Arpana Tiwari – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Thu, 13 Nov 2014 04:16:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6 How To Avoid SEO Pitfalls With Timely Alerts /how-to-avoid-seo-pitfalls-with-timely-alerts-77566 /how-to-avoid-seo-pitfalls-with-timely-alerts-77566#respond Thu, 19 May 2011 15:19:49 +0000 http:/?p=77566 In the world of SEO, there are big updates like Panda, Mayday, Vincent, Florida, but there are also smaller internal issues that can creep up on you leading to traffic and revenue loss. The ability to identify and prevent self inflicted nicks and cuts along the way is key to a successful SEO program for […]

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In the world of SEO, there are big updates like Panda, Mayday, Vincent, Florida, but there are also smaller internal issues that can creep up on you leading to traffic and revenue loss. The ability to identify and prevent self inflicted nicks and cuts along the way is key to a successful SEO program for online retailers.

When dealing with large, product-driven sites, automation and templates, things are bound to fray and break over time.

Getting alerted and identifying the issue is half the battle. Dashboards are a great way of staying on top of internal issues, as well as competitor and industry movements, for the metrics that matter most to you.

Start by creating your own mini-dashboard with the basics your team and organization start seeing the benefits, you will be building more complex and exciting modules in no time.

Think about an action plan for as many scenarios as you can. You will need to customize it but having an outline with defined responsibilities empowers your team to take action in a more organized way.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Internal Site Alerts

These alerts should notify you of any changes to SEO functionality on your site.

  • Updates to the robots.txt
  • Updates to the URL structure?
  • New links, especially external links added to the homepage and other high PR sections on the site?
  • Spike in the number of 404 (not found) pages on the site
  • Spike in the number of redirected (302 or 301) pages on the site
  • Large fluctuations in product coverage
  • Significant increase in the number of missing meta titles and descriptions for the site
  • Significant increase in the page load time
  • Spike in the number of external links to any page on the site
  • Removal or addition of large sections of content across the site
  • Increase in the number of orphaned web pages

Traffic Module

  • Has there been a significant change in the traffic week over week as well as year over year? Make sure to set reasonable thresholds for alerts.
  • Has there been a change in the mix of traffic (by source, category or type of page) and by how much?
  • Are competitors getting a lot more traffic from a different/new traffic source?
  • Are there spikes/drops in traffic, conversions or revenue for specific categories of certain days of the week or certain times during the year?
  • Are certain page types on your site performing (traffic, conversion, revenue, backlinks) significantly better or worse than others?
  • Is there a significant change in the number of impressions your site receives from different traffic sources?

Crawl & Index Module

  • Are there big fluctuations in the crawl frequency for key pages on the site? Does your blog get more spider visits than the shopping guide? Do search engine bots hang out more on your product pages or category pages?
  • Is there a spike or drop in the number of pages indexed across different categories, sub-domains or types of pages?

Money Module

  • Revenue by product category
  • Revenue by traffic source
  • Seasonal impacts
  • External and internal events influencing traffic and revenue

Reputation Module

  • Site name mentions
  • Key executive name mentions
  • Rank/position on search engines for a handful of evergreen key terms

Webmaster Tools Module

  • Not found pages
  • Redirects
  • Duplicate content

Due to all the moving pieces that SEO has to contend with, the ability to get real time alerts and quickly deploy a game plan is critical. Keep up the momentum of your SEO efforts by averting potential issues with a simple set of alerts.

You will find yourself tweaking and modifying these alerts from time to time and even delegating some of these to your team to validate. For anyone managing an SEO program, an alert dashboard, even in its most basic form is a must have.

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5 Simple Tips To Diversify Your Organic Traffic Acquisition /5-simple-tips-to-diversify-your-organic-traffic-acquisition-72936 /5-simple-tips-to-diversify-your-organic-traffic-acquisition-72936#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2011 13:08:45 +0000 http:/?p=72936 With all the talk about diversifying your revenue and traffic channels, most people often miss that organic traffic itself can be diversified. Traffic from search engines takes on many flavors and paths. A deeper dive into understanding the life cycle of a shopper query will lead you to some interesting avenues. Here are a few […]

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With all the talk about diversifying your revenue and traffic channels, most people often miss that organic traffic itself can be diversified. Traffic from search engines takes on many flavors and paths. A deeper dive into understanding the life cycle of a shopper query will lead you to some interesting avenues. Here are a few to consider if you are an online shopping destination.

