Did Google Shopping Just Get Better For Online Businesses?

    November 14, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

In October, Google completed its transition from the old Google Product Search to the new Google Shopping experience. This was a move to an all paid-inclusion model tied in to Google’s Product Listing ads, which show up in regular search results. The move has been somewhat controversial, but Google maintains that it’s the best strategy for both users and sellers.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments.

In a recent article, we asked if Google Shopping is good for your business. We got a pretty wide range of responses. In another article, we further discussed its impact on online retailers.

Since then (and with the holidays approaching), Google has been busy adding features that could benefit both users and businesses. This week, Google revealed a bunch of them.

On Monday, Google announced some new social features – the ability to read reviews from people you know and the ability to share your reviews with your friends on Google+.

“Now you can now easily see if someone you’ve connected with on Google has reviewed a product that is in your Google Shopping search results,” says product manager Karen Corby. “When you click on a particular product and scroll down to the ‘Reviews’ section, reviews from your friends and contacts will appear at the top of the list.”

“We’ve also made it easy to write your own product reviews on Google Shopping. To write a review, login with your Google+ account, click on the product you’d like to review, then click the ‘write a review’ button at the top of the page,” says Corby. “Once you submit your review, it will be publicly available to anyone who views that product on Google Shopping. You can also choose to post your review to your Google+ stream.”

These features make the all important reviews even more important, because when they’re being shared among friends, they’re much more meaningful. Most people are likely to trust the words of their friends more than those from some random stranger from the Internet. That means this can very well have an impact on your business if you’re listed in Google Shopping. It also means you should be paying plenty of attention to the conversation around your products and your store on Google+ itself.

Tuesday, Google announced some additional tools for Google Shopping users – 360-degree product images, shortlists, and discounts/promotions displayed on products.

Users can look for the “3D” swivel icon on a product image to see a product in 360-degrees (on HTML5-enabled browsers). You should provide these images if your’e a retailer. Google has a form here that you can fill out. Google says it will contact you in the coming weeks with more details if you do.

360 view on Google shopping

With shortlists, users can research products and plan purchases with their friends and family. “Instead of using bookmarked websites and docs containing long lists of URLs, or back-and-forth emails with friends, you can now consolidate all your shopping research in one place,” explains Google Shopping group product manager Vineet Buch.

Users can use Shortlists to keep track of products they like from Google Shopping (as well as the rest of the web), view product photos, prices and specs side by side, and share their shortlists with friends, who can add to them. And guess what – they even look a little like Pinterest:

Google Shopping Shortlists

Shortlists can be created from here, or by clicking “Add to Shortlist” from products on Google Shopping.

“To help you make the most of your holiday budget, Google Shopping nows shows discounts or promotions on the products you’re viewing,” says Buch. “If discounts or promotions are available, you can click on the link and visit the retailer’s site to redeem the offer.”

Google Shopping Deals

Remember, Google ranks product results based on relevance, with bidding as “an additional factor”.

There has been a lot of talk that the whole thing is better for big businesses. At least smaller businesses won’t have Amazon to contend with, as the company has so far not participated in the program.

“Since the bids a retailer can afford are dependent primarily on a retailer’s ability to convert buyers (conversion rate) and maximize cart value (average order values), the best retailers will continue to dominate. Important to note, we are in a period where competition is low and CPCs are somewhat depressed,” Michael Griffin, founder of Adlucent, which exclusively managed Amazon’s paid search until Amazon took it in-house in 2009, recently told us. “Right now, PLA [product listing ad] CPCs are about 20% lower than paid search CPCs. Eventually, we expect CPCs to be 15-20% higher than paid search CPCs. Retailers moving quickly are being rewarded with the opportunity to test and gain market share at a lower cost.”

When asked whether retailer size matters, he said, “I think conversion rate, average order value, technology aptitude, lifetime value, and retailer margins matter. Large retailers tend to be good in all of these areas, but there are exceptions. The winners will excel in all of these areas.”

Now that it’s been live for a while, what do you think about Google Shopping and product listing ads? Do you think any of the new features will help your business? Let us know in the comments.

  • Guy

    it just clean business, nothing more. it care not about peoples, but about google.

  • http://www.theoutletseason.com/electronics Icecold

    As I said before, this kills the small guy who can’t afford to pay for listings less bid on terms! Whatever innovation they do is aimed at large online retailers with big pockets! With dwindling profit margins to just compete, if you have to pay extra for each click, it’s just not worth it. I already migrated from anything Google, that is AdSense, AdWords, whatever … all my sites and domains. Google+ I didn’t use it. As an ecommerce etailer, who has time to do it? So my friends in Google+ are 0!
    Lately Google only has one point of view, that is their profit! Nothing else … FG!

