This is one of a series of posts about comparison shopping engines. To check out others in the series go to the Wine Comparison Shopping Engines.
If you’ve been reading my previous posts you’ll be saying, “Okay, okay I get it, it’s important, how do I do this?”. And I’m glad you asked.
This part of the internet ecosystem has it’s own peculiarities and optimization techniques
Your first port of call is the Google Merchant Center. If you haven’t already then I suggest you sign your shop up to a gmail account and use this as your login for other Google services (Adwords, Webmaster tools, Checkout). As well as the Merchant Center.
It’s an easy process with lots of help available from Google and others in YouTube. The only issue I can see is perhaps verification that you own the site through Google Webmaster tools, but give it a go it’s really not that hard. It’s also free!
Here’s a good video from Google themselves:
You’ll be asked to submit your products
The easiest way to do this is by downloading the sample excel file and filling this in for your products. You then upload it and in about 24-72 hours you’re selling in the Google shopping results at no charge. Here’s Google again:
However it’s a manual process that can better be done with an automated feed – which is what this post is about.
But first a quick outline of something pretty cool that does incur a fee
Once your products are successfully submitted, you can also choose to enable your AdWords with Product Extensions. This allows you to highlight your products directly in your search ads.
Note only Adwords and Checkout incur fees, not the Merchant Center and submitting products.
This is the official word, “when your AdWords text ad appears, and your Google Merchant Center account contains products that are relevant to the searcher’s query, product extensions show the images, titles, and prices of your products in a plusbox under your ad.”
This is very effective and something all merchants should do – but don’t.
You can also choose to sign up to Google Checkout while you’re at it. This gives your AdWords Google Checkout badges which gives your ads more presence on the search results page. Note Google will charge you about 2.9% on every sale through Google Checkout (just like a credit card company or PayPal).
Right let’s talk about doing this automatically through something called a feed.
A feed?! That’s something I have at the Diner down the road
Yes it is. It’s also a file that usually has an .xml ending and is also called an RSS feed.
A Google feed with one product may look like this:
http://www.yourdomain.com/ Find, buy, ship or pick up wine and wine gifts easily at the Your Wine Store. Find the right wine or wine gift from our large selection of wines and spirits. en_us 40 Mon, 28 Jun 2010 21:31:20 MSD http://www.yourdomain.com/napa/merlot/andreas-vineyard-napa-merlot.html This Napa Valley Merlot is made in an intense fruit forward style and reveals a combination of black berry fruit aromas of plum, cherry, blueberry with a complex long after taste http://www.yourdomain.com/images/andreas-wine-image.gif new 9.99 Andreas Vineyard Food, Beverages & Tobacco > Beverages > Wine SKU10001 1504 Some Street, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210, USA Cash Discover Visa true 1 3.3 pounds 2005 n Translated it simply says there is a wine shop in CA 90210, selling a napa merlot for 9.99, go to this website address to purchase, here's a pic, lots of payment methods, there are 13 in stock.
Google wants the feed to look a bit different, it requires a title, link, and description.
As an example of a more ordinary feed that Wine.com gives to it’s affiliates check this out (with the boring parts of the code deleted):
20595 Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1994 http://www.wine.com/V6/Robert-Mondavi-Reserve-C...
This code says there is a product, with an ID, that has a name, that can be found at this url. All in a way that is easy for shopping comparison engines to understand.
Often ecommerce software will do this automatically, or by allowing you to easily set it up. Sometimes you have do this yourself and/or perhaps get a service company to do the rest for you eg. wine.com uses godatafeed http://www.godatafeed.com , or another good one is Single Feed http://www.singlefeed.com/.
Once you’ve taken care of Google we’ll look at the other sites. But that’s another post.
Any questions or comments?
EDIT Google changes feeds, please see their announcement here (Dec 17, 2010): New Shopping APIs and Deprecation of the Base API “We are pleased to announce our newest addition to the shopping family — simple yet powerful programmatic interfaces that enable retailers to upload their content to and query data from Google. The new Shopping Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have two main components: Content and Search. As part of this launch, we’re are also sunsetting the Base API and replacing it with these new Shopping APIs…”