Image Search

Product images and visuals enhance online shopping experience. A larger number of online shoppers are using image search to search for products. Visuals become very important in certain product categories, for example: shoes and handbags. The more varied the color, style and features, the more number of images you will be able to get traffic on.

Google is now displaying a time stamp for images indicating the freshness of a particular image, so it keeping your images updated or adding the latest images for your products will get you more traffic.

Product News

There are a lot of news blogs that report on products and shopping trends. Seek these sites out and promote your new products and trends. Make sure your content is newsworthy and relevant to get accepted.

Blogger Outreach

If you have a unique product or have an exciting story about your product, share it with bloggers who have an audience that would be interested in your product. Most bloggers have niches such as fashion trends, gadgets, baby or home and garden and are interested in featuring fun and exciting stories for their readers. Make it easy for bloggers to feature you by creating engaging content about your product. Here are a few ways to get featured in popular blogs:

  • Seasonal promotions
  • Contests
  • Feature your latest products
  • Guest blog
  • Did you know?

Own Navigational Queries

Make it a point to own the space for navigational queries for your site. If you have a strong brand and shoppers search for your brand or website name, make sure you include these navigational queries into the meta (title and description) as well as on page content for your site.

Convert From How To’s

Searchers may not start out as shoppers, but may quickly change their intent based on what they are to do. If a searcher is working on a DIY (Do It Yourself) project and finds your site searching for a “how to” query, you have the opportunity to convert the user on your site when their intent turns to shopping.

These are just a few ideas. If you start thinking about your target shopper and storyboard their shopping needs and process, you will see a whole new world of sites that you have been missing.

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10 Tips To Check The SEO Soundness Of Product Listings /10-tips-to-check-the-seo-soundness-of-product-listings-68318 /10-tips-to-check-the-seo-soundness-of-product-listings-68318#respond Thu, 24 Mar 2011 15:52:35 +0000 http:/?p=68318 Optimizing for search engines and shopping engines is all about accessibility, relevance and authority. In the process of continuously optimizing for search and searchers, sometimes basic areas get ignored, overwritten or overdone leading to entire sections of the site being blocked, duplicated or rendered useless for search engines. Here are ten quick checks to ensure […]

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Optimizing for search engines and shopping engines is all about accessibility, relevance and authority.

In the process of continuously optimizing for search and searchers, sometimes basic areas get ignored, overwritten or overdone leading to entire sections of the site being blocked, duplicated or rendered useless for search engines.

Here are ten quick checks to ensure your site has not stumbled into the no or low visibility zone.

 

1.  Check robots.txt on every sub-domain

Are you blocking sections of your site in the robots.txt file? If so, check to make sure that you are not inadvertently restricting the search engines from accessing product listings or related content because the entire directory is accidentally blocked in robots.txt.

2.  Check noindex rules across your site

If you have implemented the noindex meta tag on large sections of your site based on certain guidelines, revisit these guidelines to make sure they are still relevant and do not conflict with other rules on the site. Do not submit pages with a noindex meta tag in your XML sitemap to search engines or shopping feeds. Make sure that rules in the robots.txt and noindex tag are consistent.

3.  Don’t embed HTML in the code of your feed

When submitting feeds to shopping engines, embedding html or stuffing promotional text in the product titles and descriptions will lead to messy and truncated titles and descriptions. Do not stuff promotional text into the product description as it could end up truncating oddly or even worse be removed from shopping engines.

4.  Miscategorizing listings in your feed

Shopping engines have algorithms to determine relevance and ranking based on the product type and category. Miscategorizing products in hopes of attaining a lower CPC can result in low visibility and virtually no traffic.

