Even though online shoe store Zappos.com does around $1 billion in sales annually, it's pretty frugal when it comes to marketing, including search engine marketing. As Zappos' SEM manager, Darrin Shamo, stated, "we allocate about half of what a company our size would traditionally allocate to marketing." That's what attracted the shoe retailer to Froogle, Google's comparison shopping engine back in 2004. For nothing except the time it took to upload your product data into Google Base (as the service is free), you could reach tens of thousands of online shoppers.
Recently, Google retooled, renamed and re-launched its comparison shopping engine, now known as Google Product Search
, as part of its ongoing mission to organize all of the world's information.
"Providing comprehensive and useful information to our users is our primary goal," said Jessica Ng, product marketing manager, Google Product Search. "The more content we have in our search index, including product-specific information, the better the search experience is for our users. At the end of the day, if users are satisfied and find what they are looking for, then they will continue to come back to use our search engine."
So, could your online business benefit from being on Google Product Search? Did we mention it's free?
A Shoo-In for Zappos.com
, customer service and keeping customers happy is the top priority. "We are as effective and as successful as we have been because we have focused so much on customer service and the customer experience," explained Shamo. And a big part of creating a positive customer experience involves making it as easy as possible for customers to find what they are looking for, which is where Google and Google Product Search come in.
Once you enter your product data into Google Base, Google's central repository for structured data, your product listings not only show up in Google Product Search but on the main Google.com search page, too.
"Because products show up on the search result pages, too, there is an inherent SEO value as well" to using Google Product Search, said Shamo. "You not only get the benefit of driving that sale through Product Search but if done right you also get the SEO value of showing up when somebody is searching for shoes or even for Zappos, depending on the key words that you filled in the attribute column [in Google Base]. So there are lots of benefits to using Google Product Search outside of just the Product Search realm."
For Zappos, which currently has 170,000 products listed on Google Product Search, using the comparison shopping engine has definitely paid off. According to Shamo, Product Search brought in "an average of 380,000 visitors a month" during the 2007 holiday season (November - December), a big increase over the year before. And in the four years that Zappos.com has been on Google Product Search, it has seen traffic increase by 400 percent. "In terms of conversion and sheer volume, Google Product Search leads our comparison shopping engines, and drives the most traffic to our site," said Shamo.
Shamo also said the service is simple to use. "You have to be able to manage feeds, but for anybody who has experience running any type of data feed, they've made it as simple as possible."
For Golfballs.com, a Whole Lot of Value in One Engine
Like Zappos.com and just about every online retailer trying to attract more online shoppers and generate more sales, Golfballs.com
, which sells new, used and custom logo golf balls as well as golf clubs and golf apparel, lists its products on several comparison shopping engines and does its share of online marketing (including using Google AdWords). But said Steven Broussard, Golfballs.com's director of marketing and e-commerce, when it comes to a return on your investment, you can't beat Google Product Search.
"Google Product Search performs better in comparison to the other comparison shopping engines," he said. "All of the engines we use send us qualified leads; however, Google Product Search sends us more. I would attribute the difference to Google's reach and its market share."
(Continue to Page 2 for Five Tips on Using Product Search