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Amazon has various ways of ranking products, but one of the least understood seems to be the Amazon Bestsellers Rank (also known simply as ‘Sales Rank’). This post will hopefully help you understand , as a customer, which books are selling well in a certain topic, and as a seller, which products may be your main competitors.

As a seller (or in the case of books, as an author) is your marketing is working? Armed with Amazon’s “secret recipe”, you also become a better buyer.

Please bear in mind that Amazon does not explicitly state how the Bestsellers Rank is calculated. The information below is based on research, deduction, and processes of elimination.

What is the Amazon Bestsellers Rank?

In all book categories (including Kindle paid and free books), as well as most product categories on Amazon, if you scroll down the page to the ‘Product Details’ section, you’ll see it says ‘Amazon Bestsellers Rank’. This is a number that’s purportedly calculated hourly (as stated by Amazon) and is linked to the number of recent sales of the product (while also taking into account historical sales data), relative to the other products in that category.

The rank for one product can, of course, be different on different Amazon stores, as each store represents a different ‘market’ per se. For example, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is #17 in the Indian store, while #9,168 in Amazon.com.

A rank of #1, therefore, means that product has recently sold more than any other product in that category, on that store.

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AmazonSalesRank1

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what we should understand by this ranking. As mentioned above, this Bestsellers Rank is available for most products available on Amazon, but I’ll explain this topic mainly using books as a case in point.

The rank is based on sales, not reviews or ratings.

Amazon Books

A common misconception about the Bestsellers Rank is that it takes into account more than simple sales, but it seems this idea is completely untrue.  This rank takes into account only sales (recent and historical, more on this later), so I’m afraid getting tons of Amazon Vine members How To Become An Amazon Vine Reviewer & Get Free Stuff How To Become An Amazon Vine Reviewer & Get Free Stuff Read More to leave you tons of reviews and ratings won’t necessarily help your Bestsellers ranking.  This means that a rank is not representative of cumulative sales (or overall sales volume), but more on how a product has been selling very recently compared to others in it’s category.

That being said, although reviews and ratings have no direct bearing on a Bestsellers Rank, they are likely to influence people to buy your product, and thereby indirectly help your Bestsellers rank.

Sales of  a product don’t have an immediate effect on Sales Rank

According to Amazon, the Bestsellers Rank is calculated hourly, but sometimes there is a lag between an increase in sales, and an improvement in a ranking. This lag is usually no more than 2 or 3 hours, but there is some debate over exactly how many product rankings are calculated hourly. This article on WebProNews, mentions that, in the books category, only the top 10,000 books are calculated hourly, whereas books with a ranking of 10,000+ are calculated once per day with ‘current projections as well as historic sales information play[ing] a key role in calculations’.

 Books are weighted the same, whether free or paid

amazon-bestseller-rank05
Contrary to belief, paid and free books on Amazon eReaderIQ: Search Amazon Books For Free Ebooks, Price Drops & More eReaderIQ: Search Amazon Books For Free Ebooks, Price Drops & More Read More are weighted the same when it comes to the Amazon Bestsellers rank, but are treated differently (in that they have separate bestseller lists).

As mentioned, all that counts is the number of sales relative to other products within the same category. Amazon splits ‘paid’ and ‘free’ books into separate categories, so these act as sub-sub categories, in turn having their own bestsellers rank, which seems to be ranked using the same (or very similar) algorithm to paid bestseller ranks.

“However, probably fueling the confusion, Amazon’s Popularity Lists are influenced by price. Free books are worth roughly a tenth of a paid book,” ~ Ryan Casey

An increase in sales doesn’t necessarily mean an improved ranking

Amazon Books & Sales

As the Amazon Bestsellers Rank is relative to other products in a category, an increase in sales alone isn’t enough to increase rankings. To increase the Bestsellers Rank, your product must sell more units than other products in your category. This means that if there’s a sudden influx in overall sales in Juicing Machines, and everyone in that category starts to sell more products, the sellers may not see jumps in their Bestsellers Rank, as they might have hoped.

Along similar lines, if your product is selling a steady one unit per day, but some of your competitors start to sell more than you, then your rank will fall (i.e. the number will get higher), even if your sales remain steady.

