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The A9 Myth: How the Amazon Algorithm Ranks Products

The A9 Myth: How the Amazon Algorithm Ranks Products

277 billion dollars in gross merchandise sales in 2018,1 Amazon is by far the largest e-commerce giant in the world. On top of that, in recent years, Amazon has also become the worldwide leading product search engine. More than 70% of shoppers use Amazon to find products, with 56% indicating they usually look on Amazon first before looking at other sites.2

For brands and merchants, it is therefore highly relevant to ensure the visibility of their products on Amazon. But how does Amazon actually rank products in search results?

The answer is connected to understanding Amazon's underlying algorithm, called A9. The A9 algorithm decides which products to display in which order for a certain search query. As often, Amazon doesn't reveal the full functionality of its algorithm publicly, but most sources agree on its mechanisms.

Overall, the algorithm cares the most about increasing the purchasing likelihood with the following metrics influencing the rankings the most:

  • Content relevance

  • Product availability

  • Price

  • Sales Performance

So How Can these Factors be Controlled?

Content relevance

In the Amazon world, products achieve text match relevancy, when their titles, bullet points, and product descriptions are optimized for the search engine algorithm, and through this SEO optimization match with the keywords, consumers are actually looking for.


The number one concern of Amazon is sales. If the customer cannot buy the product as it is out of stock, the listing ranking may decrease or disappear. Moreover, products that have a low out-of-stock (OOS) rate, rank higher than products that have a high OOS rate.


Amazon puts a high emphasis on maintaining price leadership. A product with a significantly higher price than the average category price will, therefore, be associated with a lower conversion rate and consequently lower ranking. Nevertheless, price premiums can be compensated through better sales performances.

Sales Performance

As already mentioned, the A9 likes nothing more than high sales velocity. This means that besides using the right keywords, having the product in stock, and a competitive price, it is also relevant to optimize product listings for conversion to ensure that customers buy in the end.

Several Factors Influence the Sales Performance and Therefore Indirectly the Product Ranking:

  • Reviews: More reviews and a higher review score lead to a higher ranking. Also, the management of negative reviews builds up trust and therefore leads to a higher number of purchases.

  • FAQs: Through answered FAQs, customers will see higher engagement and receive answers to necessary questions and therefore, be more prone to buying the product.

  • Fulfilment: Offering the fastest delivery to an Amazon customer, preferably at no extra costs, is highly important and highly relevant for the ranking. The product then receives ?prime? status which also boosts product visibility.

  • Images: Good-quality and informative pictures can boost sales on Amazon. Hereby, it is important to highlight that the algorithm attaches importance to the fact that a product listing contains at least five pictures.

  • A+ Content: Additional brand content helps to build a story-line and position a brand image which influences the conversion rate.

  • Advertising and Promotions: Advertising is one of the most powerful ways to increase product sales and subsequently the ranking.

  • Additional product information and manuals: Additional product information such as application guides, how to's, ingredient lists and explanations will help the customer to understand better the product at the point of making a purchase decision.

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