Biblio -- Sales Up, Traffic Down
By Michael Stillman
Biblio, third largest of the used and old book sites, announced some interesting and surprising data regarding visitors to their site. In a recent news release, they reported that traffic to the site is down, but contrary to what this might seem to imply, sales are up. The shortfall in traffic apparently comes primarily from a decrease in clicks from Google, the major search engine. Biblio attributed this decrease to "algorithmic changes at some of the search engines." However, Biblio did not express any great concern because, they said, sales are actually up.
In their release, Biblio's Chief Marketing Officer, Kevin Donaldson, is quoted as saying, "We have made huge advancements in the way our site is structured to maximize the number of pages that are indexed in the major search engines. Yahoo is indexing 200% more pages than last year, MSN, 100%, and Google is actually down, but conversions are way up. Honestly, you just can't complain about less superfluous traffic from Google and more closed sales. We are doing something right." Donaldson also stated that Biblio has 43,000 pages indexed with Google and is constantly working to get more listed.
The search engines, Google in particular, are critical to the success of online businesses (see the separate article on Google and Froogle in this month's issue of AE Monthly). Getting Google and the others to "index" your pages is the necessary step to having listings show up in searches. However, the search engines do not reveal the formulas by which they index pages, or how they determine whose page will show up number one in a search, and whose number one-thousand one, where no one will ever see it. The search engines have to be secretive about their formulas. Otherwise, web site operators will try to design their sites to meet the search engine algorithms, regardless of whether their site is the most relevant to a search. The result is, search engines keep adjusting their formulas to prevent sites from tricking their way to higher rankings, while site operators keep trying to understand their latest equations so they can rank higher. It is a cat and mouse game with no end in sight.
As a website operator, we constantly monitor our search engine standing, and attempt to make the site relevant to searches involving rare and antiquarian books. That is about all you can do, but it is also what you must do. Evidently, Biblio understands this point well, an indication that they are working hard to achieve the best results for their customers. As they have found, this is not always easy, but you cannot stop trying.