Why the Google Shopping Update Hurts E-commerce Merchants

Recently there have been several articles about the new Google Penguin and why small online merchants should be concerned. If you’ve been paying attention to your Google Analytics and your search results, you probably have noticed a change in the way Google has displayed search results. If you are an online merchant, this may have either helped or hurt your traffic. Google hopes that with this newest change, Google Penguin, more relevant search results will be brought to the user, which means more customers to you. But should you, as an online merchant, really be concerned?

The answer: Yes. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

With this newest update to Google, Google’s shopping section will be transitioning from Google Product Search to Google Shopping. The biggest change (besides the name) will be in the new format of product listings. What was once free is now a pay-to-play format. Google is transitioning to a more commercial model that is built on the Product Listing Ads system – essentially, you will need to pay for Product Listing Ads in order for your products to appear in a dominant position in search results.

No longer will online merchants be able to enjoy the free traffic that was available to them for over a decade. Now, Google is promoting this paid comparison shopping search engine as a way to give users more of what they want. But what about you? You are Google’s customers, you are the ones that beef up their search results – without online retailers, there would definitely be no Google Shopping. The greatest fear is for those smaller online merchants, who may not be able to keep up with this latest change from Google. This is only the latest change from Google, and it certainly will not be the last.

Before this change, Google’s AdWords were set up on a bidding system – certain keywords were used in order to present the correct search results. Google Shopping will not be like this. This new system will require high maintenance and technical management of your products’ data feed and constant updating of your product bids. Many small businesses may not be able to keep up with the demands of this new system and will find that turning to an outside source may be the only way to cope.

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