About two weeks ago I received a call from my friend Brian Smith of SingleFeed and Comparison Engines for some feedback on the addition of new and customized attributes to the Google Base (Froogle) shopping feed.
Brian covered these attributes on his SingleFeed blog but he did not get deep into what these attributes can mean for the the online shopper or how merchants can take full advantage of these attributes to conquer Google listings.
Basically, Google Base lets online merchants upload product description feeds which traditionally include such fields as size, image, weight, color, price… etc., in order to compare and contrast with other merchants when a Google user looks for different items.
And we all also know how the long term plan of Google Base is for Google to serve these Google powered results within Google search, personalized search results, and Google recommendations (think GMail).
In essence, Google Base is letting certain groups of web sites bypass traditional SEO while expanding the art of SEO beyond the web page and into the direct feed.
Here is a list of some of the new attributes from Google Base:
When Brian called me he asked “Why do you think Google is not just gathering this information from the merchant web sites?”
My gut reaction is that most online stores use content management systems and shopping cart merchant systems that are entirely boilerplate and do not allow for such customization.
Let’s take my own shopping experiences as an example.
Real Life Shopping Mirrored on Google
I’m 6’5 (195 cm), wear an XL shirt and have a 38 inch sleeve length. 75% of the time, if I try on long sleeve button down shirt, the sleeves end at my forearm, 15% of the time the sleeves run down past my knuckles and 10% of the time they fit just right.
An extra large shirt is supposed to have a 36 inch sleeve. But as you real world shoppers know, such is not always the case.
I know that Banana Republic shirts are usually cut to a longer sleeve but have picked up a shirt off the shelf from time to time and run into problems with the sleeve or the possibility of ripping out the shoulders and back.
So, how can Google let the online shopper have a similar experience to the brick & mortar shopping experience? By pushing online merchants to define every little attribute of their products so the end user knows that this product is perfect for them.
Such attributes for clothing are height, length and width but what Google Base is now doing is letting their merchants define their own custom attributes in feeds! Merchants can add sleeve_length, neck_width and shoulder_width to their shirts! Pleated or flat_front to pants! Shoe_width and length to shoes!
More on custom attributes from Google Base:
To define a custom attribute in a tab-delimited file, you must start the attribute with a “c:”. For example, if you would like to define an attribute called store_department, the attribute in the header column should be called c:store_department. You must use underscores ( _ ) to denote spaces. You may also include information on the value type based on your custom attribute. For example, c:store_department:string lets us know that the custom attribute “c:store_department” has a “string” value type.
Ideally, I’ll be able to go onto Google in a year and search for “cotton poly blend argyle sweater with 37 inch sleeve length” and Google will be able to serve incredibly targeted results from the merchants who took the time to define such attributes.
Ultimate Shopping Experience for Picky Shoppers
Go beyond the clothing sizes, and think clothing shopping experience. Here are some other Google Base attributes:
Do your customers prefer ‘Made in the USA’ to ‘Made in Burma’?
Do your customers prefer cotton to spandex?
Do they shop by color? I know some people prefer different colors at different times of the year.
Googlers looking for a white, gold or red dress for New Years’ Eve? If you define your Google Base attributes these picky customers will find you and buy from you.
But Google Base attributes don’t stop at clothes. Think food. Are you lactose intolerant? Do you sell lactose intolerant products?
Why not upload a Google Base feed defining your products as being lactose free, or gluten free, or wheat free?
Ideally, with the new attributes and custom alternatives, Google Base will have no limits, and the merchants which take advantage of this now, will be reaping the rewards down the road when Google integrates more and more Base results into its traditional search engine.
NOTE: Thanks to Barry for posting on Google Base at SER this morning. His posting reminded me of Brian’s call.