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!


SEO consultant said...

Fantastic post. I had worked with Tom the Developer a bit when he was conceptualizing the competition spy too. He's able to do it through a loophole in the API. But the problem for me has always been that his tool is not accurate. It never pulls anywhere close to the same results as I see in GPS. Has this changed? Is the tool dialed in now? Or is it that only the paid version works properly?

Crites said...

I did notice some discrepancies in the results using the tool, but considering GPS can be such a tough nut to crack optimization-wise, the tool gives you a good sense of where to start - and new things to try.