Exploding 3 Amazon Myths About Author Rankings - Jo-Ann Carson

Exploding 3 Amazon Myths About Author Rankings

I read an awesome article, Mythbusting the Amazon Algorithm Reviews and Ranking for Authors, by Kate Baum on SPR (Self-Publishing Review) recommended by an author on the Guppie loop. I can’t reblog it as it’s not a WP blog, so I thought instead  I’d examine three of the myths she talks about. I highly recommend the whole article

“MYTH 1 – Nobody knows how the Amazon Algorithm Works

TRUTH – Yes they do.

The Amazon Algorithm is an A9 algorithm, a pretty run-of-the-mill product search engine with a personalization built in. A9 is a company in Palo Alto that creates product algorithms, code that tells Amazon’s website how to sort and load product lists for each customer’s experience. Anyone who wants to read about how this algorithm works has to do nothing more than search for information online and read the manuals, forums, science articles, and a myriad of other documents that tell you EXACTLY how it works. You can even see samples of the code that makes it work if you look! …”

Me: Wow! I thought they had their own algorithmic magic thing happening. This was an eye-opener for me

“MYTH 2 – Amazon has secret ways of ranking books

TRUTH – None of it is secret.

It works according to the algorithm. The factors are already written into the algorithm, which has to be a clear-cut set of commands. There’s no magic here, and it’s simply a case of knowing what factors are used in this sort of algorithm…

Ranking is influenced by factors that anyone can look up in Amazon documentation (we will discuss in detail):

  • A product that is priced well in relation to similar products, but that is priced in a way that will turn the best profit in relation to its competitor
  • A product that offers a description that gives bullet points or features that the algorithm will recognize in terms of keyword
  • A strong keyword in the title that will help categorize the product (I suggest a subtitle to deal with this)
  • Sales in each session period, which is 24 hours, compared to others in your category
  • How many times someone clicked on your listing to your product, known as Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Spelling, grammar, editing, and quality of your interior, and also the quality of the cover
  • Number of verified reviews, helpful reviews and new reviews –outside of this, unverified reviews do not count towards ranking but do count towards social proof and CTRs (see below)
  • Product page is complete in all sections and meets Amazon Guidelines on word count, layout, and image size and quality used.

The MAMM Factor – Amazon’s Objective

Amazon has one objective for its sellers to bear in mind: Make Amazon the Most Money…

Sales and Rank

Sales are not straightforward numbers either. What Amazon looks for is the number of sales for a product with the best profit in its category (Remember MAMM?)… So if your book is 99 cents, but another book is selling at $2.99 but not as many as you, it’s likely Amazon will recognize the $2.99 book higher in rank because it makes Amazon more money. This means you need to do some research on what is selling in your potential category before choosing one, and also before choosing your price. 99 cent books may do well in Romance, for example, but maybe in another category you’re pricing too low to show Amazon a good profit margin… ”

Me: Wow! Again. What she says makes so much sense, especially the MAMM factor. It’s changed how I think about my promotions. 

“MYTH 3 – You can figure out keywords that people will use to find you by typing into the search bar and seeing what is autosuggested.

TRUTH – The search bar is personalized to YOU and YOU ALONE.

This is a useless and possibly damaging practice being bandied about by bloggers who think they have uncovered a “secret.” A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In this case, the lack of knowledge of how an algorithm works is leaving holes in understanding globally on this subject.

Amazon has a department called The Personalization Platform Team. Look ‘em up. They spend their time working on coding the search bar to serve absolutely personalized product lists to you...

Takehome fact: Do not figure out keywords for your book by seeing what autocompletes in the search box. It’s only based on your own user experience and nobody else’s.”

Me: This wasn’t a new idea for me. I’m well aware that all my search results are personalized. That’s the new reality.

The other myths she busts in this article/post:

4 – “It’s a job finding keywords to make your book discoverable and you have to do a bunch of tricks and resort to many author advice blogs to find answers and theories.”

5 – “If you pick a niche category to get to #1 you are just conning everyone that you got to the Bestseller Lists by exploiting the “loophole.”

6 – “You are advised to write to Top Amazon Reviewers and other reviewers to ask for free reviews to boost ranking.”

7 – “Nobody knows when the algorithm updates.”

And then Kate Baum wrote a follow-up article/post you might be interested in.

Me: Myths abound in the writing world and it’s hard to ignore them. I really appreciate it when people take the time to research the facts and share them with me. 

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