eCommerce Merchants: Optimizing Your Data Feed for Comparison Shopping Engines - Forum.web.com
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eCommerce Merchants: Optimizing Your Data Feed for Comparison Shopping Engines
23 November 2010
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eCommerce and Comparison Shopping EnginesOnline shoppers are smarter and savvier than ever when it comes to finding the lowest prices for the goods they want. And many of those online shoppers will be visiting the comparison shopping engines (CSEs) this holiday season to do their holiday shopping.

So as an eCommerce merchant, it’s crucial that you understand some of the data feed optimization tips that can enhance your site’s data quality on the CSEs. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Most comparison shopping engines accept a “data feed” (i.e., a spreadsheet) as the means for updating and editing your estore’s product data. One of the most important and often most overlooked steps you can take to increase the quality of your data feed is to include uniform identifiers—such as UPCs, MPNs, and ISBNs—along with your product data. I call them “uniform identifiers” because you, as a merchant, can title an item in a totally different way than your competitor might title that same item.

    And the only way that a comparison shopping engine can compare your item to your competitor’s item is via a uniform identifier, such as the item’s 12-digit bar code number (UPC) or its manufacturer’s part number (MPN). Because many of the search engines don’t currently require UPCs, MPNs, or ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers), those important product attributes often get neglected.

    It never hurts to double check the feed specifications to see which product attributes are currently being accepted by a CSE before you submit your data feed. The more accurate the information you can provide about your products, the better.

  • Another area that often gets overlooked is the taxonomy that each comparison shopping engine uses to categorize your store items. Categories work like this: If a shopper searches a generic term like “Sony PlayStation,” the visitor will then be able to filter through the results by category. Categorizing your items might seem like a long and tedious process, but it can be a very beneficial one. By making sure that your items fall into their most accurate categories, you’re making sure that each item is as visible as it can be to each shopper. And on the paid CSEs, your items are charged based on the category/subcategory rate.

  • Please keep in mind that your data feed doesn’t have to contain the exact same data that’s visible to your customers in your online store. In other words, let’s say that the title for an item on your site is “PS3 Gaming System with Move Bundle.” Whenever a potential buyer lands on your product page, that would be the title he or she would see for that particular product. In your data feed, however, you could include a different title for the same item, such as “Sony PlayStation 3 PS3 Blu-ray Video Game System with Move Bundle.”

    I recommend that you do some research to find out which keywords your audience is using to search, and then develop titles based on the results of that research. Here’s a great tip for Google Shopping: As long as your title is less than 70 characters, it will be completely visible to the person who’s searching.

These are just a few of the tips that can help you enhance the quality of your data feed. Please remember that anything you do to enhance your data quality is a step in the right direction—a step that will make it easier for potential buyers to find your products. Because if they can’t find them, they won’t be making those purchases.

Until next time . . . I wish you a safe, happy, and profitable holiday shopping season.


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  1. I wish I had seen this article before I set up my company’s data feed. I didn’t follow your advice of not using the same title as my store. The comparison shopping sites now beat my website in the SERPs using my data feed because I didn’t send them unique data like title meta tags. Doh!

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  2. Hi Mike,
    It’s never too late to change titles in your data feed. The data feed spreadsheet should be uploaded frequently to reflect inventory changes, updates to products, etc. Improving the quality of your data doesn’t have to be a one-shot deal. Just change some of your titles and reupload your feed. Good luck.

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