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Bonanzle | Red Ink Diary - Part 2

Posts tagged “Bonanzle”.

Google Shopping SEO Ranking Tips

Anyone can upload their product to Google. Doing it correctly and getting it found is the trick, followed by getting it seen before your competition’s items. So, as a small or micro-seller what can you do to improve your ranking?

First, the obvious

  • Title - use key phrases, this is organic search. “Suggested maximum length of 70 characters”. For example the angel Christmas ornament shown below was listed for a long time as “Repro Victorian Die Cut Embossed Christmas Angel Ornament” all of which are good accurate describing words, but many do not rank high on searched words. I am hoping that using “Christmas Ornament Swedish Angel Tree Candle” will do better.
  • Price - lower ranks higher among comparables
  • Description - 150 characters and spaces will be your ‘hook’, what appears in the Google Shopping search. Use the key words and phrases you couldn’t get into your title, do not repeat within the first 100 characters and spaces. Bullets seem to gain brownie points. As an example here are the first 150 characters and spaces in my ad. “Large angel or Saint Lucia carrying a lighted candle and a Christmas tree This is a beautiful old fashioned paper ornament reproduced from an antique” note that I have eliminated commas and periods to be able to get in the word “antique”. Rules for Google Checkout Buy Now buttons are a little different, you put your 100 character description into the button maker so what you write next to the picture has very little weight.

No duplication: this is a new Google rule. You may list the same product on many venues, your website etc. but Google will reject the listing, even with different price, description, title etc. The policy is very clear.

“We do not permit duplicate products in the same account or between multiple accounts. If products are available on multiple sites under the same ownership, one site must be chosen to exclusively submit those products. For example, if you own two websites that sell the same product, you may not submit that product for both sites, regardless of pricing or promotional differences.”

Attributes!

Attributes are simply data written in a form Google can access and translate.

Here is where it gets tricky. Google has very strict rules and they are (oddly) not very good at making them easy to find. Here is a complete list of all attributes defined by Google Product Search in the new Merchant Center.

Some attributes are required, leave them out and your product is out. If you are selling on a Marketplace venue that submits feeds to Google they should, if they know what they are doing, submit the information you have included in your listing.

  • condition - choose from new, used or refurbished
  • description - Google says “Text, up to a maximum length of 10,000 characters. Ideally greater than 15 characters and 3 words. Do not include promotional or boilerplate text, such as “Free shipping!” or “Click here now!”
  • id - A unique alphanumeric identifier for the item i.e your SKU If you sell on Bonanzle the site allocates an identifier if you do not.
  • link - The URL of the web page associated with the item. This should not forward to another URL; it must point directly to the target page.
  • price - fixed price only, use this format  4.95 or 20.00, free items do not appear in Google Product Search.
  • title - Google does not like all CAPS, non relevant symbols like exclamation points, asterisks, more information is found in Editorial Guidelines


The not so secret search boosters

  1. Offer Google Checkout; this should not come as a surprise. The argument that you only offer PayPal because it is required on eBay will cost you ranking on your website items.
  2. Use the optional payment_accepted and payment_notes attributes in your website feed. On Bonanzle, which does xml feeds, add this at the bottom of your listing. [[ payment_accepted:Visa payment_accepted:Cash payment_accepted:Mastercard payment_notes:Google Checkout]] Be sure to leave no space on either side between the colon and the attribute but do leave a space between multiple attributes, which (on Bonanzle) must all be enclosed in the one set of brackets.
  3. Reviews - Think of Google Checkout Reviews as Google Feedback. As Bonanzle sellers we all need to get into the habit of completing Google Checkout reviews on our eligible purchases on the site. They carry an incredible amount of ranking weight. The more sellers with positive reviews we have on Bonanzle the better we will all do.

To enable reviews on purchases check off the review box when you make a payment. Google will email you a review form after you have had time to receive the purchased item. To make reviews on past Google Checkout purchases and learn more about the Google seller review process click here.

Y’all come back!
Henrietta!

Christmas Ornament Swedish Angel with Tree and Candle $5.00
Large angel or Saint Lucia carrying a lighted candle and a Christmas tree This is a beautiful old fashioned paper ornament reproduced from an antique. A complex die cut (with interior cuts, not just around the outside) she is printed on both sides, embossed, and has a gold hanging cord.

Shipping to anywhere in the USA is included in the price.

Size approximately 5-3/4′ tall and 4″ across

Big Changes to Google Shopping

I was aware that Google Base recently changed its feed policy for eCommerce merchants who sell through a marketplace or aggregator like eBay or Bonanzle. The changes are designed to give shoppers more accurate and relevant information when they search for things to buy.

The September 2nd announcement on the Official Google Base Blog was succinct.

“Marketplaces and aggregators will be required to use multi-client accounts to submit and manage their sellers’ feeds starting on December 1st, 2009.
As a result of these changes, individual sellers on marketplaces no longer need to submit a feed to Google Product Search. To avoid duplicate listings we will be notifying individual sellers and retiring their accounts.”

I read it, and didn’t think too much about it because Bonanzle was on top of the situation and realistically, what could I do about it anyway? Arguing with Google would be about as productive as standing in front of a train and saying “stop”. Since moving to Bonanzle I have become lazy about staying up to date with Google policy changes, and this is not a good thing.

I recently discovered that Google is now offering sellers who have bricks and mortar stores the option to list them in the Google Local Business Center which should increase foot traffic.

For Bonanzle sellers this is a huge bonus because Bonanzle has always offered a simple way to configure your product listings for local pick up.
You will find it in the Advanced Options tab at the top of your Booth Edit page, scroll down almost to the bottom of the page.

The opposite side of this coin is that website merchants should use the new “online only” attribute to indicate items that are only available for purchase online, and not available for purchase in-store or for in-store pickup.

