Technology

Search optimisation before search engines existed: the case of Amazon

Amazon smartphone app

Photo by Sagar Soneji from Pexels.

The newly published biography of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reveals that:

Amazon had some truly terrible names at first… At one time he liked Aard.com, which would push the company to the front of the website listings, and he and Mackenzie also registered Awake.com, Browse.com, Bookmall.com, and the rather creepy Relentless.com (which still takes you to Amazon). In the end, Bezos found “Amazon” by looking through the As in a dictionary.

In the pre-search engine world, alphabetic optimisation was the equivalent of search engine optimisation, giving us the great Mr Aaaron Aaardvark from the London phone book.

Apple too got its name in part thanks to alpahbetic optimisation, as I wrote about over the summer:

It was also a field in which Steve Jobs’s genius was at work. Why was Apple named Apple? As Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs reveals, one reason was to be ahead of Atari in the phone book.

That makes this another good example of how, for all the technological newness of the digital world, the underlying principles and tactics are often rather familiar. After all, even the Romans have a thing or two to teach us about social media.

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