Amazon As Cautionary Tale
I follow Amazon pagecounts closely. Prior to Google's Panda and Penguin updates Amazon was slouching toward a billion pages inside of Google. At a billion pages in Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) the distinction between Amazon and Google becomes less and less.
Then Google's Zoo of change (Panda followed by Penguin) hit. Now Amazon is down to 127M pages. I realize "down to" seems absurd with such a large number of pages in Google, but better than 90% of Amazon's "pages" have been swept away.
Amazon was LATE to the social game. Amazon's ability to generate new pages via their own machine code was astounding and robust. In platforms vs. websites I wrote about how if the Brooklyn Bridge fell into the Hudson tomorrow Amazon would have a landing page with fully cooked content up within minutes.
And such technical wizardry used to be enough. Amazon's ability to create new pages by combining pieces of old used to matter in a pre-social world. The page itself was enough. Not so much anymore. Now the page without social shares is naked and a clear "over optimization" as far as Google's new algorithm is concerned.
Amazon is responding. Their social share widget is approaching ubiquity and their new COLLECTIONS feature is a clear statement of how serious Amazon is taking being taken out to the shed and taught the new rules of content marketing by Google.
Here is my Business Books collection on Amazon's new collections tool. There are several tricky parts to Amazon's current installation of this new "social shopping" tool including:
- The only way to see +Add To Collections is to BE IN Collections.
- You can only get "in collections" by going to My Account and selecting it.
- Collections is not at the top of My Account but in Personalization (almost at the end of the page).
- Following and liking aren't intuitive or easy.
- The "wall" of collections pinned is chaotic and overwhelming.
The Amazon Collections tool is not ready for prime time yet. It could take some lessons from Pinterest, but the statement Amazon is making by creating it is worth noting - Amazon gets that without social media support their content is useless.
That last sentence is so critical it is worth repeating for Small To Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs). If your content isn't followed, shared, linked to and creating an increasing amount of social advocacy then you will fall in the SERPs. If Panda and Penguin, Google's names for its ongoing algorithm changes, teaches anything it is that social shares rule the game now.
Every page must generate social shares to matter. This truth has many implications including:
- Social share widgets should be easy to find and use.
- Content that gets shared should take precedence.
- Every business has different kinds of "high share" content, learn what yours is soon.
- Content is the new #SEO and #Advertising so treat it as such (i.e. budget for it).
- Watch your Link Efficiency Index (LEI).
- Watch your site:
LEI is a metric we created at Atlantic BT to measure the speed of link creation. The metric is easy to calculate:
1. Go to Alexa.com and find your website's inbound links: 517 for Atlantic BT
2. Go to Google and find your pagecount with site:atlanticbt.com: 3,680
3. Divide links in by pages (517 / 3,680 = .1404): .1404
Compare your LEI to your competitor's to have a sense of your inbound link creation efficiency. Read the LEI as for every 1 page Atlantic BT adds to Google we generate .14 of a link. Inbound links is such a critical metric everyone could improve it with:
- Contests and Games.
- Public profiling.
- Guests posts.
- Social "Shopping" tools such as Amazon Collections.
- Highly viral content.
- Reviews and Review the Reviewer.
- Ubiquitous Social Share Widgets
The biggest Amazon lesson may be to EMBRACE social marketing since no page, no matter how well crafted, can stand without social support in a post Panda and Penguin world.
Mark Traphagen made a good comment. Mark pointed out that Amazon's page decline could have been for a number of reasons including duplicate content, lack of social support and other "NEWSEO" issues. I focused on the large and in charge presence social media suddenly has on Amazon as a clear about face and the leading cause of Amazon's dramatic Google page decline. I have no hard evidence to support social shares as being the ONLY or even the most IMPORTANT issue.