With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, I thought it appropriate to write about product shopping comparison search engines and optimizing to get your products listed. Shopping comparison search engines are growing in popularity. The top shopping engines are seeing a growth rate of 25 to almost 70 percent this year over last year in their various shopping categories. Personally, I only knew of a small handful of these engines, but there seem to be many out there that receive quite a bit of traffic and searches.
Unfortunately, finding accurate numbers on search traffic estimates for these engines is quite difficult. Various researchers produce differing results, and with each new “top 10” list we view, new shopping engines show up that we had never heard about previously. Last December Search Engine Watch posted this list of shopping comparison search engines. November 29, 2004, SEW posted the following list of top shopping engines as compiled by HitWise:
1. Yahoo! Shopping
6. MSN eShop
7. Calibex (owned by NexTag)
9. Dealtime (owned by Shopping.com)
10. Price Watch
11. Shopzilla (BizRate’s new name/service)
Obviously, searching for products outside of the normal avenues (Google, MSN, Yahoo) is becoming increasingly popular. Product comparison engines make it easy to find what you are looking for, compare prices and purchase in a way that standard searching does not allow for.
Is the next big change in optimization going to deal with shopping search? We believe so!
Search vs. Shopping Search
Comparison shopping search engines are, inevitably, going to get more and more popular. Searching on the main engines is good, but product comparison allows you to see prices and specs without having to click into site after site.
Lets do a quick comparison. Several months back I went looking for a new pool cover for the kids above-ground pool. If I perform a search on Google for ‘pool cover’ I get the standard list of results; 10 sites that Google finds relevant for my keyword phrase. After clicking through to several sites I remember having to refine my search in order to eliminate sites not selling quite what I was looking for (in-ground pool covers, etc.). Second time around I searched for ‘above ground pool cover’ which narrows down my search significantly.
Now that I’ve got my results, I can either pick the top site and make a purchase, or do some quality/price research by clicking into site after site after site. Clicking into each site, however, does not necessarily bring me right to the product I’m looking for. In some cases I have to read or sort through other products to find the product I want. In virtually all cases I need to click even further to get pricing and spec. information.
Over on Froogle, Google’s beta shopping search engine I perform the same search for ‘pool cover’. Just by looking at the pictures I can see that most of the results are specifically for above ground pools or accessories. Just for fun, lets go ahead and refine our search here as well: ‘above ground pool cover’. Now I’m looking at results for just about exactly what I want. Not only do I get a list but I also see pricing for each and a short description for that product… not a description of the page!
My Christmas shopping just got a whole lot easier!
Getting Your Products Listed
While many consumers are flocking to the shopping engines in droves, very few product-oriented online-businesses have found their way to submitting their product lists to these comparison engines. For the average business owner the time involved in setting up an account, putting together a product feed and submitting to these engines and paying the required fees can be quite daunting. Performing a search, you’ll largely find major retail outlets filling up the top product spots.
As shopping search becomes more and more popular, it is inevitable that search engine optimization firms will develop strategies that will streamline submission processes for these engines, while managing the targeting of each product to appear at the top of the search results, much in the way many SEO companies manage PPC ad placement campaigns.
Pole Position Web is one of the first to tackle this task. In fact, we may be THE first, but we’ll hold off on claiming that title for now. There have been other similar services in the past aimed at Froogle submissions only, however Pole Position Web’s Product Shopping Optimization Strategies offer full-service product shopping optimization and feed management. With proper product page optimization and keyword targeting, your products will move to the top of the comparison shopping search engines.
Just as I’m about to wrap up this newsletter (a few days late!) I get an email about a local shopping engine, shoplocal.com. I spent a few minutes browsing around and find it quite unique compared to some of the national shopping engines. By the name, you can probably surmise that it provides product information for local stores. Many people still are not comfortable buying online, or if you are like me, sometimes you just don’t have the patience to wait for shipment. This little engine allows you to compare prices and sales for specific products at many of your local stores. Quite handy!