Ok, so the rumor mill is always churning like crazy within the Amazon seller communities and unfortunately, that isn’t something we can do much about. However, we try to make an effort to stop bad or false information in its tracks before it negatively impacts someone’s business.
With that in mind, I’d like to address a few things that have been floating around lately. Without further ado here are the current myths and why you shouldn’t buy into them.
Amazon’s “A10 Algorithm Update”
Guys. This. Is. Not. A Thing.
I heard about this “A10 algorithm update” not too long ago from a friend in the industry but shrugged it off. I figured whoever he heard spouting at the mouth about it was a lunatic that wouldn’t be taken seriously.
One would hope…..
However, I’ve now seen the phrase pop up a few times. Mostly in free FBA Facebook groups, but nonetheless I wanted to see how widespread this was. So I Googled it, and lo. The news coverage appears to have gone viral. So much so that even the respected Split.ly blog picked it up. How utterly disappointing.
Right about now you are probably thinking “What makes you so sure? Why are you the expert? How do you know you’re right?”
Well I never claim to be an expert and I never claim to be 100% sure, but let’s look at the facts, shall we?
When you Google the term “Amazon A10 algorithm” you’ll find quite a few results pop up. This is enough to make the uninitiated think there might be something to the claim. However, if you dig deeper you’ll discover that even the first page of Google can yield totally unreliable results.
The first two results are from a website trickc.com. Each hyperlink is an internal link, with no sources cited for any of the claims their articles make. The site itself appears to be for an Amazon SEO service with nothing but salesy content written in poor English. The articles have a heavy bent toward this “algorithm update” meaning sellers will need extra complicated services. Services that only a professional SEO company can provide. And guess who fits that bill?
The third result is a Youtube video from “SEO UPDATE.” The video consists of nothing but a screenshare of someone creating a fake Amazon account and then a wedding registry. They add an item to the registry and then the video ends. Absolutely no information about an algorithm update, or what on Earth the video’s purpose is.
The fourth result is a LinkedIn article by someone calling themselves “Amazon Ranking Expert.” The article that’s caused much confusion is extremely short and says nothing but that Amazon hasn’t released information about this algorithm update. It does, however, hyperlink to their Amazon SEO website (fancy that).
The fifth result (last one in the screenshot) is from a public forum and it is simply a post about how Amazon’s A10 update has made ranking harder. It then proposes the only solution is….you guessed it….SEO services. Thankfully the author of the post runs just such a service.
Where it really gets confusing though is that this concept of an “A10 algorithm update” made it into articles written on Split.ly’s blog, as well as Stackoverflow. A closer look reveals, however, that the Stackoverflow post no longer exists, and the Split.ly blog post says nothing about an update. It just has poorly edited information about how the algorithm works in general.
Amazon’s A9 Algorithm
A9 is actually the name of a company owned by Amazon. That company is responsible for the engineering and deployment of the many algorithms Amazon employs. It has not changed its name, nor has it issued any information about a major “update.”
And about that….
Amazon never issues information about an algorithm update. So who cares if someone called it A10? That doesn’t mean a major update didn’t happen. Right?
This is true. However, Amazon updates their algorithms all the time. Literally, it is constantly shifting and changing, so much so that discernible changes are often as subtle as evolution. Like a color gradient, you don’t really notice anything change until it has been progressively slightly different for some time.
And yes, major updates do happen, but not often, and usually not in a way that drastically changes the search experience for a customer. Most of the time when people “see a massive algo change” it is either:
- A very subjective experience with only one product or brand affected (which could be anything).
- A temporary “shuffle” that exposes glitches and other mishaps in the technology that can flip flop expected search results for hours or days.
Anything you’ve heard about PPC losing effectiveness or “giveaways” and launches being rendered impotent are simply crazy rumors not reflected in our data mining.
These are things Amazon makes a ton of money off of and that serve its customers well. They aren’t going away any time soon.
People Might Lose AMS After Vendor Express Closes
I have no way of officially commenting on this as I do not work for Amazon. However, since before the announcement I have been telling people that nothing will happen to their AMS accounts because AMS and Vendor Express are TWO DIFFERENT PROGRAMS. Vendor Express merely opened the door for AMS, but it exists on its own. Just like you won’t lose your Seller Central account when Vendor Express goes away.
Again, I don’t work for them though, so I can’t make an official statement. However I can show you my accounts. First, I’ll point you to exhibit A:
The above is what I see when I log into my Vendor Express account. It is prohibiting me from adding products or initiating the order process. This makes sense too, since the program is being discontinued.
My AMS account is alive and well. I can still create campaigns, I can still access my Brand storefronts, and everything else you are able to do from AMS.
I don’t see that changing either. It wouldn’t make any sense for it to change. AMS is its own project, and people that are a part of it are spending money.
Now, does this mean AMS will never go away? Of course not. Given that Headline Search Ads have made it to the Seller Central Campaign Manager, I assume Product Display ads may do that one day too. And if they do, what purpose does AMS serve? However, this will be an entirely separate migration.
The Glitch Email of DOOM
By now this is old news, but about two months ago a whole bunch of people (like…almost everyone) received an allegation of a Policy Violation. This is what it said:
We are contacting you because you appear to have violated the policies of “Misuse of ratings, feedback, or reviews”, “Misuse of sales rank”, “Misuse of Search and Browse” on our site. Prohibited behaviors on Amazon.com include, but are not limited to:
- Hiring 3rd parties to try to improve ASIN rank and/or reviews
- Sending packages to addresses where the recipient does not order or expect them
- Soliciting or accepting false or fraudulent orders
- Placing orders for your own products
- Compensating buyers for purchasing your products (including claim codes)
If this conduct continues, you will not be eligible to sell on Amazon.com. To learn more about this policy, we encourage you to review the “Misuse of Sales Rank”, “Misuse of Search and Browse” and “Misuse of sales rank” sections of the “Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions” page in Seller Central Help (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/G200386250).
Seller Performance Team
So, of course, everyone freaked out and decided it HAD to be because of promos and blasting (funny how every TOS change triggers these sentiments, yet it has always been wrong). The sky fell for a bit (again), and many “gurus” capitalized on the situation by positioning themselves and their services as the alternative to “dangerous” launch methods. Never mind the fact that the TOS invoked above were instituted some 18+ months prior to this email circulating.
Then, this email was circulated:
“There is a technical glitch…There is nothing wrong with your account…”
It was all a glitch. Despite this proof, people were, and have been, skeptical. Many still believe the first email has merit while the second cannot be substantiated. I’m not sure what mental gymnastics took place there, but allow me to respond to these allegations.
Nothing has come of these policy violations. There were no sweeping suspensions or even warnings. No services were throttled. No features were disabled. Nothing adverse happened to accounts. And Amazon itself admitted to the email going out in error.
This rumor proved to be as reliable and substantiated as the one that claimed Amazon was going to limit feedback emails to one per transaction (they didn’t and haven’t by the way).
The point here is, don’t believe everything your gurus say blindly. Demand proof. Do some digging. Research the claims. Many people operate with the mentality that it is better to be safe than sorry, and exercising caution, even if the information is unreliable, is preferred.
The problem is you may actually be doing your business damage. To shun proven marketing methods or to re-invent the wheel because of misplaced fear is not efficient. Your inefficiency may be rewarded with poor business performance one day. It is important to carefully evaluate any news that may affect the way you run your operation.
And for the gurus. If you run a Facebook group or service you should be vetting your information and citing sources. Perpetuating the rumor mill is doing more harm than good and it is a shameful act.
(If you like the concept of Mythbusting, let us know in the comments. We may consider making it a regular series.)