Whether you are a newbie or a veteran Amazon Seller, knowing how to make your products stand out against your competition is a constant challenge. Do competing products have a better BSR? An Amazon's Choice Badge? Or perhaps, they are out-ranking you on certain keywords. Which of these, is the most important factor in getting you more eyeballs?
Let's tackle each of them one-by-one. First BSR.
For the scope of this article, we are skipping the role that reviews play in the success of a product. Your review rating is by far THE most important social proof there can be to increase conversions, and we'll reserve that discussion for a whole 'nother blogpost.
Best Seller Ranking
The BSR, or Best Seller Ranking, is (yet) another mysterious number that Amazon assigns to an ASIN to indicate how well it is selling within a category or subcategory. Also known as Category Rank or Sub-Category Rank, this number is specific to an ASIN and does NOT get assigned to your entire catalog. In a sense, each product carries its own karma.
While the number itself might be mysterious, we all know that it is based on sales data. Simply put, the more you sell the more likely you are to improving your BSR. But based on our experiments, we have also learned that it is dependent on two other factors - Sales History and Sales Velocity.
What do I mean by that? Say, you've launched a new product and it's sitting at the bottom of a million other products.
It has no Sales Volume, no Sales History and no Sales Velocity.
You might get assigned a category level BSR of 1,234,567 (or something). The moment you make one or two sales, your BSR is likely to drop almost right away, like in this experiment we conducted on a product within the furniture category.
From that point on Amazon's algorithms will gradually work you back up to a higher and higher ranking, UNLESS you get more sales and build up your sales history and get assigned a somewhat stable BSR.
Some of the best BSR products remain at that spot even if they might have the occasional stock out. And the reason is that they have proven their worth to the algorithms by establishing a solid sales history.
When launching a new product it's your sales velocity that usually helps establish a good BSR.
Say you sell a ton of products in the first week since your launch. Your sales velocity is up and this makes Amazon's algorithms notice you. However, this number needs to be sustained for a considerable period of time before it makes a lasting impact on your BSR.
Speculation has it that this number is re-calibrated over multiple time periods such as 3, 8, 14, 30, 90 and 180 days.
Just like the term "velocity" can be assigned a positive or negative value, if your product sales over these time frames drops, the negative velocity it generates is likely to hurt your BSR as well.
How does it matter what your BSR is? Customers don't see it anyway, right?
We agree, that the BSR is a measure of sales achievements. It's not so visible to customers. The only Best Seller Ranking that gets the limelight, and hence eyeballs, is the #1 spot within a sub-category. Any other number is (mostly) for your eyes only and not worth fretting over.
Another type of ranking, but perhaps the more important one, is keyword ranking.
The first thing to clarify, is that keyword ranking does not directly influence BSR and BSR does not directly influence keyword ranking.
BSR is assigned to an ASIN, and each ASIN in turn, could have multiple keywords that it is ranking for.
When people say that a product is "ranking", it usually means that when a buyer punches in a keyword or keyword phrase into Amazon's product search bar, say "turmeric supplement for pets," that YOUR product shows up on the first page. So, ranking essentially refers to proximity to the top of page 1 for a keyword phrase in organic search results. Ranking on page 3 and beyond doesn't even count, because the bulk of busy shoppers make their pick on page 1 or 2.
You may as well rank on page 600.
So how do products start to rank for certain keywords?
The white hat way is to make sure that you have an optimized listing. Simply put, if you have all the relevant keywords in your listing, and the title closely describes your product the way your buyers would describe it, then your listing is optimized.
Images, bullet points and your description are extremely important too!
While back end search terms have been the subject of much discusion in the past and there are even tools that help you capture your competitor's search terms, the thing is, if you've already captured all of the important keywords in your title, bullet points and description, there is very little reason for you to get paranoid about stuffing your backend search term fields.
You do not get points for repeating your keywords across your listing. And Amazon takes care of variations to a large extent, anyway.
There is also a grey hat way of using super URLs to rank for certain keywords but we have no clear evidence whether this sort of search engine manipulation counts for anything. Will suffice it to say that people have tested the "two step super URL" as being effective in ranking for a keyword by sending traffic to it with a highly discounted coupon code.
And then there is Amazon Sponsored products, a completely white hat way to you pay your way to gaining visibility and building relevance for certain keywords. We'll reserve that for another post.
Amazon's Choice badge
The Amazon's Choice badge is a more recent celebrity status awarded to ASINs for certain keywords. While it can do wonders to your product's credibility and win your some positive eyeballs, this is not a badge that you could apply for, pay for, or manipulate.
Awarded purely based on the ease of shopping on Amazon, some of the criteria for eligibility include support for Prime, Alexa, shipping speed and review rating among others.
BSR, Keyword Ranking or Amazon's Choice Badge?
Our recommendation is to focus on Keyword Ranking (and it goes without saying, on reviews). Do everything you can to optimize your listing regularly and also train the algorithm using PPC to rank your products for relevant keywords. This is your best rashot at breaking through the "cold start" problem.
BSR only matters if you are at the #1 spot. It is the result of your efforts elsewhere and not a number that you have too much direct control over.
Amazon's Choice badge is again, a badge that shows customers how reliable your product is based on how well you are doing on other fronts to make their shopping experience a delightful one.
Have any questions, additions, or competing viewpoints? We want to hear! Let us know in the comments below!