JT Website Design has recently learned that Google will begin charging for Google Shopping Listings this fall. This is obviously to the dissatisfaction of the thousands of merchants who have always relied on free listings in Google search results – perhaps like many of you. The change, scheduled for August 2012, will mean that merchants will have to buy paid listings from the Google Product Listing Ads program if they want to get exposure in Google Shopping. This even includes Google Shopping widgets on Google.com search results pages. Google claims this move is an attempt to “level the playing field” between large and small retailers. But if you’re a small business e-commerce operation, you probably want to call it what it really is: annoying.
What can you do about Google charging for its Google Shopping listings? If you aren’t able or willing to start buying your way into Google Shopping results pages, then you’ll need to start focusing on organic listings like never before. That means writing and refreshing great content, frequently posting images of your products so that users can find your products on Google Images and start sharing them on social media (Pinterest has done wonders for sites with great images of their products). You might consider promoting on Facebook and Twitter as well, offering great deals for fans that follow you.
If you are willing to pony up the cash to get listed, then make sure you sign up for a Google Merchant account before August 15, 2012. If you signup before this date, you will qualify for discounted listings. You might also look into other paid advertising such as Google Adwords, Amazon, and eBay. If you sell specialized products, there are great marketplaces to start selling to a targeted audience. For example, if you sell computer parts then New Egg is a great place to post your product listings. Many of these marketplaces will accept Google Shopping feed formats, meaning it will be easy to switch (or diversify the number of sites you advertise on).
There are also some alternative options in free Internet marketing for e-commerce websites, but they will require a little elbow grease on your part. Placing ads on free websites (Craigslist comes to mind), putting more effort into your own social media efforts (primarily Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) and starting or maintaining your company blog are all good ways to make sure you get and keep exposure on Google. It may not be Google Shopping, but it’s still the #1 search engine and you need to keep your presence there. For more questions on the changes to Google Shopping, contact JT Website Design. We will be glad to help you brainstorm on web design alternatives that can help.