We all know that for ecommerce, a good Google ranking is very important. However, Google now consists of various “flavours” of search – you have the main listings, news, images, video and shopping. So how can you get your products in the Shopping listings?
The shopping results can be an excellent way to appear in Google listings, particularly in competitive markets. The shopping listings have their own ranking algorithm, but my common sense approach says that if you supply full, honest and influential text about your products in the Title and Description, you’ll get views and clicks.
Getting listed in the Shopping results used to be a difficult process, until Ian Wright’s brilliant Joomla Google Base extension for Virtuemart.
If you run a Virtuemart (Joomla) based ecommerce site, then you need to be in the shopping listings, and whilst Google has tried in the past to include product information from ecommerce sites into the shopping results, the most reliable way to get in there, and get good ranking is to submit an XML feed of your product information directly to Google via the Google Merchant Center. (Their spelling, not mine!)
Ian Wright’s Joomla Google Base extension makes things so much easier. This brilliant combination of Component and Plugin like all great things, is both simple to use but very powerful. To get it feeding Google with information about every single product in your store, complete with full descriptions and images, every day (or even every hour) is a doddle, and I’ll explain how to do it here:
1. Visit Ian’s web site, and download the Joomla Google Base V5 extension. Note that it runs on Joomla 1.5 and does need Ion Cube to run (to encrypt the source code, and therefore protect Ian’s hard work) but if you use a Joomla friendly host like ours (Search Engine Friendly Hosting ) you are good to go.
2. Install the Component and Extension, like you would any other. It does not matter which you do first!
3. Go to Google Merchant Center. If it’s the first time you’ve been there, or you are signing up there and then, you’ll need to tell them where you live, and agree to Terms of Service. (Does anyone read those? Or Disagree?) Next, they’ll ask you about the site you are going to register. All straightforward stuff, but try to fill in as much as possible to give Google good content about your store.
4. Now down to setting up your automatic feed. Go to Data Feeds, and click new feed. Tell them where the site is based, and they’ll ask you for the feed name. Give them “all_products.xml” to set up a feed of everything on your site. Save Settings, and you should see something like this:
5. Now click Settings > FTP. Create a secure username and password – anything that can’t be guessed. You would not want other people uploading product information about your site!I’ll choose “myproductfeed” and “glup54plot” for this example. You are now done at the Google end of things.
6. Login to your Joomla Admin screen, and select Extensions > Plugin Manager. Use the Filter “Select Type” and choose “System.” You should see a plugin called “Virtuemart Froogle.” Click this.
7. Set up the Plugin. A picture speaks a thousand options, so here is how to set up the Plugin to start serving Product information once a day to Google, assuming the username and password I used in step 5.
Don’t make any changes to options below what I show you here if you just want to send a full list of your products to Google.
Use the same settings as these (using your own username and password of course, and maybe changing your payment method, shipping or tax as appropriate) and you are done! Save the changes!
8. Login to Google Merchant tomorrow and the Dashboard should tell you that you have lots of “Active” products! You store is listed in the Google Shopping results.
You can also get interesting stats about how many times your products are viewed in the Shopping results, and how many times they are clicked. Manipulate your Product titles and Text to increase the frequency of both.