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Saturday, June 21, 2003

Combining Google and Amazon Web Services

I added a search to my Authorama public domain books site and combined Google and Amazon Web APIs.

Search results for books are displayed by using the “inurl” addition to a user-defined keyword, and querying the Google Web API. (This means only pages indexed by Google will be displayed, but those are already around 750.)

Now I also added Amazon search results to the right-hand side of the search results. While I hand-pick Amazon links and encode them with my associate ID using Amazon’s link-builder, I felt the search needed a more dynamic approach.
Similar to Google, Amazon provides a search API. You need to get a developer key (which you can get instantly if you are Amazon-member). To display results, you also need to become an Amazon associate (this may take some time for them to evaluate your site).

You can see a sample result for the Authorama search for “Alice in Wonderland” on “White Rabbit”. This search was executed from the Alice in Wonderland book page on Authorama, so Amazon was queried for “Alice in Wonderland”. If the search is a general, unrestricted one, the keywords would be “White Rabbit”.

I completely control the SERP content and layout, something not possible using Google Free-Search applications, or Amazon Associates link-builders. Also, it was fairly easy to set-up the script using PHP (along with the Amazon toolkit, the Google tools, and the NuSoap PHP wrapper — all those are open-source and come with samples). There’s no need to understand the underlying workings of SOAP/ XML when you use the ready-made classes.

I didn’t try again applying for Google AdSense again for Authorama (my request was already declined for this blog), but chose this alternative, self-made implementation. This concept is any easy way to create individual searches for your query, and also combine those with relevant books, DVDs, and other products from Amazon (on my page, I search only through books). Unfortunately, Google didn’t accept my blog into their ad-program.

Google and Amazon Web Services are amazing tool-kits for developers. It would be interesting to see what new combinations can be created once more big data-driven sites publish their own SOAP connectors. I could imagine the following data to be interesting: Google Image Search, Google Group Search, Google Answers, Maps (e.g., and many more. One could then build a custom-search, like for “London”, that would utilize road-planning, travel guides about London, relevant websites, and so on. Adding a personal associate key, one could even make some money with all that.


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