Q&A with Tom Critchlow, Part 2: Google, Checkout, and eBay Item Condition
By Ina Steiner
Does accepting Google Checkout get product listings ranked higher in Google search results? What can sellers who list on marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon.com, Etsy, do in order to optimize their product listings for Google?
Distilled's Head of Search Marketing Tom Critchlow tackles these questions and more in Part 2 of our Q&A series on Google search optimization. You can learn more about Distilled here, and you can read Part 1 of the interview here.
AuctionBytes: Does accepting Google Checkout get a listing ranked higher in results?
Tom Critchlow: In my opinion yes, but the reason for this is that reviews via Google Checkout seem to be more trusted than reviews on third-party sites and, therefore, if you accept Google Checkout, any reviews you get help you rank more, which leads to higher overall rankings. I don't think there is any inherent boost for just accepting Google Checkout.
AuctionBytes: If a merchant accepts payments only through PayPal, would Google reject their feed?
Tom Critchlow: I don't believe so. Any valid ecommerce system should be fine as you can see here. It's worth noting however that "paypal" is not a valid field entry for "payment_accepted": (link), so this might be confusing some people.
AuctionBytes: One seller said he has noticed that Google Image searches no longer include product listings, and attributed that to a major drop in traffic to his eBay listings. Do you know of changes Google may have made to cause this, and why?
Tom Critchlow: Unfortunately I'm not familiar with Google Image search and Google product listings so I can't answer this one.
AuctionBytes: Sellers can no longer submit feeds to Google from marketplaces, according to this September 28th announcement. Instead, the marketplace itself submits the feed. What do you suggest marketplace sellers do in order to optimize their product listings on marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon.com, Etsy, etc.?
Tom Critchlow: Unfortunately I don't have any clear advice on this at the moment - it's a very new change and it remains to be seen how it will affect the landscape of Google Product Search - especially after December 1st, which is the hard deadline for everything to be moved over to the new merchant center. As I understand it, individual sellers will still have their own accountid within Google Product search and so will have reviews listed against them individually rather than inheriting their merchant site's ratings. Therefore, increasing the number of reviews (which is the strongest ranking factor) will still be the best thing that sellers can do, alongside ensuring that their data is in the right format and doesn't contain any of the excessive capitalization, etc., listed above.
AuctionBytes: Regarding duplicates - some sellers are concerned that because they list the same product SKU on multiple marketplaces that Google will see this as duplicate listings when it receives feeds from the sellers own site, eBay, Amazon, Bonanzle, eCrater, Etsy, etc. Should sellers be concerned about that, and what should they do?
Tom Critchlow: I suspect that Google isn't intelligent enough at the moment to look at SKU numbers across multiple domains but I could be wrong. I asked a Google contact for a response on this question but have yet to hear back from them. I've strongly suggested to them that some form of FAQ for individual sellers with regards to the recent Merchant Center change would be appreciated by the community.
AuctionBytes: I find it interesting that eBay said one of the issues it was dealing with was being able to map eBay's item condition to how Google accounts for item condition. Do you have any thoughts on why Item Condition attributes might present problems for marketplaces?
Tom Critchlow: The only available values for item condition are "new, used, refurbished". Ebay has a field for "condition" but actually item condition for ebay is different from for Google. Google is concerned about absolute condition of the item - whereas Ebay is concerned with the condition of the item. So a seller listing an item which is "like new" as in mint condition but technically secondhand would select "new" from item condition, but Google won't like this definition, and so I think that's where issues may be coming from!
Stay tuned for the next installment of Q&A with Tom Critchlow, where he explains what sellers need to know about SEO and how to get up-to-speed.
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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