• daveintheuk

    Excellent analysis as ever. Your last sentence hits the nail on the head – Google is basically trying (for profitable niches) to shrink the internet to google.com. It is so sad to see them turning their backs on all the principles they held close and that made them a company to be admired…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmitry.pakhomkin Dmitry Pakhomkin

    Thank you Google… You just made Goodzer look even better now in the eyes of the independent retailers.

  • Steve Ceaton

    This is just typical of Googles drive to massively monetize their business model.  The thing I used to like about Google was their philosophy of “do no evil”. But this passed year they have been getting greedier and greedier and I can’t see them stopping.  All this new product search will do is have the big companies paying to be listed while the smaller companies who may be offering a better product at a cheaper price are left in obscurity.  Not good for the user at all.

  • Den Nicholson

    I live in Europe so I guess we are going to be hit first, I just find this whole thing so hypocritical.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    This is big news.  RKG’s take on this is here:  http://www.rimmkaufman.com/blog/google-shopping-no-longer-free/31052012/ 

    This will have significant impact in ecommerce.  Amazon among others will be writing BIG checks to Google for traffic they used to get for free.

  • http://twitter.com/rodnitzky David Rodnitzky

    I gave a preso to the AdWords team way back in 2003 in which I suggested that Google allow paid inclusion. They all smirked . . .

  • daveintheuk

     Totally agree with this – they are just another big corporation now, with shareholders demands as their sole motivation. I don’t think there is anybody who works online who had anything but a huge amount of respect for Google on a technical and moral level a few years ago – I don’t think that can be the same now.

  • daveintheuk

    Here in the UK I see this as Google doing to the internet what has happened to our high streets – homogenised, lifeless, dull places filled with big brands as all the small guys have been squeezed out.

  • XroadZ

    Complete BS from Google.  Personally I believe that some merchants, particularly the very large ones (Zappos for example), are already compensating Google for their top listings in Google Product Search.  Much like the do with the Google flight search, only showing flights that they are receiving compensation on while stating the contrary.  For a company that demands that we do the right think in regards to SEO to produce unbiased relevancy they certainly are not holding themselves to the same standard.  The hypocrisy is is epic.  Legendary if it’s a bid model and not flat rate.

  • GaneshNayak

    The listing are clearly marked as sponsored… which puts it in the same category as ads…. I don’t see any problem… the definition of paid inclusion is applicable for organic results.

    Yes, if the merchants who have participated in the program, get higher place in the organic results, then it can be called as paid inclusion

  • http://cl.lk/23qx8aq Elizabeth H. Crane

    Google for traffic they used to get for free. http://WorkInFaceBook.notlong.com

  • daveintheuk

     It isn’t a problem – it is their right to do it… it is just very, very sad to see Google become so greedy (You’d think $10 billion profit per year would do, wouldn’t you?) and to turn their back on their original ethos and values.

    Gone are the days Google employees can hold their heads high, they are just corporate drones now – cogs in the shareholder feeding machine. A sad day for them.

  • http://twitter.com/DSquaredMedia DSquared-Media

    How about that? All the testing should be finalized this fall, and probably right around Thanksgiving. It’s going to be a very Merry Christmas for Google this year.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    Another nail in the coffin for small businesses.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnWEllis John W. Ellis

    Any ideas how or if this will be displayed on mobile?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisleone Chris Leone

    Both organically and now shopping, Google seems to be giving advantages to larger, more financed companies. It’s getting harder for the smaller guys to play ball. We’ll see how it plays out, but this really does concern me. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=723560886 Alex Gross

    This has always been a matter of when they monetized GPS, not if…  Whenever I look at traffic acquisition costs and strategies, I always asked if this was the year Google would monetize GPS traffic.  Well, the time is now…

  • TheWhiteLotus

    Oh please, Google doing this is probably just a way to filter out the spam, just like when Android and iOS charge devs a small fee to list their apps in the stores to fight spam and know the devs are serious about it. Right now the Product Search results are spammy as hell.

  • Sean Godier

    Why even try to compete in organic after this? With most of the content above the fold going to Google products, followed by Walmart/Amazon/whatever big brand that Google loves that moment, there won’t be a need to sell stuff online.  You’ll never be seen…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dmitry.pakhomkin Dmitry Pakhomkin

    True, it can be the case now unless products are different from what big boys sell.  

  • http://twitter.com/StarSearchinng Dave A

    As both a merchant and user of Google Shopping, I think this change will do more harm than good. As a user, I will now look at Google Shopping in the same way I view Pricegrabber, where you’ll only see prices from top merchants who can afford to pay for ads, rather than finding the best price, which I thought was the general goal of Google Shopping. While I do admit this will clean up the number of bogus listings, it will also take the little guys out of the game. Just another expense the small businesses will have to absorb, or go out of business. We get 90% of our traffic from Google Shopping and this may force us to close our store since our profit margins are already so slim. Nice work Google!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VMQNBJRXQJ3U775KGWMR3FMXIQ Korr Mett

    Are you an online-only store or brick-and-mortar?

