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Why does Google return 4 Amazon listings for some queries?

     
2:54 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone here noticed this?

I honestly so no defense for this, drowning out specialty sites to populate keywords with multiple Amazon pages that aren't even anything special.

One Amazon listing I get, but 4 Amazon listings in a row, on no planet is that a fair search engine result nor is it a good experience. The most simple example for this is if I was looking to buy s snowboard online I'd much prefer finding a specialty shop when spending a lot of money then tons of Amazon listings.
6:44 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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xelaetaks, just to make sure we're all on the same page, so to speak, are you talking about serps pages with a default setting of 10 organic listings per page?
7:04 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes, top 10 results for keywords. I do notice it does fluctuate, one keyword I was watching bounced around recently 1 Amazon to 4 Amazon listings and on other keywords I've seen with two Amazon and two Staple listings in the top 10.
8:24 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, this isn't something special - Google is doing this often these days.. I think Google changed it 2012 [webmasterworld.com]
10:30 am on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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but 4 Amazon listings in a row, on no planet is that a fair search engine result nor is it a good experience.

It's not about being fair but about making money. If those four organic listings are occupied by Amazon, then businesses independent of Amazon will have to buy pricey Adwords ads to be seen. By limiting choice, Google is moving businesses from free to paid traffic. As a business I was in a similar situation, but decided to sell on Amazon and quit paying the ridiculously high CPC in Adwords and the zombie clicks that were costing me a lot of money. Dumping Adwords in favor of Amazon was the best business decision I've made in a while.

I completely understand your frustration about the lack of choice in Google's search engine. To me it is like going into a restaurant and having few options to choose from. If Google is returning four listings for Amazon in a row, and you want to buy a snowboard, try another search engine. Some website owner somewhere will be happy to see a sale come from one of the smaller competitors in search.
1:00 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Years ago google used to have a rule built into their algorithm which limited every domain to no more than 2 results in the top 100. I remember reading an interview with Matt Cutts in which he boasted about what a great rule it was.
3:43 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I always see this.. and not forgetting 2 ebay listings, with a keyword stuffed title youtube video and then another amazon.com for good measure.
11:47 pm on Mar 3, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I get the corporate reasoning behind it, I just find it disturbing though. I wonder if there is a possibility of a lawcsuit someday for Google stealing business from people by putting worthless search results for money keywords like youtube videos and multiple Staples and Amazon listings. I wish someone like Apple would come in the search arena and offer some fair competition with more focus on the user and less on their PPC profits.
12:08 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@xelaetaks .... g is what it is. There's nothing fair, or implied to be fair. Try searching outside of your niche/product and you'll see a more generalized and less amazon heavy result. If your biggest competitor for position on the front page is amazon, you're playing in THEIR niche and they have a much larger organization than any, or at least MANY, of us do (in ecommerce). The fact one can even rank on page one dominated by amazon should be a hooRAH!

Not what you want to hear. Just tellin' it like it is.
12:11 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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4 out of 10 results to amazon is still 'reasonable' - several times I saw 8 out of 10 results to books.google.com (doing search on 4-8 specialized keywords).
12:15 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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True @tangor. I don't plan on giving up cause one of the top ranking sites in my niche doesn't even seem to do much SEO as I follow everyone's content and backlink profile. These guys just have lots of links from being a manufacturer so I do think if I keep it consistent I still have a chance to do well in my niche, it just is a lot of work and I hope it pays off in the near future. :)
3:04 am on Mar 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Coincidentally, last night I posted on this very topic, in our March Google Updates thread [webmasterworld.com...] ...and suggested that, if you're seeing more than 3 entries for any "high commercial" keywords, it's likely that it's a test...
In the past (since, say, July 2012), if your preferences were set to show 10 results per page, and the query was for "high commercial" phrases and not long tail, then Google was in testing mode....

I'm glad to see JS_Harris post the topic as a dedicated thread, and that doc_z linked to the Brett Tabke's original thread. To give that thread a name and a more detailed reference, it was...

Many results from one site - Host Crowding vs Brand Authority
June-Aug, 2012
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4464096.htm [webmasterworld.com]

The topic turned into a long and contentious discussion. Just to make it clear, I didn't like the nature of the test either, and I'm assuming also that Matt Cutts didn't. It's a very invasive method of testing.

In his opening post, Brett linked to a Matt Cutts video about Google's history with host crowding and its move to multiple results. Here's another link to the video (again with more detailed references)...

How does Google decide when to display multiple results from the same website?
Matt Cutts - June 11, 2012
trt 5:40

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGpEdyIcZcU [youtube.com]

From the thread, regarding Matt's comments, Brett almost nails it...
The only real new thing here is that for the first time, Matt Cutts talks about the issue in a video, but never does in fact answer the question entirely. I have yet to hear any major voice say this is a plus.

