Google Shopping – products within the search results with Tony McCreath from Website Advantage
In this week’s episode* is my fourth and final chat with Tony McCreath from Website Advantage. In this interview Tony and I discuss Google Shopping which is a feature that allows you to get your products showing up in the search results with useful information such as prices, brands, descriptions and images rather than just the regular search results.
- What is Google Shopping?
- How is it different for the organic results?
- What are the benefits of being in Google Shopping?
- What is the process for getting in?
- How can you improve your Google Shopping rankings?
- Tony’s Business: Website Advantage
- Google shopping
- Google merchant centre
- Shopping feed (some CMSs support this automatically, either built in or via a plugin)
- Big Commerce
- Other episodes where I chat to Tony;
*I got ahead of myself in the introduction and introduced this show as #15 when its actually only #14. Tune in next week for episode 15 🙂[spoiler title=”Click Here for Transcription” open=”0″ style=”1″]
Nick: Welcome back to Episode 15 of theWeb Marketing Adelaide Podcast. This week, we’re talking about Google shopping and this is the fourth segment of 4 of an interview that I did with Tony McCreath from Website Advantage. I did this interview with Tony after a Flying Solo Meet Up event at the Hackney Hotel. It was a little bit windy that day and I apologize for a bit of wind nose in the back ground but you should be able to hear the content just fine. I’ll also put links in the show notes to the other 3 episodes where I featured segments talking to Tony about various things to do with search engines and SEO, that’s Search Engine Optimization.
Before we get started, I just wanted to say a big thank you to Tony for coming on the show and sharing all the great tips he has with us over the last 4 or so episodes we’ve chatted to him. There’s some really great tips in there and big thanks to Tony. If you want to check out his stuff, his website, it’s websiteadvantage.com.au. He’s a Search Engine Optimization Specialist from Adelaide and he’s got some really great content up there, articles and tools and stuff which can help you to improve your search engine optimization locally and on a broader scale as well. So, definitely check those out and now let’s go to this interview.
This week we’re talking about Google Shopping for e-Commerce websites. So, let’s launch right in with what is Google Shopping, Tony?
Tony: Probably the best way like I always try to explain it is how you perceive it as a user. Google shopping is when say, you type in a product name and you search, you quite often see a set of results with pictures and product prices, and that is what Google shopping is. So, you might see 4 products in a row near the top of the search results. You might see pictures of products up in the advertising section and you can also link on a shopping link on the left side to get exclusive results from the Google shopping network. So, it’s basically a way to put products into Google search results.
Nick: Great, and for the people who are actually advertising their products, is it paid or is it free?
Tony: At the moment, it is a combination of paid and free. So, the stuff showed in the search results directly is free and the advertising section in paid, but Google has already dropped the free option in America, so we can expect it to be dropped in Australia in the next month or so.
Nick: So that’s built as a paid inclusion model. Is that right?
Tony: Yeah. It’s actually linked with Ad Words, so it’s the same payment system as with all of Google Advertising that you, as a pay-per-clip, businesses will pay to get into the search results and they may cost from anything to $0.10 to $10.00 if you click on their advert.
Nick: Right, and can Google shopping search results, can they appear in the main results sometimes as well?
Tony: Well, the free stuff is actually embedded in the normal organic results at the moment. From what I’ve seen, that won’t change too much, it’s just that you’ll have to pay for it. So, there’s a bit of a ho-ha about the fact that this is Google advertising within the organic section, so, we’ll see how clearly they say that this is advertising and not actual natural results.
Nick: Because in the past, I think, even in their original IPO report, Google had said they’d been prior, that they didn’t have a paid inclusion model for the regular searches but now, they’re sort of changing the terminology and changing the language a bit.
Tony: Yeah, they like to re-write their documents and that’s interesting because that was an original thing, I think against Yahoo or one of the other search engines, which was putting paid results within the search results. So, now Google is kind of digging it in a stealthy way of slowly, they put it first for free and now you have to pay for it.
Nick: Yeah, just to clarify, this is definitely, this is separate from the normal organic results. Normal organic results for regular search, when people go to Google and do a search, that’s still free.
Tony: Yeah, so the 10 glue links or 7 or 15, depending on what they’re doing, is still organic and it just gets plopped in the middle of it and it doesn’t use the same Adword, it’s a different system altogether, and when it’s paid, the algorithm is how much you’re going to pay.
Nick: Great. What are some of the benefits of being in Google shopping for a business owner?
