Recently, I had a conversation with the CEO of an online marketplace, whose sales this year were up over 10% than they had been last year. When asked to what he attributed his site's increase, the reply was an unqualified, "Google Shopping." I was interested in how he could tell that Google Shopping was sending his marketplace so many customers. His response was interesting: aside from referrer information from site logs, the best way he could track the impact of Google Shopping was when his marketplace was accidentally dropped for a short time from the Google Shopping search engine. "Our sales decreased by 50%."
Being a person that tracks metrics quite closely, I was curious how online marketplaces stacked up in Google Shopping (GS) search results, and if being indexed by GS increases the sites positions on some of the online ranking services, such as Alexa, Quantcast and Compete. Each of these ranking services uses a different method to estimate traffic, page views, etc., to a site, and I emphasize that these sites estimate traffic. I find most of these services quite useless in determining accurate traffic numbers for sites, but used together, they can give a fair representation of traffic trends - whether a site is gaining, maintaining, or losing popularity.
Quick explanation of how these ranking services work, and what the numbers mean:
There were a few things that stood out while looking at this data:
- The lower the number, the higher the ranking of the site. A site at 10,000 is more highly ranked, according to Alexa, Quantcast and Compete, than a site ranked at 20,000.
- These services use samplings to determine traffic rankings.
- Alexa calculates their numbers from users who have the Alexa toolbar installed.
- Quantcast asks web sites to install a pixel on their site to track visitors and page views. That can be fairly accurate for sites that agree to be "Quantified," however the majority of sites (and virtually none of the largest sites) do not participate, so their traffic is estimated. I've put a (q) next to the marketplaces on the chart that are Quantified by Quantcast.
- Compete uses a "statistically representative cross-section of 2 million consumers across the United States" to get their data.
I'd wager that most marketplaces would probably be very reluctant to admit that they rely heavily on a search engine such as Google Shopping to send customers their way. But, there are very few ecommerce sites that are "destination" marketplaces for buyers. In my definition, a destination marketplace is a site whose brand is so strong that people go there specifically to shop and browse - they type the URL in the address bar, or have it bookmarked in their browsers. These sites have organic traffic that is not reliant solely on search engine referrals.
- Amazon, with almost 300 million pages indexed in GS has nearly 100x the number of eBay
- EBay, eCrater, Bonanza and Etsy have a relatively similar number of pages indexed in GS
- Zazzle, a site that is popular but is not exactly a household name, not only has a respectable number of indexed pages in GS, but has very impressive positions in all three ranking services
- The listings of some sites were not getting picked up by Google Shopping when I conducted the search. We have a question in to Google about whether some marketplaces are failing to submit proper feeds to Google Shopping, and what they can do about it.
Who are the destination marketplaces from the chart below? I'd probably choose Amazon, eBay, craigslist, Etsy, and to some extent, niche sites such as AbeBooks, Alibris (for books), AuctionArms and GunBroker (for firearms and accessories).
You'll notice, however, that even the marketplaces with the strongest brands take advantage of being indexed by the Google Shopping search engine. And why not? With nearly 300 million listings indexed by GS, Amazon would probably show up on nearly every product search by consumers. And the more you're in front of consumers, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Take a look at the chart, and see, with very few exceptions, that the more pages a site has indexed in Google Shopping, the more highly ranked they are. How well indexed are your marketplace favorites? Could they do better? And is Google Shopping becoming a "King Maker" in the ecommerce space?
|Pages Indexed by Google Shopping|
|Alexa Ranking (12/11/10)||Quancast Ranking (12/11/10)||Compete Ranking (12/11/10)|
*Google Shopping results for Delcampe.com, other ratings for Delcampe.net
** Alexa Rankings same as eBay