5.  Redirects

If you have recently relaunched a section of your site and redirected old pages to new ones, make sure the redirects are 301 (permanent redirects). If the pages have 302 or temporary redirects implemented, the new pages will not get indexed because the search engines will continue to think that the redirect is temporary.

6.  Duplicate Meta Titles

If you are generating meta titles dynamically based on the changing content of the page, make sure to check the rules and ensure that the meta titles and descriptions uniquely identify a particular page and are not so broad that they lead to duplicate content. Check your webmaster tools to check pages on your site that have duplicate meta title tags and/or duplicate meta description tags.

7.  Avoid duplicate product URLs in the feed

Don’t provide multiple URLs or landing pages for the same product or item. This will lead to duplicate content and will risk down ranking of all URLs due to this issue.

8.  Out-of-Stock products

When you submit your product listings to search engines or shopping engines, do not provide landing pages (URLs) that are broken, redirected or contain out of stock products. This will affect the CTR (click through rate) to your site as well as user perception with regard to the quality and consistency of your site. If the engine has a quality score in place, your site could be down ranked based on high bounce rates.

9.  Update product price, stock status, product description and best uses

Content has a shelf life and needs to be updated regularly to maintain its value. Outdated content when not monitored and evaluated can get out of control and lead to negative perception about the quality of your site. With the increased focus on quality content and value add pages in the search index, it is important to keep content current and clean. Updated content will keep conversions high and will also attract new users based on.

10.  Encourage external links to product specific pages

Don’t rely on external links to your homepage or domain. Analyze the distribution of quality external links to your home page vs. deep links to product specific pages.

Both search engines and shopping engines are advertising platforms for your site. Good, clean feeds are a requirement and not just a nice to have anymore. Optimizing and updating the listings you feed to search engines will help your site compete for a higher share of visibility as well as perform better from a conversion and revenue stand point. Put your best foot forward to share in the spotlight.

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Every Online Retailer’s Dream: Knowing Where The Money Lies /every-online-retailers-dream-knowing-where-the-money-lies-65860 /every-online-retailers-dream-knowing-where-the-money-lies-65860#comments Thu, 24 Feb 2011 17:38:06 +0000 http:/?p=65860 Data has always been at the center of marketing decisions, but today it enjoys a constant, glaring spotlight! Results based marketing is here to stay, so it’s time to get the tracking machinery in place and get in front of the dashboard for some action. At a very basic level, you need to know which […]

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How To Increase Online Sales Revenue

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Data has always been at the center of marketing decisions, but today it enjoys a constant, glaring spotlight! Results based marketing is here to stay, so it’s time to get the tracking machinery in place and get in front of the dashboard for some action.

At a very basic level, you need to know which categories, product types and price ranges are top performers and which are not. Once you know this, reallocate, prioritize and execute for success.

It is so much more fun to plan and execute when you know with confidence that you are putting your resources where the money lies. Here are some tips to unearth your top performers:

ROI Tracking: Pull All The Data Points

  • For each product, collect data on cost of sales percentage, conversion percentage, revenue generated and number of orders generated.
  • ROI trackers have a window of tracking, which means sometimes even if there is no immediate purchase, you are able to see how the traffic channel performs as a long-term advertising platform in addition to the short-term revenue generated. Every CSE does this differently, so find out how the window of tracking is set up. Is it last click, first click or a mix of revenue? You can influence how this is set up. One way to get to get a more accurate reflection of revenue and sales reporting from comparison shopping engines is to configure the revenue piece of the code to conform to certain rules that make sense for your specific business. Identify your business rules and then determine if you need split revenue reporting or full attribution.
  • Extract performance information on both a category and product level. Then dive into which combination of content does better on which channel. Work with your account managers to develop the most effective portfolio of category and product level content for each channel. This will allow you to optimize feeds based on the categories that different shopping engines convert well on.
  • Most shopping engines offer sophisticated ROI trackers with automated optimization systems that use the conversion information gained from the tracker to produce better search results for the shopper and higher margins for you. Many account managers will be able to leverage feedback systems installed in ROI trackers to boost performing categories or products and dial down non performing ones.