  • http://www.clockshoppes.com Debbie

    The move to paid-inclusiong in Google shopping only benefits big business. Small business cannot afford to compete. In the end, the big get bigger and the customer doesn’t get the benefit of supporting small businesses.

  • http://www.pestproducts.com Thomas Powell

    Our organic search results have dropped us from the 1st and 2nd pages for search terms that now do not show in the top 3 pages — sometimes not in the top 10. As you can imagine, it has been a business killer. We have tried our best to not put any pages on the site that might be considered as spam. No black hat tricks, no link farms. Just good content. None of the updates have helped us a bit.
    But, we are not giving up. Still updating old pages, putting new pages out there and praying things will turn around.

    • http://gaycontentwriter.com Conran

      I’ve been doing that on a retail site for four years now, I currently get less than 50 organic hits per day from Google.

      I have over 500 products, 100 pages of product reviews, articles and blog posts all with more than 500 words. I have natural and relevant linking into my site, over 200 newsletter subscribers and regular visitors/customers.
      Most products have 100% original descriptions in excess of 150 words and all images are tagged and labeled.

      If I can do all of that for a retail site, and Google still sends me fewer than 50 organic hits per day after four years of being online, something tells me Google is out to get me.

      I hate to say it, but as I mentioned before, Google is the #1 enemy for small business on the net. You probably won’t have any luck trying to please them, so I honestly wouldn’t bother.

  • http://gaycontentwriter.com Conran

    Another example of Google saying one thing, and doing another. When will people learn? Google doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone out there, they care about their domination of the internet, and that means helping out their big business buddies who can afford to spend millions on paid services, thereby assisting in the complete destruction of small competitors. Unless people wake up to the monopoly that is Google and start using the alternatives, the internet will become smaller and smaller until the biggest corporations are the only ones sticking around.

    I used to love Google, but after three years of being in business online, they are my number one enemy. If I could do it tomorrow, I would be promoting Bing to every single one of my surfers and explaining to them how Google has become the “evil overlord” they adamantly insist they are not.

  • http://www.clunygreyjewelry.com/ ClunyG

    I cannot afford to pay for inclusion. I am a small business and I maintain a 100+ site of jewelry that I make myself. I do everything including pretty good SEO which kept many on the first page and at numbers 1 and 2 for very many of my search terms. I can only and am only being hurt by this! Even when I am the first I am still under Google Shopping. I feel a bit cheated!

  • http://www.t-shirt.ca Jeff McCormack

    Just another google product thats not available to Canada.. Lets list the products. 1. Google Trusted sites 2. Google Shopping 3. Google Checkout 4. Adword image extensions

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/BrightgemsTreasures?ref=si_shop patricia grant

    I sell Vintage jewelry on Etsy and Ruby lane. Many say they are only showing up on Google products during the less busy times of day and nothing is showing up from 5 pm to midnight the busiest time for shoppers? My sales have continued to be fine, but most are not, so yes, it is killing the small online businesses and retailers.

    Etsy is paying for the ads but as you can see they are only paying for the non busiest hours of the day, and it seems pretty consistent.. We have been testing this ever since the change over. Ruby Lane, Bonanza, Amazon, Ecrater, etc; and many more are not showing up period in any google shopping results, these sellers shops and items have become completely invisible on Google Shopping. Just awful IMO!

    Personally, I dont use Google only if I am searching for something to compare prices or to get more info on an item I’m selling, but for buying, I go directly to the site I want to shop on to do my searches. who needs Google? not me. Kindly, Patsy;0)

  • GenocideHunter

    This season and move by Google marks the end of small on-line businesses. The only compensation is knowing that whatever Google does, however well intended in the beginning, fails. This is the beginning of the end of Google. Their search engine should be nationalized and all employees sent to work for Jack in the Box. Small on-line retailers need a hero and it certainly itsn’t Googlezilla.

  • http://www.hemorrhoidshemroids.com Donald

    Notice how google is aying write your own reviews and promote them for your own products so that they get a biger favoitism in their search engine – they very thing google has penalised in their normal search engine.

    And yes, these changes have destroyed my business. It’s like someone went over my entire site and removed every search result for every key word, whether I knew I had the key word or not.

    Google knows how to direct the search results to the sites they want seen. So obvious.

  • http://www.webdesignfalmouth.net Martyn

    It’s a shame, the market was once a level playing field.

