Ecommerce websites and Google Product Search go together like peanut butter and jelly. Collectively, they form a seamless recipe that work jointly and complement one another. From the designated ‘Froogle’ in 2002 to the re-labeled ‘Google Product Search’ in 2007, customers across the world have been utilizing Google to purchase products for quite some time. But back to this PB&J sandwich. Unfortunately, ecommerce websites are about to see a spike in the price of peanut butter. Why? Well, come fall, ‘Google Product Search’ is to be replaced with ‘Google Shopping’, and Google Shopping comes with a price tag.
While the move to Google Shopping will finalize this fall, the transition period started…yesterday. Ecommerce websites looking to make a smooth transition to Google Shopping need to act now. Transitioning from Google Product Search to a purely commercial model, Google Shopping will be built on Product Listing Ads. With that said, Google is rewarding those ecommerce sites who are ahead of the game. Merchants who transition to the new model in a timely manner receive a few perks:
• All merchants who create Product Listing Ads by August 15, 2012 will automatically receive a monthly credit for 10% of their total Product Listing Ad spend through the end of 2012; and
• Existing Google Product Search merchants can receive $100 AdWords credit toward Product Listing Ads if they fill out a form before August 15, 2012.
While those perks may not excite those of us who had grown accustom to submitting our product listings free of charge, there are certainly a number of positives in this pricey peanut butter known as Google Shopping. Fear not ecommerce sites, Google knows what it’s doing. Do they need to seek to benefit in a monetary manner? Probably. But even more than that, let’s remember whom we are dealing with here. Google, a company hell-bent on creating the “perfect” user experience, must have ample justification to support this change. Let’s cut off the crust and highlight the biggest benefits to this new peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
1. Is Google trying to punish merchants and the agencies that represent them? This was the buzz circling the blogosphere soon after the announcement and I have to disagree. Merchants and agencies that act now to transition will not suffer. In fact, agencies with experience using data feeds and AdWords will find this transition to be relatively smooth. Bidding on actual products now, instead of keywords, and submitting feeds and bids based upon relative product attributes will largely increase quality. Google’s attempt to improve the user experience by providing higher quality search results is nothing new, but to avoid this predicted “suffering”, adjust to the change now.
2. As an SEO advocate, my primary focus has trouble shying away from rankings. Accordingly, rankings on Google Shopping will include a blend of perceived relevance and bid price, just as Google Listing Ads work today. Merchants and agencies that are panicking may need to take a step back and remind themselves that if they are not well versed in AdWords and data feeds, they need to do some studying. Moreover, the fact that these agencies are up in arms indicates a lack of SEO knowledge because marketers are now given an elevated level of control. Any successful online marketer can attest to the fact that the more control the better when it comes to paid inclusion. Beyond the control aspect, following Google Shopping is bound to be an extensive, much more exhaustive set of data. I predict Google Shopping to reveal not only a noticeable upsurge in volume, but also in amplified reporting capabilities. Stay tuned.
3. Google Trusted Stores is another inclusion that we are excited about. Building trust online can be incredibly difficult, especially for those small to mid sized agencies and merchants. Google Trusted Stores is an excellent method to establishing that credibility. Ecommerce members of the Google Trusted Store are given a badge of authenticity, which basically serves as a report card, telling users that Google supports the great experience you provide to your customers. In addition, Free Purchase Protection offers merchants and customers an extended level of security. Through this program, Google is available to help with potential issues with a retailer. All in all, any type of online verification, trust symbol, or authenticity is advantageous. Big win for marketers.
4. Experiments are the last portion of this Google Shopping rundown. This is because Google is doing quite a few trials with the new commercial format on Google.com. With an enhanced user experience laying the foundation for these experiments, Google hopes to display results in such a way that it makes it easier for users to locate and compare different products. First and foremost, larger product images will create a different appearance on the SERPs. In my opinion, this is another huge win for marketers. The human eye is chiefly drawn to images, especially on a SERP filled with mundane words. Even further, typing in a query and seeing a display of images will refine searches, again, making for a better user experience. In addition, when searching for a specific product, users will commonly find a picture and detailed description on the top right corner of the SERP.
At the end of the day, those merchants and agencies who threw a fit about Google Shopping did not complete their due diligence. Small, mid-sized, and large organizations will all benefit from this change. There has always been competition when it comes to product searches; Google has finally renovated this into effective competition. Google Shopping is a step in the right direction for retailers. So, as you read this article during your lunch break, try to still think of ecommerce sites and Google Shopping as peanut butter and jelly. The peanut butter now comes at a cost, but the quality taste will make it worth every penny.