Predictive features are also built into the algorithm

Amazon Algorithm

Recent sales alone are not all that’s taken into account. Amazon also has predictive features built into the Bestsellers Rank, which are likely to be based on historical data of a product. This is how a newly released book can have a higher ranking than a book released three years ago, even when the latter has more cumulative sales- Amazon can predict that the new release will overtake that book in a given period of time.

What this also means is that a book that’s ranked 800,000 can see it’s rankings skyrocket to 200,000 just with a couple of sales. As you move up the ladder, however, Amazon’s complex algorithm kicks in soon thereafter making it harder for you to break through the 100,000 milestone, and even harder to get past 10,000. This is because these higher rated products have historical data to back them up, so a lull in sales for them won’t result in as dramatic a drop in rankings as it would for a new product with less data to draw on. In all, the ranking seems to be somewhat logarithmic.

A high-profile, quick launch is short sighted

When it comes to ranking highly on the Amazon Bestsellers lists, as the ranks are based hourly (or daily if the above information is correct), then a quick spike in sales due to a successful marketing campaign, followed by a lull in sales a couple of days later will only serve to see the product’s rankings quickly plummet. It’s far better to space out a product launch over a period of week, so Amazon can collect consistent historical data to make predictions on future sales. This will thereby make it easier for you to break into higher spots on the ranking table in future.

To learn more about what it takes to get to =1 on Amazon’s Bestsllers rank, see the below video.

The numbers speak for themselves

Amazon bestseller

In December 2013 Theresa Regan posted the following figures on her blog representing how many sales we can expect a book to be achieving, depending on its overall sales rank. Of course, these numbers are likely to be rather arbitrary, but they’re interesting nonetheless. Note, these numbers do not apply to product categories other than books. It’s also important to mention again that it’s the sales that cause the ranking. The ranking doesn’t cause the sales.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 to 15 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 to 25 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling25 to 70 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling70 to 100 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 to 120 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling120 to 175 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling175 to 250 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 250 to 500 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 –selling500 to 2,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 2,000 to 3,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling3,000 to 4,000 books a day.

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling4,000+ books a day. 

Conclusion

There are plenty of other bestseller lists and rankings which you can base your book buying decision on, but Amazon’s Bestsellers Rank is by far one of the most cited. As mentioned at the start of the article, though, it’s difficult to pin the Amazon Bestsellers Rank down too firmly, but the above is what I’ve dissected from plenty of research online. People will disagree to an extent with some of the above, but the importance you place on this ranking algorithm is up to you. I don’t know how (or even if at all) this ranking impacts buyer decision, but I hope you’ve found this interesting.

What else do you know about the Amazon Bestsellers Rank (Sales Rank) which isn’t mentioned above?

Image Credit: kodomut (Flickr); Computer keyboard (Shutterstock); Highway Signpost

  1. Jewell Slaight
    November 22, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    you have a great blog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

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  2. Annie O.
    October 8, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Since customer reviews obviously affect sales, I guess that my question has to do with Sales Rank, so here it is: if a review is posted on my sales page in one Amazon store (e.g. UK or, say, Italy) will it automatically appear on all other Amazon sales pages for book, including Amazon.com?

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      From what I've seen, reviews, posted on Amazon.co.uk will not appear on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

  3. Jason Chapman
    October 6, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Thanks very much for this post, the information you have provided will help me improve sales.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Good luck, Jason!

  4. KC
    August 23, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    "This rank takes into account only sales"

    I have a book which has sold zero copies, but its rank has changed several times. It has also gone up, so this has not been caused by people adding books. One of the categories it's listed in doesn't have that many books, but it still has over 100 of them. Despite that, my book was listed at #15 at one point even though no-one has bought it...

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  5. Tania Yager
    November 18, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    I just launched 15 colouring books for grown-ups at the beginning of November. With no marketing or reviews I was selling a few copies.

    Almost two weeks later when I was looking for something else I spotted some of my books had gone into the Bestsellers list under Adult Colouring Books and Stress Management.

    At one point 5 books where up in the Adult Colouring Books and 2 in Stress Management. I've still done no marketing. Then a couple dropped out of the Colouring Books but not too low that they can't come back into the Bestsellers later. I have one left in the Stress Management. The other books I have are about 170s mark so with a bit of work might get into the Bestsellers.

