Debunking the Myth: The Amazon Algorithm November 1, 2015 – Posted in: Blog – Tags: , , , ,

Part 2: Understanding Categories

Categories are NOT part of the algorithm. But they do influence a book’s ranking. How’s that possible, you may ask? Well, there are categories where it’s easier to rank higher and categories where it’s really tough.

Amazon doesn’t appear to discount a book’s success just because it’s in a smaller category; the retailer ‘rolls up’ its categories. And this is where a lot of authors make a huge mistake when placing their book.

In the hope of reaching the most people possible, we might be tempted to pick the biggest and most popular categories for our book. But, most likely, these very categories will also be the most competitive, while smaller, more targeted categories will give especially first time authors breaking into the business a better chance of getting a place on the all-important bestseller lists.

When I polled readers, I found that they didn’t care what category a book was listed in. In fact, most times it didn’t even register. But when they saw #10 or #1 in the ranking, it turned out to be very helpful in making a sale.

Let me give you an example: If you have a romance book and you are looking to rank within your category, you might want to stay away from the busy “contemporary romance” field. It’s simply too broad and too crowded. Instead look for a more strategic placement in form of a subcategory, such as drama. At one time this narrow category only had 41 other competing books in it. Needless to say, it will be a lot easier to rank here.

The Benefits of Ranking HIGH

If your book ranks well in its category, you will get Amazon’s attention. Why do you want that? It’s a good thing. Believe me.

Triggers such as ranking, keyword searches and spikes in sales ping the algorithm. Next thing you know, your book is showing up as a recommended buy and top of searches. You might also see your book paired with other titles, or on a recommendation list with other high-profile books. The more you sell, the more Amazon wants to help you.

The moral of the story: While words like “obscure” might send marketing pros shivers down the spine, they are your best friends when it comes to categories with Amazon. Of course, that is, as long as there is a general fit.

Or, taking your own shopping behavior into account, have you ever searched books by categories?

By the way, spikes in sales need to last longer than 48 hours though. But that’s the topic of our next blog post. Subscribe to our blog for more tips on how to become successful as an indie author. It’s completely FREE. We even provide you with a free book to welcome you.