Utilizing and Optimizing for Shopping Comparison Engines
In today's world of online shopping where you can buy everything from bananas to car parts, online retailers have an increasingly difficult task of bringing visitors to their sites to view their products and convert them into buyers. These days, just creating a retail website and putting out a few pay-per-click ads really does not do as much as it used to in bringing the visitors to a website.
Retail sites do have a few alternatives to helping promote their websites and their products. One of the main online marketing strategies that retail sites employ after Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) implementation is working with shopping comparison engines. The basic idea behind a shopping comparison engine site is that it allows retailers to send titles, descriptions, price information, images, and a few other important facts about its products in the form of a feed to be uploaded to the shopping comparison engine's website. Then, the site charges a certain fee for each click that comes through the shopping comparison engine's site.
There are different models of shopping comparison engines. Some charge per click, some charge a percentage of the sale made to the customer, and some even charge for both. Understanding what a shopping comparison engine charges is imperative to the bottom line of the campaign and defining what the success measurements of the strategy will be. Deciding which shopping comparison engine is right for your strategy might involve some research into each engine as well as understanding why and how your product pages convert into sales. As easy as it is to have your IT department build the feed and send it to the shopping comparison engine, the real work comes from analyzing the campaigns performance.
Traditional Shopping Comparison Engines
Traditional shopping comparison engines have a business model that charges the retailer some sort of monetary amount for clicks, for purchases, or for both clicks and purchases. Retailers provide the shopping comparison engine with a file, commonly referred to as a feed, that contains key information about the retailer's products. Generally these products are classified according the shopping comparison engine's categories and listed within these categories on the shopping comparison engine's website.
Each shopping comparison engine has specific requirements for a feed submission, so make sure to research each specification. Generally they all ask for the same basic information; however, there are small things that either can be added or taken away from engine to engine. Most of the shopping comparison engines have reference documents about building a feed to their specifications that you can download and actually hand to your IT department or webmaster who will more than likely be building your feed file.
Some of the top shopping comparison engines follow, with brief descriptions about their business models and customer reach:
- Yahoo Shopping: Yahoo Shopping is probably the most well-known and most popular of all the shopping comparison engines. Yahoo's business model charges retailers per click when visitors click on their product listings in any of Yahoo's categories. PPC rates vary from category to category and also within some subcategories. Check out Yahoo Shopping's merchant information and advertising page for more information about setting up an account and feed with them.
- Shopzilla: Next to Yahoo Shopping, Shopzilla is probably the largest shopping comparison site on the web. Shopzilla's users tend to be rather loyal to this site. Shopzilla's business model charges retailers per click and an initial deposit fee of $50 for a new account. Check out Shopzilla's Merchant Service page for more information about setting up an account and feed with them.
- Shopping.com: Right behind Shopzilla in popularity comes Shopping.com. Just like Yahoo! and Shopzilla, Shopping.com's model is based on a per-click fee by category. Unfortunately, during the holiday season there is a freeze on adding any new accounts (October 24, 2007 – January 1, 2008). Check out the Merchant Account Center page on the Shopping.com site.
- Become.com: Become.com is a smaller shopping engine compared to the previously mentioned sites; however, this is a growing shopping comparison engine. The nice thing about Become.com is that currently rates seem to be lower than the "top dogs," which is better for budget-conscious companies. There are no setup fees with Become.com, and it charges on a per-click basis. Check out Become.com's Merchant Information Dashboard for more information on signing up.
- NexTag: NexTag, like Become.com, is a smaller comparison shopping engine, although it tends to stand out because its inventory tends to go beyond the regular "retail type" items you see on most shopping comparison engines. NexTag also includes real estate and travel, to name a few different categories. Like the others, NexTag charges on a per-click basis. Check out NexTag's Merchant Information page for all the information you need to sign up.
- mySimon: Last in this list of the more popular shopping comparison engines is CNET's mySimon. Just like all the others mentioned in this list, mySimon deals with retail products and charges merchants on a per-click basis. Check out CNET's mySimon Merchant Information for details on getting your products listed with this shopping engine.