Google has recently introduced a "beta" version of their "Froogle"
online shopping search engine. Unlike their well- known search
service, Froogle attempts to provide a searchable index of online
In this short article, I'll describe what Froogle offers searchers,
how online merchants can participate, and offer a few simple
tips to make the most of this new search engine.
What Froogle Offers Searchers
Froogle offers searchers three major features - a directory
of products by category, a searchable index of online products,
and the ability to narrow searches by price range. Froogle attempts
to display a price and product description for each item listed.
At the moment, the search results are not sorted by price,
so it's likely that Google's famous "PageRank" system is responsible
for determining which sites end up on the top at Froogle, at
least for now. However, searchers can input a price range to
narrow down their search.
How To Get Your Catalog Into
Google has already been actively searching the web, including
many online product catalogs, to build the Froogle database.
For many online merchants, there's a good chance that Froogle
already has some products listed.
However, letting Froogle search your site is not the only way,
nor the best way, to participate. Google also allows merchants
to provide a "data feed" listing their products, descriptions,
pricing, and URLs. In a moment, we'll discuss why this is important
Note: at least during the beta test, Froogle is limited to
those merchants doing business in US dollars, who take orders
online and ship products to customers.
How To Profit From Froogle Search
Because Froogle appears to favor the "big box" online retailers,
it may at first appear that there isn't much advantage to participating.
However, my experience with earlier price-shopping portals like
MySimon has given me a little insight into winning strategies
that even the "little guy" can win with:
Tip 1: Control The Content
If you spend just a little time surfing around Froogle, you'll
see very quickly that some products have clear and enticing
descriptions, while others seem to be random snippets from the
product page. Those with clear descriptions are from the sites
that have taken the time to give Froogle a data feed. It's not
enough to show up in the search, if the searcher doesn't click
through to your site.
It appears that Froogle allows merchants to make their product
descriptions into miniature sales pitches. At the moment, Froogle
is just a beta test, but if it becomes a popular service, it
might well be worth engaging the services of a professional
copywriter to create your product descriptions. If your online
store isn't converting traffic into customers as fast as you'd
like, maybe it's time to do that anyway.
Tip 2: Leverage The Price
Since you're providing Froogle with a data feed, you can set
the price that's displayed on Froogle. While you can't offer
Froogle's visitors a discount on everything, it makes sense
to offer special discount prices (and special product URLs)
for Froogle within major product categories. For example. there
is a category on Froogle for "DVD Players" - offering a loss-leader
discount on a low-end DVD player will bring more visitors to
your site when they search that category by price.
It's a relatively simple matter to drill down into the Froogle
catalog, to find the names of the major categories your products
will fall into. You'll also want to consider any common keyword
searches that might occur, such as brand names, etc. How many
folks shopping for electric guitar strings are going to type
in "guitar strings," and how many will type in "gibson strings?"
Make sure your product titles and descriptions include brand
names, if those brands have any value in your marketplace.
How To Make The Most Of Every
Doing a good job of building your data feed, with effective
product names and descriptions, will certainly bring you more
traffic. Once you get them to your store, there are three things
you *must* do: close the sale, follow up on the sale, and provide
a reason for that visitor to start their shopping excursion
at your store next time, instead of Froogle. This is doubly
true if you decide to offer substantial discounts, or even loss-
leaders, to bring visitors to your website.
1. Upsell and Cross-Sell!
If your shopping cart software doesn't let you suggest guitar
strings to someone who's getting ready to buy a guitar, it might
be time to shop for a new cart. If you can't show the person
who's about to buy that $49 loss- leader DVD player why the
$99 player is worth the extra money, you're throwing profits
down the drain.
2. Get Permission To Keep Selling!
When someone makes a purchase from you, capture their email
address and ask for permission to send them further special
offers. Amazon probably brings in more business by follow-up
email than they do from any other source. A personal email from
a customer service representative will dramatically reduce returns,
and increase the number of customers who buy again. The bigger
the sale price, the more important this personal touch can be.
3. Offer Sticky Services And
If you sell 20 kinds of DVD players, providing reviews of them
all, and side-by-side comparisons, will bring people back when
it's time to upgrade. The more useful and impartial the information,
the better. There are plenty of ways you can enhance your website
to make it a better shopping destination.
Is It Worth The Effort?
Right now, Froogle is just a "beta test." Google might expand
it, or they might shut it down, at any time. The fact that Froogle
takes no commission, and charges merchants nothing, should be
a strong incentive for merchants to participate. Beyond that,
I have learned not to underestimate the Google team - a few
years ago Google itself was just a research project, and now
they control 2/3rds of all searches on the web.
Hopefully, this article has given you a few ideas about how
to compete on Froogle, and other price-shopping portals. I welcome
your feedback (you can email me at email@example.com),
and I'd love to hear anything new you've discovered about Google,
Froogle, or any other search engine.
I wish you success...
About the Author
Dan Thies is the author of "Search Engine
Optimization Fast Start," the ultimate beginner's guide to higher
search engine rankings - available today at http://www.cannedbooks.com
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