    However, the list of books sold according to ranking do not tally at all. According to the ranking scales I should be selling hundreds per day but that is not happening at all and all I have is a Bestsellers ranking with few sales. It really does not make sense as this is a hot genre.

    • Jasmyn
      December 13, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Tania, the sales numbers you are referencing are within certain categories. The numbers listed above are for the overall amazon sales rank - how you rank compared to every other book on amazon. It is much easier (and still productive) to reach a to 100 sales rank within a certain category as people do search that way. However, the category sales ranks will not reflect the sales figures listed above.

      • Rob Nightingale
        July 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

        Good points!

      • Matej Valuch
        July 17, 2016 at 6:52 pm

        People actually don't search that way. They use Amazon search, or Google search, and just very few of them search within categories.

        If you check average Google monthly searches for any top 10 author on Amazon, you'll find out there are hundreds of thousands searches for their name and for names of their books every month. But when I check my name, only 70 people a month look for it - that's just not enough to crack the list with the University of solitude.

        What you should do is focusing on building your personal brand... the sales rank will come automatically with that. No need to bother yourself thinking about it much...

  6. Steve Woody
    October 16, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Very interesting article and I just shared it in an Author group because it's the best breakdown of figures I ahve seen yet.

    I have to agree that Amazon have that algorithm on lock down :)

    My book "Plan Your Website" has been in Pre sale for about a week. I re-uploaded it several times in the innitial stages whilst I was finding things to change and I don't know if that helped.

    I also have a following of just over 3k on Facebook and a small Email list of about 500 people

    I staggered the announcments over a few days and saw the kindle version shoot to number 1 in the first 24 hours.

    I'm aware that its quite easy to pick a category and become a best seller in it. I see Internet Marketers do it all the time for positioning so I wanted to get the UK topspot as a way of feeling justified in promoting myself as a Best Seller.

    The strage thing happened within 72 hours of announcing the pre launch. I hit the #1 spot in 5 categories, overtaking books from Celebreties in the UK such as lord sugar. I took a screenshot posted his own catchphrase "I'm Sorry Lord Sugar, Your're Fired" with me at #1 and him at #2.

    That say sales rocket again and shortly after I was in all the trending, new releases and also climbing the ranks on .com .au and .de which was very unecpected.

    I guess my learnings have been innital sales can give you the positioning that you need to attract future sales and its great to have a plan for this. Now I've promoted this organically I'm starting to settle into retargeting traffic and PPC adverts to get a consistent awareness out.

    I'll also be talking on stage on teh 24th October to 1000 people where I will be promoting and officially launching the paperback version so really excited to see how this affects the trend.

    The book for those that are interested in seeing how it's doing is - http://www.amazon.co.uk/PLAN-Your-Website-Strategy-Results-ebook/dp/B016B0F7CS/ref=sr_1_2a

    again thanks Rob for the awesome resources here.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 17, 2015 at 5:41 am

      Steve, that's amazing progress you made. I'd love to chat with you move about your experience if you're interested? I'm especially interested to know how sales are impacted as one climbs the best-seller lists on Amazon? Does it make a huge amount of difference to sales?

  7. John F O Sullivan
    September 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Rob,
    I've just recently published on Amazon, and as I am from Ireland, most of my sales are coming from amazon.co.uk- yet for my sales rank it only seems to be counting the ones that come from amazon.com? Just wondering if you could shed some light on this for me?
    Thanks,
    John

    • Rob Nightingale
      September 21, 2015 at 6:27 am

      I'm afraid I'm not sure why this is happening, John. If you find out the answer, I'd love to know, though!

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  8. Beach Gal
    June 21, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Rob,

    I've been driven nearly to distraction that my BSR Category keeps getting placed incorrectly. The product category is correct, but instead of it showing BSR of Electronics, it shows BSR in Office Products.

    I've contacted seller support nearly a dozen times over this issue, and each time they are able to fix it temporarily for about 3 days before it reverts back to Office. It looks like my listing is totally just thrown together and unprofessional. I also can't see how I'm ranking in comparison to my top competitors in the Electronics category, other then seeing how many pages behind them I am at. So inconvenient.

    Do you have any tips on adjusting the BSR category permanently?

    Thanks a million!

    • Rob Nightingale
      June 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Beach Gal, sorry to hear you're having these troubles, but I'm afraid I've no idea how this could be fixed, as I've never come across the issue before. Please let me know if you figure out a soution!

