Amazon.com, Inc. is an electronic commerce company with headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Having started as an online bookstore, it branched out into also selling DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and jewelry. Additionally the company produces consumer electronics—Kindle e-book readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone and is now not only the largest Internet-based retailer in the USA but also the world’s largest provider of cloud computing services. Amazon has separate retail websites for United States, UK, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India and Mexico.
Personally I am a big fan of the company and its founder / CEO Jeff Bezos. Jeff’s strategy of reinvesting a massive proportion of Amazon’s profits into expanding his empire has gone extremely well so far and with companies such as IMDB, Alexa, Audible, LoveFilm, Zappos, Diapers.com, Pets.com and many more behind his belt the future looks very bright.
Amazon’s retail site (Amazon.com) is on an amazing rise with regards to gaining traffic from the search engines almost doubling traffic to 285 Million visitors monthly in the past year or so however their career site (Amazon.jobs) has gone through some rough times.
Looking at the graph above one can see that Amazon’s career site dropped from 5.6 Million to just over 600k visitors a month from Google in a matter of 2 months (April 2015 to June 2015). This represents a massive drop of 5 Million monthly visitors.
Now if we look at the backlink portfolio of the Amazon.jobs website various suspicious signs all are present which leads us to conclude something has gone very wrong indeed.
Once again, as explained in previous posts when looking at a site’s backlink portfolio spikes are almost always, never a good sign. And we can see quite a few spikes above however in my opinion it is the smallest spike that did all the damage. Between March to July 2014 the spike of links relates to the new site being launched which is actually perfectly normal especially since this is a site belonging to the Amazon brand which will naturally gain a high number of links once launched. However the smaller spike between late October 2014 and March 2015 has a lot of venom behind it. During this period the links that were gained were very unnatural to say the least and have done more harm than good.
Anchor text reveals all
Looking at the anchor text (text used to link a website to another) of the Amazon.jobs website, represented in the picture below, anyone can see that there has been a human footprint left behind:
We can see that the majority of domains linking back to Amazon.jobs are doing so with ‘virtual positions’ as the anchor text which is quite a targeted key phrase. The leading anchor text should be something more natural like ‘amazon’ or ‘amazon jobs or ‘amazon.jobs’.
And once we dig in deeper and analyse these 165 domains more in detail that are linking back to the Amazon site with the term ‘virtual positions’ we can see that they are almost all of low quality and that the exact same text copy has been used on all of them which is a big no no in Google’s eyes.
‘Amazon offers a number of virtual positions for potential employees that live in certain areas…’ has been copied and pasted across 165 different domains which all link back to Amazon.jobs and I believe its these links that have led to the massive drop in search traffic. This could be either an SEO campaign gone wrong or a negative SEO attack however a more detailed analysis needs to be performed.
Going Forward for Amazon
Looking at the backlink portfolio of the Amazon Careers site there has been a recent drop in referring domains which leads me to believe that the team at Amazon have noticed what has occurred and are now removing these malicious links. Only once these are all removed can the site prosper back to its former traffic though it will take various months to do so.