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Google Shopping Tips: How to Optimize Your Product Listings
8 March 2011
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Google Shopping and Optimized Product ListingsOne of my clients—a merchant from a flower store who manages her own Google Shopping data feed—recently asked me: “Why can’t I find my own products when I search on Google Shopping?” After doing a little detective work to uncover the answer for her, I realized that I had a few tips to share about optimizing product listings on comparison shopping engines (or CSEs) so that customers—and store owners—can find the products they’re looking for.

To start, let’s do a simple search to find all of your product listings on Google Shopping. Just type “site:” and then your URL in the search box. For example, if your URL is “abc.com,” you’d type “site:abc.com” in the search box. When you do that, Google will pull up all of your current product listings—just as shoppers would be viewing them.

In the upper-right corner of your search results page, you’ll notice that Google’s default sorting is based on “relevance” (see the image below).

Google Shopping and Product Relevance

That means that Google sorts the items—from first to last—according to what it thinks is the closest relevance to what a shopper is searching for. And that feature is the reason why one of your products might be coming up a few pages deep—or possibly not at all—during a shopper’s product search. Although Google might recognize your product as a relevant item, it might not consider it highly relevant to the shopper’s search query.

When I looked through the product titles for my flower store client—who sells floral arrangements and other decorative gift baskets—I noticed that some of the titles were too short or lacked a clear description of the product. With Google Shopping, you get 70 characters—including spaces—for each of your titles. When you review your titles, you might want to revise them so that you’re using as many of those characters as possible to create product titles that are relevant to the search queries that shoppers might be using.

For example, “Thanks A Latte Arrangement Mug”—one of the product titles used by my flower store client—was a cute name, but it didn’t tell Google Shopping—or potential customers—exactly what the product is, so I recommended the following title to my client: “Yellow Rose and Lily Flower Arrangement Thank You Cup Gift Basket.” That title—which uses only 65 of the possible 70 characters—would be more relevant to a number of search queries that people might use to find the product, such as “flower arrangement,” “yellow rose(s),” “lily basket,” “thank you gift basket,” or a combination of those words.

After you review all of your product titles, I’d go through the same process with your product descriptions. Although Google accepts 10,000 characters for each description, I recommend that you limit your product descriptions to one or two short paragraphs. Because Google only displays the first 145 characters included in each description, I recommend making those first 145 characters—i.e., the first sentence or two—highly relevant to your product. Even though all of the possible 10,000 characters are displayed in Google’s back end and can aid in the search relevance for your products, shoppers only see the first 145 characters as they’re deciding whether to click on your item.

And rather than using cookie-cutter descriptions for your items, it’s helpful to use targeted product descriptions to drive more qualified traffic. For example, let’s say you sell sugar-free chocolate chips, and you title that item accurately as “Sugar Free Chocolate Chips.” You can use the product description to your advantage by including other terms that people might use to search for the product. Here’s one example: “These chocolate chips contain no sugar. Yes, you read that right. These chocolate chips are sugarless.” In addition to your accurate and search-relevant title, your description helps to display your product for someone who’s searching for “no sugar chocolate chips” or “sugarless chocolate chips.”

One of the interesting aspects about comparison shopping engines is that the product titles and descriptions you include in your data feed don’t have to match the product information that’s in your eCommerce store—which means that you can send unique information to the comparison shopping engines. You do, of course, need to include active product URLs and active image URLs in your data feed, but you can use the opportunity for text variation to your advantage.

Here’s one final tip: Be sure to include UPCs (bar code numbers) and MPNs (manufacturer part numbers) in your data feed. They’re important pieces of information that can help you optimize your product listings even further.

Because many shoppers who use comparison shopping engines already know which product they’re looking for, the more specific and relevant the information you provide to them, the greater the chance they’ll be clicking on the link for your product.


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