Ian Lurie // Jan 15 2009
This is part 3 of a series of articles on Universal Search. If you don’t know what universal search is, read this article first: click here. If you just want to catch up, read yesterday’s post about image and video search optimization, too.
I hate spreadsheets. Especially endless ones with thousands of rows. So you know that product feeds must really work for me to go through a 30,000+ row Excel file and optimize, row-by-row, for different terms and phrases.
It’s kind of like going on one of those free timeshare weekends. You get a benefit, but somewhere along the way you’re subjected to 3-4 hours of excruciating boredom. Just remember this image of a single day’s sales on a site. The ‘base’ row is from Google Product Search:
There’s gold in them thar hills. So grab some patience, take a deep breath, and get ready to delve into product search.
Google and Yahoo! both have separate search tools where you can search for products by keyword and get pricing, store names, etc. all in a nice list. Live has their ‘cashback’ search engine, which does the same thing but desperately tries to bribe you.
All of these product search tools grab their data by:
You can always search product data by using Google or Yahoo! Shopping. But sometimes the search engines will add product search results to the standard search results, too. Which explains…
An optimized product feed can get you to the top of the search results the same way image optimization can: Through universal search. Look at this search result for ‘tennis balls’:
Some little Yahoo! store got the #1 ranking out of 14 million competing pages, because they were number 1 for the product search result. Not bad.
An optimized product feed can put you at the top of the search results for phrases that have clear commercial intent – phrases that will, more often than not, result in a sale.
The simplest product feed is a spreadsheet. Dump your products to an Excel file, edit ‘em, then upload the file to the search engine, and you’re good to go.
I’m not even going to attempt to explain the specifics here. To prepare and submit a product feed on each search engine, check these links:
Once you have your spreadsheet and account set up, read on…
Most folks just dump their product database into Google, Yahoo! and Live without any edits. That’s a huge mistake.
Product search is very literal. If you sell ‘shoes’ but put them in a category called ‘footwear’ on your site and in your feed, you’ll never get a top product search result for ‘shoes’.
So your product feed edits should center around search phrases with commercial intent. Here’s how I do it:
That’s it. Once you’re done, save the spreadsheet and upload it. After a few days, do a few searches on relevant keywords and see how you’re doing. I check weekly when I can, and make little adjustments here and there.
There are several feed services out there that’ll take your products and submit them for you. SingleFeed is my favorite. They cost, but they also provide tools to make editing easier.
Some shopping carts include cool editing tools that will let you edit and save product feed data separately, so you don’t have to re-optimize the feed every time you export it. Well, actually, the only one I know of is my company’s, but I had to brag.
If you have other feed optimization tips, post ‘em as comments below.
Remember, this is part of a series. Here are the other articles:
Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an internet marketing agency that has provided internet marketing, including PPC, SEO, social and analytics services, since 1995. Read More