Search & Retail served as an inside look at the shopping search vertical, uncovering SEO/SEM opportunities and challenges faced by online retailers and search marketers working for e-commerce based businesses. Expert columnists ranged from in-house search marketers, agency advisers, and small business owners who have successfully built their e-commerce business with search. The Search & Retail column no longer runs as a standalone column but instead has been incorporated into the Paid Search column.

Semantic & Graph-Based Search: The Future Face Of Search

In a June 2010 Semantic Web Meetup in San Diego, Peter Mika of Yahoo!'s research division gave a presentation entitled, "The future face of Search is Semantic for Facebook, Google and Yahoo!" As the title suggests, the presentation focused on the ever-growing use of semantic markup as a means for helping computers parse and understand content. The talk focused on what was then the current state of the Semantic Web, as well as upcoming formats/technologies in development and the research being done in the field of semantic search. The idea that the Semantic Web would be central to search [...]

Why Local Retailers Should Be Using Open Graph Markup

Last November, Chris Sherman highlighted the findings of Forrester research in his  article, Forrester Rates The Top Large Search Marketing Agencies. As Chris noted, the Forrester report asked and answered this question: “What are the biggest search marketing challenges you expect to face in the next two years?” Today, I’m convinced the findings were not only accurate, they are especially relevant for retailers. Below are the top three challenges the report uncovered: Integrating search marketing with other marketing Understanding new search engine developments Measuring h [...]

How Leveraging Data Quality In Google Shopping Can Increase Product Sales

I'm sure many of you are aware that Ad Rank in Google AdWords is derived from the price you are willing to pay (bid price) multiplied by relevance (Quality Score), along with other factors. This is an extremely profitable model for Google as the majority of its income is derived from advertising revenue. Since Google has a history of applying successful strategies to solve different problems, the use of Paid Inclusion was not unexpected when it introduced Google Shopping and Product Listing Ads (PLA). Retailers advertising in Google Shopping should know the definition of Google Product R [...]

Is Google Hijacking Semantic Markup/Structured Data?

In 2012, I started a series, How The Major Search And Social Engines Are Using The Semantic Web, which took us to a point in time around September 2012. Since then, there have been further interesting developments. In this article, I am going to focus on recent developments that are search engine and/or Google specific, then take a further look back in search engine history with the assumption (for you history and strategy lovers,) that a successful strategy used once, may well be used again in similar circumstances. [caption id="attachment_144704" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Image [...]

Google’s Product Listing Ads: The Aftermath

Back in September, I wrote about the Product Listing Ads transition from free to paid clicks in Google Shopping. The PLA transition is now complete, and with holiday shopping in full effect, it’s worth taking a look at the evolution of the PLA transition, and more importantly, the impact of PLAs on the bottom line of big and small businesses alike. Before getting into some results and the impact on marketing efficiency, I received several comments in response to my last post surrounding how consumers behave within PLAs. Personally, I do not think of PLAs as ad placements like paid search [...]

How To Take Control Over PLAs & Product Search

While there is no shortage of literature on managing product-level keywords and product listing ads (PLAs), it seems that lots of advertisers still struggle with creating the initial structure and its subsequent maintenance over time. If you are an online retailer and your business is significantly dependent on product level keywords and ads, you might be interested in hearing about a couple of ways those processes can be improved – your priority being to offer the most relevant results for product-related queries. Controlling Product Level Keywords/Ads In Traditional Paid Search There [...]

How Web Retailers Can Profit With Semantic SEO

Semantic SEO is a fairly new Web marketing tactic that combines search engine optimization and semantic Web technology. Semantic SEO includes a focus on artificial intelligence to understand a user’s intent (i.e., the meaning of the query) in addition to the reliance on text, keywords and links in search algorithms. I wrote before about using structured markup in How Retailers Can Improve Product Visibility Using Structured Markup. A couple weeks ago in E-Commerce SEO Using Just Got A Lot More Granular, Aaron Bradley wrote that Google had integrated e-commerce schemas from Good [...]

E-commerce SEO Using Just Got A Lot More Granular

Ramanathan V. Guha of Google announced on 8 November that, effective immediately, e-commerce schemas from the GoodRelations project have been integrated into This vastly increases the number of classes and properties available for e-commerce websites. Put another way, this means that webmasters can now provide Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex with much more granular information about products and offers on e-commerce sites in a manner that is officially sanctioned by these search engines. In terms of e-commerce SEO, this is potentially a pretty big deal:  it is a mean [...]

For Google Shopping & More, Vertical Search Works!

A Vertical Search engine, just for clarity’s sake, is defined as a search engine that focuses on a specific segment of Web content or on a specific topic. Examples would be Google Shopping and all the other items on the Google menu bar (Images, News, Recipes, Maps, YouTube, etc.). It is also clear that some of these verticals derive far higher revenues for Google than other verticals. Google Shopping, with its new pay-to-play model, looks like it is going to do just that. According to a recent study, Google’s new PLA’s (Paid Listing Ads) have been found to significantly outperform [...]

An Illustrated Guide To E-Commerce Markup Using GoodRelations

In How Search & Social Engines Are Using Semantic Search, I started this series with an overview. This article will give you a walk through on generating local and organization markup for a store. We will look at an alternative vocabulary, namely GoodRelations, and take a deeper dive into the specifics of generating semantic markup for the e-commerce domain using GoodRelations. To clarify, GoodRelations is a vocabulary for e-commerce. Microdata and RDFa are syntaxes. for product is an alternate vocabulary for e-commerce. The diagram below from Linked Open Commerce gives an [...]

