:

Keyword relevancy

Incorporating highly relevant keywords into your product listing (titles, descriptions, bullets, backend search terms, etc.) will help Amazon index your product correctly and help improve your rankings.

Additional best practices include:

  • Maintain your unique selling proposition.
  • Be true to what your products are.
  • Provide a great user experience.
  • Make sure your images are appropriate and engaging.

Product availability

It’s crucial to make sure your products are always available. When you run out of inventory and shoppers are unable to buy your product, you start losing your Best Seller Ranking (BSR) and your keyword rankings.

What’s more is that regaining your BSR and keyword ranking is no easy feat. When you’re able to rebuild inventory, it’s not as simple as just starting from where you were. There’s a reindexation and rebuilding process that often has to occur.


Amazon wants to provide its customers with the lowest price possible. However, if you have a higher price point, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make sales. This all ties back to having and maintaining a unique selling proposition.

Will explained how this pricing strategy applies to choosing relevant keywords, using the keyword “Queen size mattress” as an example.

Taking into account how consumers value certain keywords is also important.  

For example, in the “Jewelry” category, the keyword “gold plated” is generally $10-$11 lower than “gold vermeil,” even though they are really the same thing. This means that many gold-plated products will qualify as gold vermeil, offering a seller more opportunities for keyword rankings and to showcase their products at a higher price point.

Sales velocity

Amazon is not going to rank you for search terms that it doesn’t think will drive a sale. Associated with this, there are also 6 indirect factors that influence sales velocity, that are outlined in the infographic below.

You can watch Will’s presentation section at timestamp [00:03:47] on this video.

Why Amazon Suspends Sellers’ Listing or Account

While there are now a plethora of tools available to sellers to make it easier for them to find relevant, high-value keywords, a little-known secret that Cynthia Stine, President at eGrowth Partners, shared in her presentation is that Amazon often looks for keywords as justification to suspend a seller’s listing, or even their account.

The first question you may be asking is, “Why?”

And your second question is likely to be, “How can I avoid these keyword pitfalls and protect my business?”

All good questions. Let’s tackle the first one with some of the valuable insights Cynthia shared.

First, why is Amazon doing this? What are they looking for?

IP Enforcement

It’s important to remember that one thing Amazon’s A9 algorithm looks for is IP enforcement, essentially a misuse of someone’s brand and trademarked terms. They want to ensure sellers are not using another brand’s name, trademarked words -- even trademarked phrases -- in their listing or backend keywords.

To help prevent this behavior, Amazon’s algorithm scans your backend keywords, titles, reviews, and more.

Restricted categories

As the number of sellers on Amazon increases, so has the number of product categories that Amazon has restricted (e.g. the “Baby” category). By placing category restrictions, Amazon is trying to ensure that only genuine products are being sold by trusted sellers.

How to Avoid Restricted Category Keywords on Amazon

1. Understand what these keywords are.

To prevent your products from flagging a “restricted category,” know what these keywords are. Here’s a list that Cynthia shared.

Cynthia came up with the following examples when goods were placed into some unexpected categories:

One of her clients was selling draught excluders, which keep a lot of stuff from coming into the house. In the listing, they also mentioned that it also helps keep the bugs out. A door stop keeps the bugs from coming into a space because it’s a physical barrier. But the product was perceived as a pesticide.

There are several products that can be easily placed in the sexual wellness category because of the way sellers describe the product. If you don’t want your product to be in that category, list it in a way that doesn’t sound like a sexual product. However, even users’ reviews can contribute to placing your product into this category.

A seller selling massagers got some weird reviews that were perceived by Amazon as sexual wellness products because buyers were using it as a sexual product and talking about their experience in their reviews.

She also had a client that was registered in the medical devices category. But they were not exactly selling medical devices, they were selling things like bandages, which is not a medical device. Since the product made some health claims, Amazon took it as a medical device.

One of her clients was selling products that help parents calm down their children with autism. These products were not medical devices, however, Amazon saw them as medical devices because the client made some medical claims.

There’s a broad range of hazmat products that we don’t think are hazardous. For example, perfumes, nail polish, or anything that has chemicals in it. So, make sure you understand how to describe your product when it comes to hazmat/restricted substances.

Media pressure plays a key role in how Amazon determines whether or not they should take down a product. One day Amazon gets criticized by the media, the next day we see some sellers having their accounts suspended.  

In the past, Amazon had taken down several products that were related to Hitler and the Holocaust. For example, one of Cynthia’s clients tried to sell Hanukkah socks. Amazon took them down, labeling them as a defamatory item. In fact, it was just a cute pair of socks sold mostly to Jewish people around Hanukkah.

2. Think about what category you are in and what category Amazon might think you’re in.

For example, let’s say you don’t sell a sexual wellness product. If you’re using keywords that make Amazon think you're in the “sexual wellness” category, then they will take your product listing or account down.

3. Audit your product listings on Amazon.

Here’s the rub. Most sellers create their listings and then don’t look at them very often. However, this is not a good strategy for your business. To better understand what Amazon really cares about, start evaluating your presence on the platform.

Audit your product listing(s) based on what Amazon thinks of your product presence -- and audit everything: your listings, titles, backend keywords, etc. to make sure you’re not using any words that could hurt your business.

When auditing your listings, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I inadvertently saying something that could be perceived as a medical claim?
  • Am I using keywords that could be considered “racy”?
  • Am I using any trademarked keywords, phrases or competitor names?

Discover problematic keywords? Make your changes to the file (and upload it) and to your actual listing.

4. Download Amazon’s inventory and listing reports.

Request your listings and inventory report through Seller support (they’ll make it visible to you for 24 hours) and download it.

This comprehensive spreadsheet will give you a holistic view of your listings and inventory so you can see what elements of your listing Amazon is looking at without having to go through your listings individually.

5. Download the latest style guide.

Amazon changes this style guide a lot (approx. 5-6 times a year). To make sure your listings are up to date and still compliant, it’s a smart strategy to review this style guide.

The listing optimization work can be automated. You can get your product listing score in less than a minute with Semrush's Listing Quality Check for Amazon. It will show you:

  • The overall quality of your listing based on optimization guidelines, Amazon's requirements, and the official Style Guide;
  • The data-driven recommendations for listing optimization to enhance your visibility and increase conversions.

Check out Cynthia’s full presentation at this timestamp in the video: [00:10:26]. You can also access Cynthia’s slides here: http://bit.ly/semrush61021

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