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Amazon star ratings matter. If we can say our book has 5 out of 5 stars that matters. Even 4.5 is probably okay. But people certainly look at Amazon star ratings to make decision on their purchases. Like with anything on Amazon, there’s a method to how Amazon star ratings are calculated and displayed.
For example, for my latest book – Content Performance Culture – Amazon is showing different star ratings for different countries. For example:
- USA: 4 stars
- Germany: 3 stars
- Canada: 3.5 stars
The difference doesn’t even mean that readers in Germany or Canada like it less than readers in the United States. It’s a matter of how Amazon calculates the ratings. In other words: It pulls reviews differently based on where reviewers purchased the book and where they review it from.
Calculating Amazon star ratings
Interesting, how is that possible? How are Amazon star ratings calculated? Basically, it comes down to this:
Amazon takes all verified purchases – so purchases of the book from Amazon. Those are applied to all countries’ calculations of the Amazon star ratings. So a verified purchase in that country gets taken into account. In addition, all other reviews from that specific country get added to the total.
Here’s how that looks in a more visual format:
Here’s how I figured this out. I try to send potential buyers their specific country link to purchase the book. For example, somebody in Germany gets the Amazon.de link while somebody in Canada gets the Amazon.ca link.
An exception: I also offer signed copies to people in the United States and Canada via this paypal.me link. But I don’t offer to mail signed copies outside of North America. Once, I sent a signed copy to the United Kingdom from the United States. The package and book were severely damaged during transport and the customer asked for a full refund. So I was out the production cost and the postage which was more than the book.
Now if that UK customer would leave a review it would show up on the United Kingdom Amazon site, but not on the United States or Germany or other Amazon sites. Since they bought it from me directly, Amazon wouldn’t consider it a verified purchase. Them buying it on Amazon UK would be a verified purchase however.
Amazon star ratings by country
Let’s break down my Amazon rankings for my latest book for the three countries.
As you can see in the screen shot, as of this writing there are five global ratings. The United States shows 4 of the 5 total with 2 of them being verified purchases. One of the verified purchase is for 5 stars while the other one is 1 star. The final review came from Canada but since the book wasn’t purchased through Amazon it’s not showing as a verified purchase and the 5-star Amazon star rating doesn’t carry globally.
Of course, a 1-star Amazon star rating hurts, but the reviewer also has some points. I previously published some of my negative speaking feedback received as well. Since it was a verified purchase it carries globally, just like the other 5-star verified purchase. Though, there are other 5-star reviews, the verified purchase reviews get more weight from Amazon worldwide.
In Canada, the 2 verified purchase reviews form the United States carry over and the one review of an unverified Amazon purchase show for a total score of 3.5.
In Germany, there are no reviews yet from Germany but the two verified purchases from the United States carry over. Since one was really good and one was really bad the overall Amazon star rating showing in Germany is 3 stars.
Strategy to increase Amazon star rating
When I know somebody bought a book or read a promotional copy, I usually ask them for a review and send them the link to Amazon. That’s also a strategy I implemented with my first book.
It is important to try to get the best possible Amazon star rating. They show prominently on Amazon, in ads like this one:
The most obvious way to get a good Amazon star rating of course is to produce a good product that people are willing to review. Keep in mind that not everyone will love it though, so once again it’s a numbers game. The one negative review has some points about formatting, which happened because I wrote the book completely in Google Drive on an iPad. That’s not an excuse but it happened. I certainly could avoid those reviews by buying a computer and finalizing the book that way.
Another strategy is to gently ask and remind people you know read the book to please leave a positive reviews. Some will and some won’t. Maybe the ones that don’t didn’t like the book to begin with.. Since we aren’t after negative reviews, I don’t bother them after asking them the first time.
You can also remind people on podcasts and social media that the book is available for purchase and you’d love a positive review. Some people might also leave you a negative review just because they don’t like you. Hard to believe, I know, but it can happen.
That’s why it’s a numbers game. Hope your readers that love the book leave a review and try to remind the ones you know of to do the same.
Also consider what countries to focus on. If you are planning on speaking in Germany (and I’m currently offering global virtual keynotes) a positive rating can help. Especially if you are asking the conference and attendees to buy books there.