Over the years, I have received this same basic complaint from authors about Amazon:
“I can’t find my book on Amazon when searching for my book’s title and/or my name.”
This is true and it happens to self-published and traditionally published authors, as well as suppliers of many other items on Amazon. And, those authors (and suppliers) get really upset when it’s not easy to find their books or products on Amazon. Can’t Amazon simply “fix” their system to make it work? They can…but they WON’T. Here’s why.
Amazon has millions of books for sale. And, many of those are books that compete with each other, having similar words in the book titles, and even similar search terms. Worse, some book titles lead to search results for other (non-book) products that are related to the title or keywords for those books. For example, if you wrote a book on gardening, expect many of your customers to actually see gardening products mixed in with Amazon’s book results when they’re looking for YOUR book.
Why? Because the search terms are similar AND because Amazon likely makes more money selling a package of gardening pots than they do when they sell one copy of a book.
I performed this exercise today:
I typed “Your Guide to Financial Freedom” (in quotes!) into Amazon’s search engine. I just randomly came up with that phrase in my head. I have never seen nor purchased a book with that title, nor have I ever searched any website for that term before (because, to be honest, it sounds really scammy).
Ideally, and how most websites work, is that the items that exactly match that search term, typed in quotation marks (no more; no less), will come up first. Some websites will only feature an exact match when a customer uses quotation marks. But, that’s not how Amazon works.
Here’s what popped up for me (in this order):
1. Your Guide To Financial Freedom: How To Deal With Debt Collectors And Win Every Time
2. Experience the 10 Keys to Financial Freedom
**3. Your Guide to Financial Freedom (THIS ONE SHOULD HAVE POPPED UP FIRST!)**
4. The Black Girl’s Guide to Financial Freedom
5. Your Guide To Financial Freedom: How to Stop Living From Paycheck to Paycheck
6. Simple Path to Wealth: Your Guide to Financial Freedom
7. Your Guide to Financial Freedom: Credit Repair Guide
8. Your Number One Guid eto Fix Your Credit and Get Financial Freedom
9. Make Bankruptcy Work for You: Your Guide to Financial Freedom
10. Your Guide to Financial Freedom: Funding Guide
Let’s assume the author of book number 3 (the exact match of my search; no more, no less) was upset that his book popped up as #3 instead of #1. Do you really think that Amazon is going to give a rat’s you-know-what about that upset author? No, they will not. Their business model is entirely based on featuring better-selling books up top, or ones they think each individual customer will be more likely to buy based on that customer’s past search and buying history. And, if the author did not find his book until page 200 of Amazon’s search results, they still would not change anything.
AND, GUESS WHAT? I searched for the exact same term, in quotes, 30 minutes later on Amazon and DIFFERENT results popped up. Some of the same books popped up, but in a different order. And, some in the list above were not in the top results anymore. They were replaced by different books.
An author, angry about Amazon’s search results, can email, call, send certified letters, and even stand outside of Amazon’s corporate office with a big, neon protest sign all they want but Amazon is not going to change their search engine parameters for anyone. Let me repeat that so it’ll soak in. AMAZON IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE THEIR SEARCH ENGINE PARAMETERS FOR ANYONE. No matter how many times you contact them, they’re not going to make your book (or toy, or widget, or computer part, or anything) any higher in their search engines.
What’s more, they change their search engine parameters all the time. Why? To prevent people from gaming the system in an attempt to get a higher slot in Amazon’s results.
HERE’S WHAT I TELL AUTHORS – AND, THIS WORKS!
Most of your sales are going to come from your own online marketing activities; not from someone who randomly finds your book on Amazon. There is far too much competition. Always, ALWAYS give your readers the exact link on Amazon where they can purchase your book. If the link is too long for your marketing materials, direct people to YOUR website, and put a prominent link on your website to your exact Amazon book page. This makes for super easy clicking by your customers.
By the way, there were 35 results in books for my search exercise above. And, not all of them had the words “financial freedom” in them. If a book has even more generic words in the title (like, for example, “Love Story”), you can expect even worse results. But, even if your title is entirely unique, Amazon can still stuff it way far down in the search engine results because, again, they’re Amazon and they can do whatever they want.
If you search for your book’s ISBN without hyphens, it will probably pop right up on top of the search results. That’s because your ISBN is unique to your book only, and no other product. But, how many customers are going to search for your ISBN? You’re right. None. You can also more easily find your book by typing the title in quotation marks AND your name in quotation marks, in the same search box. But, again, there are no guarantees there and customers aren’t likely to do that, either.
And, finally, if you used specific keywords or phrases for promoting your book, and those were provided to Amazon, that’s great. But, again, there are no guarantees that your book will pop up on top of Amazon’s results using those. Amazon is in complete control and, remember, they are not just using product titles and search words/phrases; they are also using their customers’ search and purchase histories.
On a funny side note, an author wrote to me recently that, when she searched for her children’s book on Amazon, she found it but the recommended books popping up under it were, ahem, adult-oriented material, which was not related to a children’s book at all, of course. I had to let her know that those are usually generated by the customer’s past search and purchase histories…
Read more about how to enhance your website for optimum book sales here:
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