Site Search: Look At Deliberate Searches On Your Site

Site search gives you visibility into what users are searching for on your sites. This makes for a goldmine of data because these searches are from your users, those who know what your site is about and are the right target audience.

Once the shopper is on your site, start tracking their behavior and dive into site search queries to understand what they search for, which pages they visit and how soon they convert. Shopper behavior and queries on your site will vary vastly from the behavior on channels that brought them to your site.

Referring Channels: Rank Your Most Profitable Channels

Line up all your referring channels and deep dive into all the key metrics beyond just traffic. Analyze the cost of sale, conversions, revenue, ROI, top categories and products for each traffic source.

Next, determine the strengths of each channel and reorganize optimization efforts, target landing pages and budgets for each channel.

Navigational Queries: Own These Queries On Your Site

A navigational query is a search term where the user is looking for a particular section on your site or a specific web page. These queries are typically brand searches. If a page on your website is the perfect corresponding match for a query, then it should be collecting all the traffic for that query.

For example: If you are BestBuy.com, you should rank for and get a lot of traffic for the query “Sony cyber-shot at Best Buy”. If you are not getting the lion’s share of traffic for navigational queries related to your site, you should get on this case right away.

Ongoing data collection and analysis are key to a successful search campaign, whether it is organic search or paid search. Monitoring, analyzing and decision making based on these data points is not meant to be a one-time exercise.

Institute a system to constantly identify your best performers in all areas: keywords, landing pages, products, channels; and focus your resources to fuel their growth.

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6 Steps To Higher Converting Traffic From Shopping Search Engines /6-steps-to-higher-converting-traffic-from-shopping-search-engines-62104 /6-steps-to-higher-converting-traffic-from-shopping-search-engines-62104#comments Thu, 27 Jan 2011 14:05:30 +0000 http:/?p=62104 Traffic acquisition has always had a prominent spot on yearly goals and product roadmaps. But how about conversion optimization? Not quite there yet, despite all the talk about ROI positive initiatives. Traffic is undoubtedly the first step, but conversions are where the money and long term value reside. Conversion optimization has been predicted as one […]

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Traffic acquisition has always had a prominent spot on yearly goals and product roadmaps. But how about conversion optimization? Not quite there yet, despite all the talk about ROI positive initiatives. Traffic is undoubtedly the first step, but conversions are where the money and long term value reside. Conversion optimization has been predicted as one of the top SEO strategies for 2011.

Shopping engines can drive tons of traffic from qualified, targeted buyers to your products. How about conversions? It’s time to ask. If you are tracking conversions, you’re in the game. Here’s how to play it to win.

Read on for 6 easy steps to achieve higher converting traffic from shopping engines.

1. Utilize Built-in ROI Trackers

Ask your shopping engine account manager if your account has an ROI tracker installed. It will allow you to review performance on both a category and product level by tracking sales, cost and conversion rates.

To bid smart, determine your return on ad spend and then find out what it takes to bid by category as well as on a product level. Request ongoing performance reports as well as specific recommendations on how your account can achieve higher conversions and lower cost of sales.

roi-tracker

2. GIGO

Be wary of GIGO! When working with search engines of any type (product, travel, health or any other), garbage in is garbage out. Bad titles and descriptions will get you impressions for bad searches and tank your conversions. You will end up paying for poor quality traffic that has no chance of converting.

  • Provide up to date product feeds. Outdated feeds may get you traffic, but the conversions and customer experience will be horrendous. Every interaction a shopper has with your site is an opportunity to build loyalty and lifetime customer value. An outdated feed reflects very poorly on your online presence and is bad for your brand as well.
  • Optimize product titles and descriptions. Provide accurate and descriptive product titles. Always include the brand (for example Fisher-Price), product type (Rainforest 1-2-3 musical gym) and model number where relevant. Avoid grandiose names and technical jargon in product titles and descriptions. Search marketing is pull marketing where the user defines what they are looking for. If your product title does not match what the user is looking for and has its own terminology, it will never get found.

3. Provide MSRP Prices In The Feed

Shopping search engines do a ton of data extraction, analysis and processing to provide valuable research information and accurate data points to savvy shoppers. Providing accurate prices and additional details about your product can be the difference between an impression and a sale.

