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February 28, 2007

Is Your Shopping Feed Optimized for Shoppers?

By Li Evans

Comparisonengines Once your retail site is optimized, its time to turn and look at the alternate ways of marketing the products found on your retail site.  In particularly, feeds for the shopping comparison engines like Google's Froogle/Base, Shopizilla, Become, Bizrate, Nextag and others.

A lot of retailers are limited with how their feed is created or limited in the ability to edit product titles and descriptions specifically for a feed.  Most of the time, these feeds come from a content management system (CMS) and they have no control on what is produced from the onset. Depending on whether or not the content management system allows edits to product descriptions, product titles just for feeds will depend on your access to the CMS.  If you cannot get that kind of access, you are likely left with the alternative of manually editing the feed after the CMS creates it.

Getting your feeds out there for the shoppers is important, however, having your products found by shoppers is an entirely different task.  Many CMS systems use abbreviations in their titles for products or use different language in their descriptions of the products.  Lets look at an example:

Product Title:  17" LPTP CMPTR by Acer, 2GB PRCSR, DVD, 1GBRAM

For saving time and space, this title is great for the data processor entering it into the system.  For a shopping feed, a title like this will ensure it will never be found, except for the term "Acer".  Why?  Ask yourself, who searches for a laptop with the abbreviation LPTP? Or even further, searching for a computer with the abbreviation CMPTR?

Shoppingcart_1 Not getting the conversion or traffic you expected from your shopping feed?  Take a good look at the feed's product details, are they full of abbreviations, or jargon only your company understands?  That's likely the first place to start to optimize.  Of course if you have a feed with thousands of products, it might not be feasible to manually optimize, so there might be a more fundamental need at the beginning of your entry process into the CMS.

Training your team in the importance of how they write product titles and product descriptions could lessen the need for manual optimization of your shopping feed.  Another option would be to utilize alternate fields in your CMS system to help build the feed and optimize it towards a totally different audience.

Uparrow The last thing to remember when dealing with shopping feeds, and probably the most vital - you're targeting an already captive audience.  You need to speak to that audience in a different manner than you would a contextual searcher on Yahoo!, Google or MSN.  Utilizing that knowledge to your advantage can help you raise both traffic and conversion rates.

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