It was there all along and we unknowingly walked past. Apple’s reinvention of music and the phone created distraction. “Shock of the new” toys romanced us. In fairness, they are cool, empowering things, but the real revolution was happening quietly 850 miles north from Apple’s headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino.
The real revolutionary was in our midst all along. The secret revolutionary, our coffee drinking, cigar smoking Che Guevara, is a smiling, prematurely balding man with a nervous laugh and a commodities trader view of the world. If you want to understand why neither coffee nor Grunge aren’t the most successful memes to come from the Puget Sound. Come let’s sit on the wet ground, smoke thick Romeo Y Julieta cigars and talk of search engine optimization and the death of kings.
Web Sites Are Dead
Perhaps it is easy to understand why French philosopher Jean Paul Satre declared God’s death a few years after the war in 1947. No such cataclysmic event leads to the undeniable conclusion web sites as we’ve known and loved them are over killed by overwhelming chorus of whimpers instead of a single big bang.
Awareness grew out of a simple project and an even easier question. A consulting client asked if they should build a new gift site at the end of 2010. The overwhelming answer was NO. Researching page counts using Google’s site:ABCurl.com command I noticed how overmatched favorite gift site RedEnvelope.com had become. During the six weeks of my research Etsy.com moved from 50M pages in Google to 80M (now 120M) while RedEnvelope.com stayed tiny and irrelevant at a little over 10,000.
There was a difficult conversation ahead. I would need to share what NOT TO DO – build a land locked ecommerce gift site – while explaining what TO DO. What to do required a significant mental shift. Since the money was about the same I assumed pitching the move from site to platform would be easy. Assumptions are always dangerous. My presentation was meet with anger, denial and accusation.
The Amazon Paradox – No One Climbs Everest Alone
Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s most revolutionary idea is acting as curators not merchants or owners. Amazon’s role is to trade the most valuable commodity on earth – attention. Using the law of large numbers where even pennies on everything add up to billions Amazon curates toward infinity. Ubiquity makes netting attention easier and online ubiquity requires an engine capable of pressing pages into Google faster and faster, better and better.
My projection has Amazon crossing a billion pages in Google by the summer at around the same time Facebook passes a billion members. It is NOT just that Amazon’s quantity has spread so wide and deep but HOW they’ve achieved such dominance. If you called up the Googleplex and asked, “Please describe how you would like our platform to add pages?”. “More and more, faster and faster, better and better,” would come the answer from the plex.
More And More, Faster And Faster, Better And Better
Think about the chart implied by information shared by our helpful person at the Googleplex. Google’ s desire is a 45-degree angle with escalating page counts over time. Google’s desire for such robust and maturing partnerships is easy to understand. Google’s money is made from relevant returns against the infinity of search. They need trusted sources to arbitrage traffic into money. This is the chart any successful Internet marketer must aspire to create:
“But that chart isn’t page count,” I can hear skeptics thinking and they are right. This chart is the government’s chart of Amazon’s retail sale growth vs. ecommerce competitors and retail sales. The revolutionary paradigm shift met with such an angry response is money and page count are related if not synonymous. Yes this chart is about money. Carting Amazon page counts over time would create the same more and more, faster and faster slope.
The blue line of US Ecommerce Sales leaves the slope because Amazon is so far ahead in understanding what successful Internet marketing takes. The “Web Sites Are Dead” message isn’t accepted…yet. I wrote Platforms vs. Websites on ScentTrail Marketing in September and Phil Simon’s The Age Of The Platform was published in December.
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s LINKED: How everything is connected to everything else and what it means explains the Amazon paradox. Amazon’s most important realization was to create a company based on the new math of content marketing networks. Jeff Bezos and Amazon decided to arbitrage everything, scale to ubiquity and pursue an “Infinite Inventory” approach to retailing. Amazon’s goal is to become the most powerful hub in a brave new ecommerce world powered by search (and increasingly by social).
Barabasi, a Notre Dame professor and network researcher (another way of saying he has forgotten more math than we will ever know), explains how networks naturally form hubs. I think of hubs the way Einstein describe how gravity bends the fabric of space/time. Hubs bend the network fabric pouring traffic, links and money to the few.
Content networks are NOT democracies. You or your company’s innate goodness doesn’t matter as much as the math used to express those qualities. This can be a very hard concept for someone who doesn’t work in Internet marketing to understand. A few days ago I had a client express anger again. She was telling me how large and in charge she was in her business vertical. She wasn’t large online. She wasn’t a trusted source on Google. She wasn’t a hub.
The paradox is real life needs translation to the specific and magic math of what Barabasi defines as “free standing networks” to create sustainable online presence. Google and SEO aren’t democracies. If you are small, understand how to curate better than larger competitors your company gains from the “proprietary linking” hubs enjoy. The paradox of winning online is doing so has very little to do with you and everything to do with the content, community and campaigns you create. Can you shift your paradigm? No one climbs Everest alone but some special Amazon-like guides climb Everest easily, with grace and anytime they want.