Google: Merchant Tools, Product Data The Focus For Google Shopping In Q4

Google Shopping has had lots of bumps transitioning to a paid model but lots of changes are in store for the rest of 2012 and 2013. Merchant tools and product data are key focal points for Google in the coming months, as well as enhancing the user experience on the shopping platform. Last week, we talked to Jon Venverloh (agency expert) and Vineet Buch (product manager) from the Google Shopping team about latest changes to the program and what to expect in the future. Adoption Issues One of the biggest issues Google admits is helping retailers understand the benefits of a paid Google Shop [...]

Closing The Loop From Mobile Search To Mobile Payment Systems

As the adoption of smartphones increases, consumers are becoming comfortable using their smartphones and tablets to buy goods, transfer money and perform many different kinds of financial transactions. A new study by comScore reports 80% of U.S. smartphone owners accessed mobile commerce sites and apps in July (85.9 million total). According to Google’s Our Mobile Planet: United States, penetration is currently 44% of the U.S. population, and 66% access the Internet daily. Retailers can engage these always-connected consumers by adopting a mobile strategy that includes having a [...]

Product Level Ads: Tribulations Of A New Traffic Source

Free clicks from Google Shopping were a gift. We all knew it, loved it, and were holding our collective breath because we knew one day it would go away. As you are probably well aware, that day is sometime in October of this year and the transition has already begun to take place. Beyond the obvious financial impact on businesses caused by having to pay for something that was once free, are Product Level Ads (PLAs) really a bad thing? Is Google getting greedy? Or are they just taking another step in their eternal quest to improve user experience? To get the low down, I called on an old f [...]

Google Drops Its Veil At Times, Reveals Ecommerce Ambitions

Google has been dropping lots of hints lately about their desire to become not just a leader in advertising, but a leader in  ecommerce as well. A recent Forrester report claims that 30% of all online shoppers start their product research at is just fuel to the fire. Google is trying to combat that growing percentage with more sustainable consumer-focused ecommerce initiatives, centered around local availability, the Google Wallet, Google Shopping, and Google Trusted Stores. The following is an analysis of Google’s recent ecommerce developments. Google Shopping Testing New [...]

What Retailers Need To Know About The Local-Mobile Marketing Landscape

Retailers have an array of digital marketing tactics at their disposal: email, SEO, local search, PPC, display ads, social media, etc. These are frequently combined with traditional marketing tactics such as print, direct mail and trade shows. It’s important to select the right media mix to drive profits, and that’s why I want to review some of the latest digital marketing trends and their impact on retail success. A number of research studies over the years have reported search engine marketing is the most frequently used digital marketing strategy because of its effectiveness for [...]

Best Practices To Get The Most Out Of Google Shopping

As you should know by now, Google recently announced that it was combining its free Google Product Search listings and Product Listing Ads (PLA) to Google Shopping, where all listings would be shown in an auction based process akin to PPC. This is a significant change for retailers as it means that a significant percent of traffic that has until recently been free until recently, is now paid. Thus it is imperative for the retailer to focus on effectively managing and optimizing Google Shopping campaigns. How Google Shopping Works: A Very Short Summary Google Shopping works differently fro [...]

Google Shopping – The Balance Between Old & New

One of the most talked about changes introduced by Google on May 31, 2012, is the launch of a paid program from Google Shopping based on Product Listing Ads (PLA). Since its announcement, we have seen a huge change in shopping results. Google Shopping listings replace the current Google Product Search listings, which are part of the organic search listings. In this post, I will explain what Google Shopping is all about, how it affects retail merchants and outline steps to mitigate the impact and seize opportunity. The Old Model Since 2002, Google has been listing relevant products whe [...]

Checking Out Shopping SERPs: Put Yourself In A Search Engine’s Shoes

sale-discount-shopping-featured With the advent of Google moving to a paid inclusion model, many folks must be wondering what they can do to optimize their data or product feeds to make themselves findable. Whether you are in a paid vertical or free one, Google has to serve up relevant information. So, how about putting yourself in a search engine’s shoes? No one wants to be spammed or fed invalid data, so all information needs to be clean, verified and preferably from more than one source (all semantic Web or named entity extraction type philosophies). From a search engine’s perspective, it wants (and needs [...]

Ideas To Cover Your Entire Inventory In Paid Search

While it might be the simplest way to drive more impressions, any savvy search marketer (and particularly those in the retail sector) in should be aware that leveraging broad match type is far from the only possibility to scale your PPC program. There are plenty of other options out there –I’ll try to cover just a few of them in this post. 1. Leverage All Match Types In a previous article, I analyzed AdWord’s new exact and phrase matching behavior and found that those new "plurals, misspellings and other close variants" were beneficial overall, with a 4% lift in clicks on average with [...]

A Google Marketplace? New Google Shopping Is One Indicator

Imagine if Mall of America had unlimited space and let all merchants setup shop for free. Now imagine if Mall of America abruptly changed their business model and told each merchant they would have to pay rent based on how much foot traffic each of their stores get. This is a reality online merchants face after Google Shopping, the largest comparison shopping site online, announced it would be transferring to a pay-to-play product comparison site. Many merchants are leaving the marketing channel completely. Most will stay and pick up the increased demand caused by the vacuum of [...]

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