The Difference between Amazon A9 and Googles Search Algorithm
Search engines influence every decision we make from shopping for groceries, going to a movie, purchasing flights, and learning new things.
“3.5 billion Google searches are made every day.” (Internet Live Stats)
While most of us don’t put a lot of thought in how search engines work beyond finding the “closest coffee shop near me”, understanding how both Amazon A9 and Google’s algorithms work can make or break a business.
In the SEO industry, they say you can hide a dead body on page 2 and no one would ever know to look there.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a binge-worthy true crime series in development about that very thing which could lead to a rash of solved murder mysteries.
“70% of Amazon shoppers never click past the first page of results” (Singlegrain)
This is 100% true on both Amazon and Google – if you’re on the 2nd page of either platform’s search engine results you might as well cash it in because no one is going to buy from you.
We’ll save the true crime for a different article but for this one let’s focus on the key differences between Amazon A9 and Google search.
Because most people don’t even think of Amazon as a search engine but that’s exactly what it is. The only difference is that Amazon is a search engine for products and it’s designed to get you to find and buy them as quickly as possible.
Understanding how each search algorithm works can add to your businesses bottom line because you can create multiple touchpoints throughout the shopper journey. While they have similar functionality, they both have a different end goal which drastically changes which ranking factors are most important for each one.
It’s like comparing a Ferrari with a Mclaren F1 – both are impressively fast sports cars but each one has its own little nuances when looking under the hood. If you aren’t a car guru and that analogy went way over your head, another way to look at it is that Google is at the top of the funnel and Amazon is at the bottom.
You’ll need to leverage both to succeed and having an eCommerce strategy is becoming a requirement, not an option.
Why Understanding the Difference between search engines is important
Ecommerce is only getting bigger and influencing more of our buying decisions than ever before. If you don’t have an eCommerce strategy as a large, global brand then you’re missing a HUGE chunk of the shopper journey.
“Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales” – (Inc.com)
Also, for whatever reason, most people don’t associate Ecommerce with search engines and lack an SEO strategy for anything other than Google.
Amazon, Walmart, Target, and any other eCommerce platform are all built on top of search engines with their sole purpose to get you to find and buy the products you’re looking for as quickly as possible.
Search engines help organize information on Google and organize products on eCommerce platforms and are basically a digital library.
If there wasn’t a search engine attached to Amazon, Target, or Walmart, you’d never be able to find your favorite cereal, your kids’ soccer cleats, or a year’s supply of Top Ramen.
As mentioned above, your Google SEO strategy should revolve around top-of-the-funnel content that pushes your customers to the end of the shopper journey.
Your Amazon SEO strategy should revolve around getting your customers to convert with as little friction as possible.
People interact with each search engine differently which means that your content should be different on each platform. On Google, you have a wider range of content choices such as blogs, case studies, videos, and more. On Amazon, you are limited to optimizing a product page that only has so many layout variations.
Understanding these differences will dictate how to optimize correctly on each platform.
How Search Engines Work
Before getting into the details of how each search engine works differently you need to understand how search engines work in general.
When I try to simplify and explain SEO to people I tell them to read and re-read Google’s original mission statement which is \”to organize the world\’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.\”
A search engine has two main functions:
- Crawling and Indexing
- Providing Answers
In a sense, a search engine is just an extremely advanced digital library. At the library, there are different sections for different types of books and within each section, there’s a system of organizing and finding them.
If you went to the library to check out a self-help book by Anthony Robbins but instead found Game of Thrones where Unlimited Power should be you’d be relatively annoyed.
You’d also be very annoyed if you went on Amazon looking for fish oil supplements but instead, they showed you search results for Disney movies or medium roast coffee.
Everything has a place in a search engine and a search engine’s purpose is to organize information so you can retrieve it as quickly as possible whether it’s Amazon or Google.
A search engine stores documents and there is an algorithm in place that determines what the most relevant results are for a particular search query.
The documents that are stored on a search engine are what people refer to as “content” which is why you often hear that “content is king.”
Crafting content in a way that ranks highly on search engines is worth a lot of money which is why global spend on digital marketing is quickly approaching a $100 billion! (Reuters)
While Google is considered a marketing search engine, Amazon is considered an eCommerce search engine.
What Ranking Factors Matter the Most to Google?
It’s completely reasonable to say that Google’s search engine is way more advanced than Amazon A9. By my estimates, Amazon is about 5 – 10 years behind Google in how sophisticated their algorithm is but why is that?
Well, Google had a big head start on Amazon and also has a small army of 20,000 software engineers working around the clock to improve and maintain Google’s search engine.