Shopping engines like Bizrate, Pricegrabber and Become.com highlight products with a percentage off or pop & save offers, leading to higher conversions for your product when the user is able to see that they are getting a good deal.

percent-off-save

4. Call Out Your Promotions

When faced with dozens of products that match their requirements, what would make the user choose your product? What differentiates your product? Do you offer free shipping, exchanges or lowest price guarantees? Tell shoppers why they should choose you, and do it for every product listing you can.

5. Highlight Seasonal Products

Shopping search engines attract shoppers on thousands of keywords and customize their content and site experience for seasonal events. Supplement your product feed with seasonal data and update titles, descriptions to include seasonal messaging, such as ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts.

Provide top selling products by season. Share data on new products well in advance. Talk to your account manager to find out if there are additional opportunities like contests, shopping guides, editor’s picks or  Top 10 gift idea lists that can feature your products.

6. Audit Landing Pages With An Eye Toward Conversions

Go back to the fundamentals of website conversion. With all the changes to your website over the years, you may have lost a lot of the features that once worked; make sure you have these basics in place:

  • Provide an updated feed to ensure that you do not attract and pay for traffic to your site if the product is out of stock. If the product is out of stock, provide the option for the shopper to be notified when the item is available.
  • Does your landing page have a strong call to action? For example, “add to cart” or “add to favorites”. Don’t have too many calls to action on the same page. Focus on one.
  • Provide clear, large images and detailed product specifications in your feed to shopping engines, as well as on your site.
  • Offer something extra. It could be free shipping, limited time discount, coupon code, 14 day returns or warranties.
  • Show progress through the conversion process. Shopping cart abandonment happens when shoppers are passed through multiple pages without an end in sight and without keeping information about the product, cost and other details on the page.
  • Security and trust is important in any money transaction. Provide assurance that the payment system is secure. Display testimonials and reviews for the product on the payment page reassuring the shopper that this is a good buy.

Cleaning Up = Increased Conversions

The key takeaway is that it’s time to clean up. Go back to your data feeds and question what is in there, what could be cleaned up and what could be added. Ask how quickly your products make it to the shopping engine index, how frequently they are updated and what you could do to get more visibility.

You might also be surprised at the number of initiatives being tested and executed at large shopping engines. Reach out to your account manager and get them involved in your campaign performance to give yourself the competitive edge. Search marketing is about results and continuous improvements. Team up with your account manager to get your share of traffic, but more importantly, a larger share of conversions.

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How To Optimize Feeds To Maximize Your Exposure In Shopping Engine Results /how-to-optimize-feeds-to-maximize-your-exposure-in-shopping-engine-results-18505 /how-to-optimize-feeds-to-maximize-your-exposure-in-shopping-engine-results-18505#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 17:38:14 +0000 http:/?p=18505 Each day millions of online shoppers turn to comparison shopping engines (CSEs) to compare prices, read reviews, research products and make buying decisions. While comparison shopping engines don’t sell or ship the products featured on their sites, they advertise products from merchants to a diverse online audience. Merchants are using CSEs in a down economy […]

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Each day millions of online shoppers turn to comparison shopping engines (CSEs) to compare prices, read reviews, research products and make buying decisions. While comparison shopping engines don’t sell or ship the products featured on their sites, they advertise products from merchants to a diverse online audience. Merchants are using CSEs in a down economy to capture shoppers looking for deals. To take advantage of this growing advertising space and get more exposure than your competitors, you need a product data feed—and even more importantly, you must optimize the feed to gain maximum exposure in CSE search results.

The number of online shoppers is increasing, and they’re internet-savvy. They will scan a product page for what interests them—the best price, a brand they trust, free shipping or seasonal discounts. It’s no surprise that clickthrough rates (CTR) and conversions increase when:

  • Titles are relevant: Is this what I am searching for?
  • Descriptions are engaging: Is this the right size, color, style?
  • Promotions are enticing: Should I buy this now?

