I used to be a bit miffed when I’d locate a great product or piece of software, only to be directed to a contact page replete with addresses, phone numbers or links to other sites. No longer. Therein lies the impetus for publisher’s sites.
The newspeak of site linkage was added to the lexicon by Google’s boolean search algorithm. Today, if I find a link to a product or service in the top three list of a search engine, and after being duly convinced by compelling content to keep clicking, I am actually relieved when directed to purchase through Amazon or even a big box store with online purchase options. The great acquisition/deregulation cycle of the 00s essentially merged digital storefronts like Target and Amazon. The same login and account information allowed me to buy a wedding present (from an online registry) for my bandmate and get a book for myself.
The neato Google phenomenon, with it’s “meaningful” linkage hierarchy and reasonably bulletproof, oft-updated maintenance to prevent fake leads made it the preferred, most-trusted, most-used search engine. Yahoo, Ask and Altavista, even though their searches were often more carefully culled by human eyes, not software. What happens when tomorrow’s search engine directs a user to a business’ own digital storefront? Or worse, directs a shopper to a poorly-designed site? The reputation is damaged.
Every business needs a good-looking site “just in case,” and building a linkage of pages ups the brand in priority in search engine results. “Radically Transparent” has an interesting anecdote about public relations in its free online sample chapter. Its lesson is simple: If you don’t write about yourself, someone else will. Building a site is useful, even if no one sees it. There is no “if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” It must be done, and if selling isn’t the strong suit, delegate that to those who do it well. A publisher just may be best served by making pages about authors, titles, reviews and sample chapters, but directing all sales traffic to an Amazon identity.