Imagine that one day, you bump into your good friend Google (who knows a lot of people). You begin telling him about this great new product you’re selling. You’re talking, but Google just stands there smiling back with a dumb look on his face.
That’s because Google is deaf. He doesn’t understand English or any spoken language for that matter.
But he does speak .xml
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So to get your good friend Google to tell all his friends (that he has a lot of) about your new product, you need to talk .xml
If the .xml is the language you speak to Google, your product feed is the message that you give to Google to share with all his buddies.
Have you ever been searching for the best price on, for example, a new TV or camera and used a price comparison site? You’re comparing 2 streams of .xml data.
Every wondered how the internet magically knew you looked at a product and then advertised similar products in front of you on various pages? That magic is behavioural retargeting and it uses .xml and product feeds.
Now it’s not just Google who speaks .xml and uses product feeds. Many marketplaces & shopping channels reference a web store’s product feed. Typically to communicate which products it will display.
Visually, a product feed is a table containing information about all your products.
Why do I need a product feed?
One word: Multichannel. Going multichannel, that is, selling in multiple channels, is of the utmost importance to spread your brand name.
Buyers like Product Feeds because they have instant access to thousands of businesses and can quickly compare pricing, features, and feedback. This means they can choose which product best suits their needs in price, and customer service.
Merchants with an eCommerce store need a product feed for their products to be shown up in search engine results or price comparison websites.
When used correctly, product feeds provide you with increased traffic, brand recognition and sales from customers that are ready to buy your goods or services.
Your product feed provides information from your store to sales channels so buyers can easily find your products.
Where are product feeds used?
Product feeds are used in a variety of places.
Virtually every search for a product goes through Google. Google will use your product feed to see if there are any products it can display as a result of a search in a product listing ad (PLA).
Google trawls multiple Product Feeds for every search
We recently discussed Facebook and using it to advertise. Facebook will reference your product feed to create Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs). These ads are tailor made depending on the content that a Facebook user likes or has recently shown interest in.
- Price comparison engines
Price Comparison Engines will call upon your product feed when a user wants to compare your products against others.
Price Comparison sites also refer to Product Feeds
- Behavioural Retargeting
Google is just one website that will track your behaviour and place ads in appropriate places of appropriate products. Product feeds are used to do this.
- Online Marketplaces
Web sites like Amazon, NewEgg, eBay and Walmart are marketplaces. They will automatically call upon your product feed and use it to list your products if they’re relevant to a search.
Amazon searched multiple product feeds and multiple categories in this search
What goes into a product feed?
Each product should have the following attributes: (* = optional)
ID- A unique, identifying number. Usually an SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)
Label- The name of the product that will be displayed
URL- A link to the product page
*Image URL- A link to the main image that will be displayed (restrictions vary)
*Quantity- The amount available (When quantity = 0 a ‘fallback’ will take its place’
*Price- Must be a numeric value
*Gender- Male, Female, Unisex
*Fallback URL- When the quantity of the product is 0, this product will take its place.
How/where do I make a product feed?
Selling on the Shoplo Platform means that a Product Feed will be automatically generated for you. Soon, Shoplo Multichannel will enable to you create a Product Feed optimised for your choice of sales channel.
Any eCommerce platform that manages your inventory should be able to generate a simple .xml product feed for you.
If that isn’t an option, you can manually make one in an excel spreadsheet. Simply add the categories mentioned above and fill them out as desired.
Once you have made your product feel, it can be uploaded to a variety of places. Google has its own upload page for Product Feeds. Facebook product feeds and Bing product feeds are part of integrated product campaigns and are a little more in-depth. Refer to the linked guide for more details.
Updating product feeds
Nowadays, most feeds are ‘live’. That is, you do not manually have to update them. Product feeds are usually refreshed many times a day. If you sell out of one product early in the morning, that product will not be referenced by any channels in the afternoon.
A live product feed also updates attributes that you change. If you change an attribute, that change will be applied everywhere your products are placed.
For example, in your eCommerce platform, you change the label (name) of your ‘Antique Ruby Ring’ to ‘Vintage Ruby Ring’. With a regularly refreshed feed, that name will be changed everywhere the product is presented.
Google uses Product Feeds to curate PLAs (Product Listing Ads)
Product Feed Optimisation
So you have your product feed set up and ready to go. Here are a few little tweaks to make sure Google shows your products rather than the competitions.
- Product Titles- Google reads left to right. Google sees words at the beginning of the title as more important than those later on. Put the most important words first. Brand, Gender, Product, Color, Size, for example. Max. 70 characters.
- Product Descriptions- While it is cute to start a description with a witty comment or remark, that won’t do you any favours in terms of search results. Product descriptions are weighted similarly to titles. Most important words first, but not a copy of your title. Google will ‘punish’ you for this.
Google- ‘he who giveth can taketh away’.
Advantages of using a product feed
- All important information about your products is conveniently located in one place
- Information about all your products is consistent across all selling channels.
- A well-made product feed can help increase your visibility over more channels- more people see your products.
- Product feeds are an easy and cheap way of taking part in multi-channel marketing, as well as gaining interaction from new and existing customers
The internet is constantly growing and changing so product feeds are becoming more and more important to make sure that your products are everywhere they can be.
The world of eCommerce is only going to grow more and more competitive so a well planned and optimised product feed is essential to get on top and stay there.