Tony: I guess, you could put it the other way, what are the disadvantages if your competition’s in there and you’re not, you’re missing out on potential business. It is also a good way to actually get your products out there and the organic results, it’s quite hard to actually promote individual products and you’re more promoting your business and subject, categories and the results, even if a product shows up, is just a title and a description, whereas these have the photo, the price, a formal description and you’re in there with the competitors, you’re side by side. It is a comparison system, so you do have to be competitive to do well in it.
Nick: Well that leads me to my next question which is, does Google shopping make it difficult for people to differentiate themselves? It’s seems like it’s really a price oriented system.
Tony: It is like, people can filter by brand, price and the actual product type and all the things like that. So, it does kind of push towards all that sort of result but you still have control over what you call the product, the title, the picture you use for the product and how you describe the product and I believe, with the advertising, there are ways to also put a little bit of a marketing slogan on your results as well to promote it. There are ways to differentiate and in fact that’s probably one of the best moves, is don’t use generic product descriptions, and look like the others, just be creative.
Nick: Great. And what’s the process like for getting into Google shopping?
Tony: The main process in you need to register with Google Merchant Center and once you’re there, you have to create a, what’s called a shopping feed or a product feed. That might require you to get your developer to construct that sort of feed and it basically contains all the information about your products in a structured way, so that Google can pick out the name, price description, thumbnail.
So, once you’ve got that feed working, oh and actually some CMS’s already support the feeds because it’s Google. Some of the bigger shopping carts will actually have a plug-in or built in support for the Google feed. So, once you’ve done that you link your feed with the merchant center and sit and wait. Google will crawl the feed and hopefully if it’s all okay, you start showing up in the results.
Nick: Great. Is there any way to improve your Google shopping ranking, similar to your regular rankings?
Tony: Apart from what I said before, is make yourself unique, make yourself stand out, make sure yourproducts actually contain at least the words that describe what the product is. Don’t assume that people know what your product’s about and just do it. Two words fully describe the products with titles.
Adwords is also, once you link and pay for it, Adwords gives you a lot more control over how much you pay for individual bids and as I’ve said, you can actually do little slogans on top, all different ways to slightly improve it.
Make sure your feed is completely error and warning free. A lot of feeds, or people who don’t put it brand information or what we call the SKU, your bar code, and without that Google can’t put you in the comparison section, and if you’re not in the comparison section, you’re missing out on a lot of potential. So, make sure you fill in all the details and clear out the warnings that the message center gives you.
Nick: This again sounds fairly complicated. Is this something you should find an expert to help you with or can you sort of work it out for yourself?
Tony: Ideally, it’s a content management system that does it for you and then looking to, you probably might want to get a guy to actually set it up, but after that, it’s all your products from your website are automatically plugged in, which is a great thing because you can say, you can have it updated daily so your prices are always up to date and you only have to put your products into one system. So, if your content management system is good at that, you just have to remember to put your brand in, put your bar code in and it should work smoothly.
Nick: Are there any kind of content management systems that you know that have that feature?
Tony: I’ve got experience with Big Commerce, which is a hosted one, which I find quite good on the SEO side, so, I recommend it quite a few times and it has the feed built in, and it’s quite, it’s got a good system to edit your products. You also need to make sure you categorize them correctly with Google and this one has a nice way to take your captchas and link them with the Google captchas. So, that’s a good one, but quite a few of the content management systems have plug-ins to actually set these things up. So, it might be that you want a developer to set it up, and then you do the data.
Nick: Great. Wow, that’s all I had on that topic. Do you have anything else to add there, you think?
Tony: No. I think that’s about it. Shopping is a new thing for Australia, so it can be a good one to get into because not many businesses have set it up yet. It’s currently dominated a lot, by eBay unfortunately. It is showing that the people on eBay, in fact the eBay system is doing it for them. So, it’s showing that there are very few real businesses and most of them are the big ones and so you, as a small business, can sit there side by side with the big ones, on the comparison stuff, so if you’re competitive, I’d get in there.
Nick: Any guesses to how long it will be before the paid system comes to Australia?
Tony: I would guess, months. This sort of thing, this is Google making money, so I think they’ll want to test it in America and once they’ve found its stable enough, they’ll probably do it very quickly around the world. So, you’ll have to get your Adwords account set up as well.
Nick: Alright, Tony, well, thanks very much for talking to us about Google shopping and e-commerce.
Nick: We’ll, see you again around the traps.[/spoiler]