A9 Search Engine Optimization: Navigating The Amazon

Amazon.com has made a major entry into streaming the flow of Internet search into its main traffic river. That entry goes by the brief and slightly puzzling name of A9. With the new A9 Search, combined with already owned Alexa, online retail giant Amazon is considering a move into the big leagues of search.

As a website owner, you might want to consider picking up some traffic from what might become a large player in the search engine market. While the level of search traffic between A9 and Alexa remains small compared to the big names, no one can be certain if the status quo will continue.

With Google experiencing some user dissatisfaction, and Yahoo! and MSN Search still feeling their way to new algorithms, some shortfall may become more than a trickle into Amazon’s A9 entry. In the meantime, it won’t hurt a webmaster to be sure their site swims well with the Amazon current, and not against it.

At first glance, many webmasters will be tempted to think that their Google optimization efforts will already work with A9. Since A9 is “enhanced by Google results,” that might be partially true. The part that throws an anchor into the water is that A9 is also loaded with results favoring Amazon and Alexa listings. In particular, products offered by Amazon.com are heavily featured in the A9 search engine results pages (SERPs).

The additional Amazon based search results are especially discouraging to businesses who offer similar products as the giant Amazon. With those products being well positioned in the SERPs by Amazon the average online retailer might feel overwhelmed by the competition.

Faced with a huge marketing budget and an almost unlimited product line, that concerned-webmaster response to Amazon is entirely understandable. Fortunately, there are some workable solutions for successfully competing with those Amazon-laden results.

An additional optimization problem also presents itself as part of the elaborate technology on the A9 page in the form of thumbnail images. Taken from the Google images collection, it becomes increasingly important to have website photos and graphics properly indexed. In the regular Google SERPs, the importance of images is more or less for the main search rankings. In the A9 SERPs, having those images properly indexed becomes doubly important.

While the navigation through the rocks and shoals of the Amazon might appear impossible at first glance, that is not completely and permanently a barrier. With some careful enhancements to optimization techniques that are proven to work in Google, safe passage to good search rankings in A9 can be achieved. All that has to be remembered is those Amazon results are there in Google search results too.

By charting a course through the A9 Amazon dominated waters, safe passage can be found. Any online retailer and webmaster finding Amazon results dominating their keyword searches will not only do better in A9, but in Google itself.

To compete successfully with an Internet powerhouse like Amazon, it’s essential for the smaller website owner to provide plentiful theme related content. This is especially true if the website is an online retailer offering a similar product line to the online giant’s.

Because of the placement of Amazon results, online retailers must develop a powerful content niche by focusing their themed content on their product offerings. There are several available techniques to add more theme related content.

First and foremost, make certain that your online product line, or any other search terms where an Amazon result can appear, has abundant themed and unique content. Since there is highly likely to be a book on the topic somewhere in Amazon’s gigantic catalogue, there is a need for keyword rich content for all Web pages. Because of the importance of content, it’s necessary to examine each of these cases separately.

Online retailers offering a similar product line to Amazon should take care to differentiate their content, while retaining the most important keywords. An affiliate online site should provide different descriptions of the product line, if at all possible. Google frowns upon any form of duplicate content, and many affiliate sites suffer in the search ranking as a result. The good news is a little creativity can go a long way.

For example, with book sales, a change in the content descriptions from those appearing on Amazon, or on the affiliate’s parent site, is a good idea. Different book reviews and recommendations from those used elsewhere are also very helpful, especially if the most important keywords are retained. Keeping similar topic book titles and content, in theme related pages and cross linked site directories and sub-directories, will also help.

The need for strong keyword rich link anchor text is important with A9, as it is with Google. Link anchor text is the wording that appears on a clickable link, from both incoming links and internal site links. Because A9 utilizes the Google results and pads them with Amazon listings, the same anchor text requirements apply. Be certain that your anchor text is not all identical, as it could trigger a Google filter.

The best idea is to mix up your site’s anchor text to give the appearance of natural linking. No more than two thirds of the anchor text should be identical. Varying the keywords to target the receiving page is important because it mixes up the wording and adds value to the page.

As most website owners know, Google places tremendous importance on a website’s incoming links. Not only is the number of links considered, but also their quality. That link importance is based on several factors. They include theme relevance of the linking site to the receiving site, the passed along amount of Google PageRank, and the anchor text on the clickable link to the site. Because the search results in the A9 search engine are heavily Google results, it makes sense to use standard Google optimization techniques.

Getting more incoming links to your site is nearly always a worthwhile goal. Provided that such obvious search engine errors as links to and from the dreaded link farms are strenuously avoided, almost all incoming links are good. The difference is that some incoming links are worth more than others. Links are not a Utopian, egalitarian society. The search engine algorithms consider some links to be very valuable, while other links offer far less value to a receiving website, a very Orwellian “some are more equal than others” concept.

Pay special attention to the Web pages and sites that you choose for link exchange agreements. While there is some benefit to be derived from a link, that is entirely unrelated to your site content, the newer Google algorithm has lowered its value. The trend is clearly toward related and relevant content. The weighting of themed factors means there is far less value to swapping links with irrelevant sites. Instead, the emphasis is on clustering of themes around single topics.

Links from the major Internet directories such as The Open Directory Project (DMOZ) http://www.dmoz.org and The Yahoo Directory http://dir.yahoo.com/ provide added incoming link power. In particular, website owners should seek links from directories that are related their industry. The closer a directory’s focus on the site’s topics and themes, the better. The website will benefit from all Internet directory links from related categories.

The A9 search engine and its use of the Google search results will reward those directory links. To compete against any additional Amazon related links, the various directory links will provide some additional value.

One of the more interesting aspects of the A9 search engine search results is the inclusion of photographs related to the searched keywords and phrases. Along with the standard optimization techniques, the A9 addition of photos requires extra attention to that aspect of SEO.

Because a website can be located through the A9 photos, as well as through a Google and Yahoo images search, it’s important that every photograph on the website be indexed. A dual keyword placement system might pay real dividends in this case. Be certain that the photo’s mouse over alt tags can be crawled by the search engine spiders. In this case, an html link would probably be the most effective.

When using alt tags, be careful to not be too blatant in the use of your keywords. Avoiding keyword stuffing maintains the value of the alt tags. It’s thought by some search engine optimization specialists that alt tags do not have the same value they had in the past. While their value may have indeed been diminished, some solid SEO benefit remains.

As with the visible on page photo caption, descriptive language might be the most effective. If the description and alt tags can use keywords, while remaining logical to the image content, by all means use them. Problems only arise when blatant keyword use, entirely unrelated to the photo content occurs.

As with all SEO, consider the value of the photo captions for your visitors, and use common sense and logic with your alt tags, and a positive benefit will happen for the Web page. Instead of attempting to fool the search engines, provide good descriptive content and Google and its A9 enhancement will reward you.

Conclusion

While the A9 search engine provides mainly Google results, there are some slight differences. Because A9 is part of the Amazon family, some search results include a heavier level of Amazon results than the standard Google search returns. Keep that in mind if you market similar products to those offered by Amazon.

Because a photograph series appears as part of the A9 search results, be certain that all photos on your website include proper captions and easily indexed alt tags. Not only will the photos gain access to A9 and Google Images, but also add some SEO enhancement to their Web page. Be sure to use common sense in captioning and tagging the photos.

By watching the river, the A9 search engine can be successfully navigated by most website owners.

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