eBiz Briefs: Yahoo Improves SEM, PayPal Study Surprises

Yahoo's recent search marketing changes and a PayPal study that says prices aren't always what sway shoppers.
In addition to news today about its mobile bookmarking tool onePlace, Yahoo also announced changes in its search marketing policies aimed at helping e-tailers while PayPal released a study showing that payment options are more important to shoppers than low prices.

Web shop owners can now exert more influence over the information displayed on Yahoo search results, according to the company's search marketing blog. It says that advertisers can now add "more relevant" details about products and services to results, as well as control more easily what users can read on search results pages.

"Because the platform is open it gives all web Web site owners — big or small — an opportunity to present more useful information on the Yahoo Search page," writes Vish Makhijani, senior vice-president and general manager of Yahoo Search, on the Yahoo Search blog. The post goes on to say, "Instead of just a title, abstract and URL, you can add into your search results the data currently buried in your Web sites, things like ratings, reviews and images."

Offering the example of the Higuma Japanese Restaurant, it is revealed how the search entry for the business can now incorporate reviews, prices, photos and a contact number in place of its previous snippet of content.

Excluding Keywords Focuses Searches
Yahoo also increased the number of keywords marketers can exclude, with Marketing Communications Managing Director Roger Park reporting that excluded keyword limits have risen from 50 to 250.

Despite its negative connotations, exclusion is actually a positive concept in the field of search marketing, explains Park. The tactic enables marketers to focus their campaigns by ensuring that only the most relevant searches lead to their site, he said. Excluding keywords means you can block unwanted and irrelevant searches, and therefore get more targeted leads.

"Identify the keywords that do not apply to your business but may be commonly used by potential customers," recommends Park. He provides this example: If you are a travel company selling cruises exclusively to Acapulco, if you use the Advanced match type for the keyword "cruise," you may want to exclude keywords like "Caribbean" and "Alaska."

Finding Excluded Words in Your Yahoo Account
Excluded words can be set at the account level in the Administration tab of your account, according to the company. You can also activate or change excluded words (up to 250) at the ad group level in the Ad Group Settings page. Here's how:
  • Go to your Ad Group Settings page.
  • Click on "Tactic Settings."
  • On the "Tactic Settings" page the "Excluded Words" feature is displayed.
  • Click on "Excluded Words" to open the entry field.
  • Add your excluded words but do not to use any commas or semicolons after each word.
  • Click "Save Changes," to process the Excluded Words list.

Payment Options Favored Over Discounts
Online shoppers value payment security and payment choice options more than rewards — and even discounts, according to a new study by JupiterResearch and PayPal.

PayPal partnered with independent research firm JupiterResearch to develop a series of survey questions focused on how the U.S. population uses payment methods when shopping online. According to the research, when consumers are confronted with two merchants who offer the same product at the same price, the two most influential factors when choosing where to buy are payment security and payment choice.

The study showed that security influences online shopping behavior more than typical merchant incentives like rewards and discounts. In fact, more than half of the survey respondents consider the security of their financial information as the deciding factor when they make purchases. An additional two-thirds of shoppers feel more secure when they don't have to enter financial information at all, even at merchant Web sites they trust.

The report goes on to say that types of payments accepted by merchants influence whether or not consumers will shop on their Web sites, and, that more than half of online shoppers think about the payment method they will use before they click on the merchant's checkout button. Sixty-six percent of consumers prefer e-commerce sites that offer multiple payment methods, and about half of online shoppers prefer the convenience of using alternative payment methods.

The study revealed the following consumer preferences when paying online:
  • Sixty-six percent of consumers prefer online stores that offer multiple payment mechanisms.
  • Sixty-two percent of purchasers feel more secure when they do not have to enter credit card information online, even at merchants' sites that they trust.
  • Sixty-one percent of online shoppers choose sites that offer both credit and debit card payment options.
  • Fifty-five percent of consumers think about payment methods they will use before they click on the checkout button.
  • Forty-eight percent of all online adult shoppers prefer the convenience of alternative payment methods.
  • One-third of online shoppers want to avoid filling out name, address and credit card details.
  • One in eight consumers thinks about how he or she will pay even before deciding what to buy.

PayPal will discuss these results during a five-city tour in March reaching Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and New York. The sessions will feature JupiterResearch, local merchants and professors from the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Southern California, New York University, Loyola University and SMU's Cox School of Business. Speakers and panelists will explore best practices for online merchants to increase sales in the current economy. For additional information, visit this page.

Michelle Megna is managing editor of ECommerce-Guide.com.

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