|Thu July 12 2012 08:32:06|
Given up on Google? Not So Fast!
By: Ina Steiner
Online merchants who don't wish to participate in Google Shopping once it becomes a paid program in the fall may be tempted to stop sending their product feed to the Google Merchant Center. But many will certainly reconsider once they hear about Google's newest offering for online retailers called Search As You Type.
Google is allowing online merchants to use its product-search feature on their ecommerce websites. The catch? Merchants must be advertising through Google AdWords (so the program is "free" as long as you're already sending ad money Google's way), and right now the program is limited to the U.S. If you have a large volume of searches conducted on your website (25 million+ searches annually), you'll have to pay.
While the program give site-owners powerful functionality and the likelihood of increased conversions (see today's news story for details about Google Search As You Type), it doesn't directly bring more traffic to their sites. It's up to the merchant to get the shopper to the site. Once there, Google promises a better search - therefore, a better shopping experience, which theoretically leads to happy buyers returning to your site.
While the program kicks off in pilot mode with two large merchants, Google Shopping's Jennifer Dulski was emphatic when I spoke to her yesterday that small merchants as well as large merchants would be included as the pilot expands over the course of the next several months.
Skeptics would say Google is throwing a bone to online sellers after it recently announced it would be taking away free listings in Google Shopping. Cynics would say the new search program is a lead-generator for Google Commerce Search and a way for it to continue gather shopping data across the web. And of course, it benefits Google's AdWords advertising program, since that's a requirement of Search As You Type.
But merchants have already proven they will give up data in return for free services, something Google has become expert in with Google Analytics, its new Google Trusted Stores and its previously free Google Product Search, for example.
A look at Google Webmaster tools shows the company knows a lot about your site just from the searches conducted on Google.com. What do you think? Will you trade the possibility for increased sales for giving Google access to your product feed and search data?