When you want to find the answer to a question or the solution to a problem, it’s likely you will turn to Google (or another search engine) to locate what you need on the Internet. There are many websites and webpages there with information to assist you. However, the search engine’s algorithm, by ranking all of those pages, determines how likely or unlikely it is that you will view specific information.

Most people only look at the first 10 search results. Some people do look at the second, third or even fourth pages of results, but those people are few and far between. This means two things. First, there is competition to get to the top of the search results. Second, some very good information that ranks at number 50 or even 1000 may never get seen.

Amazon’s bookstore works in much the same way. People go to Amazon to find something that will solve their problems. Maybe a book that teaches them a new skill, shares some advice on a particular topic, helps them cope with a life change or even just entertains them.

Meanwhile Amazon’s algorithm determines which books are seen in which order on each page. As a result, the algorithm influences which books will earn a sale. After all, a book first has to be seen by a potential buyer in order to catch his or her eye. But how does Amazon’s algorithm work? What can authors do to rank higher, get found on Amazon and sell more books?

Unfortunately, search and ranking algorithms work in mysterious ways. Or at least it seems that way. There is publicly available information about Amazon’s algorithm, but it’s still a closely guarded secret whose inner workings are constantly changing. So what does that mean for us?

Many people believe that Amazon’s algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, which might include: a book’s most recent sales, the number of book reviews it has, the quality of those book reviews, the sales performance since the book’s publication, the book’s use of keywords, the Click Through Rate of its book cover and the amount of competition in the book’s category or subcategory.

Even experts don’t agree on what factors authors should focus on or what the exact formula to rise higher in the rankings is. That doesn’t mean authors and their allies are powerless though.

Thoughtful authors can still improve their chances of getting found on Amazon, sharing their message with others and selling more books by garnering more book reviews.

Let’s take a closer look at how this works – from both sides.

Book Reviews Help Authors Get Found on Amazon

Many Amazon experts believe that book reviews are a major factor in how Amazon ranks books. They believe that the more book reviews a book has, the higher the ratings received and the higher the percentage of reviews coming from verified purchases the better.

If you take a look at any of Amazon’s best-selling books, you’ll immediately see that most of them have at least dozens, if not hundreds, of book reviews and more than a four-star rating. And this makes sense. But what about verified reviews?

Anyone can post a book review on Amazon. If you read a particular book in your local library, bought it at a local bookstore or bought it on Amazon, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve been an Amazon customer at one time, you can still post a book review for any book. If you bought the book on Amazon, however, then Amazon knows it and considers your review for this particular book an “Amazon Verified Purchase.” Many people believe that Amazon’s algorithm gives more weight to “Amazon Verified Purchase” reviews than to other book reviews.

In other words, if Amazon’s algorithm uses book reviews to help them rank books, then the number of reviews and the quality of those reviews can make a big difference for an author.

Book Reviews Help Authors Make the Sale

There’s another way to look at book reviews too. Why? Other Amazon experts don’t believe that book reviews play a role in how Amazon ranks books and how authors get found on Amazon. However, even if that’s true, book reviews still play a role in whether a potential customer will choose a particular book over another.

Humans are naturally social creatures and book reviews are a means of social proof. Potential customers like to see what experiences other customers have had before making a purchase of their own. Have you ever looked at consumer reviews before you bought a car, a computer or stayed at a hotel? The book world is no different.

Think about it. Let’s say you were looking to buy a book on a particular topic. One book had several four- and five-star reviews and the other book had no reviews at all. Everything else being equal, which book would you choose? Naturally, you’d select the book that had some reviews.

How You Can Get Involved

Do you have opinions about the books you read? We want to hear from you!

You can help authors by joining Dudley Court Press’s Book Reviewers Club. It’s a good way to discover new books, influence what gets read and help thoughtful authors find new audiences.

After you read a good book, would you be willing to post a review on Amazon? Your review would mean a lot to the book’s author. You can learn more about the Book Reviewers Club and sign up for it here.

If you’ve never posted a book review on Amazon before, rest assured that it’s easy to do. You can find the information you need in the how-to article “How to Post a Book Review on Amazon.” Questions? Call us at (520) 329-2729 or send us a message here.