Walmart SEO 101: 4 Steps to Ranking Your Products Organically on Walmart.com

BONUS: FAQ About Ranking on Walmart.com 

What is the most common misconception on how to “rank” on Walmart?

Walmart TwoDay delivery tags are highly recommended—they’re almost like a prerequisite for competing in popular categories. However, it’s possible to place too much emphasis on them. In other words, some sellers pursue two-day shipping in hopes of earning first-page ranking overnight, when in actuality, there’s a lot of other factors that come into play. Two-day shipping alone isn’t going to make the difference (for most sellers, at least). Visually, you can even see how Walmart has de-emphasized two-day shipping in search results, suggesting that it’s become more normalized over time.

What are the most commonly confused Walmart ranking facts with Amazon?

Amazon has dedicated spots for sponsored products (ads), and it’s possible for the same listing to show up twice on a SERP because of this. Walmart, on the other hand, won’t show duplicate products—it instead replaces certain grid spots with sponsored results to prevent this from happening.

Walmart also truncates titles earlier than Amazon, so the first few words in your title are extra important. On Amazon, sellers tend to frontload their titles with keywords, but if you do that on Walmart, your title could be far less impactful (resulting in lower CTRs).

Back in the day, Walmart’s search algorithm was called Polaris. Is it still?
Not sure about this one. However, Walmart is updating their algorithm regularly. Perhaps it’s just done anonymously?

Why doesn’t anyone really talk about or examine it the same way we do Googlebot and A9?

Walmart Marketplace is still relatively new and doesn’t receive the same level of fanfare (yet) as Amazon or Google. Buyers are largely unaware of Walmart’s third-party component and still consider it more of a retailer than an option-rich marketplace like Amazon. Meanwhile, sellers are trying to figure out what Walmart means to their long-term strategies or how to even get listed properly.

Walmart Marketplace is, by nature, more exclusive than the other two channels as well. Joe Schmoe can’t wake up one day and decide to list on Walmart (whereas anyone can essentially compete on Google or Amazon). Every seller needs to go through an approval process before receiving the green light.

That being said, interest in Walmart Marketplace is really starting to pick up. It has taken eBay’s place as the number-two largest online retailer, behind Amazon, and through various campaigns (for example, the Shopify-Walmart integration, webinars with key integration partners, the launch of WFS), Walmart’s attracting a lot more attention from sellers than before.

What’s a quirk or oddity you’ve noticed in working with Walmart’s algo?

Searching by a product’s UPC doesn’t always bring up relevant or correct listings
Walmart doesn’t seem to surface competitive products as well as Amazon does. For example, if you type a brand name into search, Amazon will show the brand’s products in addition to other alternatives within the same category. Walmart mainly shows the brand’s products, plus other items they show may or may not be part of the same category. The main difference seems to be this: Walmart’s algorithm mainly looks for keywords matches, while Amazon’s algorithm qualifies results based on their product type and other indicators hinting that these are the same types of products you’re looking for.

What’s the biggest weakness that you’ve observed? Strength?

Weakness – Walmart’s way of using UPCs for listing rather than a unique listing identifier, like an ASIN on Amazon. This is the source of headache for a good number of sellers (and potentially buyers who are searching for products), who have seen incorrectly matched UPCs, duplicate listings and/or poor data quality all stemming from Walmart’s reliance on UPCs.

Strength – this is not directly related to listing, but one of Walmart’s strengths involves their decision to bar the use of FBA for fulfillment. This helped considerably during the spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world. Walmart remained in stock and maintained fast shipping, while Amazon took a hit. (This blog offers more details about what happened during this period.) Walmart sellers weren’t reliant on FBA at this point and could continue listing and selling their products through Walmart.com as usual.

Have you run any tests with WM? Like product title or feature bullets or…? 

A lot of tests are ongoing and still pending, but we’re starting to see how important product attributes are to ranking on Walmart. While Walmart doesn’t require a ton of details, you almost always need to have additional attributes in your listings to rank and be discoverable. We’ve seen this affect sellers’ performance on SERPs, as well as in the left-hand filter menu. If your product doesn’t have one of the left-hand attributes filled out, it’ll be omitted from filtered results.

Walmart ads and rich media are newer features that show a lot of promise. Similar to the “flywheel effect” that you see happening on Amazon, Walmart ads can trigger initial sales on your products (and thereby prime the pump for better organic rankings and additional sales in the future). It’ll also be interesting to see how rich media (the equivalent of EBC on Amazon) will impact performance, or how much it’ll be adopted.

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