Google has started a new Google Merchant Blog for website sellers.

Effect of Changes

  • Individual marketplace sellers may not upload their own feeds.
  • You will be completely dependent on your venue for Google feeds.
  • You will be responsible for making sure your listings are Google compliant.
  • Non-compliant listings will not appear on Google, for example you may not state Free Shipping in your title or have shipping information in your description.
  • There are different Terms of Service for the new Google Merchant Center for product and I believe, revised TOS for Base Users
  • Program Policies have changed

The Big One

“We do not permit duplicate products in the same account or between multiple accounts. If products available on multiple sites under the same ownership, one site must be chosen to exclusively submit those products. For example, if you own two websites that sell the same product, you may not submit that product for both sites, regardless of pricing or promotional differences. If you have one product (such as a memory card) that is compatible with multiple systems (such as different cameras), we require that you list that product only once - supported models can be listed using the compatible_with attribute.”

This is major for people like me who sell multiple quantity new product on both a website and a marketplace venue. It would appear that anything I list on Bonanzle must be deactivated on my website. I will be researching this and will post again when I have better information.

More Questions

How will this affect different sellers on a marketplace who sell identical items? I know that, for example, Buy.com only links to the best buy in their marketplace in their Google advertising. Will this apply to feeds? I don’t see how it can, realistically.

Lots of food for thought here.
Y’all come back!

Henrietta!

Edited for clarity 10/5/09

Bonanzle Milestones

Bonanzle.com, the marketplace to find everything but the ordinary, surpassed 100,000 members on September 14, just barely a year after the company’s official launch September 3, 2008.

The site chalked up another milestone just a day earlier.

On September 13, Bonanzle scored 1,000,000 unique monthly visitors for the first time. According to auction site counts from PowerSellers Unite, Bonanzle has also risen to become one of the three largest eBay alternatives by items available for sale.

Currently Bonanzle offers about 2.3 million items.

“I attribute our rapid growth to buyers and sellers having an unmet need for a marketplace where individual people matter, and where the selling fees don’t drag down businesses,” said Bill Harding, Bonanzle’s founder and CEO. “We will continue to add features to make it easier for our buyers to find everything but the ordinary, and we’ll throw in a good amount of fun while we’re at it.”

Remarkably, unlike other marketplaces, Bonanzle’s traffic growth of more than 5000% over the last year has been attained through a completely grassroots effort; the company has received no venture capital or angel funding.

An average of 10,000 members are joining Bonanzle every month, coming to buy or sell unique items showcased in “booths,” where buyers and sellers can interact using real-time chat.

A major draw is that the site is known for being one of the friendliest communities online. I have been a Bonanzle seller since Beta days. On July 16th 2008 I took Bill Harding’s challenge, listed 10 items from scratch in less than an hour and was hooked.

Congratulations Bill and Mark, y’all done good!

Y’all come back!

Henrietta!

Forum or Against Em?

Please pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist.

Social networking is the latest thing, or is it?

The ancient Romans called their marketplace the forum, it was a public meeting place for open discussion and a lot of business was done there, more than two thousand years ago.

Quilting circles and barn raisings are part of America’s pioneering history, they too were social networks. School car pool groups and playgroups for toddlers are basic forms of social networks today. Other examples; Rotary Clubs, Masonic Lodges

Look back into pre-internet business practice and you have what in the UK was referred to as the ‘old school tie’ network. Less formal than a club or association, there is a feeling of assurance that those who share your background will be the ‘right sort’ of people,  who understand the unspoken rules. This exists in the USA too, just look at the number of ex-Bain consultants and Harvard graduates at eBay starting with the first CEO Meg Whitman and continuing to this day.

Have we simply put a new name tag on an old custom and reinvented it? MarketSpeak to the max as we FaceBook, LinkedIn, Tribe, Tweet and Ning ourselves into total discombobulation?

Online Forums and chat groups

With the advent of the internet online chat rooms and forums became a way of life. An alternate reality in which we can be whatever we want, not what we are; for some people the fantasy is life and any perceived threat will be dealt with savagely and often en masse.

One of the tips I was given as an eBay newbie about ten years ago was to post in the forums, natural curiosity will bring people to look at your listings. Looks lead to sales. This was good advice then and still valid today, but for the stranger, venturing into the forums can be an unpleasant experience.

In the beginning AuctionWeb (eBay) was a community in every sense of the word. The forums, freewheeling, unstructured and open were the ultimate social network and this did not change much until the Whitman era, after which the whole concept became increasingly regulated or corporatized.

Censorship!

We have all seen long screeds (def.#1) of meticulously recorded ‘proofs’ of injustices and censorship on venue owned forums. Generally social forums seem to suffer the most turmoil, technical and help forums seem to be less emotive. These diatribes are written by people who spend a large portion of their daily lives on those forums. Undoubtedly there have been injustices and censorship, but let’s try for a small reality check here.

  • eBay’s forums and all other venue forums are hosted and owned by the venues.
  • Even though in America you have the right of free speech, the owner of the place you are making your speech at has a greater right to dictate the terms of use of their platform. i.e. Go free speechify elsewhere.
  • Smart people read ALL the forum rules and then decide if they want to participate.
  • Any forum that has no rules exists in a state of anarchy.
  • The Aristotelian physics theory “Nature abhors a vacuum” applies to anarchistic society, inevitably the strongest will move to take over, imposing their version of law.
  • If a forum is ugly, has nothing of value, and makes you unhappy, don’t go there.
  • If you want absolute freedom of speech, host your own forum, then you get to make the rules.

What do you think about social forums on sales venues?

Do remember to keep the conversation civil please, otherwise censorship will occur.

Y’all come back!
Henrietta!