What is Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank?

At first glance, the Amazon Best Sellers Rank is fairly straightforward. It’s a snapshot of which product, in a certain category, is selling the most during a specific time period.

However, there is more than meets the eye behind Amazon BSR and best seller rankings in general. For brands and retailers, BSR is a critical piece of the puzzle for beating the competition in a fast-paced marketplace. How and why is this the case? Here is what you need to know about Amazon Best Sellers Rank.

What is the Amazon Best Sellers Rank?

Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank is a ranking that Amazon assigns to every product with at least one sale. It’s based both on historical sales data and recent sales of a product on that marketplace. The BSR, which is also sometimes referred to as the Amazon Sales Rank, is a “calculation based on Amazon sales, and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon,” according to Amazon itself.

The BSR gives a strong indication of what the top-selling items on Amazon are at a given time. Think of it as a snapshot of what’s popular with shoppers now. By updating the rankings hourly, Amazon is providing sellers a near-real-time report of what is doing well across Amazon’s entire marketplace. A product’s BSR can be found on multiple pages on Amazon’s site, including:

  • The Best Selling Products page
  • The product page itself
  • The category best selling page (this also shows subcategories)

A product’s BSR is important in large part due to the volume of searches that happen on Amazon on a daily basis. Data from former marketing analytics firm Jumpshot showed that from 2015 to 2018, Amazon overtook Google as the number one search engine for products, Retail Dive reported. With such a wide assortment of products in the marketplace, BSR is a critical way for shoppers to find the most popular products for whatever they are searching for.

Amazon Best Sellers Ranking Factors

Just like with the Amazon Buy Box ranking factors, Amazon has never explicitly revealed its ranking factors for the BSR. We know for sure that historical and recent sales directly influence a product’s BSR, but we don’t know much beyond that.

But there’s a lot in just those two data points that are worth considering. For example, depending on how heavily recent sales are counted, an item that has seen a spike in sales could have a higher rank than something that steadily sells a high number of units. And since Amazon updates the BSR of a product hourly, the recency of sales made could be the difference between a high BSR and a middling one.

Another dimension to consider is that BSR can be a bit misleading. As Amazon themselves noted, “while the Amazon Best Sellers list is a good indicator of how well a product is selling overall, it doesn’t always indicate how well an item is selling in relation to similar items.”

That means you can’t really compare a product’s BSR within or across multiple categories to other products on Amazon itself. The near-real-time calculation of the BSR also means that you could be looking at a very small sample of sales. For example, a high ranking (meaning, the number is as close to one as possible) might not necessarily mean that something is selling like crazy. It could just mean it got a spike in sales within the last hour.

There are some Amazon experts who believe that Amazon uses predictive modeling to gauge future sales of a product. This can sometimes result in new products leapfrogging older ones.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank vs. Organic Rankings

It’s important to remember the difference between your BSR and your organic rankings on Amazon’s search results pages. Your BSR has no correlation with where your products rank for a specific keyword.

Search result page ranks show the top three positions, which are ads that sellers have bid and won on, and then the organic results. The latter are based on how well a product page matches a keyword that a user inputs into the search bar, as well as listing content, pricing, reviews, and other factors. The BSR, as we know, is directly based on sales. The organic search results, thus, are generally less volatile than BSR, which changes hourly.

A product that has a high BSR might rank at the bottom of the search results page for its target keyword. Likewise, a product with a high organic rank might have low sales. Of course, a high organic ranking will increase the likelihood that your products are discovered by searchers, which goes a long way toward selling more product.

Amazon Best Seller Rank is not the end all be all of a winning Amazon strategy, but when used correctly it can be a major asset for retailers and brands that want competitive intelligence on the largest marketplace on the Internet.

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Sr. Manager, Marketing & Demand at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions.

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