Understanding Amazon’s Ranking System

understanding amazon ranking

understanding amazon ranking

When it comes to selling books, Amazon is easily the 400-pound gorilla in the room.

Having a presence there is a great way to attract attention if you are selling your own books as well.

Over the years, many authors have wondered why their book seemed to languish in Amazon’s rankings, even though they have strong reviews and good ratings as well as selling the book at a reasonable price.

But, understanding Amazon’s ranking system will reveal that none of those factors matter. In fact, the only two things that really matter are sales and downloads.

In this article, I’ll give you some insight so you will be able to understand Amazon’s raking system.


Sales Rank Does Not Directly Affect Placement Results 

Yes, your book might well be selling like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically rank highly in search results.

Other key aspects of the ranking decision include relevance, keywords, sales history, product listing quality and available inventory.

The algorithm tries to present books the searcher is most likely to purchase. If, for example, inventory of your hot selling book is low or depleted, the algorithm will rank it lower in favor of a book with ready availability.


Pre-Orders are Taken into Account 

Let’s say you’re an established writer with a strong following that is anxious to buy everything you publish.

When you announce you have a new book coming, a substantial portion of that audience will buy it in advance. If this is sustained for an extended period, your unpublished book may well rank higher than published books in the category.

This can also serve you well if you sell ebooks online using your own site, as it will also attract attention to your other works.


Momentum Is Key

To prevent an undeserving book getting more love because it gets put on special (or is offered for free), Amazon calculates the sales rank based on long-term trends, rather than sudden surges.

Each day’s sales rank builds on the day before. Because of this, twice as many sales are required to hit a position as required to maintain it. Let’s say it takes 50 sales to get you to number one on a particular ranking list. Once your book gets there, it’ll stay there as long as you maintain at least 25 sales a day, unless other books in that category perform better.

This prevents you from lowering the price of your book to one cent and riding a spike in sales to the top of the charts. Long-term momentum is what gets you to the top and keeps you there.

It’s important to note that all of this is relative to the performance of the other books in your competitive set. As your book rises, it pushes others down, just as others diminish the rank of your book as they ascend.


In Summary

– A best seller might not always be granted a high ranking.

– Holding onto a sales rank is about establishing and maintaining momentum.

– You can peak and look good for a day or two, but when demand falls off, the ranking will go down.

– Setting a book up for pre-orders can give you a good head start.

– Offering your work through Kindle Unlimited can help your positioning, as those downloads are immediately credited as sales.

Something to keep in mind is that there’s no such thing as an overnight success—even on Amazon.

A true accomplishment, regardless of your field of endeavor, is about slow and steady growth, rather than skyrocketing to prominence.

As an author and self-publisher, understanding Amazon’s ranking system can give you some clues as to how to position your work to rank well. But ultimately, what you really have to do is write a good book and promote it effectively. The rest will take care of itself.


Contributor’s Post at SylvianeNuccio.com