E-commerce marketing is experiencing a welcomed re-birth, and it only stands to get better. With the combination of emerging technologies, m-commerce, social commerce and comparison shopping engine opportunities, it’s becoming hard for even the most seasoned e-tailer to know if they are doing everything they can to stay ahead of the competition.
When Google Product Search began using a relevancy algorithm (2008) to determine product-specific search results, the landscape of comparison shopping changed. This landmark change which determines how and why products rank within their comparison engine has given rise to an explosive & emerging marketing strategy – data feed optimization (DFO).
While DFO is often confused with search engine optimization, SEO refers specifically to the modification and enhancement of website coding and content to increase rankings in major search engines such like Google, Bing, and Yahoo; crawler – based systems.
Data Feed Optimization on the other hand refers exclusively to enhancing website placement within e-commerce driven comparison shopping engines (CSE) like Google Products, NexTag, SortPrice and Shopzilla – non crawler-based systems. Where SEO covers the realm of content search, DFO covers the realm of product search.
The art of data feed optimization relies on the enhancement of the actual CSV, TXT or XML product files, an output file. Each comparison shopping engine (Google Products, Shopzilla) has specific product mapping and formatting requirements to ensure that a participating company’s products are listed and functioning properly. Entry to these CSE systems is done through an API call or via manual submission through FTP. Each time there are changes to a company’s products, the process starts again.
The product data feed file can be extracted from a shopping cart in a multitude of ways yet its extracted form is never optimized, at that point it is simply a feed. It is neither formatted nor optimized. Once extracted the feed must be properly formatted to align the company’s product attributes with the required CSE mapping system. Optimization occurs once the feed is properly formatted, and before it is sent up to the shopping engine or engines.
The true act of DFO optimization goes beyond formatting and deep into the factors that promote keyword relevancy. DFO is the modification of properly formatted product attributes to reach an enhanced level of keyword and product relevancy. Similar to SEO, the byproduct of DFO is higher product placements that yield increased impressions, click-throughs and sales. In addition to basic DFO factors, there are nearly unlimited opportunities to optimize individual and groups of products to increase results.
Data Feed Optimization, similar to its SEO cousin, is never a one-time action. There is no such thing as set and forget when it comes to e-commerce data feed optimization and marketing because the majority of popular items sold online are also available by dozens if not hundreds of other retailers simultaneously. As more retailers enter the data feed marketing realm, competition for those keywords increases in real-time.
The dramatic growth of comparison shopping engine use by both e-tailer and consumer, translates to a continuously shifting market where any new business can develop rankings and relevancy in any category, for nearly any commercial keyword – categorical or long-tail.
One thing is for certain, higher product placement equates to heightened results in any search engine scenario.
So the question is – is your product data feed formatted, optimized… or both?
We graciously invite your comments and questions. I’m Drew and I’m here to help!