Ingram tracked the data of over 100k book titles, this is what we learned…

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

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Looking to rank higher on Amazon, optimize your product page and learn some handy hacks to give your book the best chance? Well, look no further as we’ve collected and broken down all the key insights you need to know from the latest Ingram Content Group webinar. From October 2019 to August 2021, Ingram tracked over 100k book titles per month in the UK and US with the aim of better understanding Amazon and their consumers. This is what was discovered:

There is a strong relationship between rank and units sold on Amazon

The more book units sold, the more likely it is that the book’s rank will increase. For print, hundreds of book copies per day need to be sold in order to rank in the Top 100. Ebook rankings are far more crowded and competitive in comparison, requiring unit sales from the high hundreds to thousands per day to rank in the Top 100. Amazon rank is logarithmic, so more sales and a larger sales history will help immensely to climb closer towards that pinnacle number one spot. Authors can harness this data to determine their goals and use sales rank changes as early indicators of such success.

Amazon availability messaging impacts rank

The chosen wording for the stock status of a book is more important than you might think. Wording such as ‘In stock’ and ‘In stock soon’ had a positive impact on sales rank, whereas different time variations of ‘Ships in…’ and, in particular, ‘Temporarily out of stock’ had a huge negative effect, with an impact of -699% on sales rank. In stock books with ‘full availability messaging’ tend to sell well, so it’s important to not only keep books in stock at Amazon but add all the relevant information, such as the publication date and availability dates for forthcoming titles, and monitor for any issues in how the supply chain is being messaged to consumers and that it is in sync with the inventory position.

The nicher, the better

Data shows that fiction, particularly genre fiction, is more competitive than non-fiction. More specifically defined categories like ‘Engineering, Transportation & Technology’, ‘Literary History’ and ‘Criticism & Law’ are the easiest to rank in. Whereas, categories such as ‘Westerns’, ‘Action & Adventure’ and ‘Contemporary & Literary Fiction’ are far harder to rank in. A book must have a higher rate of movement in order to rank well in the more general fiction categories. Authors should make sure their book titles are classified in as many relevant categories as possible and to target categories where top ranking books have relatively low overall sales, providing better opportunity for their own book to rank and receive attention that will ultimately result in more sales.

Books on Amazon receive higher ratings than on Goodreads

Goodreads typically has more reviews per title and lower star ratings than Amazon. For example, books ranked in the top 250k on Amazon have an average star rating of 4.5 compared to 4 stars on Goodreads. Titles with a better ranking will often have more reviews with less of a difference in star ratings. Although a five-star rating is great, it’s the number of reviews that maintain a high rating that really matters and makes a difference. Authors should try everything they can to encourage readers to leave a review and could also consider price drops to widen accessibility and increase the number of ratings from consumers.

Good metadata means more book sales

Metadata is essential for the discoverability of a book, so it only makes sense that books with good metadata sell far better than those with poor metadata. In order to truly optimize an Amazon product page, all its elements need to be taken into consideration. For example, the headline text must include bold text and be 350 characters or less, the description must contain paragraph breaks and be at least 175 words, and a cover image and ‘look inside preview’ must be available. Titles with all the necessary page elements will rank far better than those which have ignored these crucial details. Authors must make sure they have a full understanding of metadata gaps and opportunities, and action the improvements needed.

An author Wikipedia page can make all the difference

Books by authors that have an active Wikipedia page will typically rank better on Amazon than those without one. For example, authors in the 1k sales rank band have an average of over 20,000 Wikipedia author page views. If the traffic to an author’s Wikipedia page increases then this usually indicates that search in the author has also increased. Authors who already have a Wikipedia page should ensure all their books are listed, with special focus on the newest titles.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.