  • DixieGirl

    Since the change our online business has tanked. We can not afford the advertising. I’m not sure how we will survive this, we were just getting by before the change.

    Google is going to put all of us small businesses out of business.

    • Roger C

      Are you sure? Or is google going out of business have you looked at the insider trading data on GOOG?

      • John

        They are all selling due to the Obama tax hikes on cap gains.

        • Roger C

          You just said G is run by greedy billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes.

          There should be other reasons….. Artificial link building is shaking the very foundation of G’s ranking algorithm. G can no more predict which website or product is better, if so why will people keep using G? if G is misguiding people in SERP and becoming a paid shill on shopping front.

  • http://www.pickmydecor.com Rita Perdue

    As an ecommerce site, on 1/1/11 we started selling ONLY AMERICAN MADE products in an effort to help OUR economy grow since Americans are the ones that make all our products. We worked hard to build up our online reputation (since 2003) and offer great products. Our business was actually growing, but with Google’s move to total paid inclusion, our business is falling off the cliff!

    I fail to understand why they (Google) didn’t go with a nominal monthly fee of say $5.00 – $10.00 per month up to 1,000 products or something – this would have benefitted them as well as the consumer, but no, greed overtook them! In our currently fragile economy, it was very selfish of them to do this! Well, they can suffer the consequences thereof and any business that supports that program can pay out all they want – just don’t expect a great ROI.

    Pick My Decor will be around as long as America’s small shops and businesses make something for us to sell! We’ve moved over to Bing!

  • Ron

    If it’s Google, it got to be evil. Don’t get me wrong, i am all for getting rid of spam, but Google giving special treatment to big corps, when they use to have a pretty footing strategy, is just showing us where their priories lay. Google was small once, all the people who helped build their business, are now being crapped upon. Reminds me of Magento, another who preyed off the backs of the little people. It’s a Doggy Dog world.

  • http://www.fatlossonly.com Visit

    Relevance with “bidding as an additional factor”. So if you’re the highest bidder (aka paying Google the most) and relevant, your product will show. This could get very expensive for consumers.

  • Art

    Might well be good for bigger merchants but not so hot for ecommerce merchants.
    If you go to Search Engine Watch it says: Why The New Google Shopping Sucks for Ecommerce Merchants.
    I’m a an Ecommerce Merchant

  • tm

    Why would a customer use such a system once they find all the listings are paid ads? I am not going to use it any more for searching. My store got kicked off because I posted a affiliate link and it mistakenly got copied to my feed. I removed it and asked to be reinserted but No now I have to prove all my items are in stock with photos of a warehouse and bills of sale. All of my used items were from trade ins and bartering I have no bill of sales. But when I try to go order something from one of the suites listed I find that they are all drop shipping and often tell me after I order something they they can not get it. Why were drop shippers allowed when I was required to have everything with a bill of sale. I will never use that system to list or search.

  • https://twitter.com/MiddleAmericaMS MiddleAmericaMS

    This is just another example of an incredibly profitable mega-corp monetizing free services to squeeze everyone for more $. This has no effect on the mega-corp retailers that use the service (Walmart, Lowes, etc), but it seriously hurts small business owners hard.

    I am a small business owner that has used Froogle (Google Shopping) since its inception about 10 years ago. Now we can’t afford thousands of paid ads, so we no longer can use the service.

    Google is just one more giant filthy rich company that has once & for all proven that no matter how ridiculously enormous their profits are, they can always find a way to screw-over small businesses while helping other giant filthy rich companies, just to increase their already bloated profits.


  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

    This is quite interesting, Chris.

    Looking at it from both sides, it seems that on the one hand the statement ” Competition is now low” may indeed mean that many smaller businesses have been priced out, thus leaving a small number of larger competitors…

    On the other side of the coin, the ability for the smaller businesses to incorporate their social network into the mix, sharing product reviews, etc, etc would probably add some benefits….

    The concept seems to be that, if you see a product review from a friend, you will then have greater trust in the product…

    What if a group of 100(or more) friends(or associates) do mass reviews of the same product(s) to lift their own profiles and get all the traffic heading their way?

    This is already being done(out on the web) with a number of affiliate products, programs and services….in one manner, shape or form…

  • http://www.ekgmarketing.com EKG Marketing

    If you are involved in internet marketing in any way and did NOT see this coming, you should consider another line of work. That said, we now have to deal with what IS, not what was.