  9. Matthew McBride
    May 31, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Great article! My book, "The Spider and the Wasp" (http://www.amazon.com/The-Spider-Wasp-Trauma-Survivor/dp/0991438310), will get down to about 2,600,000. I sell one and it jumps to about 450,000, and then drops back down to 2,600,000 over the course of a week. Last night it jumped to 225,000... so maybe I sold two in a day? Selling books is a tough thing to do. Wanting somebody to buy my book is like asking them to pay me for ten hours of their valuable time. I'm glad I didn't go into it with any pre-conceived notions of success.

    • Rob Nightingale
      June 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Matthew, what kind of marketing did you do for the book?

      • sherry bunn
        July 28, 2015 at 1:08 am

        Do you have tips for marketing a book?

  10. Conny Manero
    May 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    I monitor my sales ranking Rob, and my book went from 2,199,300 to 350,902. When I questioned Amazon about this I got the reply that there had been no sales. How do you explain that ...
    Next I bought three of my books myself through the Amazon website and when I still saw no sales on my author page, and questioned them again, they stated again that there had been no sales. Now if this isn`t fishy I don`t know what is.

    • Rob
      May 19, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Conny, I'm not sure, to be honest. Perhaps something to do with angorythm changes? Or simply your relation to others in your category, which can naturally change without your sales changing at all... so, if the sales in 50% of your category are fluctuating (which they are), this will naturally change your relative rank, even if your sales stay the same (even at 0)... In all, though, it's impossible to tell for sure. Please let me know if you find out anything else!

  11. Rob
    May 1, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    I'm afraid not, Erik- please let me know if you find this though!

  12. Erik
    April 18, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Interesting article!

    It looks like Theresa Ragan's page on sales ranking went away when she updated her webpage, but is still accessible from the wayback machine.

    I was wondering if there was any archive that you knew about wherein Amazon sales rank records are publicly stored. It would be quite the handy resource to look up how long a book stayed at certain ranks in order to make general inferences about sales, but my google-fu came up weak.

  13. Patrick
    February 26, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Let me just point out, from personal experience, that the figures posted by Regan on how many sales we can expect a book to be achieving, depending on its overall sales rank are only good for amazon.com or english titles. Smaller markets (for instance french language books, or italian language books like mine) will have much lower sales for a certain ranking

    • Rob
      March 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Good point, Patrick! I only really researched English speaking Amazon stores, as this is most relevant to our readers, so am not sure how this translates to non-English speaking Amazon stores... if you could point me to any data you find on this topic, it'd be most appreciated!

  14. Rob
    February 21, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Tushit! Congratulations on the launch of your new book! In the paid category, many other books will be selling more copies than yours. In the free category that you're listed in, you'll be selling the most copies in that specific category... Basically, this is how it looks like the sales rank works.

    The figures were worked out by Treresa Regan (linked to in the paragraph above that quote). You should be able to find the information you need via that link :)

  15. Tushit Chanda
    February 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Dear Rob thanks for the excellent post. I am a new author in Kindle and have published a preschool book "MY FIRST PRETTY BOOK OF ANIMALS: a gift for little ones". My free rank was #1 but my paid rank is #280,230. Please tell me why such a difference has happened. Secondly I want to know how did you determine the figures of sales and amazon rank. Your advice will be really grateful.

  16. Linda
    January 29, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Just curious why some products show no ranking info at all? Thanks!

    • Rob
      February 2, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      From what I understand, this can sometimes be because a product is new, or that they just haven't had any recent sales, so they simply don't rank against other products in that category... hope this helps!

  17. Rob
    December 29, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I agree Alex. Although sales rank isn't displayed too prominently, every little helps, right? :)

  18. Alex Zabala
    December 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Sales ranking do influence people to click on a product just as positive reviews do also. If a book has a 1million rank savvy shoppers know its bombing and not very popular. Its like anything else in life...hype...hype...hype. use it to your advantage.

  19. jt
    October 19, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I have two books on amazon and as indicated by amazon sales record, 4 copies have been sold since July. My amazon ranking varied bet ween 400000 and 7000, I think with each sale. How?

