We’ve been concentrating on learning how search engine optimization—although it sounds intimidating—can be crucial in helping you sell more books. Today, we have for you a different perspective on how this applies to Amazon specifically, by bestselling author and publishing consultant Alinka Rutkowska. Here’s her article.
What if you could significantly increase your chances of becoming a best-selling author by mastering the Amazon algorithm?
You can and in this article I’ll show you how.
Amazon is not a bookstore – it’s a search engine
Before we get started it’s important to realize that Amazon is not a traditional bookstore, rather it’s a search engine, in many ways similar to Google.
To be more precise, the Amazon algorithm is a product search engine created by a company called A9 (https://www.a9.com) located in Palo Alto.
Next, it’s important to understand what Amazon’s number one priority is, and that’s to make Amazon the most money.
Now that we know that we need to figure out how we can align with Amazon’s objectives to reach our own.
How you can get on top of Amazon’s search results
In order for Amazon to help us reach our goal of becoming a best-selling author, we need to help Amazon reach its goal of making the most money.
To do that we need to take into consideration the 4Ps of the marketing mix: product, place, price and promotion, which I elaborate on in detail in my award-winning guide How I Sold 80,000 Books.
Let’s dive into the most critical elements of the 4Ps Amazon takes into consideration:
Product—Your Book Interior, Cover, and Metadata
You must make sure that your interior is free of any typos or grammatical inconsistencies. In short, you must have the book professionally edited or else it will impact your ranking.
The cover and the title are the two most important elements of your marketing package so make sure your cover looks like it came from the same place the other best-selling books in your genre were created.
Next, focus on your metadata. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data (your book).
In our case metadata is our keywords, description and reviews.
Let’s start with your title. You have to make sure that apart from having your reader say “I want that” when they hear it, it must also have strong keywords in it. If you can’t come up with a title with a good keyword, make sure you at least add it in your subtitle.
Then comes the description, which is another place that you need to add relevant keywords.
And make sure your product page is complete with editorial reviews and verified reviews because that impacts your click-through rate, which impacts your ranking.
I understand that you may feel lost when I talk about keywords, so let’s dive into this for a moment.
One way you can figure out which keywords to use it to go to Amazon in incognito mode and start typing. See what Amazon suggests to you, but bear in mind that regular readers don’t search for books in incognito mode. They search in the standard mode, and so the algorithm learns about their individual preferences and suggests books relevant to them.
For example, when I start typing “book” in the Amazon search box, I’m suggested to look for “book marketing,” because my search and purchase history indicate that’s what I’m interested in.
However, when I start typing “book” in incognito mode, I get “book light” because that’s what a generic Amazon user would be looking for.
In order to understand what people are searching for I use KDPRocket.
Place—The Essential Categories
In How I Sold 80,000 Books I discuss the different places you should distribute your book in detail, but for the purpose of understanding and using Amazon’s algorithm to your advantage, we need to dive into Amazon’s book categories.
You need to start by niching down and being as specific as possible. For example my above mentioned book is in the category Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Writing, Research & Publishing Guides > Writing Skills.
When the algorithm notices that it’s doing well in “writing skills” it pushes the book up and it starts ranking higher in the broader “writing, research & publishing guides” category. And so on.
It’s essential that you niche down as much as possible, so that the algorithm sees how well you’re ranking and can reward you by giving you increasing visibility.
Price—Making Amazon Money
You might have various goals when it comes to your book. You might be aiming for visibility and want to make your book permanently free and then get your return on investment on the backend through your business.
You might want to aim to hit the New York Times or USA Today list and price your book at $0.99 to sell the highest number of units.
But if you want to make the most of the Amazon algorithm, you need to aim for profit. The more profit your book is making Amazon, the higher you’ll be in the rankings.
Promotion—Staying on Top of the Charts
This section could be a book on its own but for the purpose of using the algorithm to impact sales, we need to focus on reviews.
The algorithm takes into account verified reviews, new verified reviews and reviews which have been voted as helpful.
That’s why every author’s strategy needs to be to get as many verified reviews as possible, aim for new ones every month and have them upvoted.
One way to do this is to simply ask your audience.
If you get my book and join my list, you will get an email where I ask you to leave a review. That gets me new verified reviews every month and keeps my book on top of the charts.
Now that you understand what the Amazon algorithm is and how it works, I bet your next book will outperform your previous one!
Alinka Rutkowka has sold more than 80,000 books and she teaches others how they can do the same. She’s helped USA-Today best-selling authors, CEOs and movie stars with their book marketing. She created multiple 6-figure funnels that start with a book and she can help you do the same.
Go to https://authorremake.com and sign up for Alinka’s free book marketing class to discover the #1 mistake you might be making that’s preventing you from achieving author success.
Photo: BigStockPhoto. Amazon links contain affiliate code.