There are similarities between Amazon search and its Google counterpart, but it is the differences that determine success in the two search engines. We reveal these differences in this document and explain the causes and effects.
Both Google and Amazon are Internet heavyweights: with billions of Euros in sales, tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of users and customers, these two companies shape the internet. Despite their fundamentally different business models, the paths of the two companies cross as soon as a user is looking for the right product.
Web-wide Search vs. Own Data
While Google searches billions of websites, Amazon search only includes its own data from the Amazon system. What at first sounds trivial and self-evident has far-reaching effects in optimisation of the two different search engines.
A significant part of Google’s optimization of extensive websites consists in making the websites accessible and understandable for Google. As much as possible, all subpages should be visited regularly by Googlebot, links between the documents must be designed to be comprehensible and the content itself must be structured in an understandable manner for the crawler. Google optimization of a website is therefore often in conflict with other marketing measures and a relaunch of a website can destroy a lot of work in a short time.
At Amazon things look different: since all the data that is to be searched is already available in the Amazon database, crawling and parsing of pages is completely eliminated. Amazon always has a complete and constantly up-to-date overview of all data that could possibly be searched using the search engine. Technical errors and incomprehensibility are therefore completely eliminated as a source of error. Changes are also effected immediately.
Unstructured Data vs. Structured Data
At its core, Google is a full-text search engine. Words on a website are loaded into a large search index and then searched in full-text. Google cannot rely on the fact that certain structures are in place. Of course, most websites have a title tag, but not all. Many websites also use headings to structure content – but there is no guarantee that this will be the case on all pages. So Google has to develop a solution in which the best result can deliver data without any structure – with all the associated disadvantages.
Amazon has it easier: Retailers, manufacturers and data providers make the content of the Amazon search engine available directly as structured data. They indicate what the title of the product is, where the product description can be found, upload product images and much more. Supplementary data such as product reviews are always available to Amazon in a structured form. On this basis, Amazon can target a special search engine for products much better than Google can do with general, unstructured data.
Amazon Optimises its Own Sales
The goals that Google pursues with its web search lie in a difficult area of tension; organic results must be good enough that the user does not get the idea to switch to another search engine. Nevertheless, the paid results must be displayed (and clicked) in such a way that as many clicks (and thus income) as possible are generated. Naturally, Google cannot always meet these differing goals at the same time, and so the former company motto “Don’t be evil” is now outdated.
Amazon has it much easier: a visitor who finds and buys what he is looking for on Amazon is the common goal for both Amazon and you. Unlike Google, Amazon doesn’t have to trade off free and paid results. This makes many decisions easier – but also leads to more competition when it comes to optimizing Amazon rankings.
Amazon Optimisation is Data-driven, not Trick-driven
Especially in the early days of Google optimization, there were countless shortcuts to get a top ranking: a purchased link on a PageRank 7 page meant that the entire linked page ranked well. Google is constantly striving to reduce the number of tricks and shortcuts, but the complexity of Google search only partially succeeds.
While if the Google crawler passes your playground and you more or less agree on the common rules of the game, the basic requirements at Amazon are different: Amazon provides the field, the rules and the referee . You can decide whether to take part or not – but there are no shortcuts. Decisions are made clearly and fairly based on the data.