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Friday, September 17, 2004

Amazon.com: The Bookstore that Sells Everything

If you want to find out about the trends that are going to shape online business for this holiday season and next, don't go to business school. Don't even try to read up on them by browsing for articles on Amazon's business model. All of this stuff is unfolding before our eyes while the pundits and lecturers are still finishing that long sentence about Amazon being a "failed dot bomb."

You see, Amazon now sells everything.

I can prove it. Want to buy that loved one a pair of Serengetis?

This holiday season, a lot of people are going to be doing this.

E-commerce in general was pretty anemic in the years leading up to its breakout year (1999). I wonder if this year will see another such quantum leap forward.

Now we enter the next phase. Call it extreme consolidation, if you will. This will put the squeeze on many small retailers (even Amazon's own merchant partners), unless they adapt. It might lead to another leap in e-commerce sales. It should lead to increased customer satisfaction, on average.

One thing's for sure. I'd never bet against a company that became so far-reaching that they became simply "the store" -- the place you go when you want to go online and buy stuff.

So is Amazon a portal in the classic sense of an entry point to a much wider universe of functionality? Yes, in spades.

Forget A9 and the other red herrings. Top-flight search engine technology is part of what makes Amazon's technology so conducive to high conversion rates on site visits. (Do you ever have very much trouble finding what you need there? Do you ever lack for recommendations of related items?) Amazon is all about what it sells. Which is everything.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Be Right Back... After I Bathe in Honey

What's up with these services that promise a "swarm" of traffic to your website? This is just what I want when I'm running a business... a cloud of angry, mentally-impaired hornets descending on me all at once. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Do people still fall for this kind of hype?

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Trademark and Advertising: We'll See

Fair and balanced take on trademark by Deborah Wilcox. Although she advises advertisers to take a conservative approach (because her firm wants clients on both sides, particularly the litigious ones), she's well aware that the facts of particular cases may indeed support the advertiser, as she adroitly argued in the Moot Court session at SES San Jose.

A fairly busy news day today (FindWhat announces pay-per-call and so on), and I had some potential riffs about "wikis" and A9 (a.k.a. Google Labs 2) to share, but when it comes to spending an hour constructing the ultimate blog (actually, I did spend too long writing about A9 only to have Blogger die on me)... after spending a day working at the desk on a July-like day in September... as a famous man once said, "it's too sunny for that."

It's a good thing I don't live in California.

In silly news, metasearch engine Dogpile is now going to be called "Webfetch" across the ocean. Apparently, the name "Dogpile" conjures up ghastly images of what the search engine's mascot, Arfie, might leave on the "sod." Whoops, did I make another faux pas? I meant turf.

Hmm, I feel like I should sell you something today. OK, maybe we'll just give something away. Like other GMail users I now seem to have more GMail invites than I can give away. If you still lack GMail, post a comment on any of today's search engine news, leave your email address, and I will send one of the 12 invites I've got saved up.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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Monday, September 13, 2004

The Blind Leading the Blind

It's often said that volume is the secret to making a living as a freelance writer. However, when the topic is business, readers don't need volume, they need quality. The straight goods.

Recently, the Globe and Mail published this timely and relevant article about optimizing your site for search engines.

"Timely," writes trusted colleague Shane Wagg in an email correspondence, "if it was 1999." Continued Wagg: "Do you think they could have released this in time for Search Engine Strategies [Toronto, back in May]?"

The author of the piece, Paul Lima, has been showing up as a feature writer in technology sections of Toronto newspapers for more than fifteen years, telling folks how to get the most out of their SOHO experience. Here though, in his latest incarnation as a writer and speaker on SEO, he's still at the level of rank amateur. The experts he quotes don't appear to be much farther along on the learning curve.

Search marketing is a challenging field. It's not just a question of breaking down the technical tasks required, but thinking strategically and keeping up with the zeitgeist at companies like Google. Without even a whiff of a sense of the impact of developments like "Florida," the importance of post-click analytics, trends in search engine user behavior, or the need to consider a mix of paid search options, companies listening to the likes of Lima are going to be getting off on the wrong foot.

What's with this advice, for example? "Once your site is optimized, submit it to the major Search Engines, such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, Mamma, Lycos, AskJeeves, Excite, HotBot and Go." That's wrong on so many levels. Where to begin?

This isn't 1999.

Thumbs down to the quality of recent articles in Globetechnology.com.

Posted by Andrew | | | Permalink

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