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Google is strangling off Amazon’s free traffic; Amazon is paying up

Amazon’s total advertising and sales expenses were up over 22% YoY 22’ to ’23; this follows on several quarters of cost-cutting. One, this may be up? Google has been steadily reducing Amazon’s visibility in its search results since COVID, and in particular, they have been showing Amazon product pages less often. It hasn’t been slow either; Amazon has been losing 2 – 3% of its organic visibility in Google monthly for over a year.

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Overall Amazon US organic traffic has been steadily declining for the last 24 months
amazon organic positions in top 10
Amazon is losing positions in the top 10 as it loses traffic.
amazon detail page traffic 2 years 1
Organic traffic declines have been especially bad for individual Amazon product pages; 2 years prior collectively Amazon product pages were receiving 600 million visits per month and now they are down to less than 1/3rd or 154 million visits. Data is estimated by SEMRush.

Amazon is responding by steadily increasing its PPC spend

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Amazon is buying more search traffic – doubling traffic bought each of the last 2 years, source SEMRush.
amazon kws bidding google
Amazon is also bidding on 4X as many KWs in Google, source SEMRush.
amazon advertising cost us
Amazon I spending more with Google, estimated cost of their US search traffic is 60M per month, source SEMRush.

Its not just Google that Amazon has been increasing advertising with, Pinterest/Amazon recently announced their brand new ad partnership. Amazon is hungry for customers and wants more impressions for its ad machine – Amazon has shown it’s even willing to pay Google in the short run to keep everything moving smoothly.

Besides passing on the costs to sellers, what is Amazon likely to do?

Amazon will see this as a reason to invest in their DSP platform – if they can get enough partners and deals flowing through their DSP platform, it can help reduce their dependence on traffic from Google. Partnering with Pinterest is a direct shot at Google in this sense, and I would expect Google to respond aggressively this year as it pushes its search experience ahead in response to competitive pressure.

Bad news for Amazon Sellers or SEOs who optimize traffic to Amazon product page

This is bad news for Amazon sellers who were building backlinks or doing crazy things like cutting tickets to Amazon for new canonical URLs. There is less than 1/3rd of the traffic there was, and it doesn’t look good for the future. This type of SEO is well-known as parasite SEO and was an early growth lever of many Amazon aggregators.

The timing couldn’t be worse for Amazon

As we head into a recession, Amazon is not only being forced to cough up more for its customers and fulfillment, but customers are cutting back. On top of all of this – marketing nerds may be aware that in 2024 cookies will be eliminated making, giving another huge lift to Amazon to have to deal with. Building out a compliant DSP platform and not being stuck giving Google endless cash will depend on Amazon being able to develop brand-new advertising technology to compete more directly with YouTube or display.

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Lucas Barnes

Lucas Barnes writes opinion and covers news for Culturalist Press on technology and politics. Lucas has a BA in History from the University of San Diego and has worked in the technology industry for over a decade.LinkedIn: