SES: Making The Most Of Shopping Search Feeds

    April 12, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Let’s be blunt: Getting your products listed in the shopping search engines is a tedious, cyclical, pain-in-the-butt process. But it’s also necessary if you want to get the most out of online retail. At the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York, those in the know spill what they know about shopping search optimization.

The session, simply titled "Shopping Search Tactics," featured presentations from analyst Brian Smith of, and from Brian Mark, chief technical officer at

Smith opened his portion with a gloomy warning: This will not be as easy as Google AdWords. If you’re submitting your product information to a shopping engine, read the directions carefully – each engine has its own guidelines for data feed submissions.

There’s no optimal automated XML solution (though some circles are pushing for an open standard), so for each feed, you’ll have to hand key the information, adding as much as possible in the spaces provided. 

There are lots of engines to submit a feed to, but an important one is Google Base. "There is an amazing opportunity to get a lot of sales through Google Base," said Smith, "because if you get to the top of these results you appear in Google’s main results."

But also, he teases, Google Base offers custom attributes, and the Mountain View, Calif.-based company "is going to announce something very soon that will make this more advantageous."

Until then, Smith gives this nutshell full of advice:

There is an opportunity to do great SEO work through your data feed. Look at the data feeds for blank fields.

If you don’t have a title that is unique you are in trouble. Make titles that are more specific for search engines. There is an opportunity to really get out there and show the user what they are searching for.

No matter what people say search engine optimization is still about the content on the page. Make sure your product pages have good content.

Don’t use image links with the shopping engines.

Say exactly what you sell in the one-line description in your data feeds.

Just how important is it to establish your presence in the shopping search engines? Brian Mark says it’s about 40 proof worth of important.

"The shopping engines can offset drops from organic search results," said Mark. "We are getting over 20% of our customers from shopping engines. From AdWords, 4%; MSN, 6%; Yahoo, 9%; and 22% of our customers are repeat customers at"