    The main issue I now have is the way Google is handling the management of PLA’s. We handle dozens of clients and use Google’s MCC to manage AdWords accounts. Unfortunately, there is no full integration with the PLA’s. They have a “multi site” Merchant Center account, but it doesn’t work the way it needs to for proper bid management. In addition, you can add negative keywords, but no actual keywords for your PLA’s to show up for. It takes a LOT of advanced structuring of the feeds to keep things under control. It would also make more sense if your could set product extension filters at the AdGroup level not the campaign level. It seems they were so interested in getting it launched for this holiday season that they forgot the basics.

  • Ajay


  • http://www.crystalpearl.artfire.com Crystal Pearl

    I used to have an Ebay store until they hiked the fees to squeeze the little man (or woman in this case) out. I now have Etsy and Artfire jewellery stores and my items were regularly being shown on Google Shopping, but now this has stopped. Many small businesses cannot afford the fees involved with advertising on GS. I feel that this is very bad for consumer choice, as a few large companies will monopolise the listings, giving prospective buyers fewer options.

  • George

    Whoa, slow down team!! You all sound like the HS student who blamed bad grades on the teacher liking other students more. I’m a small business man as well and instead of whining, I’ll figure out ways to be part of this instead of crying that the sky is falling. Deal with it. Progress is not a conspiracy and Google is not Darth Vader. In case you missed it, America is a land of challenge and ingenuity. We find ways to cope and build, not whine and bitch.

  • Tominguez

    I was hoping to get at least better service now that we pay for ecommerce inclusion links. Right now I seen hundreds of merchants in all forums with feeds suspended, no way to find out how to fix any issues, the only copy paste reply “support” emails we get are:

    A) Your feed is disapproved ( as if we didn’t know that already

    B) If you need help, go to the help page link included

    C) We are working on it ( for weeks and we will send to you same email every time you contact us )

    Not only the famous clicks got much more expensive ( from 10 cents when we had the 100 dollar free coupon to test, to 80 cents now ) but the conversions are now horrible.

    I’m pretty sure that many businesses that do business only think that this does not happen to them ( content sites ) but be sure, it will.

    I do not think there are any conspiracy theories about google being evil, I think they are just desperate to keep fooling stock market people and trying to get amazon and ebay to pay for shopping inclusion links again. But if you are an ecommerce guy, you will not see the big guys in shopping, but in ads and organic they are taking a very big part of google, because is easier to deal with a few big guys than to deal with the hard working millions of webmasters and content developers who are the ones who really make the internet happen, the ones who made google. Is better to concentrate in other marketing venues than to keep wasting time with google, not to say to leave google but to stop wasting most money and time with a company that is always changing and tricking people. One they, when they are yahoo size, they will learn about the mistakes they made.

  • Scott

    I will start paying google for adwords when they start paying me to index my site.
    They want every website in operation listed in their search results for the everyday internet user, and so far to the best of my knowledge they have not paid one site owner to crawl their site to get that data to make their engines have content.

  • DixieGirl

    This new structure that is supposed to be better for customers, is not. Depending on where a retailer is with their spending limits, some days they appear, others they don’t. On numerous occasions I have found a product I like, but wasn’t prepared to buy at that time. When I have gone back to find the same product, it’s not listed anymore. However, if I go directly to the site that it was listed on the item is still available. Not efficient, not easy, not helpful to me the consumer, and misleading.

    • Scott

      It is a very poor decision on Google’s part. Just recently I had a conversation with a product data feed group sales rep and the contact freely disclosed that it is not going over well for their clients. Over the past 5 weeks they have lost on average 1 to 2 a week for the adwords management they do and have had 0 sign ups for the program in November.

  • http://www.carpet-wholesale.com Jerry Bryson

    I really do not have an issue with the paid inclusion. What I think that is not good for the consumer or businesses is Google takes fees from multiple aggregators and when a shoppers searches for a product, they can and do see that product from Sears, Walmart, Buy.com and Shopping.com all for the same merchant. Same price so where’s the comparison for the consumer. What’s more, if the results are from an one or more of the aggregators, Googles relevance and filters do not work. At least Bing doesn’t render their filters useless and only use Shopping.com, so low bidders and free ads still are in the results.

    Also for Google shopping has only on paid listing and the results say available from 4 stores, use the filter and they only show the paid listing, click nearby stores, still sows the paid and and nothing more.

    As a merchant who has spent over 2 million dollars advertising on Google, I do feel I have been screwed. Forget about “Scroogled”.

    I am interested in talking to other merchants about this so you can share my info with concerned businesses. And another thing, we cannot talk with anyone on the Shopping team to get answers or help, unlike Amazon, Shopping or even Bing for that matter.

    Jerry Bryson