With 144k e-commerce sites in France as of mid-2014 (according to FEVAD), gaining visibility has become the biggest challenge for e-merchants. This is at the core of what Lengow does, accompanying 3500+ online stores to get that visibility by enabling them to efficiently sell their products via comparison shopping engines, marketplaces, affiliate networks, retargeting and sponsored links. This is an ongoing effort as e-merchants need to regularly optimize the referencing of their sites across various platforms. One of the key platforms that Lengow has been working with their clients on since 2010 is Google Shopping. Based on Lengow’s experience and extensive research on Google’s platform, they’ve recently published a whitepaper which gives background on the platform and, most importantly, reveals the top tips e-merchants want to keep in mind in order to successfully campaign on Google Shopping.
Although already a well-established price comparison shopping engine, Google took the decision in 2012 to change its business model for Google Shopping from a free to revenue-generating service. As a result, Google Shopping became a pay per click-based comparison shopping engine where Google offers several means of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) via formats such as Trusted Feed, Paid Inclusion and now Shopping Campaigns. This was a deviation from their initial position dating back to the early 2000s where they were staunchly against the paid-indexing model employed by competitors such as AltaVista or Yahoo! Given the sheer volume of traffic going through Google and the strength of their search results, the change in strategy proved to be a smart one, making Google Shopping an important profit-generator for them. They continue to evolve this service, with latest change coming in September 2014, which introduced new features via their Shopping Campaigns aimed at improving the shopping experience of internet users and the conversion rates of online merchants.
The evolving price comparison shopping engine landscape in France
Not surprisingly Google Shopping is one of the most used general price comparison shopping engines with Kelkoo, LeGuide.com and Acheter-moins-cher.com examples of others that are also widely used. When Google conducted an well-known update of its search algorithm a few years back (referred to as Panda), other comparison engines noted a decline in their audiences, a move that many thought of as a move solely to boost Google Shopping’s fortunes (Google denies this of course). Several popular comparison engines in France, including Ciao, TousLesPrix.com, and Shopzilla.com saw their traffic decline more than 15%. Shopping.com, another popular comparison engine and subsidiary of Ebay, saw their traffic decline +26% while top comparison engine LeGuide.com saw declines of around 10%. As a result, other search engines (better described now as shopping guides) have moved away from a pure, low-price search results approach to delivering results that are, instead, based on personalization of recommendations and other factors.
Why sell on Google Shopping?
As the undisputed global leader in search, Google indexes 30 billion pages daily and manages 3.3 billion queries per day of which about 500 million are new. In order to achieve and maintain their position, from the beginning Google emphasized quality of results to users as well as direct conversion for online merchants. So from Lengow’s experience, even keeping in mind that e-merchants need to carefully structure and actively manage their campaigns (or work with a top service provider like Lengow to guide them), Google Shopping does provide e-merchants with tangible results; namely increased sales and strong CPC returns. In a recent study, the conversion rate has also proven to be higher on Google Shopping than on other shopping engines.
Lengow’s top tips for structuring a solid Google Shopping campaign
How can e-merchants make sure they get the results their looking for from their Google Shopping campaigns? Lengow’s Marketing & Partnership Director Frédéric Clement recommends the following top tips, all areas where Lengow can make a real difference for e-merchants:
- Campaign structure and bidding is half the work. Product feed is the rest.
- Even though Google Shopping campaigns are not keywords-based (unlike AdWords), negative keywords are still important (learn how to optimize through this hack that is explained on the Lengow Blog).
- Pay attention to Titles (make sure they mention Product Name, Category and Brand). Their whitepaper, gives several best practices on this (page 50).
- Make sure that the data you send to Google completely matches the data on your website.
Lengow has committed to regularly updating this whitepaper, so if you’re an e-merchant or are just interested in the online shopping space, make sure to download the paper for free here and check back with the regularly for the latest updates.
Finally, for French speaking e-merchants they also have a webinar on the subject which they are organizing with Frenchweb coming up on Thursday, 19 February. You can sign-up to join the conversation here.