Monday, December 24, 2012

Is Amazon's aStore A Waste Of Time?

What's wrong with using an aStore?

When I was starting out as an amazon affiliate the first thing that stood out to me as a great idea was the aStore. It sounded great you could build in entire store around any niche or topic in a few minutes and start pushing traffic to the site. After using Amazon aStores for awhile though it was clear that Amazon had set up the aStore feature in a way that severely limits it's usefulness for affiliates. Most of it's limitations are due the use of iFrames to display the webstore. Let's see the different areas where aStores are limited:

  1. PPC Marketing. The major ad networks like AdWords or MicroSoft's AdCenter will not allow you to drive traffic to a page that has iFrame content on it. You can drive traffic to a page that then links to your store but that will drive down the click through rate in a hurry. Instead of using an iFrame you may think of driving traffic directly to your aStore web address which could work except it's against Amazon's TOS and they'll send you a stern warning if they notice it (and probably ban you if you continue). That leaves you with the smaller ad networks many of which have problems with click fraud and whose traffic is less targeted.
  2. Google Organic Search. The iFrame also creates problems when trying to build links back to your store. You see when you embed the iFrame into a page it is essentially treated by Google in the same way a link is treated. So none of the content from the aStore is ever seen as being part of your website content. Without content you could build tons of links all of which would be essentially ignored by Google because they have no related content. Now you could get around this by writing content for your product and then linking through to the product in your aStore. Then you could build links to the review pages but you could do that without a store by simply using links to Amazon itself, so where is the advantage of an aStore?
  3. Social Networking.  You could use social networking to promote your aStore and the products it contains. Amazon though actually makes it much easier to promote items on Twitter or Facebook directly from the affiliate toolbar which links directly to Amazon.

What do you really need to make an Amazon Store work? 

  1. Unique Content. To promote yourself on either PPC networks or through organic search engines you'll need content that is keyword related and searchable by google. Any automated content that relies on JavaScript or iFrames will not be indexed by Google. More than likely you'll want to have content for each product you're going to promote. Creating content for say category pages probably won't get you the targeted traffic you want for a webstore.
  2. Automation. The whole purpose of a store is to have lots of products available for purchase without the hassle of manually creating all the pages for every single product.
  3. Easy Design. Any Amazon Store that is going to work should be easy to customize without churning out cookie cutter store templates. You should be able to design the store in the way you see fit for your particular niche or audience.
  4. SEO Optimization. You'll also need to easily change URLs, Meta Descriptions, Title Tags and Meta Keywords to keep your aStore optimized for the search engines.
Fortunately there is actually a product out there that delivers all these benefits. It is a 3rd Party software that is built on Amazon's API (Amazon Tools for Software Developers). What this allows you to do is create an Amazon Store in the same way you would an aStore but with many more features available. It is also much more SEO friendly as it doesn't rely on iFrames or JavaScript so the content is actually indexed by Google. They also offer a Free Lite Version and 30 Day Free Trial of the paid version.