If you have an e-commerce site you simply MUST have a shopping site strategy. It is absolutely essential. Why? Because the shopping sites have a massive reach that you could probably never accomplish on your own.
All of the search engines participate by promoting their own vertical – Google Base, Yahoo Shopping, MSN Live Product Search, etc. Other shopping search sites piggy back offerings in their own search results with pay per click ads in the organic engines. Just take a look at your search results. Often you’ll see ads for one or more shipping engines in the paid results.
And, shopping site search tends to offer better conversion rates than plain vanilla organic SEO.
So, what can you do as an e-commerce site owner to maximize your shopping site campaign? Read on…
- Your data feed is the core – Yes, these things can be difficult to put together, but there’s no option. It is absolutely essential to build a good data feed and get it right. Include product specifics with complete information, including images (very important).
- SEO is still important – While many shopping sites are not crawlable by search engines due to site architecture, for those that are, optimize your feed for best results. Shopping sites aggregate your uncrawlable content into a single place, frequently in a crawlable manner. At the same time keep your own e-commerce site’s SEO up to date. If your site is not SEO-friendly, change it!
- Watch your reviews- Shopping sites use reviews that your clients write for rankings on their sites, so do whatever it takes to get good reviews (you know, something simple like good customer service, price and quality). Bids are definitely not the only ranking factor anymore. Also, if you don’t currently offer customers the opportunity to leave reviews on your own site, get to it! Reviews can improve conversion rates.
- Diversity is good – You might also consider your shopping site optimization and strategy as a safety net for your business. All it takes is one Google algorithm tweak to blow your organic rankings. Remember that massive reach I mentioned earlier? It will help to soften them blow if your organic rankings tank.
- Customize your feed – You’ll get the best results if you customize your feed for each shopping site rather than giving each the same feed you give to, say, Google Base.
- Update regularly – Stale feeds lower conversions and waste money as well as visitors’ time. You want your feeds to always be relevant and comprehensive.
- Test it out – If you’ve never done this before, try it out in Google Base, which is free.
- Follow your competitors – If you notice they are all on BizRate, for instance, there might be a reason.
- Track, optimize, test – Just like with your SEO, make use of the shopping site’s analytics, Google Analytics, your own internal tracking or whatever. You need to know what’s working and what isn’t and you need to know at a moment’s notice.
- Brand Awareness – Shopping engines help build brand awareness, but be aware that conversions might not be immediate but could occur later. Shopping engines help with getting repeat customers.
- Focus on your merchant ratings – Review and fix any problems that are reported and make sure products are available and ready to ship.
- Check your data feed – Don’t assume it is up and running. Check! Just because you submit it doesn’t mean it is running properly. Are the products live and do the images show up? Don’t submit it and forget it. You could lose your, er, uh . . . fanny!
- Include IDs – Make sure your feed includes UPC, MPN, ISBN, etc. This is important. If you leave these out you could be losing traffic and business. The same goes with your e-commerce web site. Use them there as well.
- Generate the right survey – If someone comes from a specific shopping search engine, serve that survey on your Thank You page. Otherwise, rotate surveys so that you don’t have a ton of them on your Thank You page.
One more suggestion to wrap this up. If you are given the option, go for CPA rather than CPC. In the first, Cost Per Action, you only pay when a conversion takes place. With Cost Per Click, you pay with every click. Although CPC is still the norm, CPA is beginning to gain some traction so try it out if you can.