Can You Really Beat Amazon’s Algorithm? October 25, 2015 – Posted in: Blog – Tags: , , , ,

The sales rank on amazon is what authors live and die for. The higher you rank, the better the placement of your book. And the better the placement of your book, the more copies you sell. Is this really how it works? Is it that simple?

We have dedicated a series of blog posts to examining the algorithm amazon uses to display items. The first one will focus on the amazon search; the following posts will take a closer look at sales figures and how to improve a book’s performance in order to convert potential customers into buyers.

Part 1: The Amazon Search

Did you know that much like Google or Bing, Amazon is its own search engine? The products that appear when you enter a keyword in the search bar and the order they appear in are different for each visitor. They are even displayed in a different order for the same visitor at various times. This is due to the algorithm amazon uses.

Now what’s an algorithm and how exactly does it work?

There’ve been plenty of articles and posts written about amazon’s algorithm and how to crack it. Even more tests have been done. But fact is, nobody knows exactly how the algorithm works.

Amazon, like Google, Facebook and other online powerhouses, guards the exact nature of its algorithm carefully. Most of what we know is based on observation and educated guesswork, combined with the occasional snippet of guidance from the retailer.

And as if it wasn’t mysterious enough as it is, the Amazon algorithm is subject to change. What works today might not work tomorrow. In other words: What has generated sales in the past may not guarantee future successes.

What we do know is that keywords and sales rank play a crucial role when it comes to determining how products are displayed. And while nobody knows the exact formula that determines the order they are listed at, we do have clues. So let’s use these clues to our advantage and optimize our book for better positing.

Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: How to Create a Selling Title for Your Book

The idea behind the process of optimizing your book for better positioning on Amazon is not much different from what you may be familiar with from improving the placement of your website in the google search results. The goal is to rank as high as possible. And it all starts with the title of your book.

Have you ever seen really long product titles on amazon? Sometimes they take up multiple lines. Even worse: They often don’t make sense at all. Well, we hate to say it. But, chances are, these are bestselling titles.

If you have done SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in the past, that means you have to completely rethink your strategy. 60 characters just won’t cut it. Keywords are back!

How do you find compelling keywords for your book? Google analytics as well as Amazon’s very own search engine are two good places to start.

But keep in mind: Amazon only provides suggestions. Unlike in the case of Google, there are no cold-hard facts. There is no amazon analytics. Thus you will never know exactly what people search for en masse on Amazon.

SEO is a science. If anything, it’s more complicated with Amazon to optimize for better positioning than with google because the retailer’s algorithm is so heavily guarded. You have to develop a strategy, test it and tweak it over time.

A good publisher will assist you with that. With them getting a percentage of every single one of your sales, they have an invested interest in making your work a bestseller. At least that’s how every good contract should be set up. It’s a partnership.

If you are self-publishing and are not familiar with the subject matter, you better polish up on your knowledge or outsource the job. Don’t skip over it. Title and categories, the topic of our next blog post, can make or break your book.