I've had a few requests for information on Google Base data feeds and I think it deserves a complete post to be able to share information on it in a way that would be beneficial.
For those that are new to Google Base - it is a free Google service that lets you publish information on Google Base and other Google properties. In this post I will be talking about submission of products to Google Base to keep it relevant to store owners. In it's essence it is very simple - as a store owner that sells products, you describe the products and it's attributes and provide the information to Google. When someone is looking for the product, Google displays the information with a link to your site.
Why Submit to Google Base?
Google Base has tremendous revenue generating potential. It can send relevant, 'conversion-ready' traffic. People looking to buy. How much better can it get for a store that sells the product?
It surprises me that the power of Google Base is not utilized by many online stores. It can put a product listing on the first page of Google, above the organic listings.
The above snapshot clearly illustrates the power of an optimized Google Base listing.
The top 3 reasons (and there are many more!) to submit an optimized feed:
- It is a free comparison shopping engine so you don't pay per click or action.
- You get relevant traffic when optimized correctly.
- And, there is no quicker and easier way to get on the first page of Google ‘non-sponsored’ results. Lets admit it, anyone with a website wants to be on the first page on Google for relevant keywords.
Google will display product information submitted through Base under it's shopping results, But, when relevant, Google displays 3 listings above, below or within the organic search results. This is your chance to grab first place. For free. You don't have to build links and wait for ranking. You optimize, you submit and boom! You could be there the next day.
So what's the Secret?
Optimizing it correctly is the secret. Optimize. Test. Repeat.
There is no single formula here. There are several strategies you can test based on the industry you are in and your competition. There just isn’t a single formula. Having said that, with some work, your chances are very good. Just like no one can guarantee the top listing in Google's organic page, no one can guarantee top Google Base listings. Unless, Google decides to disclose the algorithm it uses to determine the ranking. And, we all know that just won't happen. So roll up your sleeves and lets get to work. :)
The Concept: feed submission is very simple. You submit product information to Google and Google displays it.
The Reality: Thousands of store owners submit feeds. Google has to pick the 3 most relevant listings. (For the sake of this discussion, we are referring to the 3 listings shown through Google Search. Many more are shown in the Shopping Results).
If Google has listings from thousands of stores, it is safe to assume that Google will display the top 3 listings it determines as most relevant to the search term. The answer to optimizing lies in the word Relevant. If Google decides it is relevant, your product listing is on the first page.
So what makes the product listing 'Relevant' in 'Google's eyes'? The information you provide Google is what Google uses to determine relevance. So in effect, the more details you provide, the better Google can determine if your product is the most relevant.
Take for example a store owner provides Google information about a stroller and they include the:
- Brand = XYZ
- Category = Stroller
A second Store Owner provides an added piece of information:
- Brand = XYZ
- Category = Stroller
- Color = Red
Guess which listing Google will determine as more relevant for the search phrase ‘Red Stroller Brand XYZ’? No points for guessing. :)
This is the beauty of Google Base. You get to tell Google about your product. How cool is that?? I'd give anything to tell Google exactly what my page is about. You have the chance to bypass all SEO tactics and tell Google exactly what your product is.
It is important to send Google as much information as you can about the product you are selling. The color, size, title, manufacturer number, brand, description – the more information you provide, the easier it is for Google to determine if your product is most relevant to the search phrase. Google calls the pieces of information about the product ‘attributes’.
Here are some links you'll find useful in determining useful attributes for your product type and what Google expects:
How can I improve my products' rankings
Product Feed Specifications
After reviewing the above links, you should be able to determine what information to send through your feed. The key is to ensure the information is relevant, detailed and accurate. Remember, Google Base does not crawl your site to gather this information (Although it can't be abused, it would be naive to assume Google doesn’t have systems in place to identify ‘abuse’). You have to tell Google through your data feed attributes what your product is. Provide as much relevant information as possible.
Automating and optimizing your feed submission in AmeriCommerce
AmeriCommerce offers tools to setup and automate your feed submission on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
You need a Google Base account to submit your products. If you don’t already have an account you can create an account at http://base.google.com
AmeriCommerce offers 3 different options for comparison shopping engine feed submissions:
- Xtra-Lite - submission is included with all stores and service levels and submits raw data to Google Base, Shopzilla and Yahoo Shopping.
- Starter – submit to 3 engines of your choice; offers advanced optimization and reporting tools; can be activated for a monthly fee
- Advanced – unlimited feed submissions for supported feeds (40+ at this time), offers advanced optimization and reporting tools; can be activated for a monthly fee.
You can review more details about each of these at: http://www.americommerce.com/comparison-shopping-engines.aspx
The Xtra-Lite raw feed submission can be setup under Marketing > Shopping Portals > Google Base.
At this time the raw data submission submits the following fields/attributes:
Link, Title, Description, Image_Link, Product_Type, Price, Brand, ID, Condition, Expiration_date, MPN and Weight
To optimize your raw data feed submission ensure that all the above fields are populated with accurate information and you can also use the Customize Description option to optimize the description.
The customize description field can be populated with different merge codes to optimize and populate the description field. This is an important field/attribute that Google expects, and you can optimize the field with merge codes. For more information on how to use merge codes in this field, click on help icon beside the field ‘Customize Description’ when you are setting up your feed.
If you would like more tools for your feed optimization you may want to consider the Starter and Advanced packages. 3 feeds are setup for no charge and you have rule based optimization of all fields and you have the option to submit custom fields and have complete control over your optimization. You also have reporting tools that let you measure your progress and test and tweak. The optimization tools in the Starter and Advanced package are very powerful and well worth the added cost.
My personal recommendation has always been the Starter package for those that are new to Comparison Shopping Engines and data feed submission.
If you are unsure of which way to go and don’t know if it the Starter package is worth the added cost – test it out for yourself. Optimize the X-tra Lite raw data submission as best as possible. Let it run for a month or two and measure your clicks and conversions through it. Then sign up for the Starter option and optimize and measure your results. The results will speak for themselves. You can then decide which one works best for you. Not every store and industry will benefit from extreme optimization – but in general, most will. So go ahead and give it a shot!
Google Base is a great way to jumpstart your traffic and sales! I’ve managed Google Base feeds and seen terrific results. I highly recommend it for every online store. You have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain in traffic and $$$$$! :)
Got a Google Base success story? Strategies? Ideas for testing? I’d love to hear about it.
photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc