Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amazon Sales Rankings or Amazon Search Results - Which is more important?

Understandably there has been lots of interest on the part of authors, both self-published and legacy published, in Amazon Sales Rankings. While Amazon refuses to publish data that will allow authors and publishers to determine exact sales figures based on sales rank, statistically minded individuals, such as self-publishing authority Morris Rosenthal, have done the grunt work necessary to try to build statistical models that correlate to actual sales figures.

It's fun to check the Amazon Sales Rankings for your book, particularly when it first starts to sell shortly after being published. 

What's more relevant to your success is Amazon Search Results. If you want to see your Amazon Sales Rankings improve, pay attention to your Search Results.

Amazon's website is both an eCommerce site and a search engine, and an elaborate one at that. Since as authors we have to do the bulk of the marketing of our books, particularly self-published authors, it pays to know how to get the best possible search results for your book.

Since Amazon is so secretive about its alogarhythms, it is hard to determine exactly what to do to boost your search results.

Several facts are reasonable to conclude about the process, some of which you as an author can control. They include:
  1. The more your book sells, the higher it will turn up in search results.
  2. If using POD with CreateSpace, Amazon allows you to list five keywords for your title. Since I only use CreateSpace now for all my POD sales for Amazon, I cannot address this issue if you use LSI or a different POD service.
  3. Your book's title will have a lot to do with the search results.
  4. The sub-title of your book is the key.
Since self-publishers need to take as much control as possible, lets look at the tools Amazon does provide authors/publishers to use to increase sales, the key to the first item in improving search results.

One of these programs is Amazon's Look Inside program. Authors have differing views about this program. My take on the program is simple. I participate in the program. Amazon prefers it if authors sign their book up for the program. Why? Amazon is concerned with making its consumers happy as its first priority, not authors (that being said, don't forget Amazon is the self-published author's friend). Consumers want to be able to "pick up the book and thumb through it" like they would in a brick and mortar book store. Look Inside is Amazon's way to allow consumers to do this. As an author I believe if a potential reader skims through my book he/she will buy it because of the information contained.

For authors who want to learn more about the entire process of selling books and getting a book listed on Amazon, there are few sources better than Amazon itself. Take the time to visit the Amazon Help FAQ page.

Amazon provides suggestions on how to optimize your book for the best possible search results. Since it's Amazon's search engine it is probably a good thing to pay heed to what Amazon has to say.

Categories and tags can help a book in the search result process. So let's take a look at what Amazon has to say about these two tools.

The title of your book can also play a huge factor in the search results for your book. No less of an expert than Aaron Shepard suggests dividing the book titling process into two distinct parts. The main title of the book needs to be named in the traditional process.
It is with the sub-title that Amazon's search results needs to be considered. Amazon allows the author/publisher to list a sub-title that does not necessary appear on the cover of the book. The sub-title should be crafted using keywords and in such a way as to provide the book with the best possible results in the search process.
Self-publishing is a business. Selling books is where the revenue comes from for self-publishers and for most of us, Amazon is where we sell our books. Amazon Sales Rankings are fun, but Amazon Search Results are what matter. Optimize to get the best possible search results for your book and you will generate more sales. You'll also have more fun checking your Amazon Sales Rankings as a result.