Friday, March 20, 2009

Google Base Attributes How-To (Cheat)

Google Base/Product Search confuses the hell out of many people. There are entirely too many attributes to give your products, the relevancy ranking makes no sense whatsoever and setting up a feed is like reassembling some antique watch - one false move and shit starts going haywire. One thing that is clear is Google's insistence on loads of quality attributes:

Using well defined attributes that contain complete, relevant information is the best way to help users find your content. The more you use attributes to structure your content, the better we'll be able to match search queries to your items.
- Google Base Help

What's a well intended online marketer to do? How do you figure out what attributes are going to work for your products without fastidiously testing yourself into oblivion?

Pay attention to what's working for your competition.

Check out this Google Base competitive analysis tool. I couldn't believe it when I found the thing - this little slice of magic works just like the normal Google Product Search but provides you with more detailed information about what retailers include in their Google Base product feeds - attributes, destination URLs, product titles - oh my! This gives a competitive research nerd like me the total giggles.

So what do you do? Search on the products that you're submitting to Google Base. Are you anywhere in the top 200 results? Didn't think so - but who is? What attributes are they using in their feeds? What do their product descriptions look like? Are they using custom attributes?

Now dig around until you find some of your products (or have IT shoot you 1,000 lines of your feed.) Where is there opportunity to increase both the number and relevancy of attributes included with your product feeds?
  • Is the manufacturer the same as the brand? Duplicate that entry.
  • Do you have a brick and mortar? Add the "pickup:true" attribute.
  • You've got stock on hand, right? Then include the quantities in your feed.
  • Toss in all the payment types you accept.
  • Rinse, wash, repeat.
These may seem somewhat trivial, but I've seen 40-50% increases in Google Product traffic from just including the attributes my competition had, but I didn't.

Sometimes you'll even find that one of your competitors is using a feed management service because they list themselves as the feed provider in with the FEED_PROVIDER custom attribute. This is a great way to cherry pick the best attribute mix for your products because these feed providers are paid to manage data feeds effectively. Also, hit the feed provider website to see where else they pump their feeds - now you've got any number of potential traffic sources.

Happy hunting!

A Call For The Application Of (gasp!) Target Markets

I had a quick conversation the other day via Twitter (I said it was quick) regarding the idea of target markets. There seems to be some kind of a movement against the concept of being labeled a consumer - or god forbid being lumped into a target market. While I think there is validity to the "we're whos not whats" mantra, this sentiment is a little off target.

Ya see, in business there is what I call the front and back of the house. The front of the house deals with current products, current customers, and current problems. The back of the house deals with things that don't yet exist - new ideas, new products, new services, etc.

The Facebook group is correct in asserting that in the front of the house there is no such thing as target market, demographic, or consumer. There can only be one-to-one relationships - Joe in sales helping Sue the customer with her specific needs. Blanket policies and strict customer service guidelines undermine the front of a house's ability to deal with customers as people. Companies are learning that people demand to be treated as, uh, individuals. Zappos is a great example of a company that has shifted a TON of leverage to their customer service folks. Those front of the house decisions directly affect real customers - and those people are the ones you need to over-deliver to time and time again.

With the back of of the house this idea that people are not target markets gets a little muddy, and here's why: you cannot build something for everyone. Butchers have much different needs than, say, taxi drivers. Butchers need (!generalizaton warning!) sharp knives, a knowledge of how to cut meat, and safety. Taxi drivers need fuel efficient vehicles, a knowledge of their local area, and, well they need safety too...

So while bringing a product to market without grouping people and solving for specific mass requirements sounds like the perfect way to silence the drum pounding masses, when product development is holding its head plenty high at its new "Ginsu Knife 2.0" - Joe in sales is going to have a hell of a time explaining to Sue the taxi driver how to deliver a businessman to mid-town Manhatten while riding on the razor sharp edge of a boning knife.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lurking Is Dead. Long Live Lurking!

Interesting to see a couple thought leaders chiming in on this almost in concert, but both Mitch Joel and Seth are imploring us to blog, which is what I think both you and I need to hear.

Seth Godin and Mitch Joel Command You - Blog! Blog because it's free. Because it's a chance to claim your particular space and have your say. Blog because the last thing you want is for your mom to get into it before you.

I don't know if this has to do with a lack of new voices, or microblogging stealing the thunder as of late. But we can all recognize the value in exercising our writing skills, that's for user. Clutter may be the disease of American writing, but on the web our contributions find unique ways to compliment and influence one another, which is truly unique. It's almost our duty to bolster the ongoing conversation these days rather than let the conversation happen around us. This is a responsibility that I have woefully neglected to honor for far too long. Lurkers are lame, and my early 2009 New Years resolution is to stop being one.

What about you? Do you have a little too much lurking in your diet?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chris Matthews Rickrolled!

In what has to be the only funny application of la Rickroll, uber pundit Chris Matthews was greeted with an '80s backdrop while, uh, punditing during last night's veep debate.

Ch-ch-ch-check it out:

While I completely missed the debates (I don't even have an excuse - I've got freaking Tivo), the media fallout has been enough to make me feel like I was there. Getting Rickrolled.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shear Genius

Jon Arbuckle Was One Angry Dude...

I've never been a Garfield fan. Nor a Jon Arbuckle fan (and don't get me started on freakin' Odie.) But there is a little bit of magic in Garfield strips without the Garfield.

Their note at the top of the site provides a bleak comment on th
e mental state of one Jon Arbuckle:

"Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."

To wit:

Wondrous, wondrous stuff.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Michael Grey had it right... Google Knols are coming.

Wayyy back in 2007 (what I would term the "Salad Days") Michael Grey noted a potential by-product (or maybe main product) of Google's new Knol product would be an increased layer of organic ranking competition.

That is to say, Google will reference itself in it's search results, like it currently does with You Tube, Product Search & Image Search.

I didn't know what to think on the matter initially, but Google Knols went live yesterday - and today things have changed.

To wit:
What does this mean for me and you?

Well, organic Google rankings have a number of obvious benefits; website traffic, general awareness, etc. Ranking organically can also have a strong affect on PPC response as well, creating higher click through & converstion rates due to your "authority" status (particularly when 80% of new customers believe they found you.)

It will certainly be interesting the see how this plays out over the new few months, and something in me says this Beta is going to have more of a change than Pay-Per-Action did.

Only time will tell.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One Absolute Analytics Must Have

You've got analytics, right?

That doesn't mean you have all the data you need to make the best decisions with your web marketing.

One major issue I've always had with web analytics (Google Analytics in particular) is the lack of broad and phrase match reporting... The innumerable variants just get lumped into the mix with the exact match keywords.

Not anymore!

Thanks to the brilliant minds over at ROI Revolution (who you need to be watching BTW), you can use their Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth Tool to track the exact keywords your paid search traffic is using to find you (and you're paying for...)

Why should you care? Check this out:
  • I cannot tell you how valuable this resource has been for locating literally dozens of negative keywords for instant removal.
  • On the other hand, there are now thousands of keyword variants for me to pick through! To hell with blind keyword research!
This, and internal search analytics, are absolute key measurements for any search marketer worth their salt. Take a look at the two and tell me you can't say the same!