[youtube.com...]

Matt gives quite a few comments about why host crowding is a plus. In fact - listen close - seems almost as if he prefers the old method like all of us do...

Later in the thread I post along these same lines, but go further into my theory that Google was testing...
The Matt Cutts video, which Brett posted at the start of this thread, clearly lays out the positives and negatives of host crowding, along with the negatives of dropping it... and I feel at the end Matt hints that this might be a test. I can imagine a discussion in a Google meeting room where the approach was hashed out, and ultimately the opponents said, "OK, let's try it and see what kind of data we get."

The video is interesting to see again in light of the new results....

As the test (or recalibration) unfolded over time, painfully slowly for many, I'm sure, it became apparent to most who were following it carefully and sticking to the default 10 results per page, not 100 results per page, that Google was methodically honing down the number of results, page by page as it got sufficient data. I think that Matt in the video sets up the more-than-two-pages aspect fairly well, though he was never explicit that this was a test.

Over the course of the test, you could see the results get refined, initially on the first page of the serps, and then deeper and deeper into the serps, as the less prominent results accumulated sufficient searches and user data. For anyone interested in reading through it, I commented about this in the thread occasionally. Deeper pages, and less-searched queries, took the longest time to get sorted out.

I also have continued to see some very long tail results continue to show 4 (or even 5?) results, on a page, and I've occasionally commented on those, where appropriate, in the forums. Some of these are for queries where I've not been able to get any useful data from SEMrush or SpyFu, and I'm thinking the reason is that they are very seldom searched.

IMO, I think my assertion that this was a test and was another way of looking at data pretty much held up.

One thing that is not clear now is whether Google is now looking at the long tail under different conditions, or they're back in the short tail. Martin_Ice_Web in the updates thread raised the question as "high commercial", and I can't argue with that because that might be a subjective thing.

I can only say that, during the time the above "domain crowding" test was evolving, I saw a great many queries that site owners felt were highly competitive terms, but which in fact had, say, only 120 instances on the web. They were very niche, and I'm sure in that niche were competitive.

The difficulty of calibrating a niche, though, is the small amount of data. I have a feeling that this relative lack of data is what has slowed full automation of Panda and Penguin... and that for all we know, this might be a calibration step in the long tail area of those algorithms, if this is long tail. "Specialty sites" in xelaetaks' OP here suggests that this is long tail. Martin_Ice_Web's comment in the update thread suggests that it's not.

There's also RankBrain's effect on long tail, which might be getting mixed into this calibration now.

PS: Shortened end of post and edited for clarification.
9:33 pm on Mar 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Happened again in my niche- 4 Amazon listings in a row. <snip> I do wonder if the 4 listings is a test though, I'll see if it goes back to 1 Amazon listing in a few days or something but it does seem like a blatant way to impact smaller sites.

[edited by: goodroi at 12:30 am (utc) on Mar 19, 2016]
[edit reason] Sorry but TOS #26 [/edit]

12:48 am on Mar 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Until we get rich enough to buy 51% of Google stock, none of us will be able to force Google to change how they rank websites. It is probably more productive to think about what we can learn from this and how to use that insight to help our sites. Hopefully this is just a test but to be safe we might want to think about:

a) Site authority seems to be growing in importance. Time to revisit what we can do to improve our site authority.

b) What is so unique and useful about the Amazon pages that makes Google list four of them? Amazon has done a great job researching usability. I often look at Amazon for ideas on how to better design my pages. Amazon has also done a great job building out content. Just think about 100 ecommerce sites selling the same product with the same anemic content but Amazon often has developed unique and useful content that users like to engage with.
1:31 am on Mar 19, 2016 (gmt 0)

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a) Site authority seems to be growing in importance. Time to revisit what we can do to improve our site authority.

For the vast majority of businesses, especially us small businesses, it will be next to impossible to gain enough site authority to overtake Amazon. If you can't beat Amazon in Google, sell on Amazon.

b) What is so unique and useful about the Amazon pages that makes Google list four of them?

Trusted and vetted reviews are an area where Amazon beats out most competitors. Those reviews, in my niche, are one of the multiple Amazon listings that appears in Google. Reviews can include pictures and video as well, making them more useful. But in some cases reviews don't match the products on the page or the products themselves are out of stock.

Instead of trying to swim against the current, sellers of actual products should change directions and go with the flow. If Google loves Amazon, get on Amazon and use your Adwords budget to compete on Amazon. Let's face it, to 800 lb gorillas we are nothing more than a banana they snack on. As goodroi noted, we can't change the way Google ranks sites, but we can choose where we invest our time and money. And for me, Amazon has been a godsend - good profits and growth without the headaches of Google. Make your products one or two of the multiple listings Google displays and you won't have to spend a dime on Adwords or worry about your organic ranks.
 

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