The first step in getting book sales on Amazon is to make it easier for readers to find them. This concept has birthed an entirely new name: discoverability. Amazon has given authors tools and techniques that make this more simple, for those who know their secrets. The key is all in the way Amazon's search engine works. Tap into this algorithm and you'll be able to tweak your book listings to make your books come up in more book searches, giving a larger number of readers the chance to like and buy your books.
Amazon's Search Algorithm
Discoverability is just what it sounds like: the ability to be discovered more easily, specifically in Amazon's search engine, for our purposes. Once you know how that search engine works, you'll be able to adjust your book's listing to encourage the search to show your book more often.
When a potential reader does a search for a book, Amazon chooses a list of books to show them, based on a few rules. This set of rules, or algorithm, will determine which books show up and how high in the listing they'll be ranked. The closer a book's listing matches what the algorithm is looking for, the higher it will show in the search results. Please note: it's the listing that determines how well your book ranks and how often readers will see it after searching, not the book itself. You could have the exact book someone is looking for, but if you don't list it correctly, no one will ever find it (at least by the usual search methods).
Amazon's search algorithm is based on two basic principles: the closer the metadata is to the search query, the higher the listing, and the better sales a book has, the higher the listing. It's a two-pronged approach, and you can take advantage of both sides of the equation to increase your book sales.
Using Keywords to Increase Sales
Both parts of the algorithm or formula require research. In the first half, you need to discover what keywords readers use in searching for books just like yours. No, there are no books exactly like yours, but it fits into a type, a genre. It's military sci-fi, paranormal romance, non-fiction photography, something. When readers search for a book, they put a phrase into the search engine box. This phrase, called a keyword phrase, is what Amazon will look for in your listing when trying to match books to their search. The more keywords you have in your listing, both in the keyword boxes and in your book's description, the higher it will rank in the search results.
All those search results have to be ranked in some sort of order, and Amazon uses a method that makes sense from a business point of view. All other things being equal, they'll rank better-selling books higher than poorer-selling books. There's not a lot you can do about this; there will always be books that sell better than yours (if only temporarily). But you can track the rankings of your strongest competitors and compare the keywords in their listings to see if you can discover stronger ones you can use in your own.
Tracking and using keywords isn't a static practice; you'll need to constantly research and tweak your listings to improve your book's search results. If your book is in the top 100 for your genre, leave it alone. But if you want to rise in the rankings, do some research and change your keywords to more closely match the best selling books or what the top 100 is doing. Be on the look-out for our keyword optimization service that will help make all of this a breeze.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!