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Amazon puts its own “brands” first above better-rated products

It took Robert Gomez about five months to get his Kaffe coffee grinder to the big leagues in e-commerce: among the first three search results for “coffee grinder” on Amazon.com.

Gomez, founder of Atlanta-based consumer goods startup 4Q Brands, said he obsessively refined his photos and description, amassed reviews from happy customers, and paid Amazon $40,000 a month on advertising to boost sales, one of the elements Amazon tells sellers will increase search ranking.