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Google Goes Froogle

Posted Thursday, October 16, 2003

Lets go shopping
OK. You want a new laptop, PDA, or perhaps your britney spears cd collection is in need of a top up. Where do you go?. Which site do you venture to? Amazon, Kelkoo, Dealtime, www.really-cheap-cds-and–

Well before you venture off to do a bit of screen shopping why not try Google. Or perhaps I should say….Froogle.

Don’t worry, the worlds favourite search engine isn’t cutting back. It’s the name of their new product finding search engine, designed to spider and crawl all the online stores of the web, and save all their product information to help us better locate products we want to buy.

Or as Froogle more eloquently puts it, “provides a lightning quick way to search the largest collection of stores and products on the web. That means if the item you're looking to buy is online, Froogle will likely find it.”

Seems like a sound proposition to us. In fact most of us already use search engines to research our product purchases anyway, to try and compare prices, find the best deals, and read product reviews, so maybe this is just a well timed logical progression.

But doesn’t Google do this anyway ?
Well yes it does, and no it doesn’t. Google just returns contents to users based on their searches, and isn’t overly concerned with what purpose that content might serve. If you search for blue widgets, then you’ll get all manner of blue widgets related content, inlcuidng articles, theses (if there are any on blue widgets) shops that sell them and all sorts.

Froogle search is about finding you items you can buy !
Froogle is a vertical search slant on the whole Google brilliance, catering for purely product & purchase related queries. In the course of its regular crawl of the web, Google comes across many pages that are product pages of items for sale, and flags them for Froogle inclusion. When you go to Froogle to search for that all essential must have item, it is these identified commerce related pages that Froogle checks through to provide you with product specific results. They’ve even taken the time to pull the images of the products they’re listing, giving it all a very shop search like feel.

So does Froogle rank results the same way as Google ?
Froogle’s results are compiled by the same software Google use to compile results for its main index at http//, in order of relevance, and they haven’t used this as an excuse to choke it with paid advertising either. Just like Google does, Froogle displays keyword relevant Adwords alongside its product listings.

That said those that rank well on Google for certain terms won’t necessarily see those results translate well onto rankings in Froogle.

The Jury’s still out In terms of exactly how Froogle uses the Google alogorithm to rank each result, but its unlikely to be a significant departure from the way Google has calculated relevancy, and the usual suspects are fairly easy to spot to those in the know. One things for sure though…It’ll certainly be keeping all us SEO’s up late nights.

Froogle on test drive.
So how does it perform? Well, I thought I’d give Froogle a little test drive and see if I could pick up any hot deals on my Christmas shopping list, and perhaps get my head round how it ranks results.

Initially I was fairly impressed with the first few Froogle search results. My hunt for Blackhawk Down on DVD for my brother yielded a some perfect results, and even offered a price comparison to help me compare merchants without having to click through. Although how Garth Brooks on CD also made it onto the same first page, I wasn’t able to quite put my finger on. And that’s where the holes appeared.

Likewise, a search for a single malt whisky, whilst yielding some spot on results with links to various whisky sites, left me wondering how the ½ pound bags of Lapsang-Souchong and the Royal National Theatre Tour T Shirt from The Madness of King George also made their way onto the top 10 search engine results aswell.

Almost there then ?
It seems that’s its not perfect yet. But then it is in beta so perhaps now is not a time to be too judgemental. Still it looks promising, and if Google intends to make this a mainstream offering then I’m sure it will make sure the bugs are ironed out. In the meantime, if you’re prepared to sift through the occasional non commercial result, you might find more luck searching Google traditionally.

How do site owners get their products and site listed inFroogle
Well firstly, having a well optimised site that allows Google to crawl and read your sites product pages is a big help. You may even find that Froogle has already included some of your products already, as a result of it crawling your site.

The other way to do it is to provide Froogle with a feed of all you products in a tab delimited text file. If you have done any sort of work with Trusted feeds, you’ll be familiar with this process already. If you're after more details on a Froogle feed, then please drop us a line.

What does this mean for your search engine optimisation
Well, at the moment Froogle is not too mainstream, and is only really available to search through the main US index, but if it rolls out globally then every ecommerce website is going to have to take a very harsh look at the way they are or aren’t optimising their individual products. COnsidering that the majority of SEO is undertaken for commercial purposes, Froogle catching on is likely to add yet another new and ultimately essential dimension to search engine optimisation.

Certainly getting coverage for your product range will involve taking SEO to a new and possibly very granular level, and may require site owners to take far more time over optimising their individual product pages to make sure Froogle really hones in on each product.

Search genius or evil genius
Although largely positive, the debate is intense and varied on what contribution Froogle will make to the user, and what impact it will have for webmasters and online marketers on their abilities to capture visitors. If you’re looking for more opinions and views on Froogle why not check http// and join the raging debate there.


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