    • Rob
      October 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Hi JT, as mentioned in the article, it's based on recent sales relative to other books in the same category. By selling a copy, your rank will overtake thousands of other books instantly. If you sell 3 books in a short period, that'll overtake a lot more books. If you sell hundreds of books in a single day, you could well jump to #1, but as your sales decline, other books will overtake you pretty easily. If you want to keep that rank, you have to maintain a good number of steady sales pretty much day in day out...

    • Cj
      May 19, 2016 at 1:30 am

      I disagree. I don't know a single customer that buys based off of BSR. Most people just type in what they want and purchase based on price, reviews, and prime availability.

  20. Russ Linton
    October 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for this. I've had a book out since June and have been trying to crack one list or another so that my book is buried on the "shelf". The info is appreciated!

    • Rob
      October 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Thanks, Russ! If you manage to crack one of those lists, I'd love to hear your story!

  21. Iola
    May 2, 2014 at 12:57 am

    The screenshot in your main article shows that Amazon treats paid and free sales differently - they are actually different bestseller lists. They used to be published side by side, with the top-selling free book in a category to the left of the top-selling paid book, but as your screenshot shows, they are now different pages.

    It used to be that when a bestselling book came off free it would temporarily enter at the top of the paid charts, but that hasn't been the case for over a year.

    Of course, it's easier to be a bestseller in a small category than across the whole of Amazon, so an author will need fewer sales than the numbers you quote if they are only competing in a small category.

    • Rob
      May 2, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Lola! Thanks for your comment. I'm getting this section (free vs paid) of the aricle changed, so this is made clearer- as mentioned in a previous comment, it seems the weightings are the same, but the lists are different.... Thanks for the heads up. I took a look at all of this in more detail and reaslised I needed to clarify this in the text., so hopefully those edits will be online soon!

  22. Hutch
    April 30, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Hey Rob,
    See this article by David G. [ http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/amazon-the-importance-of-popularity/ ]
    "While the algorithm deciding your Sales Rank doesn’t seem to place any weight on copies that were downloaded while your book was free, it appears that the algorithm feeding into the Popularity List does. "
    The actual way Amazon does calculate the Overall ranking though is a trade secret, so this is relying on reverse engineering changes seen after getting sales jumps/or doing free giveaways. And apparently there is also a dlooars per sale weighting in there, as in some cases fewer sales of a higher dollar book can push you up more than a lot of sales for a 0.99 book. Lastly, I am sure that Amazon reviews trends for this very closely and tweaks / adjusts their algorithims frequently to help guard against people gaming the system to their detriment.

    • Rob
      May 2, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Hutch, thanks for your reply, and thanks for the email you sent me! I've took another look at all of this, and want to thank you for pointing this out. I'm getting that section of the article clarified now, so it's clearer that free and paid have separate besterller ranks, however the rankings seem to be calculated in the same way (or very similar).

      All the best!

  23. Hutch
    April 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Free Downloaded ebooks do NOT count equally as a paid sale. They may have a loooong time ago when the Kindle Slect program first started but for at least the last year or longer even a free giveaway downloaded only counts for about one tenth of a paid sale in overall/sub-category rankings.
    See David Gaughran's blog/books to get a super-clear explanation of all the various Amazon Top seller lists (Top 100, New Releases, Mover/shakers, etc.) and how they are scored/weighted/calculated.
    https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/

    • Rob
      April 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Hi Hutch, thanks for your comment. Do you have a link to a specific article which shows this? I agree that free vs paid has a massive bearing on movers/shakers, top 100 etc, but for the sales rank, the vast majority of data I've seen and experienced supports that the weighting between free and paid for this specific list is pretty equal- would love to see some quality evidence for the contraty though, and if I'm wrong, will be happy to change the article...

    • Jason Cooke
      December 29, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Guess you have to buy Hutch's AKA David's book to find out. I won't be doing that David, sorry Hutch.

  24. Ed
    April 28, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    This is good info. My wife, Rosanna Chiofalo, has two books out under Women's fiction(Bella Fortuna and Carissima), and we are checking Amazon sales ranking weekly.

    Funny. We would check the rankings daily when her books are newly released, but just check them occasionally if the books have been out for a while.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Rob
      April 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Thanks for the great comments, Ed! It's difficult to say just how useful this tanking actually is- whether it's more for vanity, or whether it actually has some real bearing on revenue and sales etc, but it's interesting to look at it in more detail though :)

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