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Shopping Feed Optimization for Google Instant

  |  February 9, 2011   |  Comments

With Google Instant now available in Google Product Search, consider these points.

Google Instant is the engine's effort to save users time by predicting search intent and modifying the results as the user types each character of their search. It was rolled out in early September 2010. While the impact of Google Instant still hasn't been measured definitively, it's recently been announced that the functionality is now available in Google Product Search. If you as a business have a Google Product feed, this recent development is a great invitation to revisit your feed, optimize it to its full potential, and ensure that your products are showing up early as the user builds their query. So here are some thoughts on exactly how to execute that.

Use What Google Gives You

A Google feed has many predefined fields that help you define your products. Even with that much latitude, this may not be enough to accurately define your product. After all, as comprehensive as Google is, it can't possibly define the parameters of all possible products out in the global market. Therefore, Google provides customizable fields. If you can't find a good fit for the most accurate and relevant elements that define your product, then make them stand out by using customizable fields. Here's an example: I've recently been looking for a new refrigerator – but in a New York apartment, the space is usually odd and small. Depths vary from 22 to 36 inches. It's a critical driving consideration for an online shopper – it would have made my search a lot easier if they all did that! Of course, I ended up buying from the company that had that information. So ensure that it's part of your feed. The point is, consider your own products and look for the distinguishing elements that make your product unique, and if Google doesn't provide a field in its 80 pre-existing fields, take advantage of the customization options.

More Isn't Always Better

I know, I know…I started this by highlighting customizable fields to make your product unique and mentioning that Google provides 80 different predetermined fields, but you don't necessarily need to use them all. Take the time to really consider your product and your feed. Feature the attributes that a) really define your product; and b) are most critical to the user. If you sell digital cameras, things like megapixels, zoom capability, and flash type are all going to be important to users, so feature those upfront in your feed to make the information readily available. Your descriptions don't have to be expansive. Just make sure they're accurate.

Tried and True

The last thought that I would offer regarding product feeds is there are some reliable elements that should always be included in a Google Product feed:

  1. Price: It's understood that users browse shopping engines as a primary tool to research prices for the things they're purchasing. So make it available upfront to make it easier on the user.
  2. Brand: Same logic applies. Many users when browsing a shopping engine already have a particular brand in mind, so keep it in the forefront of your feed.
  3. Images: Ensure that your feed incorporates a high-quality image of your product to draw the reader in.

Combining these thoughts with the usual SEO best practices and keyword research, you can build a strong and effective Google Product feed maximized for success with Google's Instant results.


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Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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