In January of 2020, Google announced the latest feature that would be rolled out onto their shopping platform: showing organic product listings in the SERPs (or search engine results pages). Referred to as the ‘Popular Products’ feature’, this new development enables brands to more easily feature their products on search engine results pages.
Google announced this new feature following a period of declining product searches to other ecommerce vendors such as Walmart and Amazon. The new Popular Products display is intuitive in its interface and slick in its appearance. Remember, one of Google’s primary goals is to provide fast and valuable answers to its users, and the Popular Products feature is designed to do just that for shoppers.
But perhaps the most notable aspect about Popular Products is how it levels the playing field between small and large merchants, potentially giving smaller-sized ecommerce websites a chance to compete with the bigger players. In this article, we’ll discuss exactly how this new organic product listings feature impacts online stores such as yours and how to get ready for it.
Google utilizes advanced SERP features to enrich organic search results and thereby provide better value for their search results page (which is by far their biggest product). A merchant can increase their authority and visibility on Google (and thus their sales) by taking advantage of some of these features, including the new Popular Products feature.
Much like other kinds of shopping ads, the Popular Products section will highlight different products when a user conducts product-related searches. It essentially combines products from Google’s Merchants Center with traditional SEO eCommerce elements to allow automatic item updates.
In the popular products section, you can click on filters to drastically narrow the selection of products and without having to use a new search results page. After selecting a certain product the user will be taken to a listing of the product that will include product images aggregated from across different retailers, a review snapshot (also aggregated), the links to any retailers that are selling the product, and a similar products section.
One of the big appeals about the Popular Products feature is how it offers smaller ecommerce retailers a means to compete with the larger merchants through the aggregation in the product pages. All retailers are treated the same regardless of name recognition or reputation, so shoppers can select any retailers from the list.
Of course, since shoppers are more likely to go with a vendor who they trust, the bigger name brands are the most likely to get clicked unless the competing smaller merchants can offer lower prices.
Still, this is an excellent opportunity for smaller retail brands to drive their PDPs (product detail pages) under relevant category and product searches. This means that any ecommerce business now will need to incorporate driving traffic through the Popular Products feature as part of their overall business strategy and when measuring key performance indicators.
The Popular Products has been only one component of a larger effort by Google to improve product search experiences as it has faced stiff competition from competing brands such as Amazon over the last few years. For instance, Google has also been encouraging retailers to utilize product schema markup on their sites by adding support for such markups on their search and image results pages.
The rollout of Popular Products in the SERPs creates more opportunities for retailers such as yourself to have a presence on search engines. Before, the only real organic search opportunities came from typical organic results, and even these were restricted by shopping or paid search text ads that were prominently featured. The new Popular Products sections means that we should see more organic traffic send to PDPs, and retailers will subsequently need to ensure that their PDPs are well positioned.
When a user clicks a retailer link on the product page on Popular Products, they will then be sent to the PDP for that product.
As an online retailer, you should be taking action in the following manners to properly drive traffic to your products. The basic steps in doing that are as follows:
Beyond these simple steps, however, you can use the opportunity of looking at your PDPs to greatly improve the way that your products rank on Google.
Let’s look in a little more detail at how to develop PDPs that will improve your products’ ranking. When your product appears in the Popular Products section, it will create more organic search opportunities in addition to your existing ones. It’s an example of how the metadata associated with products are becoming critical across organic channels, and any online retailer using clean structured data will have a significant advantage over their competitors.
The best practice when it comes to developing PDPs is therefore to follow a structured approach that contains a number of key pieces of information:
In this diagram, you can see the key steps in developing good PDPs:
Following this approach will ensure that your PDPs rank well on the new Google system, and ultimately improve your profitability. In addition, now is great time to improve your PDPs, because there’s no question that the ecommerce industry is booming as the American economy continues to grow and 95% of Americans are shopping online. Now, things just may have gotten even easier for your business to send more traffic to your product pages, but only if you apply the above steps.
Just remember that more traffic (and sales) will mean more responsibility to protect your customers’ personal and financial data, so be sure to make security of your ecommerce website a major priority as well.
In conclusion, the new Google SERP Popular Products update will have a direct impact on the retail industry. Google claims that the new feature will help to send organic traffic to merchants, and brands and merchants that are aiming to appear in more specific relevant categories or product searches will be the most heavily impacted.
As an online merchant in the ecommerce world it can be difficult to attract attention to your products, but the Popular Products feature will make this more convenient for you. The best way to prepare will be to prioritize having your products surface in the Popular Products page through setting up product feeds in Google’s Merchant Center and enhancing your schema markup on your own site to improve how search engines will present your pages in the SERPs.
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Published on 04/06/2020 by Dan Fries.
Dan Fries is an entrepreneur, investor, and writer who teaches bootstrapped entrepreneurs and business owners how to prepare for a better exit and make better long term financial decisions.