  • Edwin Fernandez

    Why are people so worried and pissed that Google is actually attempting to make money on something.  Do you guys actually think that maintaining all the hardware, software, and all the other FREE services that Google provides is actually free?  If you had a business, wouldn’t you want to make money or MAXIMIZE your profits?  You guys are so hypocritical that it makes me sick.

  • Durant Imboden

    Seems reasonable to me. Shopping results of the kind that we’re discussing here–little product photos with prices–are a different kettle of fish from Google’s standard organic search results. They’re basically ads (whether paid or unpaid), and whatever algorithm that Google uses to decide which ones get shown is obviously different from the algorithm used to rank Web pages. It’s a stretch to assume that, just because Google charges for inclusion of shopping results, it’s going to weaken its core product and drive away users by charging for the inclusion of Wikipedia articles, New York Times stories, Food.com recipes, or John and Jane Doe’s blog posts.

  • http://searchmarketingwisdom.com alanbleiweiss

    This was foreshadowed in your interview of Amit Singhal during an SMX event where he talked about the travel partnerships (some paid, some not, supposedly) that now show up in the SERP.  It totally squeezes out Google’s original purpose in favor of self-contained direct profit opportunities leveraged by their ever-close-to-monopoly status. 

    Singhal claimed that too was for similar reasons.  I think he said they found that searches for travel weren’t producing any quality results. Ha. What it does is steers people away from visiting Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak and a host of other sites that show up in organic results just fine.

    Yeah at the pace they continue on, SEO could very well die eventually and that’s no joke. 

    Then again, this could just be one more step toward another company (bing maybe?) stepping in as Google trashes their core intent value.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    It wasn’t a stretch when Google argued against paid inclusion for shopping results back in 2004. Back then, Google’s view was that its search technology was robust enough that it didn’t have to rely on paid relationships to separate out the signal from the noise. Eight years later, has Google’s search technology gotten worse? It’s competitor back then argued just Google is doing now, that paid relationships can help. I guess Google’s proving them right, in the end, and itself wrong those years ago.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Google makes its money by leveraging the content of other web sites to build listings. There’s long been an unspoken but understood contact between search engines that they send traffic to sites, for using their content in this way. Some people are going to be reasonably upset that, years after Google created a shopping search engine by effectively borrowing content from other web sites — without explicit permission — it’s now decided that its shopping search engine is big enough that it can turn the tables and demand payment. Other people might be upset that Google, which once said people shouldn’t be charged to be in its own or any search engine, now has changed its mind. That type of hypocrisy is what may fairly be said to be making others sick.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    If it were to fight spam, a small one-time or annual fee would be reasonable. That’s not the case. This is going to be on-going payments, and a change that potentially turns Google Shopping into a billion dollar revenue generator for Google overnight. Moreover, Google years ago had all the same issues with spam but rejected paid inclusion. Its technology should be better now, not worse, to fight this. Apparently, however, it needs a paid relationship in the end to do what its technology can’t. And if that’s the case, then when it comes to web search, where the spam issue is even bigger, will the same thing happen there?

  • Marc Razia

    Its a sad day when folks start equating a company trying to make more money with doing evil.  

  • Marc Razia

    Right because a business trying to continually make more profits is a bad idea.  Really???  This is what we’ve become?  

  • Marc Razia

    That’s about as ridiculous as blaming the Yellow Pages for listing your business phone number.  Not to mention, just as you can have an unlisted business number, you can have your page removed from search.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

    They’ve already made the product feed requirements so complicated in order to weed out spam.  To pay for each click (which looks like what it will be) will just kill off small businesses as a lot of commerce keywords are prohibitively expensive.

    So enjoy browsing those big brands on Google Shopping.  In 3 years, enjoy browsing those big brands on Google search.  Google will just be the playground of big brands.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJo45324615 David Johnstone

     “Oh please, Google doing this is probably just a way to filter out the spam”

    So there’s no spam on Google Adwords / Adsense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robsnell Rob Snell

    I’m a retailer, and at first blush I don’t really have a problem with paid inclusion for Froogle Shopping Products Plus or whatever it’s going to be called. 

    A couple of months ago I spent about a month playing with the Google Shopping Feed API, and the data is so bad, it’s practically unusable. A single SKU of ours was so fragmented that Google has the same product listed 6 or 7 different ways, even when requiring retailers to use “unique” identifiers like UPC and manufacturer part numbers. And when I looked up a single UPC code, 27 different retailers had the brand (company/manufacturer) listed at least a dozen different ways. Talk about a bad user experience! It was impossible to compare products.Maybe a cover charge is another way the clean up that cesspool they keep talking about? I’m only half-joking when I say I look forward to the day Google pulls the trigger to be all PPC on page 1. 

