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Are You Ready To Froogle?

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Google has recently introduced a “beta” version of their “Froogle” online shopping search engine. Unlike their well-known search service, Froogle attempts to provide a searchable index of online merchandise catalogs.

In this short article, I’ll describe what Froogle offers searchers, how online merchants can participate, and offer a few simple tips to make the most of this new search engine.

What Froogle Offers Searchers

Froogle offers searchers three major features – a directory of products by category, a searchable index of online products, and the ability to narrow searches by price range. Froogle attempts to display a price and product description for each item listed.

If you haven’t taken a look at Froogle yet, you can see how it looks at http://froogle.google.com. A visit to www.froogle.com lands visitors on the regular Google home page, but it’s likely that they’ve reserved that domain name for Froogle, once testing is complete.

At the moment, the search results are not sorted by price, so it’s likely that Google’s famous “PageRank” system is responsible for determining which sites end up on the top at Froogle, at least for now. However, searchers can input a price range to narrow down their search.

How To Get Your Catalog Into Froogle

Google has already been actively searching the web, including many online product catalogs, to build the Froogle database. For many online merchants, there’s a good chance that Froogle already has some products listed.

However, letting Froogle search your site is not the only way, nor the best way, to participate. Google also allows merchants to provide a “data feed” listing their products, descriptions, pricing, and URLs. In a moment, we’ll discuss why this is important to you.

Google has been kind enough to provide instructions on getting your online store listed in the Froogle index, on their “Information For Merchants” page: http://froogle.google.com/froogle/merchants.html

Note: at least during the beta test, Froogle is limited to those merchants doing business in US dollars, who take orders online and ship products to customers.

How To Profit From Froogle Search

Because Froogle appears to favor the “big box” online retailers, it may at first appear that there isn’t much advantage to participating. However, my experience with earlier price-shopping portals like MySimon has given me a little insight into winning strategies that even the “little guy” can win with:

Tip 1: Control The Content
If you spend just a little time surfing around Froogle, you’ll see very quickly that some products have clear and enticing descriptions, while others seem to be random snippets from the product page. Those with clear descriptions are from the sites that have taken the time to give Froogle a data feed. It’s not enough to show up in the search, if the searcher doesn’t click through to your site.

It appears that Froogle allows merchants to make their product descriptions into miniature sales pitches. At the moment, Froogle is just a beta test, but if it becomes a popular service, it might well be worth engaging the services of a professional copywriter to create your product descriptions. If your online store isn’t converting traffic into customers as fast as you’d like, maybe it’s time to do that anyway.

Tip 2: Leverage The Price
Since you’re providing Froogle with a data feed, you can set the price that’s displayed on Froogle. While you can’t offer Froogle’s visitors a discount on everything, it makes sense to offer special discount prices (and special product URLs) for Froogle within major product categories. For example. there is a category on Froogle for “DVD Players” – offering a loss-leader discount on a low-end DVD player will bring more visitors to your site when they search that category by price.

It’s a relatively simple matter to drill down into the Froogle catalog, to find the names of the major categories your products will fall into. You’ll also want to consider any common keyword searches that might occur, such as brand names, etc. How many folks shopping for electric guitar strings are going to type in “guitar strings,” and how many will type in “gibson strings?” Make sure your product titles and descriptions include brand names, if those brands have any value in your marketplace.

How To Make The Most Of Every Froogle Referral

Doing a good job of building your data feed, with effective product names and descriptions, will certainly bring you more traffic. Once you get them to your store, there are three things you *must* do: close the sale, follow up on the sale, and provide a reason for that visitor to start their shopping excursion at your store next time, instead of Froogle. This is doubly true if you decide to offer substantial discounts, or even loss-leaders, to bring visitors to your website.

1. Upsell and Cross-Sell!
If your shopping cart software doesn’t let you suggest guitar strings to someone who’s getting ready to buy a guitar, it might be time to shop for a new cart. If you can’t show the person who’s about to buy that $49 loss- leader DVD player why the $99 player is worth the extra money, you’re throwing profits down the drain.

2. Get Permission To Keep Selling!
When someone makes a purchase from you, capture their email address and ask for permission to send them further special offers. Amazon probably brings in more business by follow-up email than they do from any other source. A personal email from a customer service representative will dramatically reduce returns, and increase the number of customers who buy again. The bigger the sale price, the more important this personal touch can be.

3. Offer Sticky Services And Content!
If you sell 20 kinds of DVD players, providing reviews of them all, and side-by-side comparisons, will bring people back when it’s time to upgrade. The more useful and impartial the information, the better. There are plenty of ways you can enhance your website to make it a better shopping destination.

Is It Worth The Effort?
Right now, Froogle is just a “beta test.” Google might expand it, or they might shut it down, at any time. The fact that Froogle takes no commission, and charges merchants nothing, should be a strong incentive for merchants to participate. Beyond that, I have learned not to underestimate the Google team – a few years ago Google itself was just a research project, and now they control 2/3rds of all searches on the web.

Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas about how to compete on Froogle, and other price-shopping portals. I welcome your feedback (you can email me at froogle@cannedhelp.com), and I’d love to hear anything new you’ve discovered about Google, Froogle, or any other search engine.

I wish you success…

Dan Thies is a well-known writer and teacher on search engine marketing. He offers consulting, training, and coaching for webmasters, business owners, SEO/SEM consultants, and other marketing professionals through his company, SEO Research Labs. His next online class will be a link building clinic beginning March 22

Are You Ready To Froogle?
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