There is currently a big controversy brewing in the US because their version of the Google Shopping product comparison service (you may know it as Google Base, Google Products, Google Merchants or even Froogle) is no longer free, and it's very likely that this is due to happen here in the UK too.
A lot of e-commerce websites are dependent on the sales generated from the Google Shopping service, and for them, they have no choice. The decision is to pay up or face their sales dropping to almost zero.
The Google Shopping service really is that good.
All other product comparison services, including those of Google's direct competitors Bing and Yahoo, have always charged for inclusion. So what's the controversy about?
It basically boils down to Google's mantra of "don't be evil". Google is being compared to drug dealers who get their customers hooked on on freebies, then start charging.
The truth is that Google is just as "evil" as every other commercial organisation and people are just going to have to get over it. Google is a company, not a public service.
So will they start charging for it in the UK?
Well, to be honest, I'm surprised they didn't start charging for it years ago. So, yes, they probably will, it's just a question of when.
For e-commerce websites, advertising in Google Shopping has always just been common sense. For a start it's free, so even if it doesn't work, it's not cost you anything. But most importantly, it's probably the single most effective source of online sales for pretty much any e-commerce website. If your web developer hasn't set this up for you as standard, you've probably made a bad choice.
There is a chance that Google may yield a little to the protestors and continue the free advertising for those already using it, but charge for any new accounts. So make sure you are submitting your product feed to Google as soon as possible.
Please contact us on 0845 269 9624 to find out how we can help you to set it up. It really is a no-brainer.
But what about companies who are relying on this free advertising for their existence?
Well, our advice has always been that relying on a single source of sales, particular from search engines, is a bad idea. The search engines change all the time and this is just another one of those changes.
There are countless stories of companies who've been literally bankrupted due to a change in how the search engines work.
You need to expand your online marketing strategy. There are many other ways to market an e-commerce website and the good news is that advertising an e-commerce website is usually much more cost effective and "trackable" than advertising a standard brochure-style website.
If you're worried about how this change might affect your business, contact us to find out about the other forms of e-commerce advertising for your web shop.