Perfect your listings! Making the leap from interest to conversion

Here are some specific tips for optimizing feeds to maximize your exposure in shopping engine results:

Craft targeted, keyword focused titles. On search engines, the online shopper controls what they see. They will search for brand, model, product type and product attributes. Shopping engines bold the keywords in your product title that match the shopper’s query. Bolded keywords in the product title increase the click attractiveness of your listing and also qualify your lead.

Map your products to the taxonomy of each CSE. Loose classifications lead to fewer and poor quality clicks, but what will hurt your campaign most is the missed opportunity of qualified shopping traffic that could easily have been yours if your products were correctly categorized. If you sell iPods and submit them as electronics in your feed, your competitors are likely to outperform you, taking sales that might have been yours.

Products that are not mapped to the right taxonomy, are not granular in their categorization, or are left uncategorized are at a disadvantage because more closely mapped products will climb in the rankings and get a disproportionate number of impressions.

Include detailed product specifications, attributes and features for each product. Detailed product specifications will surface your listing more frequently for targeted keywords with higher shopping intent, leading to more conversions. Here is a great example: “This energy efficient coffee grinder makes grinding coffee beans an easy task. Features stainless steel blades, easy access cord storage and 2-ounce capacity for 12 cups of coffee. Great for making flavored coffees.” If a shopper searches for a 12 cup coffee maker, this merchant will surface.

Cross-sell related products.: Include product uses such as “can be used with,” “best suited for,” and so on so your product may be displayed as a related product or “shoppers also viewed,” increasing visibility and appeal to shoppers.

Add visual prominence with images and logos. Large images get more attention and are the first to be picked for featured pages and shopping blog entries. Shoppers love close-up images and pictures that show multiple angles of the product. Even if CSEs display a thumbnail image on the search results, if you provide a full size image of the product most will offer shoppers the ability to click through to the full size image of your product. In the blog post below, the blogger has chosen to feature a picture with multiple views of trail running shoes to provide a more detailed visual for the write-up.

optimize-your-feed-1

CSEs may also allow you to add your logo for an additional charge, a feature that gets attention and lends credibility to your product listing.

Tune your marketing message. Savvy shoppers are always looking for deals, discounts, specials, free shipping or other savings online. If you offer specials, provide these promotions in the feed to CSEs. Products that display promotions will not only attract more attention on product search pages, but will get highlighted on featured deals and promotions pages. Many CSEs feature specials on their blog, tweet about them or highlight the promotion on a “daily deals” page. Some CSEs offer a promotional text feature, allowing you to advertise these deals with your products listings. In the PriceGrabber deal of the day below, the “Planet Earth – Complete Collection” Blu-ray DVD is featured as the deal of the day.

pricegrabber-deal-of-the-day

Don’t spend—invest. Spending gets cut in a tight economy, but investments continue. Track your ROI. As long as you’re seeing return, it is an investment. Work with your CSE to closely track conversions on the traffic you receive. If possible, consider installing any available ROI tracker the CSE provides to better analyze performance. When the economy recovers, your margins will multiply because you will know exactly where to invest for greater returns.

Promote hot products and seasonal items in your feed. CSEs want to help their retailers promote their products, and this data is important! Surface your seasonal products in the feed and call them out. Most CSE’s actively scour their products for seasonal items and promote them on special seasonal features, such as guides, newsletters, press releases, shopping blogs, tweets and more.

Strive to get in the top three listings. Whether on a search engine like Google or a CSE, the top three results get the lion’s share of qualified leads. Analytics show that even on shopping sites, conversions for the top three listings are disproportionately high. Quality score matters on shopping engines too. In addition to bidding, relevance and popularity impact the position of your listing. A placement above the fold gets a disproportionate number of eyeballs from shoppers, so it’s important to optimize your feed.

Make it stick. Increase your branding and visibility to consumers through other advertising channels like banner advertising or page sponsorship. Just as paid ads coupled with organic search results in Google boost traffic to the site, banner ads on comparison shopping sites improve branding and traffic to your site.

Merchants who pay attention to optimizing their feeds and leverage the advanced features and new opportunities offered by CSEs will position themselves for increased traffic and conversions.

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