The Searcher’s Guide To Black Friday, Cyber Monday & Holiday Shopping

shopping-sale-240px This year, U.S. shoppers now have more opportunities than ever to join the throngs scrambling to secure holiday bargains, thanks to many brick and mortar stores opening ever earlier and staying open ever longer. Black Friday, the traditional post-Thanksgiving sales lollapalooza, has become a 24-hour slog for many retailers. And some retailers, impatient to lure shoppers, have now succumbed to selling on “gray Thursday,” opening their stores on Thanksgiving day itself. With good reason: sales rung up over the Thanksgiving day holiday account for as much as 5% of annual revenues for many retailers.

And then there’s cyber Monday, where online retailers entice shoppers who aren’t tapped out or exhausted from splurging at the mall over the holiday weekend. Increasingly, the lines between Black Friday and Cyber Monday are blurring, according to recent research from Nielsen. They found that 51% of consumers would be shopping online on Black Friday, with 46% shopping on Cyber Monday.

So how do you find the best deals online? Search, naturally. While Google and Bing are quite good at detecting “commercial intent” in queries and will quite often provide you with attractive shopping options in standard search results, there are also more specialized shopping search services that will likely give you better results. Here’s a look at the major players in shopping search, starting with the two search juggernauts.

Shopping With Google & Bing

Both Google and Bing have had shopping search options for ages. But both introduced big changes over the past couple of years that changed the experience for shoppers, and in many cases ended up costing merchants who previously could get products listed without charge.

In 2012, Google announced that Google Product Search would be getting a new name, Google Shopping. It also made the unprecedented move of doing away with free listings for merchants.

Then in August 2013 Bing followed suit, replacing Bing Shopping with Bing Product Search, which simply integrates product results within Bing search results rather than in a separate destination. Unlike Google, Bing also continues to offer both paid and free ways for merchants to have product listings.

More on Google and Bing shopping options, including Bing’s “Scroogled” attack campaign on Google:

Shopping Search: The Major Players

This holiday season, you’ll get decent shopping results from both Google and Bing. But if you’re serious about getting the best bargains or finding the widest selection of products, you should check out specialized shopping search engines.

Shopping search engines, or perhaps more properly, product and price comparison services, were one of the first specialized “vertical” search types to emerge in the early days of the web. As with web search, there used to be many players, but today there are just a handful remaining that have broad enough scope to be really useful for most shoppers.

Shopzilla. Like Google, Shopzilla is both a longtime veteran and also offers a broad array of choices for searchers. Shopzilla began life as Bizrate in 1997 and morphed into Shopzilla in 2004. Today the company operates a number of comparison services, showcasing over 100 million products from tens of thousands of retailers from sites it operates including Bizrate, Beso, Shopzilla, Retrevo, TaDa, PrixMoinsCher and SparDeinGeld.

Merchants interesting in listing on Shopzilla should check out the Merchant Listings & Advertising page.

Nextag. Another longtime veteran of the comparison shopping space, Nextag goes beyond product search, helping you find deals on event tickets, travel, and Groupon-like flash deals. If you’re curious about what other people are finding interesting, check out Radar which provides an up-to-date snapshot of what others are searching for and buying.

Since Nextag Nextag offers multiple products and services in results check out the Advertise With Us page to learn more about how you can list products, events or travel services.

Pricegrabber likes to brand itself as “the” top-tier comparison service, stating “our site attracts computer literate, informed buyers, in search of the best deal they can find.” True – but as a searcher, be aware that the site is owned and operated by Experian, the credit reporting company that also owns Hitwise, an online traffic analysis group. Bottom-line: You’re likely to get really good search results from Pricegrabber, but you’ll also find a significant degree of targeting due to the sheer amount of data Experian has gathered, both in aggregate and potentially about your web use in general. If you’re concerned about privacy you may want to use the other services described here.

Merchants interesting in listing on Pricegrabber should check out the Experian Site Map page to view all of the varied products and solutions the company offers.

There are a few other shopping comparison sites, including eBay’s Shopping.com, Become, Pronto, and others, but start with these – and happy holiday shopping!

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Google: Google Shopping | Microsoft: Bing Shopping & Cashback | Top News

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About The Author: (@CJSherman) is a Founding Editor of SearchEngineLand.com and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo - SMX conference series.

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