1. Titles and descriptions are keys to success
If you can only optimize a couple items, make sure titles and descriptions are your highest priority. Consider the screen shot below:
While the engines accept longer titles than seen here, they also truncate titles in search results. In this example can you tell what the first item is? Would have guessed staples for a dog fence? What about the last one? The photo may help in this instance, but a quick glance at titles, you may not know it is a dog door.
The middle listing is better, but still lacking a keyword “training.” While deluxe describes the model, it takes up some valuable space.
Take a further look at the part of the description showing in the search result. Again, engines will show more on an individual product page, but it may be too little too late. The first two include the brand name, although the first listing already includes it in the title. With the repetition of brand name and model number in the description, the first example has wasted too many characters to know what the product is.
The bottom example has wasted all of their characters with marketing text. Shoppers are not going to search for “advertised price” when shopping for a dog door.
Taking a look at the middle example, again, it is better than the others, but still wasting a couple of characters with “Choose the” and not fitting “training” or “collar” in the description that is showing. However, collar is in the title, so not as necessary.
2. Check your prices
The main reason people use shopping comparison engines is to compare prices. If your prices are surprisingly high compared to competitors you may want to consider not advertising those particular products.
There are other factors to consider if your prices are higher than competitors. If you offer free shipping, this can make your total price lower than your competitors. In addition if you have better reviews, that might look more favorable to someone who is looking for a bargain, but worried about being ripped-off.
Consider the listings below, based on price, reviews or other options like Google Checkout, where would you rather buy from?
First thing you will notice is a $40 difference in price between the highest and lowest price. The highest four listing do not list shipping or tax, so the price listed may not be the total. Let’s take those top four out of the equation at this point.
Of the lowest three, only one indicates free shipping, only one has reviews, but only two, of which one is good and one is bad. Bargain shoppers may be all right with any of these options, but let’s assume our buyer is willing to pay a little more for a sense of security.
Taking a look at the listings left, in the middle, two jump out at me: ComfortFirst and Sears Marketplace. They have good ratings, and ComfortFirst, while $10 more than Sears Marketplace, is showing no tax and free shipping. The others don’t offer much more to look at or distinguish it from others except on price.
Every potential customer is different. Some will migrate to the lower price, some will take other things into consideration, like store reviews, brand name, free shipping options, etc. Again, if your prices are surprisingly high, and you don’t have other options to attract customers, you may consider suppressing these products until you can build up reviews and other incentives for customers.
3. Update your feed regularly
Sounds simple enough, but many people forget. We recommend a minimum of refreshing the feed every two weeks once you have the feed, including titles and descriptions, optimized. You will want to refresh more often if you are changing product information on a regular basis. Unless you are updating information daily, there is no reason to refresh your feed daily. Some engines like Google Product Search and PriceGrabber actually require updates, or your feed will be removed. PriceGrabber requires a refresh every 3 weeks, Google every 30 days.
What happens if you have made no changes and it is time to a refresh of your data? The engines do not look at the data to see if there is a difference in text, price or any data, they look at the time stamp on the feed file. I’m not encouraging you to just change the file time stamp, there are probably always improvements to be made to the feed, but when time is short, it is about just submitting a new file.
4. Tag product URLs for use with your analytics
Sometimes it is not just about the product customers buy, but the product that brought them to your website. If you are not tagging all your product URLs to work with your analytics for in-depth reporting, and only relying on engine reports, or simply what products were purchased, you are doing your program a disservice.
This is particularly important if your product offering is one main product (i.e. t-shirts) with many different variables (i.e. color, design, etc.). A customer may have initially clicked on the shirt with a clown design, but ended up buying the one with the butterfly. You cannot optimize for every instance like that, but be aware of products that lure customers into your site, even if it is not the product they end up buying.
5. Use clear product photos
Engines combine product information to show one product offered by many stores, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the photos and assume another store will provide one. Use clear, crisp photos. Shopping comparison engines are visual. Having blurry photos, watermarks across the product, etc. is not going to entice people to click, or even recognize the product. And remember, in search results, photos are smaller, so make sure you can still identify the product in a thumbnail version.
There are a lot of factors that go into running a successful shopping comparison program. But, if done right, you should see a higher ROI than other programs as well as a lift in paid search when utilizing Google Product Search in conjunction with Google AdWords (product extensions, product listings).