In the very first issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets, I talked about good versus evil in marketing…
It was based on a conversation I once had with Ken McCarthy — the original internet marketing “guru” and one of the Titans at Brian Kurtz’s Titans of Direct Response.
Ken was, I said, a Jedi of internet marketing. Harnessing incredible powers of persuasion and technology to promise big value, honestly and ethically, and deliver on his promises.
Compare that to many more questionable gurus who make huge promises of instant riches to prey on anybody and everybody who will buy their hype. I called them Darth Vader with an E-Commerce Shopping Cart.
Ken saw his approach as the long game. He’d never have as big of a list, or as high of annual profits as the hucksters. He got rich with internet marketing, sure. But he never had a $10 million launch. He simply built a solid reputation and “brand” over years of doing the right thing, and benefited as a result.
Others have made millions and lost them just as fast, by obsessing over tricks and tactics to get people to give them money, and never being too concerned about delivering on value.
Or by gaming the search engines to deliver traffic in a way that they knew was black hat, but didn’t care because it worked today.
Or by somehow or another using “tricks,” “hacks,” and other questionable tactics to make easy money, without being focused on making and fulfilling on a solid value proposition.
Here’s the thing…
All the tricks, hacks, and tactics die eventually — and those who rely on them are often punished when it happens…
Google is famous for doing this. The “Google Slap.” You used questionable SEO methods to trick Google into sending traffic to your site, even though it wasn’t necessarily a good user experience.
Google’s algorithms don’t know that. So for a while, they’re sending users your way.
But the humans at Google know. They know users aren’t happy with sites like yours. And the humans rewrite the algorithms — to punish sites like yours.
They release the new algorithm into the wild — and suddenly #1-ranked web pages aren’t anywhere to be found in Google’s search results, and your traffic dries up.
You complain because, “how could they?!” But you knew all along you were gaming the system.
At the same time, the person with a high-quality website that was delivering an ideal user experience shoots up in Google, and gets a brand new stream of traffic.
In the long run, Google always rewards people who build websites that deliver a great user experience.
Those who game the system may win in the short run, but you will get anything from a wrist slap to total decimation if you keep it up.
In fact, I read something recently that said that Google has basically shifted to an everyday Google Slap. Meaning the algorithm changes constantly, to improve user experience.
This means no more one-day huge drops (or increases) in traffic. Instead, bad behavior will be punished pretty much right away. And good behavior will be rewarded.
Yesterday, Amazon made a huge announcement about reviews that follows this same pattern…
Amazon makes more money from online retail than anybody else. My multiples. I know I buy more from Amazon than any other site. Maybe you do, too.
And customer reviews are a HUGE part of the shopping process on Amazon.
In fact, I don’t like buying a lot of things in the store anymore because I don’t know if it’s a 1-star or a 5-star product. I’d rather see the collective ratings of 100 Amazon shoppers.
And a lot of people caught on to just how powerful reviews were.
It starts with people trying to sell things on Amazon. They want more reviews. They’re not sure how to get them.
Then someone comes in and says, I could get you some reviews. I’ll find people who are willing to write reviews — you just have to give them a big discount, or even give away your product in exchange for the review.
Entire sites were set up to facilitate this transaction. It’s like Match.com for product sellers and freebie-seeking review writers.
Eventually, Amazon caught on, and didn’t like that, so they started requiring the obligatory, “I received this product for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.”
The only problem? Those reviews ARE biased — even if the person doing the reviewing thinks they aren’t! So then, entire sites were set up to analyze product reviews on Amazon, and see which products had suspect reviews. And comparing the suspect reviews to “regular buyers,” they showed that the suspect reviews were consistently higher than the regular Amazon customers’.
Here’s the bombshell…
Yesterday, Amazon published an “Update on Customer Reviews.”
Call it “Amazon Slap.”
Effective immediately, these “incentivized reviews,” as the Amazon lawyers call them, are out. Done.
After going after users one-by-one for some time for trying to manipulate reviews, Amazon just made a blanket rule.
It would not surprise me if the same crowd of people who once complained about Google Slap have already started flooding forums and social media groups with “Amazon banned my seller account!” claims.
One site that I followed out of curiosity that brokered these kinds of reviews announced they’re immediately shifting their model to “reviews not required” because of this change.
It will shift the entire landscape of selling on Amazon, very quickly.
As a seller, you’ll have two choices.
- Make a product that people actually want to leave a good review on.
It’s the same pattern, over and over again…
Amazon can’t afford to let biased review practices go on, or they lose credibility in the eyes of their customers. They lose credibility in the eyes of their customers, and they start losing those customers. They lose those customers, and they lose revenue and profits. And so on.
It’s the same choice Google had to make. Do they care more about keeping someone coming back day after day to Google as a trusted source of the best websites on a search query? Or do they care more about sending people to YOUR website? No contest.
It’s not the “easy money” route to focus on things like delivering a quality customer experience, and having a good value proposition.
But in the long run, if you want to build something sustainable that only keeps making you more, the longer you go on…
It’s your only option.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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