Hello, my name is Tom, you’ve seen me guest blog here before but today I’m blogging and ill. So I’m going to dispense with the usual chit-chat approach and lay out the facts. Some of you may even like it that way! Shame on you. Still, here’s the content.
Google Base aka Google Shopping aka Google Products
What do you know about Google Base? If you’re running a site which sells something, you should be paying attention to Google Base because it’s the service which underpins various vertical search portals from Google, including Google Products.
In case you’re not familiar with Google Products and what they look like, let me give you an example:
See how Apple can’t even rank top of Google for the phrase ‘buy iphone’? Those 3 links above them are pulled from Google Shopping results. So having your products ranking highly in Google Shopping/Products/Base is clearly a good thing. But how do you get good rankings in this arcane Google offshoot? Is it all about pagerank?
Major Ranking Factors For Google Products
Below I present to you a list of the major ranking factors in Google Products, in no particular order. I’ve not done enough research to determine which are more important than others:
Having your keyphrases placed strategically in your title tag can help you rank, just like with regular SEO.
If you sell a product cheaper than your competition, you stand a better chance of ranking higher than places which sell it more expensively. Capitalism ftw.
Having a well-thought-out and keyphrase rich description is important. As far as I can see, Google doesn’t crawl the URLs you submit to them for any ranking factors – they take all the information from your data submission, so a description can help you rank for long-tail phrases which you can’t cover in your title tag.
Data stuffing is so the new keyword stuffing. What do I mean by data-stuffing? Well, in Google Base you have the options to upload data for all kinds of fields. Only the bare minimum are essential, and most are optional. In my experience, however, I’ve seen that adding more data-fields helps you rank higher and for more varied queries.
This is actually a ranking factor which Google recommend to get higher rankings, so it would be remiss of me to not include it in this list!! Fresh data, as in updating your feed as often as possible or setting the scheduler to crawl your feed frequently, helps both your rankings and the accuracy of your data. Since Google doesn’t crawl your pages, it’s important to ensure your feed is up to date with the latest descriptions, prices and names.
Notice how I’ve not included pagerank (or mR) on this list? That’s because I’m not sure how important it is to have a trusted domain in the traditional SEO-sense. More importantly, I think, is having a trusted domain in the traditional sense of the word. How does Google measure that? With reviews. Getting positive reviews for your site helps a lot with Google Local, and it’s the same principle for Google Base. Although I’ve not listed these tips in order of importance, I think this is definitely one of the strongest ranking factors, particularly for competitive queries. So, to help you out with your Google Base rankings, I’ve listed below all of the sites which Google permits as review sites for use in Google Base. Before I list them though, I should point out that there’s one site which Google seems to favour above all others for trusted reviews. There’ll be no prizes for guessing who it is…. Yep, Google Checkout.
In my experience and research, Google Checkout reviews seem to count for more than reviews left on 3rd party sites. This does seem to make sense since these reviews are presumably more trusted by Google (since it controls the spam filtering and authentication) than 3rd party reviews. That said, it does mean you have to have Google Checkout enabled to profit from them!
An interesting aside here: it’s not something I’ve tested, but if I were building a ranking algorithm based on reviews, I would make the raw number of reviews count as a ranking factor, positive or negative. Why? Because this signifies trust and brand awareness. The more people that are leaving reviews about you, the bigger your brand is. Given Google’s shift towards brands recently, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a factor so bear this in mind when getting reviews.
Anyway, if you can’t get Google Checkout reviews, try some of the sites on this list (separated by US and UK sites, as they’re different!).
US Google Base Review Sites
UK Google Base Review Sites
From analysis of the top sites across many different searches, these are the sites which Google is reporting as trusted review sites. I’ve reviewed over 50 Google Products searches and probably at least 100 domains, and this is a list of all the review sites listed. There are probably others but they’re either very small sites or aren’t particularly trusted. These are the major ones.
There are plenty of ways of gaining reviews for your site, and I’m not going to go into detail on them here, but David Mihm has a solid post on getting local reviews and the process is exactly the same for products. Check it out, he links out to some great sources there too.
In conclusion, if you’re selling something, you should definitely be investing some time in Google Base as it can bring some great results pretty quickly.
Random Musing: by the way, while researching Google Base, I noticed that you can submit all kinds of stuff to them, from jobs to recipes to events to cars. As far as I can see, most of these uploads won’t net you much benefit, but I think it can only be a matter of time before we see Google Base results ranking in the main results for job queries, events and all manner of other queries. How long before getting reviews for your site becomes an integral part of the SEO process?