  • http://twitter.com/tomblue tomblue

    I agree.  The bottom line is that I am not going to use Google Shopping any more.  That product will suck.  There is a reason why everyone used Google/Altavista instead of Goto.  

    If they would do that with regular search I would no longer use regular search. People can rip on Bing all they want, but it is much better than a GoTo clone.  

  • JamesSB

    No problem making money, but Google is evil.

  • daveintheuk

    No – the problem is they are turning the back on their principles – and not being honest about what they are… they can’t carry on pretending all they care about is user experience and acting like all they care about is $$$.

  • daveintheuk

    You bet it will – and like Places etc, it will be even more agressive… you’ll have to dig hard to find organic results. Google aren’t fools – they know mobile is overtaking desktop so they are  shaving off more of that traffic for themselves.

  • daveintheuk

    Spot on Danny… and a pattern that is repeating with lines being ever more blurred. Google “borrowing” reviews for Places to enable them to establish their product a prime example.

  • pdxuser

    Turning Google Shopping into paid ads in Google searches was forced by other companies that complained that organic product search results were violations of their right to have their web links appear more prominently than Google’s own features. Now that Google Shopping = ads, senators can understand it better, and realize that Google is allowed to place it in their search results. The downside is that some obscure deep discounters I use Google Product Search to find will no longer be there. The upside is that there will apparently be less lying about the price of merchandise, which was fairly common. (The listing would claim an item is $15, but you’d click and find it’s $25.) As a user, though, I’d still prefer the current model. But I suppose the new model isn’t much different than getting listed in Amazon, where you pay Amazon a cut.

  • pdxuser

    Do you think Amazon is evil for “forcing” companies to pay a cut of sales in order to be listed in their shopping site?

  • http://www.rafflecopter.com Greg Goodson

    Haha – I can back that up (you’ve been asking since 2008) :P 

    Wrote this blog post two years ago – I guess I should delete it: 


  • http://twitter.com/StarSearchinng Dave A

    Online only

  • pdxuser

    Having seen an explosion of retailers lying about their prices (eg, a $15 listing that turns to $25 when you click it) and misrepresenting their items (eg, a machine part being listed as the full machine), I can understand why they need to pay a team to review the listings. And as Google has had problems being successful with shopping and payments, I can see why they now need to fully fund the shopping service so they can improve it. I don’t think anyone considers Amazon evil for requiring merchants to pay a cut to be listed. Google’s not evil, either.

    Also, turning Google Shopping results in the main search results into paid ads was forced by other companies that complained that organic product search results were violations of their right to have their web links appear more prominently than Google’s own features. Now that Google Shopping = ads, idiot senators can understand it better, and realize that Google is allowed to place it in their search results

  • Durant Imboden

    Maybe Google was wrong back in 2004. Who knows? The thing to remember is that displaying shopping results has never been Google’s core mission, and paid inclusion for shopping results isn’t a harbinger of paid inclusion for organic search listings.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U2H7S4MG6PLQUVOA2CFNMZ2QUQ Ric Desan

    This is an opportunity to break a stranglehold. I have no compunction avoiding Google for product search and going directly to Amazon, Buy or any other large online e-tailer.

    I never before gave Bing a chance to do search for me, perhaps its time to give it a whirl.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Yes, displaying shopping search results has been Google’s core mission, because Google’s core mission is search. Shopping search is search. That’s why it created a shopping search engine. That’s why, in 2007, it rolled out Universal Search which explicitly was designed to blend results from its vertical search engines, including shopping search, into the “regular” results.

    Given that we’ve had three new search launches using paid inclusion, and now we’ve had a long-standing existing search engine being switched over to it, it’s sure a harbinger that there’s more paid inclusion on the horizon. I agree, as I explained, it’s unlikely for web search. 

    But given how getting to web search can be buried under ads and the new sponsored inclusion boxes — which are likely to grow — that might not be as reassuring as you think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Prasad-Kongara/100001591732563 Prasad Kongara

    Completely agree with Dubard.

    I think this change will make SERPs better. GPS listings are currently masquerading as organic listings while they clearly are not. GPS listings are slapped on top of the 10 natural listings found by ‘The Algorithm’. By removing GPS links and clearly marking them as Ads, Google is actually cleaning up the SERPs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Prasad-Kongara/100001591732563 Prasad Kongara

    Danny, I don’t understand why you think the proposed change is ‘paid inclusion’. The listings will be clearly marked as ‘Ads’. Paid Inclusions, the way Yahoo did it, you could not tell the difference between a natural result and a paid inclusion.

  • Laney124

    Hmmm, so my client that can’t run ads in Adwords because of the product type (bodybuilding supplements etc.) but does rather well in Google Merchant will likely not be able to use this service either when it starts being managed through Adwords?? Thoughts….