While Google is rumored to have around 200 main ranking factors, there are three that matter the most:
- User Experience (UX)
All other ranking factors fall under the umbrella of the three factors above and play into them in different ways.
When optimizing for SEO it’s important to focus on these three factors first and foremost while using data to fill in the gaps. Google is notorious for gathering data on just about everyone and everything.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it had the search history of your golden retriever and Amazon had data on it’s dog food buying habits.
Luckily for us, we can use platforms such as Google Analytics to analyze this data and create content that speaks to our end user. If you write content for your ideal shopper, your website will begin to rank for the search terms they use to find you.
On Google, user experience is one of the most important things you should optimize for and some people would even say that content is the user experience. If you create content that optimizes for Google’s 200 different ranking factors, it will ensure that you outrank your competition.
What Ranking Factors Matter the Most to Amazon?
Amazon A9 is designed to get someone to make a purchase as quickly as possible. All the ranking factors in Amazon A9 cater to accomplishing this goal.
The ultimate goal for Amazon SEO is to increase sales. The more you sell, the more Amazon makes, and the higher your product page ranks.
American author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said that “You can have everything in life you want if you\’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”
In a sense, that quote explains how Amazon is able to disrupt so many industries and grow at such a rapid rate – they are helping millions of other people get what they want (freedom to work for themselves, stable income, more time), which in turn allows them to become a tech unicorn.
But how do you help your clients gain visibility on Amazon and ultimately boost their bottom line?
Some of the top-ranking factors in Amazon are:
- Sales Rank
- Customer Reviews
- Answered Questions
- Image Size & Quality
- Time on Page & Bounce Rate
- Features/Bullet Points
- Product Description
- Product Listing Completeness
There are roughly 25 main Amazon SEO ranking factors that we can optimize for.
Just like with Google, there are a few factors that are more important than the others you should focus on and they ALSO revolve around user experience and content. While backlinks help they don’t work the same way they do in Google.
Anything you set up outside of Amazon and other eRetail sites pointing back to the product pages will help drive awareness and increase sales. However, they won’t factor in how your product pages directly rank.
However, as your sales increase your rankings do as well so it’s in your best interest to link back to product pages on as many websites as possible!
Hierarchy of an Amazon Product Page
There are certain areas on an Amazon product page that are more important than others which will determine where to place certain keywords.
The order of importance is as follows:
- Enhanced Brand Content
- Basic Content
- Hidden Keywords
The title and the bullets are where your primary keywords will go and have more weight when it comes to ranking on Amazon. In fact, Amazon only considers the first 50 characters of the title when determining how to rank you but why is that?
This is to minimize manipulation through keyword stuffing. In the past, sellers used to stuff their titles with all the keywords they wanted to rank for. Now they have to be more creative and think it through a bit more which makes it harder for sellers to game Amazon A9 algorithm.
The Enhanced Brand Content and Basic Content do count as ranking factors but not as heavily as the title or bullets. The hidden keywords are uploaded on the backend of your product page but can’t be seen by shoppers.
Like Google, Amazon also takes into account user experience signals such as time on page, conversion rate, and bounce rate.
What is a bounce rate?
It’s when someone lands on a page and decides to stay or go to another product page.
When someone lands on your product page and then leaves that increases your bounce rate. If they stay on your product page and purchase that will lower your bounce rate. This metric also exists on Google and is equally important to optimize on both search engines.
This is considered a user experience signal (UX).
You should aim for the lowest bounce rate possible. The layout of your product pages, copywriting, and the imagery will determine whether someone bounces off your page or not.
Users will also scan for keywords they searched for and make a snap judgment as to whether or not they want to keep browsing or not. If they see enough information that supports their research then they will make a purchase.
What else do you need to know about Amazon A9 and Google Search?
Both Google and Amazon have one primary goal – to organize the world’s information and make as much money as possible!
By helping you make money they also make money and everything on their search engines are designed to do just that. Amazon gets a cut of every sale and also charges a monthly fee to access advanced features such as Amazon Prime, Music, and Video.
Google makes their money from advertising and it’s in their best interest to get you to the information you’re looking for as quickly as possible.
As an SEO expert, we have to reverse engineer their algorithm to understand the optimization process and apply it to a clients website or product page.
At Integer, the optimization process is an ongoing cycle that involves 5 very important steps:
It all starts with SEO – The insights found during the research phase are used to fuel the user experience, copy, and creative processes. While it’s next to impossible to breakdown all the ins and outs of a search engine in one article we can still get a basic understanding of how it all works.
By understanding these key differences we can ensure that we can map out the shopper\’s journey efficiently and create multiple touchpoints throughout the marketing funnel.