Each day millions of online shoppers turn to comparison shopping engines (CSEs) to compare prices, read reviews, research products and make buying decisions. While comparison shopping engines don’t sell or ship the products featured on their sites, they advertise products from merchants to a diverse online audience. Merchants are using CSEs in a down economy to capture shoppers looking for deals. To take advantage of this growing advertising space and get more exposure than your competitors, you need a product data feed—and even more importantly, you must optimize the feed to gain maximum exposure in CSE search results.
The number of online shoppers is increasing, and they’re internet-savvy. They will scan a product page for what interests them—the best price, a brand they trust, free shipping or seasonal discounts. It’s no surprise that clickthrough rates (CTR) and conversions increase when:
- Titles are relevant: Is this what I am searching for?
- Descriptions are engaging: Is this the right size, color, style?
- Promotions are enticing: Should I buy this now?
Perfect your listings! Making the leap from interest to conversion
Here are some specific tips for optimizing feeds to maximize your exposure in shopping engine results:
Craft targeted, keyword focused titles. On search engines, the online shopper controls what they see. They will search for brand, model, product type and product attributes. Shopping engines bold the keywords in your product title that match the shopper’s query. Bolded keywords in the product title increase the click attractiveness of your listing and also qualify your lead.
Map your products to the taxonomy of each CSE. Loose classifications lead to fewer and poor quality clicks, but what will hurt your campaign most is the missed opportunity of qualified shopping traffic that could easily have been yours if your products were correctly categorized. If you sell iPods and submit them as electronics in your feed, your competitors are likely to outperform you, taking sales that might have been yours.
Products that are not mapped to the right taxonomy, are not granular in their categorization, or are left uncategorized are at a disadvantage because more closely mapped products will climb in the rankings and get a disproportionate number of impressions.
Include detailed product specifications, attributes and features for each product. Detailed product specifications will surface your listing more frequently for targeted keywords with higher shopping intent, leading to more conversions. Here is a great example: “This energy efficient coffee grinder makes grinding coffee beans an easy task. Features stainless steel blades, easy access cord storage and 2-ounce capacity for 12 cups of coffee. Great for making flavored coffees.” If a shopper searches for a 12 cup coffee maker, this merchant will surface.
Cross-sell related products.: Include product uses such as “can be used with,” “best suited for,” and so on so your product may be displayed as a related product or “shoppers also viewed,” increasing visibility and appeal to shoppers.
Add visual prominence with images and logos. Large images get more attention and are the first to be picked for featured pages and shopping blog entries. Shoppers love close-up images and pictures that show multiple angles of the product. Even if CSEs display a thumbnail image on the search results, if you provide a full size image of the product most will offer shoppers the ability to click through to the full size image of your product. In the blog post below, the blogger has chosen to feature a picture with multiple views of trail running shoes to provide a more detailed visual for the write-up.
CSEs may also allow you to add your logo for an additional charge, a feature that gets attention and lends credibility to your product listing.
Tune your marketing message. Savvy shoppers are always looking for deals, discounts, specials, free shipping or other savings online. If you offer specials, provide these promotions in the feed to CSEs. Products that display promotions will not only attract more attention on product search pages, but will get highlighted on featured deals and promotions pages. Many CSEs feature specials on their blog, tweet about them or highlight the promotion on a “daily deals” page. Some CSEs offer a promotional text feature, allowing you to advertise these deals with your products listings. In the PriceGrabber deal of the day below, the “Planet Earth – Complete Collection” Blu-ray DVD is featured as the deal of the day.
Don’t spend—invest. Spending gets cut in a tight economy, but investments continue. Track your ROI. As long as you’re seeing return, it is an investment. Work with your CSE to closely track conversions on the traffic you receive. If possible, consider installing any available ROI tracker the CSE provides to better analyze performance. When the economy recovers, your margins will multiply because you will know exactly where to invest for greater returns.
Promote hot products and seasonal items in your feed. CSEs want to help their retailers promote their products, and this data is important! Surface your seasonal products in the feed and call them out. Most CSE’s actively scour their products for seasonal items and promote them on special seasonal features, such as guides, newsletters, press releases, shopping blogs, tweets and more.
Strive to get in the top three listings. Whether on a search engine like Google or a CSE, the top three results get the lion’s share of qualified leads. Analytics show that even on shopping sites, conversions for the top three listings are disproportionately high. Quality score matters on shopping engines too. In addition to bidding, relevance and popularity impact the position of your listing. A placement above the fold gets a disproportionate number of eyeballs from shoppers, so it’s important to optimize your feed.
Make it stick. Increase your branding and visibility to consumers through other advertising channels like banner advertising or page sponsorship. Just as paid ads coupled with organic search results in Google boost traffic to the site, banner ads on comparison shopping sites improve branding and traffic to your site.
Merchants who pay attention to optimizing their feeds and leverage the advanced features and new opportunities offered by CSEs will position themselves for increased traffic and conversions.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.