Google Product Search No Longer Free

Wow! I was quite shocked to see the Google Blog Post today announcing that Google Product Search would be re-branded as Google Shopping *AND* will no longer be free for merchants to list their products:

First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall. We believe that having a commercial relationship with merchants will encourage them to keep their product information fresh and up to date. Higher quality data—whether it’s accurate prices, the latest offers or product availability—should mean better shopping results for users, which in turn should create higher quality traffic for merchants.

From the beginning, what was once known as Froogle, then Google Base, and now Google Product Search has always been a place for merchants to freely submit their product feeds. It was similar to how Google Search always worked for organic listings.

I then read a great article (and you should too!) on Search Engine Land that goes into greater detail and examines this huge 180 turnaround by Google:

Google Product Search To Become Google Shopping, Use Pay-To-Play Model

I’m still processing this large change by Google, but my initial reaction is this:

Google, by changing product search to a “pay to play” service, has done a major dis-service to the small merchants out there that are trying to compete with the large etailers of the world. By turning this service into the companies with the biggest pocketbooks getting all the exposure (and drive up bids for the smaller guys and girls), SMB merchants will be at a distinct dis-advantage when it comes to getting their products easily seen by the masses.

Sure, Google tries to couch this in terms of being better for the consumer and merchants, but it all boils down to Google wanting to monetize the service to increase its profits. This is fine for any company to do, but at least be upfront and honest about it. Don’t try to say you believe in your core value of do no evil, while at the same time harming thousands of small merchants that helped build your service in the first place.

I don’t know how this will play out, and it will be interesting to see how the service evolves.

I do know that all online merchants will want to read all they can about this new service, and figure out how to be competitive in the new Google Shopping landscape that is about to be born as early as August.

What are your thoughts on this change by Google?

Looking for a web host that understands ecommerce and business hosting?
Check us out today!

One Comment

  1. Cheryl says:

    Warning: rant ahead!

    I don’t where to start. I am so tired, upset, and frustrated with Google. We were hit hard by the recession in 2008. Then, when things finally started to pick up in 2010, Google’s Farmer/Panda update comes out in Feb 2011 and decreases our incoming traffic by 30% and, along with it, any potential sales revenue. And then another Google update back in Oct 2011 which decreased even more traffic.

    Google’s whole “thing” was to offer free services (Analytics, Keyword Tool, etc) so that the SMB player can compete with the larger companies and level the playing field. And now they’re going to start charging for submitting datafeeds?! I just want to cry. And since “monkey see, monkey do”, Bing and the other search engines will be following suit, I am sure. It’ all about the money, Google. Don’t tell me it’s anything but.

    Google says that they want to charge to encourage Sellers to maintain the accuracy of their website. Well, the regular Google search engine is free. It’s free to be indexed. And yet we still maintain our website. So what the heck are they talking about?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    We are working so, so, so hard to get back to normal. Updating datafeeds, writing blog entries, updating FB statuses, pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on Twitter, stumbling on StumbleUpon, SEO’ing our product pages, creating backlinks, … all so that we can satisfy Google’s algorithm and get the much needed traffic and potential sales. And since we’re no longer making pre-2008 sales, it’s hard to come up with another penny in order for us to be indexed in Google Shopping.

    Why don’t they have a basic package that is free? At minimum, what we currently submit now is free. But if we want to add product reviews to our listing, then that would incur an extra charge. Why don’t they do something like that?

    So tired.

Leave a Reply